So, you wrote a book (What Remains of Elsie Jane), about grief, motherhood, and magical thinking. Can you tell me what the book is about?
It’s about grief, motherhood, and magical thinking.
And why did you write this book?
I wrote it because I was sad and frustrated. I wanted to explore the magical thinking of grief taken to the extreme. I also wanted to illuminate the experiences of those left to mourn in the shadow of the drug poisoning crisis. It’s an incredibly isolating experience, grieving under the weight of stigma, especially for parents of young children. People are uncomfortable talking about it. They change the subject.
Wow, neat. So what’s your favourite colour?
I like cats.
Everyone loves cats, so that’s a good answer.
Thanks. I also like marsupials. And blue herons.
Nice. How many cats do you have, what are their names, and how did they influence your writing?
I have three cats: Kiki, Bert, and Onion. I’d say they actually wrote the main parts of the book for me, and I went in and added some flourishes later.
Why would you write a book based on your own experiences and call it fiction? Isn’t it really a memoir that you’re just calling a novel because you feel like it?
No, it’s not a memoir. It’s fiction. I never hired a wizard to help me traverse spacetime and rescue my dead spouse from a drug poisoning event.
But it’s basically a memoir.
No, it’s fiction.
Okay. Do you worry a lot about entropy and death?
Me too. I’m scared I might get Alzheimer’s.
Same. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my vocabulary. I love sprinkling words like antediluvian and pedagogy and supercilious into everyday conversations to feel like I’m a professor. If I get Alzheimer’s, I won’t be able to feel like a professor anymore.
If you do end up getting Alzheimer’s, what song do you think the care aide would play that would perk you up and make you remember the most beautiful day of your life?
29 Palms by Robert Plant. What about you?
29 Palms by Robert Plant, too.
Well okay, have a nice day.
You too. Bye.
Chelsea Wakelyn is a writer, musician, and mother to two lovely, eccentric humans. She lives on Vancouver Island. Learn more here.