About Karen Hood-Caddy

I have always found solace in nature. My parents were alcoholics so the blanket of family love was riddled with holes and not very warm. As a result, I went outside and found refuge in the wind, the water and trees. Nature felt more predictable than my parents and far more nurturing. As a result, when I see Nature and various species being hurt, I find it particularly upsetting. I know most Native Canadians feel this way too.

When I was 12, my uncle took my sister and me on a trip to the ocean. I was mesmerized by its power and wrote about it for a school assignment. My teacher gave me a “0”, saying I must have plagiarized it. I now see this as a compliment, although it didn’t feel like that back then.

I always wanted to be a writer, but writing felt like a luxury I couldn’t afford. I was busy surviving. I went to York University and got involved in student politics, becoming the VP of the Student’s council, but was discouraged that my friends and I still lived so unconsciously. So I began to meditate and do yoga and even lived in a spiritual community in Scotland for a while. I got married and had a son.

But the cold, crisp snow, the pristine lakes and wild forests of Canada kept calling me back and I returned to Canada with my son to live as a single parent for many years. As I did, I kept getting more and more disturbed about what was happening to animals and nature. I often wondered what it would be like to take some radical steps and just put myself in the way of ‘progress’ and say “No” to the forces of destruction.

Since I was a single parent, I wasn’t in a position to picket and go to jail, so I explored these ideas through fiction. The first exploration was Tree Fever. After that, I just kept going and wrote Flying Lessons, which is based on a true story of what Michael Enright’s true experience with some injured loons in Muskoka. He inspired me. Then the disaster of Walkerton happened and I turned my attention to water issues and wrote The Wisdom of Water.

To support my novel writing habit, I worked as a personal development coach, which luckily paid me enough to keep writing. Although I do see some people in person, mostly I talk to people over the phone, hopefully helping them be the best they can be ─ a very rewarding thing!

Because of my work, I had often thought of writing a book that outlined some of the personal growth techniques I used as a coach, so when the Findhorn Foundation commissioned me to write a book on Abundance, I was pleased to do that. The result was The Findhorn Book of Everyday Abundance.

After the Abundance book, I felt a leaning towards writing for children and wrote Howl. I fell in love with the characters and decided to continue writing about them and their adventures saving animals and the environment.

I call my writing “Eco-fiction” which I believe is a genre that will expand as the environmental crisis escalates.

Howl was nominated for a few awards and that encouraged me to write the sequel, The Truth About Brave, which will be out in the fall of 2014. In The Truth About Brave, Robin and Zo-Zo sneak into a local chicken factory farm and expose its operation to their community. As my readers know, I always like to keep things hopping, so there are other issues in The Truth About Brave too: Robin has to confront her terror of public speaking and also has to try to help her sister, Ari, who she suspects has an eating disorder.

The Truth About Brave was followed by Saving Crazy where Robin and Zo-Zo take to the high seas and help save whales in the Antarctic!! Lots of high adventure in this book!

The fourth book in The Wild Place Adventure series is Leatherback Blues. The book starts with Robin getting an email from a young conservationist named Carlos who begs Robin to take a few weeks off from rescuing animals in Ontario to help save turtles in Costa Rica.

Excited about the trip, Robin convinces her side-kick, Zo-Zo, her brother, Squirm. and her quirky grandmother, Griff, to start raising money for the trip. Meanwhile, at the Wild Place Animal shelter, she continues to rescue hurt and abandoned animals – a moose that’s got its feet stuck in a fence and a bear that gets its head stuck in a honey bucket as well as the usual rescues involving skunks, raccoons and porcupines.

When they finally raise the money to go to Costa Rica, they have to deal with insects and poisonous spiders, as well as poachers who dig up turtle eggs buried in the sand on the beach and sell them. Outraged, Robin and Zo-Zo try to stop the poaching and get kidnapped. Zo-Zo wants to try to fight it out with their kidnappers, but Robin realizes that outsmarting them will win the day.

The first three books in the series have been optioned by a film maker, Maggie Monteith, for a television series. The pilot has been written, the episodes outlined, and we are just waiting for the funds to proceed with the project.

In terms of my writing process, I find first drafts agony, but tend to be compulsive once I have a novel in motion and sometimes it’s all I can do to stop and do the laundry. Luckily for me, I write a lot of the time at a cabin Georgian Bay where I can throw myself into the lake when my muscles are sizzling from too much computer work.

I consider it an honour to write. It’s both the hardest thing I do in my life and the most ecstatic.