WoW Blog Tour – How Mentors Changed My Life by Neill McKee

After something of a hiatus in posting, I am thrilled to be back and bringing you a guest post from author Neill McKee on the importance of mentors in his life.

But before I hand you over to Neill, let’s take a little look at his book that is currently blog-touring with WoW! Women on Writing:

Blurb: In this new book, McKee takes readers on a journey through his childhood, adolescence, and teenage years from the mid-40s to the mid-60s, in the small, then industrially-polluted town of Elmira, Ontario, Canada—one of the centers of production for Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

McKee’s vivid descriptions, dialog, and self-drawn illustrations are a study of how a young boy learned to play and work, fish and hunt, avoid dangers, cope with death, deal with bullies, and to build or restore “escape” vehicles. You may laugh out loud as the author recalls his exploding hormones, attraction to girls, rebellion against authority, and survival of 1960s’ “rock & roll” culture—emerging on the other side as a youth leader. After leaving Elmira, McKee describes his intensely searching university years, trying to decide which career path to follow. Except for a revealing postscript, the story ends when he accepts a volunteer teaching position on the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia.

Purchase your copy now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. Make sure to add it to your GoodReads reading list too!

Now, without further ado let me hand you over to Neill McKee for today’s guest post!

How Mentors Changed My Life – Neill McKee

In Kid on the Go!, I describe my very active childhood, as I searched for different ways of escaping the chemical stinks in my industrial hometown, Elmira, Ontario, Canada. As I grew older, I became an increasingly rebellious youth, especially in the “Rock n’ Roll” 1960s when being a “hard rock” was cool—a term used for guys who slicked back their hair like Elvis Presley, wore leather jackets, drifted through school, fixed up and raced old cars and motorcycles, and chased girls.

But in Grade 12, then the second-last year of high school in Ontario, on a cold and rainy night, I saw lights on in our family’s church, which I had stopped attending. I parked my car and entered an ongoing Young People’s meeting, where what I considered to be straightlaced girls gasped at the sight of me. There I met my first mentor, a student minister by the name of Bob who was studying theology and philosophy at university. We quickly became friends and I started to read books he suggested, such as Paul Tillich’s The Eternal Now, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters from Prison and Martin Buber’s I and Thou. Bob preferred questions rather than answers to stimulate deep discussions. I’d never experienced this approach before. When I returned the next week, I was elected Vice President and then President in Grade 13, although by then I was more interested in Zen Buddhism than Christianity. Through discussion groups, debates, music and dances, I doubled attendance.

Much changed for me in school as well, where I was encouraged by my English teacher, Mr. Exley, a man only five years my senior. He was an unusual character who taught literature with dramatic gestures. He coached me on my terrible poetry and marked my essays thoroughly with a fine red pen. He also privately lent me his copy of Bob Dylan’s album, The Times They Are A-Changin’ and recommended J.D. Salinger’s obscenity-filled The Catcher in the Rye—not on the curriculum, for sure!

I had many other mentors, like my history teacher, Mr. Huschka, who had escaped war-torn Europe with his parents in 1947 when he was 13; the minister at our church who had been a Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but had turned around while tracking a criminal across the Prairies, to return to Ontario to study theology and then do a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He was another listening and questioning man. And when I entered university, I forged friendships with people from different cultures—graduate students from Southern Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) and Egypt. The influence of all these mentors steered me in a new direction, which led me to apply to be a volunteer teacher in Malaysia, on the Island of Borneo. Kid on the Go! is an entertaining stand-alone prequel to my first memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah.

About the Author

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has written and published three books in this genre since 2015. His latest work is Kid on the Go! Memoir of My Childhood and Youth, a humorous and poignant account of his growing up in an industrially-polluted town in Ontario, Canada, and his university years. This memoir is a stand-alone prequel to his first travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah (2019) on his first overseas adventures in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo), where he served as a Canadian volunteer teacher and program administrator during 1968-70 and 1973-74. This book won the 2019 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Biography–(other than a New Mexico/Arizona subject) and a Bronze Medal in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards (Ippy Awards).

In late 2020, McKee also released Guns and Gods in my Genes: A 15,000-mile North American search through four centuries of history, to the Mayflower—an entertaining account of how he searched for his roots in Canada and the US, in which he employs vivid descriptions, dialog, poetic prose, analytical opinion, photos and illustrations. In this work, McKee slowly uncovers his American grandmother’s lineage—ancestors who were involved in almost every major war on North American soil and others, including a passenger on the Mayflower, as well as heroes, villains, rascals, and ordinary godly folk. Through his search, McKee exposes myths and uncovers facts about the true founding of America.

McKee, who holds a B.A. Degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Communication from Florida State University, lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Russia and traveled to over 80 countries on assignments during his 45-year international career. He became an expert in communication and directed/produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos, and wrote a many articles and books in the field. McKee is now busy writing another travel memoir on his career. He does readings/book signings and presentations with or without photos. He prefers lively interactive sessions.

Follow the author online at:

Author’s website: www.neillmckeeauthor.com

Kid on the Go! book page: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/kid-on-the-go

Kid on the go! buy page: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/buy-3

Author’s digital library: www.neillmckeevideos.com/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/neill-mckee-b9971b65/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McKeeNeill/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MckeeNeill

NBFS: www.northborneofrodotolkien.org

Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the tour for more great reviews and content (see the poster below for details)!

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