Natalie London's book, Lyme Light: A Memoir, tells the story of a queer Canadian-born young woman who was attending Columbia University while pursuing her musical ambitions.
It seemed inevitable that her scholastic achievements and artistic abilities would take her up the ladder of success. Then along came a tick that took a bite out of her plans and turned her world upside down. London contracted Lyme disease and spent years fighting for her life. Now in remission, she is living her life on her own terms.
London talked with Windy City Times about feeling free, her musical path and how actress Natasha Lyonne came to narrate the book's trailer.
Windy City Times: You had Lyme disease and you had to go through so much, but you maintained an uplifting spirit. How is your health today?
Natalie London: I'm doing great and I am in remission. It's about one year and a half past where the book ends in 2009, that I finished treatment.
WCT: Why a memoir?
Natalie London: I've always been a writer with music as my medium and I felt like this was a story that had to be told. Literally, on July 5, 2009, I woke up and started writing it and it came out as chapters. I realized thatwith my experience and the people that I talked to throughout the yearsI could have warned a lot of people and be of service to help them about the dangers of this. A lot of other books about this illness are about what to dotheir prescriptiveand this is not a prescriptive book. This is a warning and I feel that was my responsibility to tell this story and let people know why this happened and why they should take it so seriously.
WCT: Orange Is the New Black actress Natasha Lyonne narrates the trailer for the book. Why a trailer, and how did Natasha get involved?
Natalie London: Even though I am a writer, I see everything visually and I felt like it was a way to explain the story instead of having little clips of her voice. I wanted to put it all together and show what the temperature is of the book. I've loved Natasha forever and I reached out to her; right away she said "yes," and she loved the idea and the story. She practically donated her time and Columbia University gave us their studio and soundproof. I have a background doing music engineering so I brought a whole set up and her and I sat for about three days and just recorded together.
WCT: In the book you have flirtations with both men and women. How do you define your sexual orientation?
Natalie London: I say I'm queer because I fall somewhere between the line. I mostly date girls, but I have dated guys.
WCT: In the book, you were involved with a girl named Kayden, and when she walked into a restaurant the two of you connected. Your mother noticed the attraction right away. Did your mother always know that you were queer?
Natalie London: I came out to my mom when I was 18 after a friend of mine had been kicked out of her home. I kind of wanted to know if this was going to happen to me. My mom had a little bit of time when she struggled with it, but she came around really fast and she was very sweet about everything with Kayden.
WCT: You are currently part of the band Hey, King!, but throughout the book you were trying to get a record deal. Have your musical dreams changed?
Natalie London: They've changed immensely. With everything I do now the drive behind it isn'tI want to get known or I want to get heard. It's that I want to enjoy what I'm doing and I want to connect with people that I love and respect and admire.
WCT: There is an air of wit and sarcasm throughout the book. How did you find the strength to bring in those elements while dealing with all your pain?
Natalie London: I have always found situations funny that I shouldn't. I was in court when my mom had cancer and I was supposed to testify and I started laughing on the stand and I was like, "I'm in court right now, this is real." I have a little too much of an observational take on things.
WCT: How has the book changed your life, for better or worse?
Natalie London: I'm sad that I had to go through that much pain, suffering and loss to get where I am right now. The freedom that I got out of it is absolutely life-changing. I can't begin to measure how different everything is from that day on. I just gave myself the freedom and the break to start over again and live where I wanted and do what I wanted.
Lyme Light: A Memoir is available at www.amazon.com; for more about Natalie London visit www.lymelightmemoir.com .