Debut author CJ Schneider talks about her insightful new book, Mothers of the Village, and about writing, research, art and the Iroquois.
It’s always nice to get to know the person behind the book. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m from a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. After I finished a degree in political science I travelled around quite a bit. I taught English as a second language in Taiwan and moved to the UK after I got married. We moved back to Canada two kids later. We’ve been back from the UK for four years and I am now a mother of three. I really love who my kids are. I love watching Arrested Development. I’m not a fan of housework. And as much as I wish I liked cookies made with lavender…I really, really don’t.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
A poem for my Grandma. I remember that it rhymed and it was terrible and she loved it.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Around the time my publishers said they were interested in publishing my book. Honestly, I’ve never really thought of myself as a writer, until recently, and even then, the title of “writer” is on the bottom of a long list that reads something like “cleaner of bathrooms, wiper of counters, driver of children, maker of food, referee of arguments…(a hundred things here)…writer of thoughts, eater of peanut butter.”
What is your book about?
My book is about why all mothers need a community of support and how to build these very important communities for ourselves.
Why should we read it?
My hope is that my book will help mothers to recognize the value of their own villages and to really invest in making them as rich and satisfying as possible.
What was your favourite chapter to write?
I loved doing research for my chapter on the different mothering cultures around the world. I edited so much out of that chapter for the sake of balance within the book, but the research was extremely fascinating.
You mention Van Gogh’s painting “Wheatfield with Crows,” and compare it to motherhood. What painting would you use to describe your village?
“Orchestra” by Bolivian painter Graciela Rodo Boulanger.
If you had to pick a village from your travels and studies to live in other than your own, which one would you pick? Why?
I don’t know which one I’d pick–the people of the milpas and the matrilineal Iroquois definitely intrigue me the most but what I really desire is to be a part of a village with a soul–one where the villagers try their best to treat each other with love and respect.
What advice do you have for mothers who are struggling with shyness or are introverts, but still want to build a village?
Very good question – I probably should have taken some space in my book to discuss this. In an interview setting my answer will most likely be lacking but in the small space I have here I would say this:
It’s easy to say the wrong thing, to the wrong person at the wrong time. It’s easy to get service and helpfulness wrong too. When it comes to dealing with others there are a lot of things that we can get wrong but as a wise friend of mine once said “You can’t get love wrong.” She’s right. Love doesn’t require small talk or wit. It doesn’t require extroverted energy or large audiences. It’s possible to deliver and receive big love in quiet ways.
Some of the most helpful members of my village are men, but you don’t mention much about the role of fathers/men in your book. Will there be a “Fathers of the Village” sequel?
I really hope there is a “Fathers of the Village” written someday, however, not having any experience as a father myself, I don’t know if I’d be the best person to write that. If some Dad decides to write that book, I would absolutely love to read it.
What do you hope your children will learn from your book when they are older?
That they really do belong to each other.
If people only take one thing from your book, what would you want it to be?
To reach out to others any way you can.
Where can we find you? (On social media, not in a stalker-y kind of way)
Quillable’s tagline is “For all things noteworthy.”
Could you share something noteworthy you have come across recently?
Brene Brown talking about vulnerability. Fantastic.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for the review of Mothers of the Village!
Hint: I loved it.