D.A. (Dorothy) Hawes is an incredible tour de force. She's an author, a feature writer, a high school English teacher, an accomplished pianist, a foodie, and a lover of all things entertaining. She's recently published Ogopogo Odyssey, a picture book featuring the legendary Canadian monster of Okanagan Lake in beautiful British Columbia.
Dorothy shares her love of entertaining in her feature column, 'Entertain with Dorothy,' published in At Home Victoria magazine and on her fabulous blog, Any Excuse For A Party. You'll also love her Instagram about entertaining, food, and life on Vancouver Island. (any_excuse_for_a_party).
Dorothy and I met when we taught high school together in Victoria, B.C. Now I'm thrilled to introduce you to her first children's book, published in 2016 by Promontory Press. Dorothy and Promontory have generously donated two books for my blog readers: one for a Canadian and one for an Aussie! Winners are announced at the end of this post...
Dorothy, tell us how you got to where you are today as a writer.
I’ve always loved stories. I grew up in a family of 12 kids, and while my parents didn’t have a lot of money, we did have a library card! We spent lots of time at the library and I still vividly remember perusing the shelves for the most engaging books. My Dad was great about reading to us, so my love of books began at an early age. In elementary school, I always enjoyed writing and loved to create stories of my own. My love of reading and literature continued to grow as I went on to high school and university, prompting me to do a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters degree with a double-major in English and Germanic studies.
What inspired the story behind Ogopogo Odyssey?
I grew up in Vernon, a small city in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. We swam in Okanagan Lake during the summer months and I heard lots of stories of the mythical Ogopogo. This famous Canadian icon was featured on tourist brochures, postcards, t-shirts, mugs, and many of the parks throughout the Okanagan had large caricatures of the Ogopogo. Before dropping us off at the beach to swim, my parents would often jokingly tell us to “watch out for the Ogopogo!” Later in my life, once I had children of my own, I decided to write a story based on my own childhood recollections of the Ogopogo. Given the many sightings of this mysterious creature over the years, I tried to imagine the excitement of a young boy who believes he has an encounter with the Ogopogo. I also felt that including the story of Chief Timbasket and his encounter with N’ha-a’itk was an engaging way to show respect for the First Nations heritage in our province.
How long did you work on Ogopogo Odyssey, from inspiration to finished product?
This is quite funny as my journey with this story was a VERY long one! I wrote this story in a children’s writing class with author Julie Lawson when my son, Colin, was about 8 or 9 years old. Now he’s 21! After writing the story, I did initially try to find a publisher, but it was a long and arduous process that didn’t seem to get me anywhere, so the manuscript was shelved for many years. That’s why finally bringing this book to fruition has been particularly rewarding. It shows that patience and perseverance really do pay off!