Quill and Quire

People

« Back to Omni
Articles

Q&A: Betsy Warland on her forthcoming spring memoir, Oscar of Between

by

Betsy Warland spring preview 2016 january/februaryIn 2007, B.C. author Betsy Warland celebrated her 60th birthday with a vacation to London. That trip formed the genesis for her book, Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas, the first title in Caitlin Press’s new LGBTQ imprint, Dagger Editions. Warland assumes the name Oscar while embarking on a personal journey to understand her life and identity as “a person of inbetween.”

How did this trip inform your narrative? I knew wanted to introduce one fictive device, but I didn’t know what it would be. When I got to London I realized I wanted to give this narrator the name Oscar – I kept running into the name in different places. I was drawn to it.

But the spark for the book was really that I went to see an exhibition of military camouflage at the Imperial War Museum, which was utterly atypical of me. Within the first few minutes I got this incredible flash of understanding something that’s puzzled me my whole life.

I realized how much camouflage has entered every aspect of civilian life. It’s gone from a military strategy to a modus operandi of how the western world works. It’s become harder to know what is true.

What does “inbetween” mean to you? For a time in the 1980s, there was the idea of writing from the margins, which was a narrative position I took for at least a decade. Now there isn’t one label that works for me – I’d probably need five. “Inbetween” not only encompasses who I am, but how I experience the world.