Atlantic Books today
BOOK NEWS REVIEWS EXCERPTS
WRITING THE SENATE SCANDAL
WORD ON THE STREET EVENTS WRITING ADVICE FROM AUTHORS
JILL BARBER & GRANT LAWRENCE
FALL 2014 No. 76 Publications Mail Agreement 40038836
b r e a k wa t e r
A SUDDEN SUN
From award-winner trudy J. morgan-Cole, a new novel of breathtaking historical sweep. A Sudden Sun follows the path of the suﬀragist movement in st. John’s – and tells the story of a mother and daughter, the men they love, and the choices they face during a time of intense social change and renewal.
THE LANIER PHILLIPS STORY african-american serviceman Lanier Phillips was just eighteen years old when he was rescued from a sinking warship oﬀ the coast of newfoundland in 1942 – author Christine welldon tells the story that transformed Phillips’ life and ignited his lasting passion for civil rights.
ROCK RECIPES: THE BEST FOOD FROM
From RockRecipes.com creator barry C. Parsons’ home kitchen to yours – some of the most popular dishes Parsons has ever posted, plus a healthy serving of brand new fare as well!
MY NEWFOUNDLAND KITCHEN
Great New Fall Fiction!
From acclaimed author Paul Butler comes a tale of intrigue and mystery. A man claiming to be Doctor Wilfred Grenfell confounds an assembly gathered to listen to a fundraising lecture. Thirty years later, a journalist tracks the history between the imposter and the real Grenfell.
ISBN: 978-1-77117-361-2 $19.95, Paperback
Twenty-two years ago, Bill McGill saw (or thought he saw) something large and monstrous rise up out of Twenty Mile Pond and pluck a hapless seagull from the air. Today the memory resurfaces as his niece, Esme, finds herself charged with murder—one that took place on the shores of that very same pond.
ISBN: 978-1-77117-369-8 $19.95, Paperback
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Contents Fall 2014
On the Cover
28 Inside the Halifax Central Library
See exclusive photos of this eye-catching space under construction and learn what’s in store.
22 Behind the Scenes
Goose Lane Editions celebrates 60 years
24 Word on the Street Halifax
Jill Barber talks about her Maritime ties; the dynamic duo behind Atlantic Canada’s biggest book event; PLUS 19 must-see events
7 Editor’s message
Building a book culture
Festivals, readings and new faces
Journalist and author Dan Leger chronicles his whirlwind months writing Duffy
10 Chad’s view
Remembering Alistair MacLeod
Cover photo: Joseph Muise This page (clockwise from top left): Photo of Jill Barber and Grant Lawrence by Brian Barber; photos of Sylvia Hamilton and the Halifax Central Library by Joseph Muise; photo of Michael Cummey by Arielle Hogan.
13 Proust questionnaire
Find out what makes poet-novelist Michael Crummey tick
14 Inside the author’s studio
Rug hooking author Deanne Fitzpatrick’s whimsical storefront studio
Poet Sylvia D. Hamilton explores Black Nova Scotians’ history in her first collection
Atlantic Books Today
Very Clever. Very Funny.
IS THIS THE CHANCE FOR FREEDOM?
