July 18th, 2024

First-time author writes Crowsnest Pass ghost story

By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on March 26, 2024.

Herald photo by Steffanie Costigan Southern Alberta author Kimberly Kocken has released her first novel "The Ghosts of Lille" and will be holding a launch on Wednesday at Analog Books.

A local author has written a new adult horror novel and is preparing for a reading of her first book at Analog Books downtown.

Kimberly Kocken, a high school English teacher who has become an author, has written “The Ghosts of Lille,” a ghost story that contains history about the Franks Slide that occurred in 1903 in the Crowsnest Pass.

“It’s set in the Crowsnest Pass. And it goes back and forth between two timelines for two main characters to explain a ghost story that’s happening in a house that a family has just moved into,” said Kocken.

Kocken grew as an Indigenous youth where she took interest in poetry and was inspired to write her first novel after purchasing property in the Crowsnest Pass.

She earned Bachelor degrees in psychology and education at the University of Lethbridge as well as a master’s degree in education.

Kocken noted the setting of her book is homage to the Pass.

“The Frank Slide is a part of the setting and is a part of the plot. So it’s kind of an homage to the Crowsnest Pass and that whole area,” she said.

Her book launch is set for this Wednesday starting at 6:30 p.m.

“So far, anybody who’s read it, I’ve gotten really great reviews. Lots of people are excited about it and wanting to come and meet me at the book launch and stuff. I’m pretty pumped about it.”

She described her early desire to publish a book and the inspiration she felt moving to Crowsnest Pass that set the stage for her novel.

“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to write a novel. It was like a goal that I had. But I kind of approached it throughout my lifetime and ideas would fizzle out and things like that.

“And when I bought a property out in the Crowsnest Pass just a few things happened in my house. When we first moved out there that kind of got me thinking about the area and how many people have tragic ends out there,” said Kocken.

“We live literally right under Frank Slide. That’s what we see from our backyard. And so over time, it just kind of developed into that idea about our house specifically, even though it’s not haunted.

“But what if it was? And one of the reasons that I was thinking that was because our house is one of many that was actually dragged down to the Pass from a ghost town called Lille. And that’s where part of the story takes place,” she said.

Lille was a company coal mining village that had a population of about 400 in the early part of the 20th century. The mines there closed in 1912, in part due to the high ash content of the coal being produced.

Lille was taken a part and most buildings moved elsewhere.

Kocken’s novel made the best sellers list in the publishing house Friesen Press.

“(It’s) for adult focus, but it’s an interesting book (and) engaging book that I think young adults would be interested in too. And I’ve had also lots of older readers, who’ve checked it out who absolutely love it,” she said.

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