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.I have so many of these it was hard to pick which ones to photograph. The more I look around our house, the more I find, cards and pictures stuck on the refrigerator, framed on the walls, tucked into drawers and in the corners of bookshelves. I love the spontaneous, free outpouring of creativity and love in all of these bits of paper, marker, and glitter glue. They remind me of the joy that comes from making things just for fun, from uninhibited self-expression.These days my child’s creative outlets have become more sophisticated. Last Christmas she made a comic for her father, and gifted me a song she wrote and performed on her ukelele. Over the months of the pandemic she’s gotten more interested in digital art and animation. She’s been working on a secret project, logging close to 100 hours on something that will be unveiled over the holidays. I have no idea what it is, although I see her sneaking props into her bedroom — a toque, a skipping rope, an oven mitt. I cannot wait to see what she’s created.
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.
My mother gave me these Padraig Cottage slippers for Christmas a few years back. They are by far the best slippers that I have ever owned: cozy, beautiful, and durable. (Note: my husband disagrees with the beautiful part. He is wrong.)
A thing I didn’t expect was that these would become my everyday, most worn shoes in 2020. They’ve been on my feet pretty much all day every day since March (don’t worry, they are machine washable!). I’ve worn them in countless business meetings and training sessions for my day job, in publishing industry meetings, and in the various Zoom gatherings that have taken the place of my social life.
No matter what challenges, both good and bad, I may be facing on any given day, and no matter how much uncertainty or anxiety I’m feeling, my slippers are there, keeping me grounded. Thank you, my soft, cushiony friends.
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.I can’t remember when my grandmother gave this to me, but she passed away in 1999, and it’s lived in the junk drawer of a dozen homes, so it was a while ago. This isn’t a valuable object. I think Granny got it for free with her Reader’s Digest subscription.I have more beautiful and more meaningful mementos of her, but this calculator is something I use almost daily, especially now that I’m working from home (finance is a big part of my day job). Sure, I could’ve brought my proper accounting calculator home from the office, but does my work calculator have bejeweled buttons that make a loud and satisfying clackety sound when you hit them? (It does not.)Granny was a school principal and a teacher. Fun fact! Granny grew up in Iowa and lived in the Canadian prairies before she made it to BC, where I was eventually born. In the 1930s, she was principal of the same small-town Saskatchewan elementary school that my future husband would attend in the 1980s. Anyway, chances were good that if you went to visit Granny, you’d get a math lesson at some point, and since Granny lived in a suite on the second floor of our house, I got a lot of math lessons. She wouldn’t have let me use a calculator back then but for me, numbers and Granny go hand in hand, and this old gadget with its flashy buttons (she was also a sucker for shiny things) keeps her memory close.
My husband gave me this comfort bird for Christmas last year. I wish I knew the artist who made it. He came across it at an open air market in Vancouver and knew immediately that I would love it. Comfort birds fit nicely in the palm of your hand. They are meant to be held and touched, to provide tactile soothing much like a worry stone. This one lives in my coat pocket, where it has gotten a lot of use over the last year.
My husband didn’t predict 2020—he just knows that I am both a bird lover and a worrier. Nevertheless, his timing was spot on. Thanks, little bird, for keeping me company when I’m out in the world, and thank you, husband, for knowing me so well.
Reviews of The Memory Collectors are starting to come in and it’s both exciting and terrifying. I’m especially delighted to share these recent endorsements from several wonderful authors. It means a lot to me that each of them took the time to read my book, and to provide such glowing praise. One thing I love about all of these quotes is that they give an additional sense of some of the dark and tangled themes I tackle in the book, so if you’re curious to learn more about it, do have a look:
“In The Memory Collectors, Neville creates a richly imagined world that seamlessly merges the magical with the everyday. Her characters will feel very real to anyone who has sensed the haunting power in objects and places that awaken deep emotions from their past. This inventive debut is a hopeful tale about the possibility of recovery after childhood trauma, and about learning how to trust and forgive—especially oneself. I guarantee you will never feel the same about that box of keepsakes stored in your attic after you read this book.”
– Glendy Vanderah, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars
“An old, horrifying crime; objects imprinted with emotions; two women hiding from their dark pasts—The Memory Collectors is thought-provoking and suspenseful, full of haunting secrets, twists, and turns. Kim Neville’s beautifully-written debut lays bare the immense power of memories and how they can both hurt us . . . and heal us.”
– Heather Webber, USA Today bestselling author of Midnight at the Blackbird Café and South of the Buttonwood Tree
“In this atmospheric and beautifully written novel, Neville weaves for us a world in which ordinary objects retain the imprint of strong emotions and influence the moods and actions of the people they touch. By turns heartbreaking, terrifying, and beautiful, The Memory Collectors is ultimately a triumphant tale of redemption and forgiveness.”
– Kerry Anne King, bestselling author of Everything You Are and Whisper Me This
“An unforgettable parable about empathy, memory, and healing that builds to a heart-pulsing crescendo. Not only is The Memory Collectors an exquisite exploration of the ways family secrets bind us to the past, it’s also one of the most magical novels I’ve read in a long time. An extraordinary debut.”
– Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams