When the New York Times’ Modern Love section ran Natalie Appleton’s intimate account of narrowly avoiding a proposal from her small-town Alberta boyfriend only to move to Thailand, meet and later marry a man from Medicine Hat, dozens of readers wrote and asked Appleton where they could find the book.
Now, with the debut of her literary memoir I Have Something to Tell You for which there will be a launch party at the Elk’s Hall Jan. 13, Appleton is pleased to finally have an answer for those readers.
“This book is really about that time in your life when you feel utterly lost, and you’re a bit afraid to ask for what you really want,” Appleton said. “A lot of us have been there at one point or another, and for myself, at that time, this is the kind of book I wanted to read.”
On the eve of Christmas and a proposal, Appleton discovers she doesn’t want to settle for sevens, and starts over. So, she abandons everything in Alberta for Bangkok.
Along the way, with startling illumination, honesty and humour, Appleton unpacks the past that caused her to flee: cheating hearts, small-town suffocation, a tattered family and a genetic disposition to madness.
In Thailand, she kills an albino gecko, crawls into bed with a lampseller and nearly calls off her quest when she’s almost attacked by a leather vendor. And then, at a grimy guesthouse one year after arriving in Bangkok, everything changes.
Appleton describes the book as a mix between The Alchemist and Bridget Jones’s Diary.
“My voice is definitely candid, and I happen to be a bit of klutz, so that helps contrast and lighten those moments when my melodramatic 22-year-old self is trying to figure out what the heck I’m supposed to with my life, and is looking for clues from the universe,” Appleton said. “I hadn’t read memoirs of women who had experienced that kind of everyday unease about a life that just wasn’t enough somehow, or of women who not always regrettably slept with men and occasionally lost it. I wanted the writing to feel real and relatable.”
Appleton’s writing career began in journalism, working at newspapers across western Canada and later freelancing for national papers. She started writing what became this memoir during her studies in the creative writing (narrative non-fiction) program at City University, London.
She also writes fiction and poetry; in 2016 she won Prairie Fire’s Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award, and one of her stories was longlisted for the CBC Creative Non-fiction Contest.
Perhaps because of her influences in other genres, I Have Something to Tell You is a lyrical approach to memoir, filled with evocative imagery, poetry and literary devices. It’s also a vulnerable exploration of the meaning of love, family, home and the magic of the universe—and a captivating window into two equally exotic worlds: the oilpatch-laden Prairies and the resplendent Thailand.
“Whatever the reader’s age, wherever they grew up, I think they’ll be able to relate to feeling afraid to leave—whether it’s a crummy partner or town or job—or at the very least, they’ve wondered, What if?”
A launch party for Natalie Appleton’s I Have Something to Tell You is being held at the Elks Hall in Vernon Jan. 13. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with reading performance beginning at 8 p.m., featuring Appleton reading in conjunction with live music by Peter Padden and Steve Todd. Tickets are $10 cash at the door or in advance via Eventbrite. Books will be available for sale and signing.