Another writer in Between the Shelves, Linda Webber, talks about writing. Interview by Hal J. Friesen, courtesy of Hal J. Friesen.
After the short story ‘I Will Not Let You Fall’, creating this bio has been the greatest challenge to Linda’s creative writing skills. This is her first publication, even though she has written a great deal of fiction (five short stories). Although one story did receive praise from her writing group (not ‘I Will Not Let You Fall’), another story did not receive as much. Linda’s writing career spans nine months; therefore, she is hoping to publish something else any day now.
You joke that you've written a great deal of five short stories in your bio. Was this story any different or more challenging than your previous works?
LW: I had always wanted to write a story from the perspective of a biological mother whose child has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. I wanted to write the story in first person to communicate what the experience is of these mothers. I wanted the story to be sympathetic to her and explain her thoughts and experiences, her personal pasts and her present struggles to raise her child to the best of her abilities given limited resources and lack of empathy from just about everyone including society in general. It was difficult to capture all these various aspects, particularly the struggles of the child and that it was her doing but also make the reader empathetic to her. This is the first story I have written in first person. I chose this perspective because I wanted the reader to understand the mother and her life. However, it was difficult to show and not tell. It was much more challenging than limited omniscient, which I prefer. I will never write in first person again.
Where did you draw the inspiration for this story?
LW: I work on a clinic that diagnoses children who have FASD. Many people ask me how I can work with the mothers. They are blamed and demonized. I have found them to be amazingly strong and caring people who have horrendous pasts and are trying their best, with little help, to raise their children.
This piece is one of many in the anthology where the library's role is not what you'd expect. Was that intentional on your part when you were creating the story?
LW: I had always wanted to tell this story. I was also trying to think of a library-related story for the anthology. They clicked. This story also reminded me of the times I took my son to the library.
Who has inspired you as a writer?
LW: I love writers who are descriptive with setting and character such as John Steinbeck and Annie Proulx. I love vivid writing that makes the reader feel the story. I am concerned that my writing may be melodramatic. In this story I tried to communicate the emotional ordeal that these poor mothers go through. They seem to suspect something is not quite right, hence the search for information, but they are also in denial. Through the diagnostic process they come to a realization that, yes, indeed, their suspicions are true. The emotional burden they carry is tremendous.
What is your next writing project? Can you tell us a little about it?
LW: Currently, I am writing a short coming-of-age story about a girl who accidentally discovers a mystery about her mother’s past. Her mother has had two other daughters with the same name as the girl. The girl gradually discovers a series of unsettling things that lead of a final horrific tell-all. Yes, the story is also alcohol-related. Many of my stories are based on my work as an occupational therapist. Over the years, I have seen strange and amazing and horrendous things. Some of the themes in my writing are the difficulty that people have with change and the damage that alcohol does to people and their relationships.
Linda Webber’s story "I Will Not Let You Fall" is featured in Between the Shelves, available
from Amazon on March 14!