Billie Livingston is a fiction writer, poet, and sometime essayist. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, she grew up in Toronto and Vancouver, and has since lived in Tokyo, Hamburg, Munich and London, England. Her first employment was filling the dairy coolers in a Macs Milk. She went on to work varying lengths of time as a file clerk, receptionist, cocktail waitress, model, actor, chocolate sampler, and booth host at a plumber's convention. She lives in Vancouver.
Livingston is the author of two novels and a book of poetry. She has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize for fiction and the Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman.
From a Q & A about her latest novel, Cease to Blush:
Can you tell us how you became a writer?Read the full interview.
I didn’t call myself one until I was close to thirty. I had published quite a bit of poetry in magazines and about that time I met another writer, Rhea Tregebov, who insisted that I had to call myself a writer if I was going to be one. But in truth I’ve been scribbling down whatever flitted through my head since I was a child. There was never a time that I didn’t write.
What inspired you to write Cease to Blush? Is there a story about the writing of this novel that begs to be told?
The year Lili St. Cyr died my editor gave me the obit page from The Globe and Mail and said that she thought St. Cyr’s life would make a great biography. I started to read about this woman who not only ran with other strippers but also in a kind of rarified crowd of politicians and celebrities. Later I came across a few stories in which a former strip-teaser transformed herself and then lived in terror that her children might one day find out. I thought, what if a burlesque queen had been performing more in the sixties when there was such an obvious interconnectedness between showbiz, politics and organized crime? What if she found herself treated like just another disposable commodity and got scared that she might end up dead, as so many insiders did in that decade? She might disappear, only to re-emerge “radicalized,” as they called it in the seventies — a time when some feminists (having come out of the soul-sucking fifties and sixties) believed that sleeping with men was sleeping with the enemy. What sort of daughter might she end up with? The old “Prude is Father to the Pervert” adage is a strong aspect in Cease to Blush.
My Book, The Movie: Cease to Blush.