• Bright Things,  Writing life

    Bright Things #15: Seaweed and Button Pendants

    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.

    These are my newest special things. They were gifts to myself, in celebration of the upcoming release of The Memory Collectors. They came from Swallow Jewelry, who are a couple of Vancouver Island beachcombers and silversmiths. They use silver clay to imprint their finds and create these beautiful pieces. Shiny treasures made from found objects! Of course I could not resist.
    The pendant on the bottom is an imprint of seaweed collected on the beach along Dallas Road in Victoria, BC. That stretch along the ocean is very dear to me. My husband and I lived in Victoria during my earliest writing days. Dallas Road was our favourite place to hang out. Some of the ideas for my first short stories were scribbled on that beach.
    The top pendant is imprinted from a vintage uniform button, which is a perfect symbol for my book. A jar of old buttons appears on page 9, and its discovery sets the plot in motion. There’s even a uniform button in the jar.
    If you attend the virtual launch for The Memory Collectors (more info here), I will likely be wearing both of these. They’re kind of like a “How It Started/How It’s Going” for my neck, a pretty representation of my writing journey.
  • Publishing,  Writing life

    From Magpie to The Memory Collectors: On Choosing a Title

    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.
  • Bright Things

    Bright Things #14: Cat Treat Tin

    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.

    Once upon a time, this container would sing the Meow Mix jingle when you opened the lid. You know the one: meow meow meow meow etc. The sound would bring our cats running for treats. It was a surefire way to get them off the top of the refrigerator or out from under the bed after I’d committed the terrible sin of vacuuming.

    After several years, the song grew decidedly less peppy, and by the time our dear old friend Oberon passed on at the age of 17, it made a sad warbling noise that was frankly a bit creepy. I’ve since pulled out the tiny speaker but we still use the tin, even though it’s dented on one side and doesn’t quite close properly.

    It’s a different pair of kitties who come running these days. Turns out the song was unnecessary; the sound of the lid opening is enough to get their attention. Godric here is waiting patiently for me to finish taking photos and open the tin for him. He looks sad but don’t worry, that’s just his face.

  • Bright Things

    Bright Things #13: Ticket Stubs Found in Unexpected Places

    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.

     
     
    The tickets to this play were gifted to me by a friend who was unable to attend. I took my daughter, who was only seven at the time and had never experienced live theatre for adults. I worried the show might be too long and the language too confusing. I half-expected we’d have to leave before it was over, but I was wrong. She was enthralled.
     
    I found the stub recently in a box while looking for something else entirely. I don’t remember putting it there and was surprised I still had it. That’s often the case with small paper-based mementos like this. They’re used as bookmarks, or linger in overstuffed wallets, or fall to the backs of desk drawers. Discovering them years later can instantly call up associated memories: the quality of summer afternoon light under the tent, the sound of fans blowing to keep the audience cool, and Puck leaping across the stage in a black tutu and combat boots.
     
    It feels a bit melancholy at the moment to come across a reminder of the joy of a live shared experience. I hope we are getting closer to the day when we can begin collecting such memories again.