25th Trillium Award

On Writing, with Diana Walsh

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Diana Walsh

Only days after the birth of her daughter, Diana Walsh found herself living every mother's worst nightmare: her baby girl was kidnapped from a Stoney Creek hospital while Diana rested nearby. Nineteen years later, Diana is now sharing her story with the publication of her memoir, Empty Cradle, released this month with Dundurn Press. Today she talks to Open Book about the cathartic effect of writing Empty Cradle and about her inspiring and talented writing group, the North Shore Wordsmiths.

Diana will be launching Empty Cradle at The Lakeview in Hamilton on Sunday, September 16 at 1:00 p.m. Visit our Events page for details.

Open Book:

Tell us about your new book, Empty Cradle.

Diana Walsh:

Empty Cradle is the true story of a kidnapping that occurred in Ontario, Canada. It is a memoir that takes the reader into the personal lives of those touched by this traumatic event. A time line is shown of both myself and the kidnapper from childhood to adulthood until the two paths cross, resulting in a cataclysmic event that leaves the reader anxiously waiting to learn the final outcome.


How difficult was it for you to revisit these events in order to write about them, and what strategies did you use during the writing of this book that helped you complete the project?


Although revisiting the kidnapping was upsetting, it was also cathartic and helped me to heal. There were things that I wanted to share but couldn?t talk about. Writing became my voice. It became a mission to get all of my thoughts recorded and once I started writing, I couldn?t stop. I kept a pen and paper beside my bed and much of my writing was done in the middle of the night.


Describe the structure of Empty Cradle. Did it evolve naturally, or did you plan it out ahead of time?


Empty Cradle percolated in my mind for a long time before it was put to paper. When I finally made the commitment to write my story, I began researching police documents, court records and media articles and film to gather more information.


What audience do you hope to reach with this book?


Although my feeling is that mothers will relate to this book the strongest, I hope that health care professionals and law enforcement personnel will also find their way to this story.


Tell us about your writing group, the North Shore Wordsmiths. How does being a part of this community influence you as a writer?


It?s great to be a part of a group of like-minded individuals who appreciate the same interests and have a passion for putting thoughts to paper. Being part of a writing group also gives you the resource of having a team of Cracker Jack editors at your fingertips on a regular basis. Writers can continually look at their work through the fresh eyes of the group and therefore consider different angles and possibilities. Being part of the North Shore Wordsmiths has opened my mind to consider different types of writing from Acrostic or Anaphora to Poetry and Prose. Exercise has value not only for the body but also for the mind, and my intellectual workouts have become more challenging and stimulating with the participation in this tremendous writing group.


What is the best writing advice you've received?


Probably the best writing advice I received was to be true to myself.


What are you working on now?


I am currently working on a story that explores the challenges faced by a family in crisis and the community that comes together in their support.

Diana Walsh is a member of the North Shore Wordsmiths. She was born, raised and currently lives in Stoney Creek, a small town in southern Ontario. Diana?s story was made into the movie Stolen Miracle, which plays every Christmas season. Diana?s daughter is now a happy nineteen-year-old. To find out more, visit Diana at her website.

For more information about Empty Cradle please visit the Dundurn Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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