97814598074 88 pb • 97814598075 01 epub
In stores September 15
W ILLI A M KO WA L S K I
“Nifty twists... an authentic plot and realistic characters” —Library Journal
9781459800137 pb 9781459800151 epub
“...moves quickly and is ﬁlled with action.” —VOYA
Steven Galloway Alexander MacLeod David Adams Richards Anne Simpson Jane Urquhart Friday Oct. 3–Sunday Oct. 5 Gaelic College, St Ann’s Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
9781459803275 pb 9781459803299 epub
Joseph Muise Frederic Gayer
atlantic Books Today | EdITOrS’ mESSagE
Young readers editor Lisa Doucet reviews young adult fiction and illustrated children’s books Book bites We are well into the fall publishing season of new Atlantic Canadian books you’ll find oneExcerpts place. You’ll find some of these titles and 20 here in Atlantic Kids’ Stuff Canada, books are in40 First-time childrens’ authors on the page twenty-two with our ultibooming. Despite what book seems to be aand lot starting Live from Afrikan Resistance ; The a publisher share the challenges and Monster of Twenty Mile Pond ; Landscape holiday gift guide. We’ve combined of doom and gloom being reported on the mate learning the with ropes andbooks Light with other great gift ideas for bookexcitement publishing of industry, what major local houses seeking bankruptcy protection and perfect present combinations. What a great Reviews 44to Regional reads give this year—shop local, find your mergers shrinking the industry, there are way Mark the First World War’s centenary the book pubrays of sunshine streaming down on the next great gift and support with books chronicling the lives of those 31 Book reviews industry at the same time. We hope Atlantic Canadian book scene. Writers and lishing who fought The latest in Atlantic Canadian fiction, to inspire some really great holiday gift publishers are working hard to adapt to poetry and non-fiction you. Books really make great gifts! an ever-evolving marketplace, navigating ideas 45 for Events Literary events to fill your are autumn and more titles available in the strange Foodlands of digital publishing and More social media, and they are doing a really eBook format. Pick up a copy of Atlantic Contests Books for the Holidays at your great37 job at it. Atlantic publishers are busy Canadian Reviews as ever pumping out books and promoting Mussels: Preparing, Cooking and Enjoying local bookstore or have a look at the digiBook Club Bonanza a Sensational Seafood ; Island Kitchen: An tal7edition on our website and check out authors all over the region. Ode to Newfoundland ; Family Meals In our Atlantic Canadian Books for the our nifty eBook symbols to discover which 46 The Great Book Giveaway Holidays reading guide, there are over 150 books are available in a digital format. More proof the publishing industry is new titles featured. It’s the largest collection
Mussel and Corn Fritters with Creamy Dill Remoulade; Snow Crab and Sea Urchin Panna Cotta with Maple Glazed Pork Belly
indeed still thriving are the wonderful book awards being celebrated year round, for which countless Atlantic Canadian authors are being nominated for, and of course, often winning! Author Bruce Graham shares a funny story about the honour of “Just Being Nominated.” Don’t miss it, on page twenty-eight. This issue we have three fabulous Atlantic Canadian authors share memories of their favourite holidays stories in “Tales of Christmas Past” (page twenty). And we have “Holidays Feasts” (page thirty) to feed your mind—and your guests—with great Atlantic Canadian cookbooks this holiday season. Don’t let the holiday frenzy get to you this year—Keep Calm and Read On!
Heather Fegan —Atlantic Books Today
Storytellers as great as the region they hail from
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IN PursuIt of JustICe: Just us! Coffee roasters Co-oP aNd the faIr trade MoveMeNt by stacey byrne & errol sharpe, Preface by gavin fridell
Atlantic Books today
Atlantic Books Today is published by the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association (www.atlanticpublishers.ca), which gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canada Book Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Opinions expressed in articles in Atlantic Books Today do not necessarily re flect the views and opinions of the Board or staff of the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association.
Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op, a well known Nova Scotia establishment, is an experiment in a radical business model – one rooted in cooperation, social justice and meaningful social change. Noble IllusIoNs: YouNg CaNada goes to War by stephen dale 9781552666494 $18.95 Dale examines a boys’ annual called Young Canada that FERNWOOD PUBLISHING helped persuade a generation of young Canadians to head c r i t i c a l b o o k s f o r c r i t i c a l t h i n ke r s eagerly to the trenches of World War One. Is the rise of w w w. f e r n w o o d p u b l i s h i n g .c a militarism leading today’s youth in a similar direction?
PUBLISHER Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association firstname.lastname@example.org EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR and ADVERTISING SALES Carolyn Guy email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Kim Hart Macneill email@example.com DESIGN Joseph Muise firstname.lastname@example.org Printed in Canada. This is issue number 76 Fall 2014. Atlantic Books Today is published three times a year. All issues are numbered in sequence. Total Atlantic-wide circulation: 60,000. ISSN 1192-3652 One-year subscriptions to Atlantic Books Today are available for $15 ($17.25 including HST). Please make cheques payable to the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association and mail to address below or contact apma.admin@ atlanticpublishers.ca for subscription inquiries. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40038836 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Atlantic Books Today 1484 Carlton Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3B7 Phone (902) 420.0711 Fax (902) 423.4302 www.atlanticpublishers.ca @abtmagazine facebook.com/AtlanticBooksToday
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The launch of Broken Books
café & bookstore in St. John’s (page 8) and the impending opening of Halifax’s state-of-the-art library (page 28) should raise the spirits of Atlantic Book lovers. Both highlight that regional governments and aspiring entrepreneurs are opening their wallets to proclaim the importance of literature and literacy. But not all book enterprises have been so lucky. Many bookish haunts across the region have closed their doors in recent years. As book lovers, there are many ways for us to lend our physical and financial support to our local book communities to keep them healthy. First, buy local. Atlantic Canada’s book publishers produce books spanning every genre and taste.
