A GLORIOUS FREEDOM | INTERVIEW WITH CHERYL STRAYED

9781452156200_3D

The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women—including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more—who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon’s signature style. The perfect gift for women of all ages, A Glorious Freedom celebrates extraordinary lives and redefines what it means to gain wisdom and maturity.

The following is an extract from A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon.


Cheryl’s famous memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was published when she was 43 years old. It took her two and a half years to trace the steps, challenges, and revelations she faced during her three-month, 1,100-mile hike from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific Northwest onto paper—and about two minutes for the finished book to land on the New York Times bestseller list. In the months following, Cheryl experienced instant fame—from Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 to the film adaptation championed by Reese Witherspoon and Nick Hornby, Wild went, well, wild. It is an international bestseller and a recipient of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Oregon Book Award. Cheryl is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough. Her first novel, Torch, was published in 2007. Her essays have been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Vogue, and Tin House, among others, and her work has been selected three times for inclusion in the The Best American Essays. She anonymously authored The Rumpus’s popular Dear Sugar advice column from 2010 to 2012, for which she now cohosts a podcast. She currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.

AGF_interview_cherylstrayed2


Lisa: You worked for many years at writing, and it wasn’t until just a few short years ago, in your early 40s, you published the book that made you a household name. I encounter a lot of young artists who imagine that if they just concoct some magical formula they can have “instant success.” How would you describe the role of purpose, work, and patience in your own journey?

Cheryl: I was a successful writer long before Wild was published. What happened with Wild wasn’t “success.” It was crazy lightning striking. I’m always taken aback when people imply that I achieved success in my 40s. In fact, I had a pretty steady upward career trajectory as a writer, and all of that came about because, as you say, I showed up each day to do the work. I began publishing in my 20s. By the time I was in my early 30s I had won many awards and grants, and was publishing in respected magazines, and I’d earned my MFA in creative writing. In my mid-30s I sold my first novel to a major publisher and it was broadly reviewed and sold well. Meanwhile, I was continuing to publish essays in prominent places and I was also teaching writing.

I was known in the literary community. Then Wild happened and with that came fame and a much broader international audience. It was astounding and glorious, but it didn’t, for me, mark the beginning of the sense that I’d arrived as a writer. I was already there and I’m still here—working my tail off. That’s the magic formula: work.

Lisa: One of the most life-changing lessons I’ve learned over the past ten years is the power of embracing all of my life experience, and this is something you write about as well. Why is this idea of owning and learning to love all of your experience (even the stuff that makes us cringe or that would normally make us feel shame), why is it so important?

Cheryl: I’ve long believed our mistakes and failures teach us as much as our victories and successes. When you acknowledge the full spectrum of your possibility—as both someone who can be great and as someone who is sometimes not so great—you can bring the full force of your humanity to everything you do.

Lisa: What for you is the best part of getting older?

Cheryl: Feeling more secure about who I am. Feeling stronger about being okay with disappointing people. Putting up less of a facade. Being gentler with myself and others, too.

Lisa: What do you think is the relationship between forgiveness and the ability to age joyfully?

Cheryl: I’ve written about forgiveness a lot and it all pretty much boils down to the fact that when you can’t forgive people who have harmed you (or forgive yourself for the harm you’ve done to others) you stay locked in that struggle. Forgiveness is, to me, really acceptance. Accepting that what’s true is true. It’s saying, this is the way it was and onward we go.

Lisa: What are the three greatest lessons you’ve learned in the last ten years?

Cheryl: 1. Saying no is one form of saying yes. 2. Our ideas about famous people are projections of who we are, not a reflection of who they are. 3. Everyone struggles. Everyone hurts. Everyone wants to be told it’s all going to be okay.

Lisa: What advice do you have for women who fear getting older?

Cheryl: The fear of getting older is about the false notion that one’s power was rooted in the things that youth offers us—namely, beauty. My advice would be to see that for the lie that it always was. Our power is never about how pretty we are. Our power is about how we live our lives. Start living it.


