Local author Christine Walde.

Standing out from the landscape

Local Christine Walde, author of two young adult fiction novels on crossing genres, graffiti and finding time for creativity.

Late at night, after her children have gone to sleep, one Saanich mom revels in the silence in front of her computer screen.

Author Christine Walde chips away at her next project in those precious moments of solitude – a concept familiar to parents, especially those whose passions require quiet reflection. Walde fantasizes about hiding out in a cabin and logging some writing hours.

“I don’t have any extra spare time. I would like to create extra meditative space in my life. To be a writer I think you need to have meditative space around questions you have, to explore answers you’re never going to know. It’s a whole different way of thinking,” Walde says. “Working full-time, being a mom and doing all of the other shit that people do, is not conducive to creative thinking.”

In 2013 Walde, a full-time librarian and mother to eight-and 12-year-old children, published her second book of young adult fiction, Burning from the Inside, with Cormorant Books. But don’t call her a YA author.

“I wasn’t actively pursuing a career in young adult literature. I do not like myself to be confined within one type of writing.”

Walde didn’t realize her first book, 2007’s The Candy Darlings, even belonged to the young adult genre until she met its publisher and would-be literary agent, who helped shape the flash fiction into the YA novel it became.

“I was just writing the story that I wanted to write,” she says. “It’s more that the market found me than I went seeking it.”

Walde, also a published author of poetry and creative non-fiction, is drawn to YA specifically for its role in documenting the critical passages from one period of life to the next.

In Burning from the Inside, two young graffiti artists are the ones navigating such a passage – one of whom is undercover to bust the G7 crew, the other is a member. They may just fall in love.

The star-crossed plot circles around the existence of a legendary piece of graffiti, said to reveal quintessential truths about the world.

“They do discover some quintessential truths, but it’s about themselves, not about their work,” Walde says.

Walde found inspiration for the story during a time she was living in London, Ont. in an area well-marked with graffiti.

“Not that it was that fantastic, Berlin Wall kinda stuff,” she says, “but it was important, these were people who had a voice to speak and they were using an expression often used.”

Though conflicted on whether or not graffiti is art – her current stance is closer to a no, than a yes, by the way – Walde’s certain of its appeal as a backdrop for fiction.

“It was this idea of a secret lexicon. In our landscapes we have corporate advertising, we have city signs telling us where to stop or what streets are called, but in terms of anything else, there’s not much out there.

“I was interested in people actually writing in the landscape, literally. And being a voice that stands out from that landscape.”

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