Live Radio Interview: 103.5 Juice FM Morning Show

On Air Talent Tanner Havens of Nelson’s 103.5 Juice FM Radio interviews me about my book and the Taghum Hall Launch Event taking place that evening on March 13th, 2019.


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After Recruit Term ended in October 1980, I would listen to The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkle on my yellow Walkman every evening after lights out.

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Transcript for

Live Radio Interview

103.5 Juice FM Morning Show

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


On Air Talent: Tanner Havens

Guest Author: Kate Armstrong


TH:   Nelson’s Variety 103.5 Juice FM Tanner Havens here and I’m very excited today because I’m joined by the author of The Stone Frigate, Kate Armstrong. And you just wrote this book, this lovely book that I read yesterday, cover to cover. We were just talking about that a little bit. I haven’t done that since I was in high school, which is about twelve years ago. And, um, I haven’t actually picked up a book and started it and finished it in one day. I couldn’t put it down. Thank you for joining me today.


KA:   Thank you, Tanner. It’s a real honour to be here. I’m so excited that you read my book cover to cover. I’ve been getting that feedback a lot from people and it’s truly humbling and, um, so exciting for me after six years, basically, of working on it and looking forward to this day of getting it out.


TH:   Yah. Absolutely. And you were just in Vancouver showing the book and doing book openings out there. How did it go?


KA:   It was fantastic. I did a launch in Vancouver that was, uh, sponsored by my publisher. Dundurn Press is my publisher and they’re out of Toronto.


TH:   Mmm Hmm


KA:   And tonight I’m doing a launch in Nelson which will be celebrating, a local celebration, with friends and family at Taghum Hall at 7:00pm, which will be fantastic if you want to come out. There will be lots of room for everyone. I’ll be doing a reading and answering questions about the book.


TH:   I’m very excited for the event, it’s going to be a great time: 7pm tonight at Taghum Hall. And you live in Nelson now. You’re a local.


KA:   I live in Nelson.


TH:   So this is a hometown book launch for you.


KA:   And you know, honestly, I’ve basically written this book here in Nelson.  I did a first draft and then we moved to Nelson, and the editing process, we came in September of 2015, so I’m brand new to Nelson. I’m less than four years. We moved here and since then I’ve been through rounds and rounds of edits. So truly, I feel this book was written in Nelson.


TH:   That’s amazing. And I read this book in Nelson, obviously. I read it yesterday. There’s a few things that I really loved about this book. One was, uh, how it’s written, really is amazing. That’s what makes it such a page-turner. You feel like you’re right there. And what I really loved about the narrative is how you go from speaking, describing the situation from a first person perspective, and then you go into this dialogue – but in the italics are your thoughts, your thought process at that time. I loved it. There’s not much I can share on air about it because it’s definitely right from your head and the raw feelings that you have in that moment. I have a hard time recapping an episode of TV that I watched the other day to somebody, so I just want to know, was it difficult to go back and try to dig up, you know, emotions from that time or have they always just been there?


KA:   That’s a great question, Tanner. I graduated in 1984 from Royal Military College, and that’s what this book is about. It’s about being the first woman that was admitted to Royal Military College. And in 1986, I knew that I wanted to write this story but was terrified to write it. I was still in the military. I just thought ‘there is no way I can write this book’. But what I did, is I sat down and I plotted out, literally, the events that happened in my life because it’s a memoir, so it’s a true story, and then I shelved it. And eventually, basically in 2013, I started working on it again, like, to go section by section to write it. And what happened was, um, I wrote the whole thing and it was so huge, it was something like 1200 pages long and I showed it to someone, and I’m so grateful, they read it and then they came back and said: ‘Kate, this is amazing, but, um, by the end of first year I wanted to quit.’ I’m like, hey, so did I. (laughs)


TH:   Yah. (laughs) I’m right there with you!


KA:   She said, “You have to summarize”. And that’s been a big part of my learning as a writer: how to do the summary and capture the essence of the feelings. But it hasn’t been that I’ve lived my life in that state.


TH:   Mmm Hmm


KA:   You know, like, I was able to go back and visit it but there is a huge amount of healing that happened for me through the writing of this book.


TH:   That’s great!


KA:   For sure.


TH:   That’s really great. I like that you mentioned how long it was when you, kinda, first went through. I really liked, um, so the first half of the book really does summarize your first year at the Royal Military College. That’s kinda the beef chunk of the first half and I liked how that did set the stage for everything. You know, you really went into detail about that and it kinda set the stage on what to expect for your second year, and your third year, and your fourth year. And I really enjoyed that. There were a few things I picked up along the way. When I was reading it, I was writing down notes and then I quickly stopped writing down notes….’cause…


KA:   (laughs)


TH:   ‘Cause I just forgot I was doing it – I got sucked into the book. But one of the things I did want to talk about, just from a radio standpoint, you mentioned your yellow Walkman. 