A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon publishes on 03 October 2017. Find out more here. 

See the stunning book trailer here

Learn about STAR WARS™ KIRIGAMI with Marc Hagan-Guirey

Get FOLDING for Force Friday II…

In STAR WARS™ KIRIGAMI, celebrated paper artist and designer Marc Hagan-Guirey applies his genius to the Star Wars galaxy in this book of 15 unique kirigami (cut and-fold) ships featured in the saga’s films. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert, each beautifully detailed model features step-by-step instructions and a template printed on cardstock—all that’s needed are a utility knife, a cutting mat, and a ruler!

Curious?

We asked Marc everything you need to know about the world of kirigami, getting started with the craft and his interest in Star Wars:

Photograph by Seamus Ryan
Photograph by Seamus Ryan

What is kirigami?

Kirigami is a bit like origami except that instead of just folding the paper, you cut it too. ‘Ori’ - means fold and ‘kiri’ means cut. Kirigami is traditionally used to create architectural replicas but it’s perfectly suitable for spaceships too! The cool thing about kirigami is that it’s just one sheet of paper – nothing is glued or added to it. It’s part of the joy that you can create something so interesting from a ubiquity of a piece of paper.

How did you get started creating kirigami?

I feel like it was a bit of a serendipitous moment that lead to me experimenting with the craft. I’m a big fan of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and back in 2012 my partner and I told a few white lies to get a private tour of one of his most elusive buildings – the Ennis House in LA. It was a condemned building and had been out of bounds to the public for over 20 years. We may have told them we had the $14 million needed to buy it and were very keen to come and see it. The experience had a huge impact on me – I’d go as far as saying it was spiritual. I wanted to mark the occasion by making some of sort of memento. As a kid I always loved to craft, my currency was egg cartons, toilet roll tubes and cereal boxes (it still pains me to see these things put in the recycling) but as an adult we all know too well that life gets in the way. I’m a designer director in digital but I still had that yearning to use my hands again. When I was researching what to make, I happened upon examples of kirigami. I felt paper was the perfect material to make a replica of the Ennis House due to its fragility. I quickly saw that kirigami wasn’t just limited to buildings and I started making scenes from movies.

Is your book suitable for complete beginners of kirigami?

There are a few ‘beginner’ projects in the book to get you started. I feel kirigami is easy to advance in and you’ll soon want more challenging projects. The most important thing is to be patient, take breaks and enjoy the process. I find it meditative to concentrate and not be distracted by the ‘coke machine glow’ of mobile devices.

Do you need any special tools to do kirigami?

You need a few inexpensive things – a cutting matt, a metal ruler, an x-acto knife with replaceable blades. Also a toothpick will be really useful to pop out some of the smaller folds.

Why did you decide to create Star Wars ships using kirigami?

Why not?! It was more of a necessity for me. I was already creating Star Wars kirigami back when I started experimenting with it. The idea to do a ship focused book was suggested by Mike Siglain, the Creative Director of Lucasfilm publishing – he’s a man with good ideas.

Have you always been a Star Wars fan?

I’ve always been a Star Wars fan and was essentially born into it. I’m an 80s kid so never saw it first time around at the cinema but I have an older brother who was the right age. I feel a bit guilty now for commandeering all of his original Kenner action figures – it must have been torture for him to see his baby brother destroy them but I did just buy him a full scale licensed replica of Vader’s helmet for his 40th birthday so I think we’re even now.

How did the book come to be?

A lot of knocking on doors and badgering people with emails. I started talking to Lucasfilm about the idea in 2014. During that time I was invited to the set of Episode VII and in a serendipitous moment I ended up chatting to JJ Abrams about my work. He was really excited by it and frog marched me across the set of ‘Star Killer’ base to meet Kathleen Kennedy. It was the only time I ever had a business card in my wallet – albeit a very dog-eared one. I had an unofficial exhibition of Star Wars kirigami scenes in 2015 – it had a lot of press and went viral. Lots of big media outlets such as the BFI, Wired, BBC World News, CNN were covering it. I guess it was inevitable that Disney took notice and that dog-eared business card eventually made its way to the business development department. I thought I was in trouble when they called! I’ve got to say the process of working with Disney, Lucasfilm, my publisher Hachette and my US publisher Chronicle has been wonderful.

