My favourite thing about being a writer is how small the NDN writing market really is. It’s so easy to meet the people whose work you grew up reading. I was a fan of Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach and Trickster series, and our work finally brought us together for a writing fest in Moose Jaw, SK. Random, but amazing. The real fun began when I was invited to host a author’s Q&A at McNally Robinson for Eden, and of course, I jumped on it. Eden’s work is a beautiful moment to step into, but her personality and joy is what makes me constantly smile when I think about her. I asked her to be a part of this in a fun and lighthearted way, as she is currently working on finishing the third book in her Trickster series (I cannot wait!), and thankfully, she agreed. I also asked her for a self-introduction, and she made me laugh:
My father is Haisla and my mother is Heiltsuk, both small, coastal reserves on the west coast of British Columbia. I write novels and putter around my apartment. – Eden Robinson
One of the most understated bio’s ever, but that’s why we have google. Enjoy this quick look into the life of a working writer, and the stories that we come from.
– tenille k campbell
TC: Sooo… how you surviving 2020? How’s your being?
ED: Oh, good grief, 2020 is such a wild ride. I’d tell you about my new arthritises and the resulting medications, but my mother says it makes me sound 93. The writing is going well, and has been helped by my fear of going outside. I’ve now expanded my bubble to include my mother and some cousins.
TC: In Pandemic Life, what have you learned about yourself that surprised you? Example: I learned I was the weakest link – I don’t hunt, camp, grow, etc. Thank goodness I’m a storyteller, b/c I can entertain people, but still. Humbling. *sips Starbucks in glee*
ER: The sheer terror of having all the co-morbidities that predict a bad outcome made me petrified to leave the house. But once I started shopping, I was ruthless and I enjoyed ‘the hunt’. Who knew? I came back from a writing residency on Vancouver Island with a car load of dry goods that I gave out to the family in totes. But I have like 20 pounds of raisins that no one wanted. Lots of oatmeal raisin cookies in my future.
TC: Can you describe your favourite place in Kitamaat?
ER: The government docks at the other end of the rez. Dad was a fisherman, so I have a lot of fond memories of bumping around the Douglas Channel on his boat. It’s also where we swam as kids. It’s a beautiful, sheltered cove with a beach. There are blueberry and huckleberry patches in the nearby point. The Octopus Beds around the point are smooth, granite rocks that undulate from glaciation, and when I was a teenager, that’s where you went to hang out with your friends and make out with your first girl and boyfriends.
TC: What is your idea of a perfect day?
ER: Writing in the morning before I toodle around with Mom or my cousins, reading all afternoon, and then vegging out in the evenings. I’m living the dream.
TC: I’ve been thinking a lot about ndn joy lately, and my favorite thing about our few and far between chats is the amount of laughter we carry as we share stories and adventures. In your everyday life, how do you invite joy or acknowledge joy in your life? Better yet, what do you think of ndn joy?
ER: I’ve always been a nervous, anxious person. One of the greatest gifts of menopause has been the newfound ability to not give a rat’s ass what people think of me. I didn’t realize how much I limited myself out of fear of what other people would say. I didn’t enjoy the night sweats or the adult acne, but the change of life has brought me joy in ways I never expected. I let myself experience it as it comes.
TC: What’s your favorite thing about writing?
ER: Being my own boss.
TC: What’s your greatest struggle when writing?
ER: Doubt. Each novel is its own journey and until I realized that, I kept trying to replicate my last experience and failing. I always worry my muse has deserted me, but he always come back with a bouquet of surprises.
TC: As you know, I was tindering in Kitamaat during the Pandemic because I have plans to visit one day, ayeeeee. It was a very limited selection, sigh. In very general terms so we don’t identify anyone, what is a great ndn love story you can share? I am all about that ndn love.
ER: Hahaha, yup. Tindering in Kitamaat for me also involves a genealogy app.
Me and my sister got our potlatch names when we were kids. We were told if we wanted to know what they meant, we should go to our grandmother. She told my sister that her name told the story of a woman who married a Haisla chief and they fell deeply in love. But his other wives became jealous and kept trying to poison her. For her own safety, he had to send her home, but he couldn’t divorce her without bringing her and her family shame, so he made her a chief and sent her back with stories, songs and dances.
TC: I dare you to write a trashy love haiku. Make me blush. Eeeeeee.
wild man of the woods
the silent canopy drips
on our writhing flesh
TC: Last question: you have three items you can bring on an isolated writing retreat. What are you bringing along?
ER: Maple syrup. Canned fish. My inflatable unicorn float.