Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Weston Words, with Lynette Loeppky

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Lynette Loeppky

Lynette Loeppky's first book, Cease: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Desire (Oolichan Books), is a frank and intimate look at a relationship gone wrong, and the fury and guilt the author feels at being forced into the role of sole caregiver to a terminally ill partner she was about to leave.

Cease is a story about how we love and why we stay, especially in a time of crisis. It has been nominated for the 2015 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, noted by the jury as "a compelling character study and an unflinching look at the end of love."

Today we're thrilled to speak to Lynette as part of our Weston Words series. We will be speaking to all five Weston Prize nominees before the October 6, 2015 announcement of the winner.

The prize, founded by former Lieutenant Governor the Honourable Hilary Weston, carries a $60,000 purse for the winner and honours the finest Canadian non-fiction published each year. The award succeeds the previous Writers' Trust Nonfiction Award, which was founded in 1997.

Lynette tells us about examining unrelenting questions, the vulnerability that comes with people reading your writing and the book that encouraged her to submit to a creative writing class.
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Open Book:

How did your nominated book begin for you? What drew you to your subject matter?

Lynette Loeppky:

It wasn’t so much that the topic drew me to it as that I couldn’t escape it—not for the eight-and-a-half years that Cecile and I lived together, and then doubly-not after her terminal diagnosis. The only way back to my self after her death was to examine the questions that wouldn’t relent: What responsibility did I carry for what hadn’t worked in our relationship? To what extent had I “let it happen” and to what extent had I actively contributed? Why hadn’t I been honest with her when I had the chance?

OB:

Where were you when you received news of your nomination?

LL:

I received a phone call on my way to work. My initial response was surprise. (“The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust?!”) Then disbelief. (“You mean me?! My book?”) Followed by elation. I spent the rest of the day—at my day job as a Product Manager in a technology company—in a state of buoyancy with occasional moments of vertigo. I kept having to remind myself to wipe the silly smile off my face, especially in the middle of meetings.

OB:

What unique experience or benefit does non-fiction provide for readers?

LL:

When I first thought about publishing Cease, I was tempted to make adjustments to the text and publish it as fiction. The thought of people actually reading what I had written—knowing what I had said and felt, what my failings were—made me feel incredibly vulnerable. When I said to a writer friend that I was considering publishing Cease as fiction she said, “No, don’t do that. It won’t have the same resonance. Your readers will have a much stronger sense of connection to this story if they know that you and Cec are real people and this actually happened.”

OB:

Tell us about a favourite non-fiction book.

LL:

Frozen Tongue, a collection of creative non-fiction essays by Aritha van Herk is the first work of creative non-fiction that I ever read (I think). It’s certainly the first one that I remember reading. Aritha’s writing was lively, intelligent, opinionated and personal. Reading Frozen Tongue spurred me to submit a portfolio for Aritha’s notoriously hard-to-gain-admission-to creative writing class. That I was accepted into her class had a significant and positive impact on my writing and my writing life.

OB:

What can you tell us about your next project?

LL:

My next project is in progress. It’s still early days so I’m not ready to provide much detail. I can say that it is a work of creative non-fiction that tackles complex and layered questions, none of which are related to cancer or dying.


Lynette Loeppky was born and raised on the Manitoba prairie by Mennonite parents. She has travelled extensively and lived for an extended time in Denmark, but counts amongst her greatest adventures the eight years that she tended a farm in southern Alberta. She now lives in Calgary. Cease, her first book, was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award earlier this year.

Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, founded by former Lieutenant Governor the Honourable Hilary Weston, carries a $60,000 purse for the winner and honours the finest Canadian non-fiction published each year. The award succeeds the previous Writers' Trust Nonfiction Award, which was founded in 1997.

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