Yesterday I wrote a letter of thank you to my old English Lit teacher, Mrs McGarvey. Twenty years too late, maybe. She’s retired now, swims a lot, still living locally. You see I was a rebel at 18––or at least I wanted to be––and while all my teachers were pushing me to follow academia at Queen’s University, I plumped for art college. My main motivation: to do the opposite of what everyone was telling me to do. But I thought of Mrs McGarvey often as I was writing Silk for the Feed Dogs. Brimful of enthusiasm, she opened up the mysteries of Shakespeare, the cast of characters in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and, of course, the beautiful words of Seamus Heaney. I was hooked.
I thought the time had come to let her know the effect her teaching had on me and that it played a part in the creation of my novel all these years later. I guess I like to find the harmony in things. Although I flounced off to art school, I wanted to reassure her I had spent my time well. That choice led to a career in the fashion industry that inspired my novel’s own eccentric cast of characters. It filled me full of tales.
All those hours spent drawing would later be translated into words and sentences. All the colors, shapes and patterns would not be forgotten in my writing. See, Mrs McGarvey?
And so we have come full circle. I received my copy only at the weekend, long after many of you. I almost don’t recognize the words that I slaved over. They look so different inside a real book. There are some things I would do differently but overall, I’m chuffed.
Look what I made! I want to yell. It’s all by design!
I hope Mrs McGarvey likes it.