‘The au­di­ence will self-de­fine and find their way’

National Post (Latest Edition) - - ARTS & LIFE -

Derek Pin­der asks What was the driv­ing force that led you to write Birdie?

Tracey Lind­berg replies I started it for dif­fer­ent rea­sons than I fin­ished it, Derek. At first, I thought I wrote it to heal my­self. In the end, I wrote it for oth­ers to think about what health can look like/what self­love can feel like.

Claire McKin­non asks How long did this book take to write? Where did the idea come from for the book, was it truly your own ex­pe­ri­ence or one of some­one you know in your life?

Tracey Lind­berg replies Thank you for this, Claire, it is high praise that you re­gard it as gen­uine enough to be a true ex­pe­ri­ence. This book started as a short story 17 or so years ago. It re­ally took form seven years ago and be­came the book it is in the edit. It is my ex­pe­ri­ence, but it is also the ex­pe­ri­ence of my aun­ties, my sis­ters, my mom and ev­ery other strong woman I have loved.

Sue Wat­son asks You use the tree Pi­ma­tise win as a pow­er­ful sym­bol in the book. Is there also more mean­ing to the work Birdie does as a baker, or is it just a skill taught to her by her mother?

Tracey Lind­berg replies I think sis­ter aun­tie cousin love, women love, and congress starts in many rooms — but for me, the kitchen rep­re­sents build­ing some­thing from scratch, cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing and gen­er­a­tional teach­ing poured, mixed and stirred. There is no love like kitchen love: ev­ery sense is ac­tive. Ber­nice makes love and bakes love.

Ronitte Fried­man asks The book feels like fic­tion that is so heavy with truth it never soars. How can this also be hope­ful?

Tracey Lind­berg replies My hope is that the book feels like truth. Some­one’s truth. The truth is heavy, the truth is painful and the truth is that some peo­ple have no happy end­ing. Ber­nice does. Fred and Lola do. Va­lene has a chance for it. The Pi­ma­tise wine has a chance. That is pretty hope­ful to me.

Dalya Hakimi asks Who is the au­di­ence for this book?

Tracey Lind­berg replies Oh, this is in­ter­est­ing. I have al­ways thought and have be­gun to say: “I wrote this for 12-year-olds who should never have to read it; it should be in li­braries where vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple can find it.” Now, as I tour around and talk to peo­ple, I have come to un­der­stand, the au­di­ence will self de­fine and find their way. Peo­ple who are vul­ner­a­ble, peo­ple who are em­pow­ered, peo­ple who need to un­der­stand how to find their own par­tic­u­lar beau­ti­ful — this is the au­di­ence for Birdie.

Robert DeLaet asks Was the char­ac­ter of Ber­nice inspired by any­one in par­tic­u­lar?

Tracey Lind­berg replies Part of me wishes I was as strong as Ber­nice. Part of me thinks she gives life to the life I led. Most of me, on my best days, thinks Ber­nice is parts of lots of women I love — she is the steel I hope my back­bone pos­sesses.

Don Kil­patrick asks Have you con­sid­ered hav­ing one of the other char­ac­ters in the story be the ba­sis of a new novel, for ex­am­ple, a story about Mag­gie?

Tracey Lind­berg replies Thank you, Don, for this. Mag­gie is cen­tral to the story and a very quiet part of each woman in the book. I was wor­ried that peo­ple would not see/feel her strong pres­ence in the book. My hope is to learn about her and write about her so we can un­der­stand that quiet piece, but also so we get to un­der­stand who she has been, what a full life looked like to her, and why she made the choices she did.

An­drea Louise Jowett asks Is there one per­son who helped you through a per­sonal or­deal, and what act or ad­vice that they pro­vided was most im­por­tant to you?

Tracey Lind­berg replies Oh! An­drea Louise, this re­ally made me stop and think. Thank you for this ques­tion. Some­times, even bad ad­vice can be of ut­most im­por­tance to us. I was told one time that in or­der to grow and move out of pain, I should con­sider for­give­ness. I con­sider my­self a per­son who is more apt to move on than hold a grudge. How­ever, this ad­vice, given in the con­text of abuse/as­sault made me con­sider what is for­giv­able and what should be for­given. It made me think about what health re­quires of us in terms of grace and kind­ness. Ul­ti­mately, the ad­vice made me write this book — so I sup­pose that has been im­por­tant. How­ever, in real terms, I came to a peace­ful place and un­der­stand­ing about fun­da­men­tal­ism, vic­tim­hood, strength and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion that al­lows me peace.

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