When Emma Gibb was thirteen, there was no one more fascinating to her than her folk-healing, superstitious, Ukrainian baba. Fifteen years later, Emma tells her baba she is pregnant, and those superstitions she used to find so fascinating, come back to haunt her. On top of that, she has to deal with the vile principal at her school whose main goal seems to be to make Emma’s life miserable, wacky pregnancy hormones and an overly critical mother! Throw in large, Ukrainian family and life gets unbearably stressful. What follows is a funny, touching and, in the end, heartbreaking story about the importance of family, even when they are driving us crazy!
Kim Morrall is an Author and Dabbler
of all things artsy. Her positive attitude and Gypsy spirit are intoxicating.
Her first book "Baba and Me" is a great read of Ukrainian folk-lore and the trials and triumphs of living with a large Ukrainian Family. This book has seen it's name on Saskatoon's Best sellers list and continues to be a local favorite.
So tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve lived in Saskatchewan all my life – born in Regina, raised in Saskatoon and have lived in Prince Albert for over 20 years now. It’s only more recently I’ve appreciated the beauty of Saskatchewan. We live in a pretty spectacular place. I still don’t like Winters though! I have four smart, beautiful children – Emma, Joshua, Sophia and Noah. Two of my kids are teenagers, two are diabetic, they are all in school and they all play instruments and are involved in other activities like hockey and youth groups, so, needless to say, I’m busy. I have two degrees – Arts – majored in Sociology with an emphasis on Criminal Studies and a Human Justice degree. I worked at Social Services for awhile before I had kids. Now I don’t work a regular 9 to 5 job, but have lots of little jobs that I do – artist, writer, actor, director, instructor – I have offered classes at the Prince Albert Arts Centre in children’s theatre, art and a class called The Art of Afternoon Tea, an educational assistant in the Catholic School system, and I also work once a week at the On the Avenue Artisan’s Gallery. My husband John is a prosecutor and I’m very lucky in that his job supports all of us and, even more, he supports me and all my crazy ventures! My life is trying to keep everything organized and getting stuff done, usually it’s down to the last minute. I’m a bit of a procrastinator unfortunately. I’m a huge dreamer and I don’t like to sit and wait for things to happen. I often wish there was 6 of me!
You Dabble in ALL sorts of Arts, tell us about that.
I’m a painter. I mostly paint with acrylics. Although, I’ve worked in other mediums and am always looking for new and unique ways to create art. I’ve been asked to be a guest artist with Prince Albert’s Kyla Art Group this year which is a HUGE honour. I’m also involved in theatre and, more recently, film. I’m involved with Odyssey Productions. I’ve been with the organization for over 20 years and I’m now President of their board. I also act and direct for them. I occasionally do improv with the Off the Cuff Improv group here in Prince Albert. More recently, I’ve been trying to do some film work. I have been in a few indie productions here in town and just last weekend went to Regina to be an extra in a bigger budgeted film about a robotic dog voiced by Michael J. Fox! Lol! I wrote a book called Baba and Me which managed to make it to number one on the Saskatoon’s McNally Robinson’s best seller list, beating out Yann Martel and Stephen King! I will probably brag about that forever. Ha ha! I haven’t tackled the music scene yet, but I’m sure I’ll get there! I’m like Michaelangelo, or should I say Michealangela! Lol!
Tell us about your Book, Baba and me.
Baba and Me is about a woman named Emma from a large, Ukrainian family who is pregnant. Her baba is a superstitious, folk-healer who drives Emma crazy with all her superstitions about pregnancy to the point that Emma distances herself in order to cope, but, in the meantime, is missing out on some pretty significant problems with her baba and her family. It’s a work of fiction, but it’s inspired by my life and most of the characters are based on real people. Baba is based on all of my babas. I think a lot of people enjoy it, especially if they grew up in a Ukrainian family, because it feels very familiar to them. I have had many people say to me – “That’s exactly how it was in my family!” with big smiles on their faces, which is the best affirmation ever. I know I’m not the best writer, but I just wanted to write a book that brought out certain emotions and felt familiar and I think I’ve done that.
