Paris postcard tribute: Author reveals ‘emotional’ grieving process after mum’s death at Battersea Literature Festival

A London-based author who scattered 60 postcards across Paris in a touching tribute to her mother spoke passionately about her experiences at the Battersea Literature Festival on Tuesday night.

Rachael Chadwick, 30, lost her mother to bowel cancer almost three years ago and her book 60 Postcards describes the emotional struggle she underwent and how with the help of her friends she carried out this Parisian creative tribute.

Rachael explained that her mum’s untimely death, with just 16 days between her diagnosis and her passing away, left her with a myriad of feelings.

“It was extremely difficult, there were so many emotions as I felt angry, frustrated and helpless,” she explained.

“I struggled that year to deal with it, as everyone does when they lose someone. It was so difficult – I was out of control with my emotions.

“I wanted to try and think of a way to start feeling better about things and at least start celebrating her life.

“I felt like death is still quite taboo and I wanted to speak out and say: It’s OK to say you’re not OK.”

Following the devastating news Rachael along with a group of friends scattered 60 postcards across city, one in honour of each year of her mother’s life, and placed her email address so that people could connect and share their own grief.

It didn’t take long until she heard back.

She said: “I was so amazed I yelped on the Tube when I received the first message!”

Rachael documented the responses on her blog which then led to the publication of book.

It gives an honest account of dealing with grief and its main focus is to connect various people together and start a dialogue between them.

The festival’s aim is to give book lovers the opportunity to meet their favourite writers and discover new ones, such as Abigail Tarttelin and Oscar Coop-Phane.

Ms Tarttelin, 26, is the author of Golden Boy – a story about an intersex teenager who is not fully male nor fully female and experiences something horrific that challenges his true identity.

The Grimsby-born writer’s book has won an American Library Association ALEX award for adult books and has been named a Booklist Top 10 First Novel of 2013 as well as a School Library Journal Best Book.

“I am really fascinated by gender and how it affects the person that you become,”
she explained.

“I am interested as to how society uses gender, so that’s what brought about Golden Boy.

The book is about living between genders and my realisation that there is injustice to gender equality inspired me to write the book.”

Mr Coop-Phane, 25, is a French writer whose first book Zenith Hotel earned him the Prix de Flore.

The story is narrated by a prostitute referred to as ‘Nanou’ by her clients and it involves a group of sad characters seeking comfort in her arms.

He explained:“I always wanted to write and speak about loneliness in the big cities, such as Paris.

“My inspiration may come by people I see at the underground and I might create a character based on a stranger I saw at the bar.

“I always wanted to become a writer because I read, think and talk a lot about books.”

Related Articles