- Pictured right are notes from my attempts to come up with a title for what would eventually become The Memory Collectors. The working title for the book was Magpie, and it kept that name right up through the deal announcement and the editing process.Once we got to the cover design stage, my editor and I started talking about whether or not Magpie should stick. I liked its simplicity, but I wasn’t sure it quite fit. I just hadn’t come up with anything I liked better. After some back and forth, we decided on The Magpies. That stuck for a little while, through the initial versions of the cover. But then the publisher and sales team suggested another change. They thought the title should hint more at the magic within the story.I should confess here that decision-making isn’t one of my strong points. I started brainstorming, and so did my wonderful editor, Melanie Iglesias Perez, and even my husband got involved, until I had come up with a list of…108 possible titles. (To my editor and agents SO SORRY.)I’d put the The Memory Gatherers on my shortlist, and Melanie riffed off that to come up with The Memory Collectors. That title got the most votes, and when I saw it on the book’s gorgeous cover, I knew it was the one.
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
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.
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.