Choose independent booksellers whenever possible, and tell them that you appreciate the key role they play in your community. Keep your library card in-date, and take advantage of all the library has to offer, from books to digital media, classes to educational presentations. Write to your local and provincial representatives to express how crucial it is for your children and grandchildren to have access to school libraries offering books written and published by Atlantic Canadians, reflecting our history and the diverse cultural capital created here. We book lovers have received some good news as of late, but there’s still work to do. Let’s all pitch in and look forward to more bright days ahead.
Kim Hart Macneill, Editor
The 3-Rs Book Club from St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia were our first winners.Your club could be next!
CALLING ALL BOOK CLUBS! Want to see your book club featured on our website and in our newsletter? Fill out this ballot (or enter online at AtlanticBooksToday.ca) for your chance! The winning book club will also receive these great gifts: • We’ll bring the food and wine or send you a $100 Sobeys gift card! • AND we will come to your next meeting (either in person or via Skype) to tell you about the hottest new Atlantic Canadian books! • AND you’ll win a set of Atlantic Canadian books for the group!
The information below will not be used for any purpose other than contacting the winning entry. Name: Phone (with area code): The name of your book club: Street/mailing address: City/town, province, postal code: Your favourite book from an Atlantic Canadian author: How many members in your book club? E-mail: YES, please send the Atlantic Books Today newsletter to my inbox. I understand that my consent may be withdrawn by contacting Atlantic Books Today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mail this form by January 16, 2015 to Atlantic Books Today Book Club Bonanza, 1484 Carlton Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3B7
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Atlantic Books Today
CURRENT AFFAIRS NOTED
Winners, a shortlist announcement and new faces
Get the latest news at atlanticbookstoday.ca
A new bookstore for St. John’s
In May, Broken Books on Duckworth Street in St. John’s, NL became the city’s first indie bookseller in several years. This compact space features an array of Atlantic Canadian books alongside pastries and freshly roasted coffee from upstairs neighbour and sister business, Fixed Coffee and Baking. The building’s basement unit became available earlier this year and co-owner Matthew Howse, who is a silent partner in Fixed Coffee, jumped on it. “Downtown has been missing a new bookstore since the Bookery on Signal Hill shut down,” he says. “Students and others don’t always want to trek out to the business park to go to Chapters.” The café area seats 10, while the back wall is dedicated to rustic wood shelves carrying Atlantic published books and CanLit classics, plus a robust selection of poetry and cookbooks.
