I grew up in a politically-charged, first-generation Canadian family. My father single-handedly, or so it seemed, spent most of his life trying to take down the Soviet Union and free Ukraine from its servitude. Heated discussions around the dinner table were common and I can still remember a year when my eldest brother and father didn’t speak as a result of a disagreement they had over Richard Nixon (“he is not a crook”...”oh, yes he is...”).
They eventually made peace, but there were always expectations that my siblings and I would continue in my father’s footsteps in being politically active and making this planet a better place to live in (translation: obliterating communism from the universe).
However, the debates and conflicts in my family nudged me in the opposite direction, to that of an apolitical being. Harmony was what I was seeking, not the discord of ego-driven politics. Fortunately for me, by the time I was writing my first novel, Theft By Chocolate, a sassy museum mystery about a woman of a certain age looking for chocolate, love, and an international art thief in all the wrong places, the Soviet Union had long been taken to its knees (my father taking full credit, BTW). So there is no subliminal political message in my cozy mystery.
It was not long after Theft By Chocolate was available in electronic form that I received an email from the delightful Eloise Aston, one of my publishers at Attica Books, providing me with an opportunity to start paying it back. For some time, Eloise has had a relationship with the eLibrary Project, a group putting electronic readers (Kindles) in the hands of children in disadvantaged schools.
“The advantage of the Kindle is that it provides learners with access to a large volume of information. The Kindle can store up to 1,400 books... has a battery life of a month, and only costs R1200 ($150; £100) including taxes and shipping. Many books prescribed at school level are copyright-free and Kindles may be a cost effective way of providing students with access to great literature from around the world.”
Once the pilot project is complete in St. Francis College in South Africa, research outcomes will be submitted to policy makers and NGOs to determine whether eBook readers should be implemented more widely.
When Eloise asked if I would be willing to donate an eCopy of Theft By Chocolate to the project, the answer was yes, yes, yes, and YES. South Africa has always been on the edge of my peripheral vision and Oprah Winfrey’s efforts in building schools for young women there has not gone unnoticed by me. Embedded in my mind is the quote, “Educate a boy, and you educate an individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community.”
I’ve always felt the greatest gift my parents gave me was their support of my educational pursuits and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunities I had. Through education I was lifted from a very small farming community where the animal population outnumbered that of its humans, and I was transplanted in Canada’s largest metropolis living the life of an avid culture hound.
My contribution to the eLibrary Project is so modest it hardly seems worth mentioning. However, it is a project to which I hope to bring more attention as Theft By Chocolate becomes more popular. As a start, the addition of my book to their library, this blog post, tweets, and the listing of the project’s link on my site are symbols of greater intentions.
I learned long ago in my yoga studies that it only takes one candle to light a thousand flames and that we are not all destined to be larger-than-life Mother Theresa’s. We sometimes must learn to be satisfied with making even the most incremental improvements in the lives of people around us.
So, with this blog, I express my gratitude to Eloise Aston for showing me my love of chocolate and my book, Theft By Chocolate, can indeed change the world. Perhaps I am no Soviet-Union slayer, but with my father’s angel wings wrapped around me, I hope he feels how the steps I am taking resonate with my spirit and journey on Earth.
For more information on the eLibrary Project, please click on the following link:
In dedication to my father, Bohdan Kulchyckyj, political activist and beloved father, 1925-2012.