TikTok inspires Lac La Hache writer

Lac La Hache’s Bonita Forsyth has combined her skills as a painter and writer to create children’s stories. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Lac La Hache’s Bonita Forsyth has combined her skills as a painter and writer to create children’s stories. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Bonita Forsyth’s Tik Tok account. (Photo submitted)Bonita Forsyth’s Tik Tok account. (Photo submitted)
Over the years Bonita Forsyth has written just over a dozen books for children and pre-teens, all illustrated with her own paintings. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Over the years Bonita Forsyth has written just over a dozen books for children and pre-teens, all illustrated with her own paintings. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
A painting of a kitten by Bonita Forsyth. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)A painting of a kitten by Bonita Forsyth. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
One of Bonita Forsyth’s most popular books remains her alphabet book. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)One of Bonita Forsyth’s most popular books remains her alphabet book. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Bonita Forsyth has been freshly inspired by Tik Tok to get back into writing. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Bonita Forsyth has been freshly inspired by Tik Tok to get back into writing. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

A Lac La Hache author has found inspiration through TikTok.

Bonita Forsyth has found a new way to engage with her fans – old and new – through a new TikTok account, Huckleberry Hollow, a collaborative effort with her daughter-in-law-Raven Gentry. The TikToks consist of still images of her art and books along with royalty-free music.

“Making these little videos have inspired me to no end,” Forsyth, 69, said, adding she had no social media and no sales during the pandemic. “Raven launches them for me and adds the animation and special effects.”

Forsyth, a lifelong illustrator and painter, was first inspired to write while teaching grade one at Lac La Hache Elementary School. Her first book Snowboarding Bunny was based on an old bedtime story she told her her son Jonathan. One of the characters was named after son, while the snowboarding bunny was later named Sunny.

“I love teaching, I love storytime, I visualize stories going through my heads all the time so I decided I’d try to write some children’s books,” she said.

The book proved popular both in her class and around the South Cariboo, and Forsyth eventually created the Huckleberry Hollow children’s book series, based on sights and experiences around Lac La Hache. Local animals are the stars of the series, from a kitten befriending a fawn to a rescued white mouse that shows up in each book.

“I loved the animals so much and I wanted the kids to love the animals too. I’d put in a fact page at the end of each book, for education,” Forsyth said. “I realized, as a teacher, that a 35-page picture book is just perfect as a storytime for grade one students, so I knew I had to prepare that many paintings.”

After retiring from teaching, Forsyth took to the roads “travelling as far her car could take her” to visit schools and book signings across the province. As her audience grew up, Forsyth’s books matured as well, turning into chapter books. One night, in a dream, she came up with the idea for a mirror fantasy world that her character Jonathan, still based on her son, would find when his rabbit Sunny accidentally entered it.

She dubbed the world Mineria, a planet that had no pollution and whose people had evolved from insects to resemble fairy-like humans with wings, four fingers and antenna. Forsyth ultimately wrote a trilogy of books called Ice, Fire and Air that explored that world and its interactions with our own, illustrated with her sketches.

“I love the ending and the kids are writing to me constantly to do one now called Earth,” Forsyth said. “I could see it but after all the work of doing this I longed to go back into my paints and that’s why I’m doing another picture book.”

Forsyth has already begun work on a new version of one of her second book, Huckleberry Tea, a story about a “hairy bear.” She’s looking forward to revisiting the story and painting new pieces and aims to complete it by 2024.

Forsyth said she was thankful Gentry “showed her the way” to figure out social media. She currently has 129 followers but once she hits 1,000, Forsyth said she can go live and invite her readers behind the scenes.

“I was really scared at first, when she first put me on Facebook I was just overwhelmed by how many people there were and how unprivate it was,” she said. “Now I’m getting used to it and I love TikTok the best because I have a whole bunch of connections with other writers and artists and I’m learning so much from them and they’re so supportive of my work.”



patrick.davies@100milefreepress.net

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