• 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.
  • 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.