The new year has gotten off to a good start for Squamish's Christina Walsh.
Walsh and her sister Carolyn Turkington, authors of The MomBabes: A Motherhood Anthology Volume 2, have won a Canadian Book Club Award in the Short Story/Anthology genre.
This second volume of the MomBabe Co-Author Project includes Squamish writers Lisa MacIntosh. Nikki Johnston-Beaudoin, Ruby Bir, Lyndsey Zigar and Ashley Oakes.
The award winners were announced at the end of December.
As of 2022, The Canadian Book Club Awards dub itself "the largest readers' choice awards in Canada."
According to a news release announcing the winners, the awards were founded in 2018 by a book club in Vancouver. The club's members noted how many books were not recognized by the literary community because of their genre, theme, or publisher.
The Squamish Chief caught up with Walsh recently after she dropped her nine-year-old daughter off at school.
She also has a four-year-old who sometimes required her mother's attention during the interview in typical, honest and raw MomBabes fashion.
What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
Exciting news about the award! How are you feeling about it?
This is so exciting. This is more than my sister and I ever dreamed of when we thought about this, my gosh, three years ago now.
It's always exciting to be recognized for the work that you do, and to be able to recognize the authors that say, ‘Yes’ to putting their story out there and giving them this recognition; it is like the icing on the cake. There's nothing better.
What have you learned about publishing books to this point?
I think what we have learned is that you don't have to wait. We have self-published these volumes. And there are a lot of people in this world who have stories that are submitting to trade publishers — which are the big name publishers — and they are waiting for someone to say yes to their story. My sister and I thought, 'Well, we're not going to wait for someone to say yes.' We don't need someone to tell us our story is good enough, or that these stories are good enough. We know that they are, so we're going to take a different path; independent book publishing is an avenue for our authors to take.
This has been an opportunity for us to bring more stories into the world in a more timely fashion.
What have you learned about motherhood through this process? Because your kids have grown through this, right? And then you've heard so many motherhood stories.
The thing we've always heard was that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it's actually the opposite. It takes a village that's raising the mother, too. And we have learned how important community is. We aren't alone.
And people always say they don't think their story is good enough or that it will be the same as someone else's-.
There are lots of women who have gone through similar themes or similar experiences, but it's still your story. And we've had the honour and privilege of having over 50 women write for our books thus far, and not one story is the same.
You don't have to apply with a writing sample. We aren't your English teachers marking your story.
You are enough. And so your story has a place here, in these books.
And sometimes, reading a story that is like your own is the point, right? It is such a relief to know other mothers are going through the same thing.
That's essentially what a lot of this is: the writing process is cathartic and therapeutic for the women, as is being able to write in a community.
I think that's what I've learned. I had the opportunity to do the writing program through SFU this past year, and I learned writers are always looking for a community to write in — that's what they seek. And so my sister and I, we started it backwards, where we created the community and then said, 'Hey, come be an author with us."
We have new mothers, mothers who are in the messy middle, veteran moms, and grandmothers — the ages ranged from 25 to 55. So it's been awesome.
Why did you call your books MomBabes? The term 'babes' is something the older generation of women, feminists, tried to get away from, so I am curious about how you came up with it.
We wanted something that felt empowering and connected, and we wanted to renew moms.
It was so that moms would feel the positivity and the uplifting energy. We want to see MomBabes everywhere. This is a community and sort of a way of life. So bringing the word back as inspiring — a strength-empowered word. And because moms often feel like they're not sexy and beautiful. You encompass all of those things. It is women supporting women, babes supporting babes. I haven't met anyone who doesn't want to think of herself as a babe, right — fiery.
And luckily, I do know a few real feminists who still joined us.
And also, we put the word mom and babe together, and nobody had that on the internet.
So what's next, a Volume 3?
We are writing Volume 3 right now, with a launch date of May 2023. We have 13 women writing for this volume, which is currently in the editing process. We will start the pre-sale for the books in February.
We have all intentions of Volume 4 for October of 2023. So we are looking for more amazing women to write for that.
What is interesting about these books is they are very raw and honest about motherhood at a time when we also have a very competitive aspect that plays out on social media — those posts every month showing how old your baby is, in these perfect outfits, in these spotless homes. I wonder if you reflect on that juxtaposition?
Social media can make it so hard with this really curated motherhood on these highlight reels.
We want to change the word to real — the highlight 'real' of what life is.
You see all these perfectly curated kitchens and homes and you're like, 'Who are these people?' And it doesn't make you feel good. So, if we can put a little corner on the internet of two moms who really don't take themselves too seriously, and who kind of just believe in the impossible — believe in our capability, believe that we can make this happen.
After our dad passed away, we just really wanted to show moms that you can't wait. Moms wait. We wait until we lose 10 pounds; we wait until the kids are older. We wait to start on Jan. 1 or next month. We just want to say that it's not too late — just start whatever it is that is important for you.
I mean, I ran in an election this year. You just put yourself out there. I was like, 'Well, I work in politics. Why not? Let's give this a whirl.'
I just wanted to show my girls that when you care about something, you try. That is really all it was.
We want to show moms showing up for each other. Moms who want something more; moms who are ready to just do it. And we just want to be those pillars for people. We're here. We're that net that if you fall, we'll catch you.
Find out more about the books at www.themombabes.com.