Dear Linnie, you are an author of children books and also founded your own publishing house. Tell us a bit more about this journey of yours.
Mine has been a journey of winding roads, soaring highs and endless drops. I am Berlin’s wild child. Born as the first of three daughters to a German/Indian, bearded, electric guitar playing med student Papa and a seventeen year young, too good for this world homestead raised Mama, I grew up in the pink housing cluster of SO 36 (Kreuzberg).
At the time my parents turned each cent on its head and so instead of material belongings our life was filled with bouquets of experiences. My earliest memories include daily story times and I remember getting lost in the wild tales of Ronia Räubertochter (Astrid Lindgren), Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer (Michael Ende), Wie Spucke im Sand (Klaus Kordon) and many other brilliantly written chapter books for children.
The sheer fantasy and ability to create enchanting characters, strange places and compelling plots allowing my mind and soul to travel without leaving my bedroom has been one of the greatest superpowers I’ve known. At an early age my parents took me to readings and director discussion in Berlin’s diversely international cultural scene and I’d sit front row and center filled to the rim with questions for the people whose fabulous minds created what I craved. I don’t think I fully understood that my future profession was actually inevitably awaiting my adult self.
It took my best friend’s cancer diagnosis at the sweet age of 26 and a heartbreaking life battle against an illness much bigger than the both of us for me to begin to put my life into words. Half way through her fight and before she flew away after our last desperate embrace, I began my retreat into a place in my mind that painted with words and knew no limit of dreams. I shared my stories with her and our regular practice of hospital bedside reading became a shared safe space that allowed our escape. The retreat into my own mind also led me down a dark path of depression and I derailed without passion or purpose.
It took climbing back into my mother’s womb and into the unconditional love of my parents, medication and a capable team of psychiatric professionals, for me to poke my head out of the snail house of mental illness. Once I planted my feet on the ground to feel the dew of wet grass on my naked skin (or perhaps the powdery, ice cold crystals of -40 Canadian snow) things fell into place as though they’d only waited for me to walk the tight rope of sanity.
I wrote my first story on three Air Canada air sickness bags on a flight from Edmonton to Toronto. ‘Our Canadian Love Story’ fell out of me and quickly took on a life of its own. My husband Nic and I initially intended to make a book for ourselves during his immigration forced work hiatus of ten months. I was working for a not for profit organization and studying ‘Immigration Policy, Law and Procedure’ at the Univeristy of British Columbia in Vancouver and we simply needed a happy project to keep us from knocking our heads into the wall. We karma traded the cost of one year tuition to art school with our then 19 year old illustrator and jumped into production head first.
Knowing what we know now we would have never started down the independent publishing path. Turns out printing in Canada and making a product that suits your own aesthetic standards is much more expensive than you imagine. Enter: Crowdfunding. Three years later we successfully funded and produced (thanks Mama and Papa + Crowd) three children’s books: ‘Our Canadian Love Story - an immigration tale’ (2013), ‘Pom Pom - a flightless bully tale’ (2014) & ‘Sadly The Owl - an untold tale’ (2015). All of them are educational conversation starters.
They are light, fluffy stories that can create magical story times that the readers may, or may not, turn into meaningful conversations around difficult topics. Nothing moves me more than the privilege to be invited into this most sacred of times by the way of my books. Story time with children remains to be one of the few unpolluted and raw exchanges that are unadulterated by technology.
Earlier this year we travelled to Chicago to play with the big leagues at the American Book Expo. It was my first professional endeavor since giving birth to our baby girl last July (other than The Saddest Party Ever, our Sadly the Owl book launch and depression awareness event in December). We thought I’d just dip my toes in and instead we left with a global distribution deal with a major distributor and we’re still wrapping our minds and hearts around what this actually means moving forward.
For one, it legitimizes Silk Web Publishing as an actual publisher. It also means that the net we cast has grown and it is time to put serious resources into moving our dream forward.
With two books in the works, The Birds And The Bees Don’t Do It - a milky tale (about how the bats do it upside down and the walruses do it under water) and The American Sign Language Hipster Alphabet For Babes - a coffee table book for young humans (both due in 2016), the future looks bright!
What do you love about being a woman?
