I connected with today’s guest writer through the baby loss bereavement community. We have both said goodbye to sons, not something people usually talk about having in common. My son Zachary prompted my writing of my memoir Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss. Similarly, today’s guest writer also penned her book – a children’s picture book – after her loss.
Christine and I met in person in Toronto a few years ago while I was filming the companion documentary film for my memoir, also called Expecting Sunshine. I interviewed Christine for the film and was so touched by her vulnerability and also knowledge and research on the topic of prenatal and perinatal loss.
Interacting with Christine about today’s author interview planted in my mind a grievance with a common writer problem.
It is the question: “Am I really a Writer?”
Some of us come to writing directly, knowing we want to be authors. Others of us have life experiences that burn within us to be shared, and we come to writing that way. Some of us have one book in us. Others will write a library.
Christine expressed to me this common writer insecurity. However, I told her the truth: She wrote a book and published it. She is a writer and published author. I believe in her – and I implored her to believe in herself, too.
I believe in YOU as well.
If you are reading this and feeling insecure about calling yourself a Writer, please hear me:
If you feel the longing inside yourself to write, you are a writer.
Challenge yourself to write every day, at least scratch a few words onto paper.
Affirm your passions and follow your curiosities. They are yours for a reason.
Never give up.
It is too easy to waste our lives wanting to do or be something, but never taking action to accomplishing it.
It is also easy for us who have done it – write a book, for example – to still feel the nasty bite of impostor syndrome.
We need to CHOOSE to believe in ourselves, quote mantras, speak affirmations, and reject self-limiting beliefs.
This advice applies to ANYTHING you want to do or be. Any career you aspire to or any dream you wish to reach.
Thank you for enduring my pep talk. I hope we all take it to heart : )
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Being a writer was not something I ever considered. Writing was very challenging for me, especially in high school. I recall being praised for my poetry by a teacher in grade two, but I lost confidence with my writing in high school. Science was my forte and yet I longed to write and express myself creatively through writing. Most of my writing is academic and yet I continue to be drawn to creative writing.
Who were the authors that influenced you as a youth, and in what ways?
As I child I loved reading book series such as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” series and Nancy Drew. I also recall specific books that I enjoyed such as, Charlotte’s Web and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
How did it feel when you got to hold your very first advanced copy of your book?
I envisioned Ethan’s Butterflies after my son Ethan was born still. Seeing what I envisioned in living colour was heart-warming as I believe this book is Ethan’s living legacy – a gift to his brothers and grieving children. I am so grateful to Karen Friis for her beautiful illustrations, which enhance the story and the meanings of the book greatly. This book is also dedicated in loving memory to Karen’s son Jack.
What was the inspiration behind your book(s)?
My sons inspired my book. Kyle and Jonah were only 22 months and 3.5 years old when my youngest son Ethan died when I was 37.5 weeks pregnant due to his umbilical cord knotting. My sons and niece and nephew were at our cottage for the year anniversary of Ethan’s passing. I recall all of us being out on the deck when a beautiful black and white butterfly with light blue dots on each wing appeared. The children cried, “Ethan’s Butterfly!”
Every year at the time of Ethan’s passing we see his butterflies. I felt compelled to write Ethan’s Butterflies as a way for parents to open the conversation with their children about feeling sad, loss and grief and the possibility of continuing connections and the power of love. It is so gratifying and heart-warming to hear from parents that Ethan’s Butterflies helped their children. Proceeds from the book support children and so Ethan’s legacy continues in this way as well.
What was your publishing journey like?
My book is self-published. Even so, there were times when the journey was very challenging. However; like everything, relationships are key, and so I appreciated working with one or two people who were very encouraging and supportive. As mentioned, I write mostly for academic journals. I truly appreciate Editors and reviewers who provide constructive criticism, as they can enhance publications greatly.
What advice do you have for aspiring young novelists?
Write and read every day.
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
If I could have a superpower it would be to remain in the present moment and not seek approval. Not easy to do and thus a super power!
Where is your favorite travel destination?
Canada and Scotland – I love the wilderness of Canada and the rugged highlands of Scotland.
When you’re not writing, what are your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy outdoor sports and activities such as canoeing, kayaking, hiking and xcountry skiing. I also love reading murder mysteries by the fire, especially Canadian author, Louise Penny.
Spiritual comfort and understanding after a baby’s passing was what Christine Jonas-Simpson was looking for in answering her young sons’ difficult questions about their baby brother Ethan’s passing. This book takes the parents and young children through the journey of deep sorrow and loss of a baby brother or sister from the moment of expectation of meeting them to the despair of knowing they passed, to the joy of reconnecting with them in another way. This story is about living and feeling the deep loss of a baby as well as transforming this precious loss through connecting and creating new relationships.
All worlds are dying, and it’s up to one broken and dysfunctional family from Earth―the Wellsleys―to save the day.
Cancer-ridden Ella celebrates her fifteenth birthday beneath an enchanted mountain, but it is what lies even farther below―the mysterious Star in the sea―that demands she grow up quickly. While Ella grapples with the sacrifice she must make and the lies she is forced to tell, her mother, Tessa, is hell-bent on protecting her.
Through bizarre encounters, love-sick Tessa realizes that she is not the lonely orphan she believes. Her husband, Arden, and father-in-law, Archie, are not the only ones with magical bloodlines. This revelation changes everything.
As Archie chooses to embody his unexpected ancestry, he learns that leading the charge in the ultimate battle against evil won’t be as easy as he thought. He’ll need his family―and the strange allies he has gained―by his side to give Ella enough time to set things right.
Can they defeat the unstoppable Millia sands―and another unexpected foe―before everything they hold dear is destroyed? Or will their adventure tear them apart for good? The finale to The 8th Island Trilogy will hold you spellbound until the final page, and long after.