Lost and Found in London
How the Railway Tracks Hotel Changed Me
Posted Jan 5, 2012 By Kristyn Wallace
EMC News - Kathleen O'Hara started writing her first book when she was just 10 years old, using a fountain pen with turquoise ink."I really thought I was going to be a writer," says O'Hara, who never completed that first work. "But life intervenes."
Life didn't intervene forever, though. O'Hara is the author of the recently-published book Lost and Found in London: How the Railway Tracks Hotel Changed Me.
O'Hara calls the book "faction" because while 65 per cent of it is based on the facts and her experiences in London, the other 35 per cent of it is fiction. She says she used this combination "because life doesn't have a neat beginning, middle and end."
It was a departure for the author, who was born and raised in Kingston and worked in journalism and communications for several years.
"I enjoyed having the freedom to almost enhance reality," O'Hara says of writing the book. "I really like commenting on what is going on in the world in as accurate a way as possible, but I also like to give my own interpretation."
Lost and Found tells the story of O'Hara's chance encounter with Chris, a life coach living in Wimbeldon who O'Hara meets two weeks before her visitors' visa is set to expire and she will have to return home to Canada.
For those two weeks, O'Hara lived with Chris and he shared with her some of his strategies for overcoming life's many challenges.
"He just inspired me and sort of built me up," O'Hara says. "I had a lot of obstacles in my way. Changing yourself, as Chris pointed out, takes a lot of work. It's almost a daily process where you say, 'No, I'm not going to fall back on this negative way of thinking or this negative practice'."
The book includes many of these strategies and exercises, which eventually helped O'Hara get out of a rut and begin a new chapter - literally - in her life.
"I've always been interested in self-awareness, and having some control over your destiny," she says. "I was aware that there was more to life than bumbling along, making the same mistakes.
She says writing a book with a self-help element hadn't always been her intention, but ended up happening naturally as she recalled her experiences with Chris.
"If you have any kind of awareness that can help people change, it's good to share it," she says.
After she returned from London, it took O'Hara two years to write the book.
"I must have gone over that book a hundred times, just to make sure. It was a lot of work," she says.
"I've never seen myself so determined, and the result is my book. It's very wonderful, when I look at it."
In an effort to ensure that readers see the book, O'Hara has been pounding the pavement of cities like Toronto and New York City, asking store owners to put the book on their shelves. So far, her tenacity is paying off. Just a week before Christmas, she walked into the Barnes & Noble in Union Square and convinced the manager to order four copies of the book.
"I just stood there in this huge, bustling Christmas crowd and thought, I'm going to be here. I'm going to be in New York City. It was very moving," she says.
O'Hara isn't sure what she'll do after she's finished promoting the book. She describes herself as a "political animal as well as a spiritual animal," and has been very involved in the local community as the founder of Transition Kingston, an environmental group, and a committee member of the Save Our Prison Farms campaign.
"There have been a lot of really supportive people here who have been really generous with their time," she says. "I felt that, as a new writer, I was being treated more than fairly, and I really appreciate it."
There is one thing she knows for certain, however.
"If I won the lottery, I'd be back in London tomorrow," she says.
Lost and Found in London: How the Railway Tracks Hotel Changed Me is available locally at Novel Idea and Indigo, as well as online at Amazon.com.