• Books and reading,  Bright Things

    Bright Things #19: Grimm’s Fairy Tales

    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.

    If I had to choose a favourite childhood book, it would be this copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It’s the only book I still own from when I was a kid. It has over 200 stories in it, and I know I read them all because I checked them off in the table of contents with a pencil crayon. I received it as a gift when I was about seven, and it was such a revelation to read the original versions of stories that I thought I knew.

    I remember vividly how I felt reading the Grimm’s version of Cinderella, especially the moments when her stepsisters cut off their own heels and toes in order to fit into the glass slipper. I am lucky to have had a lovely and idyllic childhood, so the idea that such brutal ambition existed in the world was shocking to me, but also terribly fascinating. I guess it should be no surprise that my own stories often go to dark places.

  • Books and reading,  Bright Things

    Bright Things #18: Bookshelves

    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.

    When my husband and I got married, my father wanted to give us a gift that he’d made with his hands. Naturally, I asked for a bookshelf, imagining something small and simple. When he asked me to count and measure my husband’s graphic novels as well as my trade paperbacks, I remembered that simple isn’t really my dad’s style.

    These took him over a year to finish. Each individual shelf is a box, and the whole thing comes apart and can be reconfigured without actually removing the books. This isn’t even all of them, there’s a fourth in Shane’s office that didn’t fit in our bedroom. They are probably—no, definitely—the most beautiful pieces of furniture that we own. Bright things to hold more bright things.

    Next week I’ll talk about one of my favourite books on these shelves.

  • Bright Things

    Bright Things #17: Lucky Beans

    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 husband bought these beans while we were living in our first apartment together. I’ve never liked baked beans, so I wasn’t going to eat them, and they got shuffled to the back of the cupboard. My husband forgot about them until we moved down the hall to a quieter unit…where the beans sat at the back of the cupboard for another year. They moved with us from Vancouver to Victoria, and back again. They moved to an apartment near the ocean in White Rock.

    The beans were now five years old and had become sort of a joke. We’d laugh when we packed them up, and we’d laugh when we unpacked them, and then we’d slide them to the back of another cupboard. They were as old as our relationship. This is about the time that they became the lucky beans. Of course, as soon as a thing is labeled lucky, it becomes untouchable. We couldn’t eat them now. What would happen? We were stuck with them. We got married, and moved back to the city. We had a baby. We took the baby and the beans and moved across the country, and back again.
    When the beans, and our relationship, turned twenty years old, we decided it was time–not to get rid of them, oh no. We stopped hiding the beans, and gave them a place of honour in our living room. Our daughter, now a teenager, finds them disturbing and weird. I mean, so do I, a little. We didn’t mean for a can of beans to become a symbol of our love, but that’s what happened. Also, they’re lucky, and everyone knows you can’t get rid of lucky beans.
  • Bright Things

    Bright Things #16: Magpie’s Dragon

    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’ve mentioned before that the spark for my debut novel came from a short story I wrote at the Clarion West Writers Workshop. That story was much more fantastical than The Memory Collectors. In it, Harriet is a witch who hoards actually magical objects, and she runs into trouble when she steals a neighbour’s dragon. The story was called “Magpie’s Dragon,” and after it was workshopped, one of my classmates gave me this magnet (thank you, Blythe).
    I took the dragon home with me and later, I brought it to work and stuck it on the white board next to my desk. Besides reminding me of one of my all-time favourite humans, and one of my best-ever life experiences, it helped to keep me connected to a part of me that I was afraid might get lost. This was at a time when other responsibilities and pressures made finding time to write challenging. Some days I needed a visual reminder of my other self, the Kim who created things more interesting and alive than spreadsheets (although to be fair, I do get a thrill from an especially functional spreadsheet).

     

    Eventually I found ways to balance the various parts of my life. My novel got written and I grew to appreciate the ways that the security and flexibility of my day job enabled my creative side to flourish. The dragon is still stuck on my white board, along with last year’s calendar displaying March 2020, waiting for my eventual return to the office. I will be happy to see it again.