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Stony author writes ‘tall tale’
By Trevor Miller
Kevin Cahill is concerned with where this world is heading.
And now, the local man has written a book he hopes will help others realize the threat facing our planet, titled That Golden Prairie Whale.
“It started off as a conversation with my wife Sandy,” Cahill said, explaining he told her “I’ll tell you a tale,” and it grew from there.
The story, written as an epic poem, is not a children’s book — though youngsters would likely also enjoy the fanciful world the author creates, which is populated by friendly lemmings, benevolent whales and magical cheese.
An older reader, though, might read a little more deeply into the story and discover some very grown-up themes.
The book focuses on the storytelling of one elderly farmer, who’s looking to impart some green wisdom to his grandchildren before he passes away.
He talks about the earth in times long past, when it was populated by fanciful creatures who co-existed in harmony before the coming of humans.
People, jealous of the animals’ possessions and free spirit, used fire as a weapon to block out the sun from the sky, in the end killing the very creatures they coveted.
In one light, the actions of the people can be compared to humanity today, with the profusion of fossil fuels and ecologically unfriendly practices.
“There’s a lot of message in there, if you want to read between the lines,” Cahill explained. “Global warming should be near and dear to everybody.”
He feels, however, that the issue is starting to come to light more, as citizens and voters begin to place emphasis on the importance of the environment.
One example of movement in the right direction, Cahill said, is the federal Conservative government’s increased emphasis on the environment.
The book touches on a number of other themes, as well, including prejudice, greed, friendship, violence and war.
Aside from writing the verses, Cahill also took the cover photo and inside pictures himself.
“I wrote the poem first, and then went out and took the pictures,” he explained. “The cover is a set of barns in Parkland County.”
He said the image is one that could be seen anywhere in the prairies, as befitting the main characters of the book, the golden prairie whales.
Cahill did all his own illustrations, as well.
He’s been working on the piece for three years.
One of the first people to read the completed work was Earl Hamner, who aside from a distinguished career writing novels, also dedicated his talents to hit TV shows like The Waltons and X-Files. Hamner also wrote the screenplay for the first Charlotte’s Web movie.
Cahill first met Hamner while working as a chef in a fishing lodge in B.C. Hamner saw one of Cahill’s poems on the wall – of course, another tongue-in-cheek piece – and asked who had written it.
“It was the start of a life-long friendship,” Cahill recalls, explaining that when Hamner wasn’t out fishing during the trip, he’d hang around the kitchen and chat with Cahill.
Hamner also encouraged Cahill strongly to pursue his writing career, seeing promise in his work.
“He’s the one person to whom I would probably attribute me sitting here and doing this,” Cahill said, adding that Hamner gave him a very good review of the book, as well.
For as long as he could remember, Cahill has been a writer at heart.
“I’ve been writing ever since I could put two words together,” he said.
The author was born in Campbell River, B.C., and spent his youth on the west coast, logging and fishing. Out there, Cahill says he saw quite a few killer whales, adding “they fascinate me” — possibly the reason they became the central characters of his first published book.
He became a chef in 1976, and has worked in the food industry ever since.
It wasn’t easy for Cahill to find a publisher — least of all a Canadian one.
He went through dozens of rejection letters before finding interest in Publish America, a United States-based company that tries to encourage new writers.
“The publication process was basically a lot of rejection, and a little fluke,” he added.
At first, PublishAmerica was a little wary about the project, but after learning he took the pictures and drew the illustrations, they were more excited about it. However, they did ask he extend the story somewhat, a task he had no problems with.
He also had to publish as Kevin H. Cahill.
“There’s another Kevin Cahill out there, and he’s also an author,” the local man says with a laugh.
Cahill hopes there will be some interest in his first story, and that some may take the lessons to heart and look for ways to help the planet.
Since writing is never far from his mind, he imagines he will once more pick up the pen and paper and put some of his thoughts together for readers.
The book is available at www.amazon.ca, as well as at Cahill’s own website: www.freewebs.com/kevinhcahill.