Journey Prize

Two of my stories have been long-listed for this year's JOURNEY PRIZE. TWO! They are: Butter Tea at Starbucks (originally published in The New Quarterly) and Reading Week (originally published in PRISM international).

The Journey Prize has been on my writer's bucket list for a while so I was pretty happy back in January when both publications said they were putting my stories forward. My live-in mathemagician (every writer should have one) crunched some numbers and told me I had a 60% chance of getting one story on the long list and a 20% chance of getting them both on there. Take that, slim odds!

The long-listed stories get published in a collection - Journey Prize 29. You can pre-order it here. Finalists are announced in the Fall and the winner is named in November. HOORAY FOR CANLIT!


Butter tea at Starbucks

My story, Butter Tea at Starbucks, is out in the most recently issue of The New Quarterly (issue 140).

The story is set in 2008 in the lead up to the  Summer Olympics in Beijing. It's about sisters and postpartum depression, the politics of Tibet, and the excruciating uncertainty of quarter life. But it's also about fire and water, circles and balance.

Butter Tea took a long time to write and rewrite (and write and rewrite and write and rewrite and write and rewrite) but I'm really proud of how it turned out.



The thing is I hate writing exercises. I know. I know. Dancers limber up. Musicians play scales. Yogis salute the sun. We all need to warm up before diving in. Except not all of us. Not me. I hate writing exercises. (I also, for the record, used to hate playing scales)

Forgive me. I am a Type A. And I hate the dead-end feeling of an exercise. Words that don't result in a story or an essay or an article. What exactly is the point? If I'm going to sit down and focus my mind and churn out words onto a blank sheet of paper (urg…that is the worst, most difficult part of writing for me) then I want to have something to show for it.*

So this is how Miloslav came to life. He began as an exercise (write a list story). Incidentally I failed at the exercise (you try to write a list story! it's difficult!) but I got a good story out of it, which was my real goal all along. And it was just published in the latest issue of The New Quarterly. If you don't have a subscription, here's a handy list of shops that carry the mag.

Phillip and Jill are having trouble conceiving so in lieu of a baby, they hire a cleaning guy named Miloslav. He's a close-talker with a hearing aid and Philip instantly distrusts him. Miloslav is a story about urban ennui and isolation, the things we think we know but really don't, the lives we imagine for others.

*I'm not saying this is the right way to go about your writing life.



The good people at The New Quarterly requested a peak inside my writing sanctuary and I was happy to oblige (mostly because it gave me a valid excuse to close my laptop, cue up a podcast, and clean). You can check out the feature here.

The garland of platonic solids strung over the window was made by my live-in mathemagician. There's a mermaid - who you can't see - hanging out on top of the bookcases, a quote from Cheryl Strayed on the desk, an irrational number clock on the wall, a Gabrielle action figure (a gift from a former boss), an Ebola virus plush toy (yes, that's a real thing and yes, I know it's weird), and all my favourite authors crammed together on the shelves. I'm not shy about saying that I love this space. It's clean and bright and peaceful and most evenings, the sun puts on an incredible light show through that window.