Where did the idea come from? And How did you make it happen?
The idea just came to me while lying in bed one night. For whatever reason, I was thinking of the superstitions I heard when I was pregnant and how my parents took me to a folk-healer when I was younger and very afraid of the dark. This baba performed the wax ritual on me that’s mentioned in the book. It’s a ritual that’s supposed to get rid of your “fear sickness”. While I was lying in bed, I was thinking of how crazy it all seemed and where do these beliefs and rituals come from. The idea of the book formed from there and I then researched Ukrainian pregnancy superstitions. From there I wrote out a synopsis of each chapter – basing almost all the chapters on a different superstition – and then started writing…longhand! It took me years to finish because I would start and stop several times. When I was done I had my mom and husband read it over to help edit it several times, but that took quite awhile as well. I think it took 8 years in total, which was WAY too long. I could have tried to find a publisher, but I just wanted it out there, so I self-published through Amazon. I’m currently making it into a screenplay, because I had more than one person tell me they could see it as a movie. THAT would be amazing!
Where can we find the book and are you planning to write another?
You can find the book on any of the Amazon sites, McNally Robinson in Saskatoon, On the Avenue Artisan’s Gallery and through me. I have a Facebook author page and a website. There is also a lady in Wakaw who has been selling the books for me. I am planning to do a sequel to Baba and Me, but it’s just trying to find the time to write it with all my other interests. I have done some research though and have written synopses for each chapter, so it’s just a matter of getting down to writing it. I also have some other ideas for other books and writing projects. In particular, I have an idea for a Steampunk trilogy and I have a play I want to write as well. It actually is making me tired just writing about it. Lol!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from my family, my friends, my faith, nature, politics, art, books, articles and people I read about, religion, life, my dreams…
Do you ever feel uninspired or overwhelmed? How do you get yourself back on track?
Oh my goodness! ALL the time. Especially when I get overwhelmed. I have SO many interests and SO many things I want to do and when I think about it all, I tend to shut down and do nothing. The best way for me to get back on track is to make lists. I’m a big believer in making lists and getting organized. Then I can figure what needs to be done first and go from there. It definitely helps move things along. It’s hard when you feel uninspired because I feel sometimes like a fraud – like who am I to write a book or call myself an artist since I’ve had no formal training. It’s a terrible mindset and you have to just remind yourself that if you paint or write you can call yourself an artist and a writer.
8. What is your favorite place on earth? The place that makes your heart sing?
My favorite place is wherever all my family is – which means usually at home. I love being out in nature too – that’s what really fuels the soul and makes my heart sing and it’s where I usually have most profound and deepest thoughts.
What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have rituals or things you do every day to keep you positive and moving forward?
I’m not sure I have a typical day. I kind of wish I did though. I’m not really a morning person, although I do find when I wake up earlier I get more done, so I’m trying to be more of one. Most days I’m home and it’s just a matter of tackling my lists and trying not to go too crazy with all the things I have to do! I don’t really have any rituals or things I do except maybe prayer and meditation of sorts. It’s probably more like day dreaming. I’m big on day dreaming and just letting my mind drift away for awhile. That’s probably why I never get anything done. Lol! I try not to let myself ever be stuck in the negative for too long and I think the best way to get out of it is to just work and surround yourself with interesting and positive people.
If you could share some words of advice/wisdom to other women thinking about chasing a passion, what you tell them?
So often I see women, mothers in particular, who only live their lives for other people. I think I’m living proof that you can be a good mom AND pursue your passions. Don’t get me wrong. My family and children always will come first, but I think it’s in your best interest to make sure you do something for you. It’s good for your children to see you following your dreams as well, because it will encourage them to follow theirs. Don’t wait until you retire, because you never know what life will bring you and you don’t want to have regrets. And don’t be afraid to try new things. Fear is the ultimate evil. The real tragedy is not in failing, but in not in even ever having tried. Surround yourself with people who push you and support you and have the courage to try!
Kim Morrall lives in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with her husband John and her four children Emma, Joshua, Sophia, and Noah. She is an artiste, a thespian, an instructor, a purveyor of wisdom on Facebook and a lover of the color purple