Our sensuality. Women learn and teach the touch of love. Women see beauty in the complexity of nature while appreciating the simplicity of the mundane. Women hear music in ways that move our bodies and souls. Women taste life with its immense palette of flavors. Women experience and compose scents that will create and trigger lasting memories. Our senses weave the fabrics of our beings. Senses make our hearts beat and turn simple occurrences into experiences and ordinary events into stories. The more senses we entice, the more meaningful we live and create. The most incredible women have mastered the refined artistry of senses.
You are the mother of a beautiful daughter - How did becoming a mom change you?
Ella changed everything. She turned my world upside down and right side up. I love the idea that our children are the stars in the sky who watch us until they choose a set of parents (or a single one) to come and share their life with. Our time together should be filled with wonders and curiosities, stability and love, so that she will choose to include us in her future adventures even after she leaves our home. I want the door of our home to swing both ways so that she can leave and return with ease as she launches into her own stories and passions. Sharing our lives as a family is a privilege that I value. She is a witness to my life...to my great, my bright, my dark and my ugly. One day she may know me better than I know myself and she will realize that I am just another human trying to do the best I can. I will make mistakes, but I hope she will understand that they come from a place of love and that she will be gentle in her judgment. It sounds clichée, but yes, in the end, it’s all for her and her future siblings.
Is there one thing in this day and age that you want to especially pass on to your daughter or is there something that you want to teach her, when she is old enough? - and yes, I´ve read your beautiful letter to your daughter which was recently also publishes by the Huffington post - wow! Tell us more :)
I want her to respect people. Regardless of race, status or ability. I want her to know that we’re all the sum of our experiences and the result of our stories. The neighborhood we live in in Vancouver, Chinatown/ the downtown east side (one of the most beaten down, poverty stricken, mental health challenged clusters of people existing in the western world) is a daily reminder of our privilege. We are part of a community that includes all of us. I want her to meet every human with an acknowledging look into their eyes and the ability to converse and interact with dignity.
What was the biggest challenge that you had to face?
All around criticism of my loudness, my flamboyance and my volume is an evaluation that I struggle with well into adulthood. My environment has always signaled me to tone myself down to conform and fit it. For years I felt as though I needed to change everything about me so that I wouldn’t offend people with my being. I was regularly bullied (especially by girls and later women) and slowly crumbled internally. Even one of my sisters (the one that couldn’t be more opposite to me, she is a civil servant for the German government) recently told me that she feels offended by the ‘show I put on’. Being misunderstood by those closest to me hurts the most. Unfortunately, I’m afraid, the ‘show’ she refers to is authentically me and always has been. Turning the feeling of ‘un-fortune’ into ‘fortune’ is my greatest contest. I have often wished my emotions didn’t have the altitudes and depths that they do and am only recently learning that this intensity of emotion is a great gift that lends itself to good story telling. You can’t get the drama out of the queen. (wink)
What advice would you give someone with a rather unconventional dream to make it a reality?
Dare to Dream. Dream daily. Daydream. Night dream. In fact, now is as good a time as any to dream.
Taste your dream. Smell your dream. Touch your dream. Hear your dream. See your dream. You have the best sense for what you want your life to taste, smell, feel, sound and look like. Trust your senses to lead the way, because they too believe in fairytales.
And of course last but not least - Do you wear jewelry?
My grandfather is Indian so we have a great wealth of beautiful jewelry in our family. I love dressing up with jewelry. I used to dance Bharatanatyam (an ancient Indian performing art) that involved heaps of costume jewelry. Depending on the occasion I’ll choose statement pieces or more subtle gems. Although many who know me will say I don’t do subtle well and that my understated pieces are most other people’s show stoppers (I’m an aries, I can’t help it).
One of my favorite pieces is the red and gold family crest ring entrusted to me on our wedding day by my husband’s family. The idea that I could stamp our crest into the hot molten wax of an embossed envelope of penned words is my kind of fairytale. It’s so magically olden days and my mother in law wears the same one in blue and one day I will inherit it to my little Ella. Heirlooms are my preferred treasures because they tell stories and have lived adventures.
Do you have a VIERI favorite?
I adore my respect fairytales necklace. The inscription couldn’t be more me if it tried. I love surrounding myself with people living their very own fairytale. There are so many spectacular women (and men) I am in awe of. It’s been so remarkable to watch the VIERI fairytale unfold. Guya’s authenticity and playful sensuality shines through every piece. One day, when I’m a best selling children’s book author I will wear the clouds bangle and ring to receive a lifetime achievement award in story telling. Please see me wink as I write this and know that fairytales only come true if you dream them into existence, so dream what you preach.
Thank you so much