One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.
This mug was handmade in Haida Gwaii and sent to me by a friend who was living there at the time. I did the math and that had to be over twenty years ago, which is, um, a bit mind-boggling. It’s been my favourite mug ever since, because 1) it’s really big, and 2) it’s got this thumb crater on top of the handle that fits just right, great for those of us who need two hands when it’s early.
It’s my every single morning, if-it’s-dirty-I-wash-it coffee mug. To me, it signifies friendship, the kind that spans decades and long distances, and the comfort of daily rituals.
Left: Pages from a hastily drafted short story, written at the Clarion West Writers Workshop for a Very Famous Author. A lot of sweat and panic went into that draft, and it wasn’t my best work, but I finished something, which I took as a triumph and better than Plan B (pack my bags and run away in the night, slinking back home never to write again). I called it “Magpie’s Dragon”; it was about a woman who hoards magical objects and the young girl who discovers her secret.
Right: That little story seed stuck with me. I wanted to explore more deeply human relationships with objects, and how we imbue them with power through our emotions and memories. A few years and many drafts later, that seed grew into THE MEMORY COLLECTORS, a real live novel, a physical object that I can now hold in my hands. The pages pictured show the only scene that remains from the novel’s origins, but I owe a debt to the workshop, my teachers, and my classmates for creating a rich environment in which this writer and her story could develop and flourish.
UPDATE: Winners have been selected, thanks to everyone who participated!
I’m giving away two advance copies of my debut novel, THE MEMORY COLLECTORS!
An atmospheric and enchanting literary debut, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Alice Hoffman, about two women haunted by buried secrets and bound by a shared fantastical gift.
TO ENTER: Follow me on Instagram and tag a friend in the comments. Contest ends midnight on Wednesday, October 21. I’ll pick a pair of friends at random to “buddy read” the book together.
US and Canada only. And stay tuned for more chances to win free advance copies of my book, coming soon!
Perfect for fans of The Scent Keeper and The Keeper of Lost Things, an atmospheric and enchanting debut novel about two women haunted by buried secrets but bound by a shared gift and the power the past holds over our lives.
Ev has a mysterious ability, one that she feels is more a curse than a gift. She can feel the emotions people leave behind on objects and believes that most of them need to be handled extremely carefully, and—if at all possible—destroyed. The harmless ones she sells at Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market to scrape together a living, but even that fills her with trepidation. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Harriet hoards thousands of these treasures and is starting to make her neighbors sick as the overabundance of heightened emotions start seeping through her apartment walls.
When the two women meet, Harriet knows that Ev is the only person who can help her make something truly spectacular of her collection. A museum of memory that not only feels warm and inviting but can heal the emotional wounds many people unknowingly carry around. They only know of one other person like them, and they fear the dark effects these objects had on him. Together, they help each other to develop and control their gift, so that what happened to him never happens again. But unbeknownst to them, the same darkness is wrapping itself around another, dragging them down a path that already destroyed Ev’s family once, and threatens to annihilate what little she has left.
The Memory Collectors casts the everyday in a new light, speaking volumes to the hold that our past has over us—contained, at times, in seemingly innocuous objects—and uncovering a truth that both women have tried hard to bury with their pasts: not all magpies collect shiny things—sometimes they gather darkness.