Karen Bass

Photo by Kristen Bass

I  live in northwest Alberta with my husband and two cats. Our three children have flown the nest. For sixteen years I managed the local library. My favourite parts of the job were ordering new books and helping patrons find the books they want to read. I miss that, but I enjoy the extra time I have now to read – and to write.

First drafts consume me and I tend to lock myself away until they’re done. My family is very patient.  One of the challenges of writing is how isolating it can be, so I am a member of several writing organizations: the Writers Guild of AlbertaYABS (Young  Alberta Book Society), and TWUC (Writers’ Union of Canada).

I travel as much as possible and enjoy exploring new places, which is one of the reasons I also love reading, for the new experiences and new places books take me. That, and I can’t resist a good story.

What Came Before

Baby KarenI was born in High Prairie, Alberta, Canada, in 1962. When I was five my father bought the farm. No, he didn’t die. He actually bought the farm, in this case my grandfather’s farm, where my mother had been born and raised. So I grew up chasing cows when Dad moved them to a different pasture (and swallowing mosquitos in the process), creating miniature rivers with a hoe to drain the yard in the spring, improving my stilt-walking skills in the summer, making endless trips to whatever field was being harvested in the fall, and walking on hard-packed snowdrifts in the winter. And doing chores, of course. Farm kids always seem to have plenty of those

Farm girl KarenThere were a lot of great things about growing up on a farm. Riding the bus to school almost every single day — for twelve years — was not one of them. Although that bus ride did provide extra reading time. And I was always reading. Growing up in a family of readers gave me a love of stories.

My love of story was satisfied by reading for many years. I graduated from high school, worked, married, went to university, worked at home raising my three children, and all the while gave little thought to writing. Once in a while I would write a small article for the local paper, usually about a son’s hockey team, but that was it.

And Then I Started Writing

When my youngest child was four years old, I went to work at the local library. A reader’s dream job (except for the way my list of books I wanted to read got endlessly longer). After a few years, a seed was planted and, unknown to me, began to sprout. That seed was the realization that I had as much writing ability as some of the published authors whose books I shelved each day. So when a friend suggested that we give the local writing group a try, I jumped at the idea.

I had dabbled with watercolour painting for several years and thought I was fairly skilled. But from the very beginning, writing fiction felt like settling into my very own cosy armchair: it fit and I knew it was where I belonged.

Erma Bombeck, the American humourist, once wrote an essay titled, “I was 37 Years Old at the Time.” I identified with her on that point because that’s how old I was when I decided to get serious about writing. Unlike Ms. Bombeck, I don’t do humour — or at least, I don’t set out to do it. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, it just happens. Most of what I write reflects what I like to read: drama, adventure, people surviving great difficulties. Many of my stories relate to the second World War, a time period that has fascinated me since elementary school when I spent each Remembrance Day (Nov. 11th) listening to commemorative radio programs while skating on the frozen dugout beside the house.

Now I can’t imagine my life without writing. Since getting serious about it, I’ve had several short stories published, and some articles here and there.

Each time something is accepted for publication I feel like a child at a parade, not because I’m getting something published (although that is great), but because stories are for sharing.

Thank you for sharing mine.

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