Mastering the ‘Balancing Act’

Maple Ridge author Diane Tupper’s experiences as a single mom and lawyer were fodder for her first book

Maple Ridge author Diane Tupper

Maple Ridge author Diane Tupper

Diane Tupper takes a few seconds to ponder the question – is Kate, the harried single-mom whose the protagonist of her first book, just like her?

She quickly admits there are a few similarities, but Kate, the lawyer and mom, is much more dramatic.

“You write what you know, I guess,” says Tupper, who lives in Maple Ridge.

Balancing Act begins with Kate’s first day as an 43-year-old articling student at a law firm and follows her through the ups and downs of the year until she is called to the bar.

It shares a humorous, heartfelt glimpse into a single mother’s struggle to balance the needs of her family with the demands of her career.

As someone who has juggled work and family life throughout her career, Tupper often drew on her experiences to craft Kate’s struggles.

Returning to school as a single mother of five in her early 40s, Tupper completed her undergraduate degree as the oldest student in her year, a feat that fuelled her aspirations to become a lawyer.

“I always wanted to be a lawyer, but I stupidly got married very young and had children very young,” says Tupper, who worked as a book keeper before she decided to pursue law.

She finished law school at the University of British Columbia the same year her youngest child graduated from high school and practised family law for the next 20 years.

Tupper says it wasn’t an easy making the decision to return to school.

When she was trying to decide whether or not to return to school, she lamented to her son, “I’ll be 45 when I graduate.”

What her son said next put everything in perspective: “Mom, you are going to be 45 whether you go back to school or not.”

Like her protagonist Kate, Tupper too practised family law, an area she was drawn to right from the beginning.

“I always wanted to help people,,” says Tupper. “A lot of family law, I think, is counselling and problem solving. You are dealing with people at their worst and often they are not reasonable or rational. You are dealing with people whose life has turned upside down.”

The twelve chapters in Balancing Act are named after fictitious court cases and loosely based on her life.

“I had to be careful not to identify anyone,” she says, adding she’s been questioned by friends and former colleagues who insist they see themselves in certain characters. Tupper admits the first lawyer who hired her did refer to her as the “baby lawyer.”

Tupper began writing the book when she was forced into retirement after breaking her back, knee and arm. She hopes it not only entertains but inspires others who are contemplating a big change mid-life.

“People, especially women will see you can make a choice, you can change,” says Tupper. “You have to just take the plunge.”

She is already working on a sequel to Balancing Act, which was recently picked for a coveted “editor’s choice” award.

Tupper is going to give Kate a boyfriend in her second book.

“Just to complicate things even further,” she says.

Meet the author

Diane Tupper will be signing copies of her book Balancing Act on Saturday, August 4 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Black Bond Books in Haney Place Mall.