The only thing better than short stories are linked short stories. I love to read them. And I love to write them. Back in 2012 I wrote a story about a character called Hen who goes on holiday to France with her sister Daphne. The story is called "Gliding, Weightless" and was published in Riddle Fence, issue 21. And then I wrote another story set a couple of years earlier and told from the point of view of Hen's husband Neil. It's called "Quickening" and today it was published by Understorey Magazine's latest issue. You can read the story here.
Here are some shots from last Thursday's book launch. The party was held at the Eastern Edge Gallery and coincided with the members exhibition so we were surrounded by paintings and photographs and mixed media installations by artists who are also members of the gallery. We were also fortunate to have a string duo - my friend Lauren Smee and her partner Sarah Jane Johnson - on hand. So it was the intersection of all my favourite things - music, art, literature. And of course cake, food, and wine!
The team at Eastern Edge were just lovely to work with and FYI, the gallery is one of the few accessible spaces in the city. I would highly, highly recommend them for all your event needs. Probably the nicest and most surreal moment was standing at the lectern, about to give my reading, and looking out over the crowd of all my favourite townies. It was standing room only. The place was on wheels!
ps. In case you are wondering, "we had a time" is a Newfoundland expression loosely meaning "we had a great time/ a time to remember." And "the place was on wheels" means "the place was jam packed and the crowd was boisterous." Don't you just love language?
Good news for fans of The Boat People: the Newfoundland Quarterly online has published some exclusive bonus content, a scene called "More Folly Than Sense" that is not in the book. It's accompanied by a brilliant illustration by Megan McNeill who is a talented artist as well as my friend and neighbour.
This is a flashback that takes place 22 years before the novel begins. I love this scene and it was one I wrote for the very first draft. But it's set so far in the past that it really didn't have a place in the novel. I'm glad it's available though because it shows a side of northern Sri Lanka that you don't get to see in the book - the carefree, idyllic days that people of a certain age still remember. And I think it's important to think about this, in the context of Sri Lanka and Syria and Libya and every single other place that's been ripped apart by war. Once upon a time there was peace.
This morning the provincial government announced their new Status of the Artist legislation in a press conference at the Arts & Culture Centre. I was pleased to be asked to give a reading at the event. To be offered a podium and a microphone is to be given a position of privilege. So I used that privilege to say a few words before my reading. Here they are:
"I grew up in a home with very few books. My parents are not big readers and back when I was a kid there wasn’t a lot of money for extras. But my town had a great library so there was always a tower of paperbacks on the floor by my bed. Without those books, I would never have discovered the joy of reading. And without the vibrant cultural institutions in this province, I would never have become a writer. The Writers' Alliance, ArtsNL, the Arts & Letters Awards, the classes at MUN and their writers-in-residence - these were the crucial resources that made my career possible.
As writers, we have been very concerned about the impact of austerity, not just on our livelihoods but on the options available for tomorrow’s writers and artists. I hope that in enacting this Status of the Artist legislation the government is signalling a renewed commitment to the arts. We stand, just steps away from a public library, my public library, and I hope this too has meaning, that it indicates a commitment to literacy and the government-funded resources that make literacy possible."
I won the Journey Prize! It's two days later and I'm still floating on air. And check out this Globe & Mail top-of-the-fold, front section, page 4 coverage with my photo! Back when I worked in media relations, I would have killed for this kind of national placement.
The Journey Prize was announced along with six others as part of the annual Writers' Trust Awards on Tuesday, November 14 at the Glenn Gould Studio at CBC HQ in Toronto. I was especially pleased for David Chariandy who won the Fiction prize. His novel Brother is a quiet lyric, an elegy to Scarborough, and a meditation on grief, brotherhood, and prejudice.
The Writers' Trust are genuinely wonderful people who a) know how to pull off an awards show and b) know how to make writers feel loved. They feted all us finalists the evening before at a private dinner and then on Tuesday night put on a really slick awards night that felt a tiny bit like the Oscars. They even live-streamed the event so you can watch me stutter through my acceptance speech.
It was such a treat to dress up and socialize with other writers, a couple of whom are my literary heroes and of course Tuesday night was a total whirlwind, especially after I won. I've never been hugged by so many new acquaintances in my life. For the record, I liked it. :) I was chuffed to see Pamela Mulloy, Fiction Editor for The New Quarterly. TNQ is such an amazing publication and they've been so supportive of my work so it was an added pleasure not just to win, but to bring this prize home for them as well. Here are some photos from the evening, none of which came from my camera. From left to right: Group photo of the award winners; Journey judge Ayelet Tsabari with fellow finalist Darlene Naponse and me; Journey judge Kevin Hardcastle and me; TNQ editor Pamela Mulloy and me.