When Kim Letson’s husband asked her to marry him, she first asked him a question as to where he wanted to retire.
Following a slight hesitation, he told her it should be Comox. She said yes to his proposal, and following retirement from both of their careers in the military, they did just that.
However, their life after retirement didn’t quite follow their plan. Letson’s husband Mike, who was a search and rescue technician, developed brain cancer and passed away.
“It was a huge catalyst in my life … writing was a way of honouring his struggle,” notes Letson.
Her writing transformed into a book – Pomegranates at 4,800 Metres. She recently completed her second book, Soul of a Nomad, which has been officially released this month.
“The sorrow is a terrible thing but I want people to see that (it’s possible to) come out on the other side. If I can show another person that they’re going through something similar, you’ll be okay, but you’re not going to come out of it the same.”
Following her husband’s death, Letson decided she needed a change of scenery. Her mom, who she describes as a “great hiker” planned to do a walk across Great Britain, and invited her to join.
“When I did the walk, I began to heal inside. I hadn’t done a lot of travelling (prior to that.)”
From there, she decided to travel to Tanzania, which she wrote about in her first book.
She asked her older son if he’d like to join her in southeast Asia working at an elephant sanctuary. From there, they went to Nepal – in particular, the Mount Everest base camp – where she says “the country got under my skin.”
She estimates she’s been back at least a dozen times. She’s since travelled to the Balkans and Patagonia but says she’s not aiming to fulfill a bucket list.
“I’m wanting to achieve an understanding of our humanity – taking in the concept of ‘the other.’ ”
Soul of a Nomad follows her travels and adventurous spirit through her journeys and revelations by herself and with friends. She credits her mother for influencing her travel appetite.
“My mom grew up in the depression and to be living in England and travel around Europe was a dream for her. (Later in life) she saved up money so that when I turned 50 she saved up $10,000 for me and $10,000 for herself. She asked me what I wanted to do.”
The pair decided to travel to eastern Europe and part of their stories together on the trip made its way into Soul of a Nomad. She later took a trip with friends to follow the Silk Road, which also made its way into the book, and says many of her characters are based on friends who she travels with, and much is autobiographical.
“I poke fun at myself and I haven’t changed (my characters); it makes us fallible – things like missing a train or arguing with a border guard in the middle of the night.”
Soul of a Nomad is now available at independent bookstores including Laughing Oyster in Courtenay and Bolen Books in Victoria; it is also available online on Amazon.