When Nelson author Kate Bridger set out to write her first novel, Talking to Myself, she imagined that her older character Lyn, a 55-year-old divorcee, would be dispensing wisdom to the flighty, passionate Cait, a young girl in her twenties. But as the narrative progressed, the opposite became true.
“My book is basically about these two women who are forced into a working situation together, and at first they rub each other the wrong way, youth versus age and all that,” said Bridger.
“But as their relationship evolved, it was the wisdom of the younger one that shined forth.”
In Bridger’s self-published debut, which she released in time for her sixtieth birthday, female friendship is at the forefront. She wanted to make a statement about how powerful inter-generational relationships can form.
“During their brief time together Lyn learns that her son is gay and that—in her opinion—her daughter is frittering her life away,” said Bridger. “She reconnects with an old boyfriend only to be hurt a second time, and then one day she discovers time may be running out.”
The story is set in a fictional interior B.C. town called Calford, which Bridger said is similar to Nelson but not identical. The story isn’t based on her experiences, though she’s injected a lot of her own background and personality into the text.
As Lyn struggles with life’s daily tribulations, it’s Cait who helps her to cope.
“The notion is that as we age we tend to fix on our beliefs and our judgements. We get more stuck on them than we should,” said Bridger. “Then, when a younger person comes in with a different perspective, that can get tossed aside.”
She said she envisions Cait as an open-minded youth who still believes in possibilities, whereas Lyn is set in her ways. This gave her plenty of comedy fodder.
“I hope there’s comedy in it. It’s light, not heavy. The story emerges really from their conversations and the various crises that come up in their lives, relationships and all those normal things. But this intersection is what the story’s about, this brief crossing over of their lives,” she said.
But there’s more to the novel than just friendship. Bridger said she has lofty ideas in mind, and a purpose for the story that only reveals itself with the conclusion.
“But I can’t tell you what it is,” she teased. “Philosophically, the story of Lyn and Cait shows us that although fate deals out the deck of probabilities, it is the choices we make in our lives that provide the possibilities.
Bridger, who is friends with local novelist Ann DeGrace and familiar with the book publishing industry, said she was conflicted about going the self-publishing route, but ultimately decided it would be the best for her project.
“I’m not looking to be a famous writer. I’m just delighted to have done it, to have told a story I believe in,” she said.
“I come from a traditional, old-school print background, so learning to format for fluidity and compatibility with a variety of e-reading devices was certainly a challenge.”
And now that she has, she’s thrilled with the results.
“I sold my first books within minutes of uploading…It really as the most gratifying $1.37 I ever earned.”
Talking to Myself is now available as an ebook, and Bridger hopes to get print copies into local bookstores. For more information visit katebridger.ca.