Interview with Author Kay Broome

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we interviewed author Kay Broome about her writing and her debut, The Talking Forest: Tree Runes for a New Millennium, an innovative runic array that beautifully captures the image and character of Canada’s majestic native trees. (Read the review here.)

Kay Broome has lived most of her adult life in Toronto, where Canada’s Boreal and Carolinian forests meet, with a five-year sojourn in Vancouver, B.C., the “city of forests”. She has always been fascinated by how trees interact with each other and their environment, as well as their effect on the human psyche. The Talking Forest: Tree Runes for a New Millennium is her first book and is the result of almost 20 years of research and study into the trees of her native land. This is her first book and she may be reached at her website and at her author pages on Goodreads and Reedsy Discovery.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I generally do two types of research. One is the obvious knowledge gained from reading books on trees: from books on folklore and myth; botany & field guides; social and ecological sciences; the history and politics of trees. The other type of research which I like even better, is simply to walk in forested areas, marshes, parks and streets: anywhere there are a lot of trees. Just being among trees gives me a sense of peace and connectivity to them and to the world. This book and array of runes have been at least 20 years in the making.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Having to do my own advertising, say on AMS, Goodreads, Reedsy and other sites has forced me to compartmentalize my life more. Also I have a tendency to ramble on when I write and because I had so much information from my readings of folklore, botany field guides & social studies, etc. I have had to constantly force myself to stick to the topic at hand. This has made my writing more succinct and to the point.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Not really from childhood, but from the summer following my first year at university – when I read Lord of the Rings for the first time. I’ve since read the book at least 15 times (and seen the movies 3 times)! Along with Tolkien’s believable characters and ability to tell a gripping tale, I think what really appealed to me was his obvious love for trees. Whether it’s the Ents, the trees of the Old Forest or the beauty of Lothlorien, Tolkein’s Middle Earth is a world I feel comfortable in.

What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

I have very eclectic tastes: In fiction, I tend toward fantasy, mystery, horror, some of the classics. I guess my favorite writers are Stephen King & Thomas Hardy, but I read a lot of other writers as well. I also like to read a lot of non-fiction – political, historical, new age. The writing of Fred Hageneder has really intrigued me. His love for trees and their spiritual power really shines through in his work. I just recently have read Erynn Rowan Laurie’s Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom and find the author’s framing of the Celtic array is quite fascinating and useful. Science that utilizes a wholistic, spiritual outlook really appeals to me. Thus the scientific work of mycologist Paul Stamets and tree biologists Diana Beresford-Kroeger & Suzanne Simard appeal to me. Although I am ashamed to say I have not read the latter’s Finding The Mother Tree yet, I am planning to do so as soon as I find time along with Masaru Emoto’s and Stephen J. Pyne’s works on the water and fire elements respectively.

Tell us some more about your book.

The Talking Forest: Tree Runes for a New Millennium is a runic system based on 42 trees common to the forests of eastern North America. Most of these trees grow also on the west coast and other areas of the continent as ornamentals, if not in the wild. The book explains why I created the set and delves into each rune separately, giving the folklore, history and spiritual traits of each rune’s representative tree. I also explain why each rune is designed the way it is.

What inspired the premise of your book?

The book was created out of a great desire to commune on a spiritual level with my beloved trees of southern Ontario. Here on the edge of two climate zones, we are blessed not only with the mighty conifers and hardy maples, birches and elms of the Boreal forest, but we have many broad-leaved trees such as tuliptree, hornbeam, sassafras and others, that thrive here due to the Carolinian forest of Eastern North America. In the west, The only divination system we have had till now based on trees is the Celtic Ogham and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with using it as such, it is not ostensibly a tree rune system. In addition, the Ogham does not include important trees such as Pine, Cherry, Maple and other trees that have much to teach us.

How does your faith life/ethical outlook inform your writing?

As a practicing Pagan, I have always sensed deity in nature. My world view acknowledges connectivity with the world around us and other life forms as essential to living in harmony. And of course, my lifelong love of trees has led me to create the Talking Forest runes.

What life experiences have shaped your writing most?

I think growing up on a farm really shaped how I see the world. Even though I have lived in cities almost all of my life, these have been cities with a lot of parkland: Toronto and Vancouver in particular. Also finding paganism in my late 20s definitely led me toward the eventual creation of the Talking Forest runes.

What makes this book important right now?

Any book that helps us appreciate and connect more to trees can only be of benefit in these times of biomass loss. I am hoping that the book eventually makes inroads into Eurasia where most of the Talking Forest trees grow natively or at least as ornamentals. Interestingly, I found while doing research on the book that many of the trees that now grow in North America, died out in Europe during the last Ice Age. However, many survived in China, with the result that China, Turkey and other places in the east have the same tree species thriving, albeit with different variants, e.g. Korean rather than Balsam Fir and Paulownia, a close relative of Catalpa.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to continue research into the Talking Forest – this is a new system I’ve created and copyrighted and there is still a lot of work I wish to do on developing how we can work with the runes.

Link to Website:

Kay Broome is also on Goodreads, Pinterest and Reedsy Discovery.


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