A Qualicum Beach author wanted to “reach people on a different level” and so wrote her story “straight from the horse’s mouth.”
Author Lois Kingshott wrote her first book, Keeping Kahlua: A Hero’s Journey, published May 2020, with the unique narrative that reads as if directly written by the main character Kahlua, a 24-year-old National Show Horse.
Kingshott described her narrative as “Mr. Ed meets Psychology 101” since she “almost became the horse” in order to properly tell his tale.
“If I hadn’t written from his point of view, it wouldn’t have had the same effect on people… And I love storytelling because I find you reach people on a different level,” said Kingshott.
While a work of fiction, Keeping Kahlua: A Hero’s Journey is inspired by true events and illustrated by Qualicum Beach resident, Clive Lauzon.
The book details the life of the arthritic senior show horse, born on April Fools’ Day, and his search for a safe haven which he finds in the corporate world while working at LeapZone Strategies in Nanoose Bay.
Kingshott created the storyline from Kahlua’s true-to-life predicament of being abandoned then hired at LeapZone Strategies.
“Everyone said he was a miracle, as older arthritic horses never end up with a dream job,” she said.
Kahlua found himself at LeapZone Strategies on Sept. 25, 2017.
A few months later, Kingshott decided his story needed to be told.
Kingshott said her mission statement for the book was to highlight the value of horses in personal development.
Since she considers working and interacting with horses as “the most extreme” form of personal development because she said a horse will mirror back thoughts and emotions. Kingshott also wanted to draw people’s attention to what happens to horses once they reach a certain age and are no longer considered useful.
Initially, Kingshott did not want to write the story herself, despite conceptualizing it, and considered hiring a professional writer. But was abruptly told by friends that she had to be the one to write it because it “came from her own heart.”
The title, Kingshott said, came from the encounter she had with a Coombs animal communicator.
According to Kingshott, the animal communicator placed her hands on Kahlua’s chest and said “each day that passes he becomes more fearful and vulnerable. You need to show him every Sun and every moon in his lifetime. And you must always reassure him that you will keep him safe, keep him from harm, and keep him close to your heart.”
By working with Kahlua and writing his memoirs, Kingshott said she kept him close.
She said the book is written simplistic and child-like. But although written simplistically, many readers have told Kingshott how they have read much deeper into the story than its apparent surface value.
“Some people think it’s a children’s book, and then other people read it twice and they read between the lines and they see so much more,” she said.
It took Kingshott the better part of two years to finish, and employed the “artist’s way,” a method and workbook written by Julia Cameron.
Marva Blackmore, Kingshott’s writing mentor, once advised her to “learn how to weave tiny bits and pieces of all that knowledge into the story telling voice.”
Without Blackmore, Kingshott said her book would have never existed.
She soon discovered that she couldn’t just sit down and write chapter one to 39 sequentially. In her first few iterations, Kingshott tried to write the narrative from her own perspective, and then third-person, until she finally realized that it had to be written from Kahlua’s perspective and using his voice since the story was about his life.
For her first book, Kingshott wrote it under the pen name Maeve Lawrence. Lawrence is her maiden name, and Maeve is a nickname given approximately 10 years ago by a friend who said Kingshott “vibrated with energy.”
Currently, there are no further sequels planned for Kahlua’s tale, despite many requests to write another.
Kingshott has considered a different story though, about one of her own horses, an Andalusian cross named Calypso who plays Kahlua’s little brother in the book.
Keeping Kahlua: A Hero’s Journey can be purchased as a paperback book from Amazon online, and from Arbutus Fashions and Lifestyle Ltd. and Seathrift Artisan Boutique in Qualicum Beach. Indigo and Barnes and Noble both carry the ebook version as well.