Interview with The Awakened Press

What gives you the greatest inspiration?
Seeing other people inspired. Having conversations that ignite them. When I laugh so hard and become so stupid with another person that we forget about everything else and just become who we really are. Locking eyes with someone and getting to know another person. Arizona. Going to a museum or art show. Feeling like everything I am wearing is a living, moving art piece and enjoying feeling my body in the clothes I wear. Pretty much everything I surround myself with is inspiring. I have to. There is no other way I can possibly live and feel good about myself. I have to be inspired every day. I make it happen so I can appreciate, live, and breathe every single second to its absolute entirety and fullness. I try to squeeze every moment out of itself. I truly make the most of what I have. Sometimes there are sad moments, but I try to make those inspiring, too.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The fact that I'm breathing.

I truly learned to be grateful for everything that I have. I used to wake up grumpy and miserable all the time—until I started appreciating everything that I have. I get up in the morning and for about 20 minutes I thank everything I can think of...my body, the air we breathe, the Earth, the roof over my head, the water, our food, our access to so many things...and then I spend time thanking everybody in my life and sending good vibes into the world.

We can't take anything for granted as long as it's here. We get so caught up in our thoughts sometimes that in a blink of an eye, things are gone and we wish we had them back. Living like that perpetuates such misery. Truly appreciate every moment.
Where did you grow up and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town about an hour north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It's not so small anymore, now!

My mom always read to me as a child. As a kid I used to memorize dozens of children's books, word-for-word.

My parents also taught me phonetics at a very young age, and bought us lots of storyboard-type computer games on CD-ROMs.

I learned to read when I was about four years old—"Fun with Dick and Jane". That was the first book I was ever able to read. It's my grandmother's book, and she helped me read it. I was very surprised when I discovered I could read...it was one of the most profound and shocking moments I have ever truly experienced.

When my parents bought our first Apple computer, we had no Internet so I would just sit on a chair in the basement and make up poems and stories with my brother. It was something we did when we were bored. We'd invent silly characters that would make us laugh our heads off. None of the poems or stories made any sense. That's where I taught myself how to type, by messing with words and spending hours in front of the computer. I was probably about seven years old.

Later I would continue to sit in front of this Internet-less Mac and type out what was in my head. I would journal a lot, too. It was fun. That's still my favourite past time today. A lot of people think I'm crazy because they almost can't believe how sitting in front of a computer can be fun.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
As a collective we really have to practice giving good vibes. This includes our thoughts/intentions.

There's an old practice that teaches: "When you have a thought, or say a word, it travels all the way around the world and back to you again."

We really create how we see the world. As far as I understand, this all happens through our thoughts, emotions and the intentions behind them.

"Two men look out through the same bars;
One sees the mud, and one the stars."
—Frederick Langbridge, 1896
"Award-Winning" sounds so impressive. Did you really win awards? What did you win?
Since I was a little girl it has been my dream to become an author. I'm honoured and grateful to have won various literary awards. I used to be afraid to showcase my achievements because I thought it would appear as though I was bragging. But over the years I've learned you can't bring yourself down just because you may get that uncomfortable feeling from someone.

I wrote the short story, "The Stones" when I was fourteen and observed an instinct about my grandfather's sickness. My grandmother encouraged me to enter into a writing contest, where the story was published two years later in "A Caledon Collection". I was awarded to have my story featured in an anthology as the youngest published author. Prior to this I was awarded by the Royal Canadian Legion and received a regional award for Creative Writing and Literature.

Although there is no Giller Prize yet—this is just a start!

I never used to feel I was "good enough". It just goes to show that you must honour and celebrate your talents and you can't be scared to showcase what you've got. Never dim your light.
You write in "The Regeneration Rhythm" that the work is reminiscent of various teachings, including Eckhart Tolle. Can you explain?
Sure. This poetry book was developed over a span of time when I was going through medical problems (epilepsy) and my goal was to get off the medication. I discovered yoga, Reiki, Buddhism, Eckhart Tolle, and the Tao Te Ching that way. After a few years of practicing meditation and developing my mindset, I was able to strengthen my mind and body to heal myself. Eventually I was able to get off medication completely—with the supervision of professionals. The book is about a journey from suffering to acceptance. Many of the poems are subliminal references to those ancient traditions, and the lifestyle of presence Eckhart Tolle continuously talks about. Those teachings still resonate with me today.
When did you write your first book?
That's a great question!

I can't even remember when I wrote my first "book". I quote it because I was always inventing stories. Most of them aren't published and they're just sitting around on the computer—some waiting to come out to the public. Others will be private forever. Probably when I was about four or five.
Do you remember your first favourite story?
Yes. It was about a little pink dinosaur called "Creolé". I loved that story so much that when I first learned to write, copied it by hand and made my own illustrated version. I was probably about six years old. That's the first time I discovered that in order to write a word, you had to write the letters in a string, side-by-side! And in order to write a sentence, you had to write a string of words side-by-side. Otherwise, I was just writing letters in random areas all over the page.
What REALLY happens to Kinapak at the end of "The Stones"?
I think that's for you to decide!

I definitely know, in my soul, the correct answer to this. But I really want to leave it up to the reader.
Where did you get the idea for "The Stones"?
I was secretly in-tune, instinctively, that it was nearing my grandfather's time to leave this world—even though nobody told me until many years later that he was sick and suffering. This story is loosely based around my emotions dealing with that.

At one point when this was all happening my grandmother encouraged me to enter into a writing contest. That was when I was about fourteen. The day before the contest closed I forced myself to come up with a short story idea. My grandmother really encouraged me to enter, even though I didn't think I was good enough. So the idea was birthed from pure instinct as well as the need to get the story into the contest on time.

As I mentioned, I think at the time I subconsciously knew my grandfather was dying. And I've always had a vivid imagination, and an obsession with sci-fi and being in another world. That's why I loved Harry Potter. So I just started writing from my heart. It was very last minute because it was the night before the contest closed. My best friend at the time helped me write the ending.

I forgot all about it until a few months later I received a letter from the editor saying I'd won an award to be in an anthology with local authors. I couldn't believe it. Most of all—by the time I got the letter to be published I couldn't even remember entering into the contest. It was awesome. That helped me believe in myself for the first time.

My editor ended up helping me open up so I could get much of the story out that was only in my head, and not on paper. The end product looks very different now than it did originally.
What are you working on next?
I don't want to say what I am working on right now.

What I'm really proud of is my publishing company. The Awakened Press blossomed this year. What it is right now is really a result of a whole lifetime (and beforehand; who knows...) of cumulative learning...mostly not on purpose. I started my own business after countless people started asking me how to make books. Now work one-on-one with authors and writers, helping them bring their stories out to the world.

I believe the future of publishing is self-publishing. The online publishing industry is growing.
Describe your desk.
My whole life is a living writing mechanism. Everywhere I go it has something to do with writing. Writing is me. I can't explain it other than everything I have has something to do with a book, creating books, thinking up a story idea or getting into a creative mode.
Published 2017-09-26.
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