An Interview With Linda Collins, Author Of Loss Adjustment
Hi Linda, I’m writing to you as one decade draws to a close. Tell us about how you imagine the next one will look for you.
If you’re grief-stricken or traumatised, it is often hard to get through the next hour, let alone contemplate extended existence. But if I imagine this new decade for others, I see young people gaining a seat at the power table and re-engineering global systems of control to make the world a better place, environmentally and socially. If I am still around by the end of the decade, I hope I have written several books that contain compelling stories, but which also provoke new ways of seeing and creating meaning on important issues.
Where are you finding solace these days?
I’m on a hard, lonely road. Few people give a f*ck. (Influenced by that other best-selling nonfiction book? Hey, grudging admiration.) If they do, it can be because sometimes, alas, they see an opportunity for themselves in your vulnerability.
There are two things that keep me going. One is the kindness of readers. We may be strangers to one another, but we find ways to connect. The outpourings of readers, the sharing of their thoughts about Loss Adjustment, their meaningful gifts and cards with carefully crafted messages, the audio messages, the way they find me across social media and by email with a burning need to thank me, is truly amazing.
The second comfort is the validation I receive as a writer. This enables me to explore my creativity, value it, hone it. It gives me a reason to live. Write, or die.
Not many will know this, but when Loss Adjustment was first published, you wrote a letter that was slotted into copies of the book for unsuspecting readers to find. What did doing this mean to you?
Sorry to go off-script, but that was not my idea. It is not something I would normally do. I found it a bit cheesy, to be honest. I hope readers forgive me.
Did writing about your grief change your relationship to it?
Today, let’s think of rainbows.
Were there particular books you read that helped you in the process of writing Loss Adjustment? That helped you think about how to write about grief, or made your work feel possible?
I am reluctant to give that hard work away. The amount of reading and study I put myself through for Loss Adjustment was phenomenal. You have to realise, the exhaustive act of process nearly killed me, let alone the act of creation.
As for making my work possible, that was never an issue. Once I was admitted into the MA in Creative Writing course (in Wellington, NZ), anything was possible. It was the entry pass to writing nirvana. Writers out there, this permission to be a writer is one of the unsung pluses of such courses.
What are you working on next?
I’m prepping to edit my upcoming poetry collection with Math Paper Press, polishing a long-form personal essay and researching a memoir on my life in London on newspapers there in the 1980s. But my main project is a fiction book. I wish I could work on it full-time. It’s a lot of fun, containing, among other things, sex, drugs; critiques of ageism, marriage, the death penalty, Chinese-Singapore identity, expat fetishism, and karaoke; and thinly veiled characters drawn from my recent life in Singapore. (That last bit is a joke). It attempts to be a literary work.
As you start work on these next projects, does Victoria, or her voice, continue to influence your work?
Yes, all the time. I did start a book without her presence, but I couldn’t bear to not have her voice there, and had to halt writing it. I felt too bereft of her laughter and wisdom. My fiction novel, however, pivots around a real piece of Victoria’s writing that I found in her French school exercise book. So she is directly there on the page, and this seems to be essential for me at this stage. I guess she is my true ‘solace’.