KA:   Oh right! Yup.


TH:   Yah. You mention it one or two times in the book and you said you had some cassette tapes. And I sat there and, I’m like, I hope I get to hear what cassettes she had. Do you remember any of those cassettes that you had with you?


KA:   Oh, absolutely, um, as a kid, I loved Simon and Garfunkle.


TH:   Mmm Hmm. And you did mention – that was the one you mentioned.


KA:   There was that part in there, there’s music in the book, that ‘s what I’m so excited about and I hope that maybe, um, some of that music can play after we chat?


TH:   That’s the plan! (laughs)


KA:   Oh cool. So awesome. Some of the songs are just so intense and they’re perfect for Juice FM. (laughs)


TH:   Yah. Absolutely. And actually, flipping through, most of the songs we do have.  Your second, third, and fourth year songs. I don’t want to give too much away because the book is really incredible, but I believe we have all three of those songs – so we’re going to have some fun with that and actually kick it out to those – and you did mention “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel in your book and how that became your own goodnight song.


KA:   Right.


TH:   And I really kinda enjoyed that. There’s a few other elements of this book that I really liked, that kinda reoccur throughout it, when you’re talking about the women’s bathroom that was right across the hall, in the book you first describe it, you know, “I smell fresh paint”. So that was new! And you do mention a few times the shape of the generic woman on the front of the bathroom that becomes this recurring element in your book, same with the statue that you start talking about, that you would nod at when you would walk by, and these elements I really liked picking up and, um, you revisited through the book and I think I could sit here and talk for a long time about the things I really enjoyed about this book (laughs) and I think you kinda did summarize it here just a little bit, and I skipped over because of my own excitement but if you could give a little, brief summary of what the book is really about?


KA:   My book is actually about today. Which is so strange to say but, I, and that’s part of what finally compelled me to write it. It’s a story of, um, well it’s my story. As a young woman, I was innocent and kind of naïve about the world. I wasn’t raised in a hugely political family and I wanted to be a pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces and I, at the time women weren’t accepted as pilots so, I ended up going to Royal Military College in the first class of women that were admitted, and there are 32 of us, and because my name’s Armstrong, I was given the first number but there were 32 of us there and it’s about being naïve and just thinking that, you know, ‘I’m accepted now so this is all going to be great’. And I found out about the sub-culture, this it’s culturally unnecessary to treat women as equals, and I find that’s still happening today. Everywhere.


TH:   Mmm Hmm. I think your book is just as relevant today. I remember I was sitting there for the second half of my reading, my first half was actually sitting in Back Roads Brewery, during the day it’s really quiet and I find that I don’t read well at home.


KA:   I love it there. Hi Tracey! (laughs)


TH: (laughs) She’s great isn’t she?


KA:   Oh, so awesome.


TH:   I love the staff at Backroads. It’s nice and quiet. It’s a really nice place to read during the day, but they get busy, they’re successful, so once it got loud, I had to take it home. So I was sitting there reading it across the room from my girlfriend, I just kept looking up in so many moments and saying “You have to read this book!” (laughs)


KA:   Oh. That’s so awesome.


TH:   So she’s actually going to be picking it up tonight. I had to take it to work just because I really wanted you to sign it. But, the event today is at Taghum Hall, it’s at 7:00pm, it’s going to be incredible and you’re going to be reading a little bit from the book?


KA:   Yes. I’ll be speaking briefly and then doing a reading from the book and then taking questions. So it will be very interactive. I’m really looking forward to it. Tons of people are coming out and my community is Taghum Hall, I’m there, you know, a couple times a week so I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone from the area coming out, too. I’m excited about it.


TH:   Absolutely, Kate, thank you so much for joining me here today. I’m so very excited. Is there anything else you wanted to add before we finish up here?


KA:   I just want to thank you for having me on the show and to tell you the truth, I’m a little bit nervous about the upcoming songs, ‘cause you know the nature of how those songs were played…


TH:   I do, yah.


KA:   It’s sort of like that, um, song terrorism (laughs) so sometimes I hear them and I get a little bit of the vibe, of the vibe from it, but I’m super excited. I don’t know why I said that, but…


TH:   Oh, no, no. By all means. It just means people need to read your book and kinda understand what these songs mean, and that’s kinda what I want to finish on here is: read this book! I loved it! Once again, I mentioned it a couple times, I read it cover to cover in one day, which for me is super rare. I just could not put this book down. And I’m so glad that I was able to read it, so happy and honoured to meet you, and I’m so excited for the event down at Taghum Hall at 7:00pm tonight.



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