Click here to find out more about STAR WARS KIRIGAMI, which publishes today!

Five Questions Monday – Deborah Underwood

Deborah Underwood, author of Interstellar Cinderella took our grueling Five Questions Monday Quiz!

Deborah Underwood and her cat

1.       How do you like your eggs in the morning?

I don’t eat eggs, so I like them under the chickens in the hen house.

2.       What’s your favourite joke?

At the moment, the one about the Higgs boson walking into a church, the priest asking what it’s doing there, and the Higgs boson responding, “You can’t have mass without me!”

3.       What film character are you most like?

I wish it was Obi-wan Kenobi, but lately I’ve felt more like Dory in Finding Nemo. What were we talking about?

4.       What is the first book you ever read?

Probably Dr. Seuss’s ABC. My 80-year-old father can still recite much it from memory.

5.       Would you rather be Cinderella or Snow White?  

I’d rather be Interstellar Cinderella!

9781452125329

Five Questions Monday

Kamran Siddiqi

The VERY talented Kamran Siddiqui of Hand Made Baking fame took some time out of baking to answer our little Five Questions Monday Quiz!

1.How do you like your eggs in the morning?
It varies quite a lot… Often times, however, it’s soft boiled eggs and dippy bread soldiers. There’s just something so classically beautiful and comforting about soft boiled eggs.

2.What’s your favourite joke?
I’ll admit, I do love a good dirty joke… A boy fell in mud.

3. What film character are you most like?
With the exception of being a guy, I’m most like Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice

4. What is the first book you ever read?
Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs & Ham.

5. Would you rather bake a one giant cake or 50 miniature ones?
Though it’d require a wee bit more effort, I’d rather bake 50 miniature ones. It’d be neater; and to not have to futz over doling out slices of cake is important to me, especially when I want to focus on the company around me. Cupcakes are easy— they come in their own plate (the wrapper), they’re delicious, and indulging in a cupcake brings out everyone’s inner-child. I adore sharing food, and if I can positively alter at least one person’s mood with a cake— be it a slice or a cupcake— I know something is being done right.

Thank you Kamran Siddiqui! We are eagerly anticipating those 50 cupcakes, we are big chocolate eaters here…

9781452112305

Five Questions Monday

Jeff Vandermeer, author of The Steampunk User’s Manual, Wonderbook and The Steampunk Bible, answered our grueling Five Questions Monday quiz!

1.      How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Four in number. Scrambled. Yes, I am basically a komodo dragon.

2.      What’s your favourite joke?

What’s brown and sticky?

3.      What film character are you most like?

Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein…or maybe not.

4.      What is the first book you ever read?

The one I remember is a picture book of William Blake’s Tyger Burning Bright read to me by my parents.

5.       Would you rather be the villain or the hero?  

I would rather be the person tapping his toe impatiently waiting for those two jerks to finish showing off.

Thank you Jeff for taking our little quiz, we didn’t know komodo dragons were fans of scrambled eggs, I guess you learn something new everyday!

Five Questions Monday

Image ©Bogie Uram

Star of today’s Five Question Monday is Andrea Beaty, the wonderful author behind Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck architect and the brand new Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau!

1.  How do you like your eggs in the morning?

At a diner booth watching the drizzly world go by as I sip hot coffee and riddle over a storyline.

2. What’s your favourite joke?  

The Reverse Knock Knock Joke. You start …

3. What film character are you most like?

The Cowardly Lion. If I only had the noive.

4. What is the first book you ever read?

Dick and Jane. I am old.

5. Would you rather have to greet everyone with a high five or a fist bump for the rest of your life? (imagine fist bumping in an interview!?)  

I would prefer to greet everyone with interpretive dance.

Thank you Andrea, we would LOVE to great everyone with interpretive dance!