ATLANTIC BOOK AWARD WINNERS
The winners of the 2014 Atlantic Book Awards were announced in Charlottetown in May. Congratulations to all of these award-winning books, authors and illustrators:
1 2 3 4 5
Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature: Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean, published by Pajama Press Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s Best Atlantic-Published Book Award, Sponsored by Friesens Corporation: Acorn Press for Ni’n na L’nu:The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island by Jesse Francis and A.J.B. Johnston Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, Sponsored by Marquis Book Printing: Black Loyalists: Southern Settlers of Nova Scotia’s First Free Black Communities by Ruth Holmes Whitehead, published by Nimbus Publishing Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction in Memory of Robbie Robertson presented by the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth: Scapegoat: the extraordinary legal proceedings following the 1917 Halifax Explosion by Joel Zemel, published by New World Publishing Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing: The August Gales:The Tragic Loss of Fishing Schooners in the North Atlantic,
1926 and 1927 by Gerald Hallowell, published by Nimbus Publishing
6 7 8 9
Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction presented by Boyne Clarke: Fallsy Downsies by Stephanie Domet, published by Invisible Publishing Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration: Susan Tooke for Lasso the Wind: Aurélia’s Verses and Other Poems written by George Elliott Clarke, published by Nimbus Publishing Margaret and John Savage First Book Award sponsored by Collins Barrow, Weed Man and the Savage Family: Turn Us Again by Charlotte R. Mendel, published by Roseway Publishing PEI Book Awards–Fiction: Riptides: New Island Fiction edited by Richard Lemm, published by Acorn Press; Non-Fiction: Ni’n na L’nu:The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island by Jesse Francis and A.J.B. Johnston, published by Acorn Press; Poetry: The TWIG Collective – A Gathering of Twigs edited by P. Susan Buchanan and Margot MaddisonMacFadyen, published by TWiG Publications
CURRENT AFFAIRS NOTED
East Coast Literary Awards shortlist announced
On June 9 the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) announced its shortlist for the 2014 East Coast Literary Awards, which celebrate and promote excellence in writing from Canada’s Atlantic region. Nominated for the J. M. Abraham Poetry Award are: Mary Dalton for Hooking (Signal Editions); Don Domanski for Bite Down Little Whisper (Brick Books); and Sue Goyette for Ocean (Gaspereau Press). The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award nominees are John DeMont for A Good Day’s Work (Doubleday); Richard Foot for Driven (Goose Lane); and Stephen Kimber for What Lies Across the Water (Fernwood). Nominees for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award are: Shashi Bhat for The Family Took Shape (Cormorant Books); Ed Kavanagh for Strays (Killick Press); and William Kowalski for The Hundred Hearts (Dundurn). The winners will be announced in Halifax on Sept. 20. Visit AtlanticBooksToday.ca to learn about events by these shortlisted authors.
Each summer, the Vancouver-based Alcuin Society judges books solely by their covers in its annual Excellence in Book Design in Canada competition. This year the society recognized 37 winners from 232 entries, among them Gaspereau Press co-publisher/designer Andrew Steeves with 5 prizes. He won first prize for The Deer Yard by Allan Cooper & Harry Thurston in the poetry category, and third prize for Ocean by Sue Goyette; second prize in prose fiction for Petitot by Susan Haley, and tied for third prize with Someone Somewhere by Dana Mills; plus took home the first prize award in non-fiction for Jeremiah Bancroft at Fort Beauséjour & Grand-Pré by Jonathan Fowler & Earle Lockerby.
Gaspereau Press sweeps design awards
Grey eyes – A novel by frank christopher Busch
“At once historical and fantastical, Grey Eyes reclaims some of our most powerful stories with authenticity and with heart and with that bit of magic that brings all of it to such beautiful life. Busch is amongst the new generation of voices so vital to our country.” — Joseph Boyden Live from the AfrikAn resistAnce! by el Jones
R o s e way P u b l i s h i n g
“Deeply honouring and explosively brilliant, El Jones is a fearless young poet creatively in the ‘zone’ joining the ranks of George Elliott Clarke, Maxine Tynes and Rocky Jones.” — Lillian Allen
Congratulations Ed Kavanagh
from Creative Book Publishing
Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award Finalist
ww w. c re a ti v e b o o k p u b l i s h i n g . c a
In June Atlantic Books Today welcomed new editor Kim Hart Macneill. A Cape Bretoner by birth and a Haligonian by choice, her work has appeared in This Magazine, Canadian Business and PROFIT. She replaces, Angela Mombourquette, who earned a $10,000 Innovation Graduate Scholarship to pursue her master of journalism with a specialization in entrepreneurial new ventures. Her predecessor, Heather Fegan, has decided to spend more time with her family after her maternity leave, but won’t disappear from our pages completely.You’ll find her writing our library story on page 28. Best of luck ladies!
Congratulations Angela and Heather!
The Bologna CookBook
The Book of The SeaSon!
The Bologna Cookbook is Kevin Phillips’s first book, and the first ever all-bologna cookbook, featuring two hundred recipes whose main ingredient is . . . you guessed it . . . bologna! The cookbook outlines easy-to-make recipes for mouth-watering dishes that are a feast for the eyes and a delicious treat for the soul, such as Bologna and Eggs with Havarti, Bologna Caesar Wraps, Cheesy Bologna Calzones, Balsamic Peppercorn Bologna Steak, Bologna Stroganoff, and more!
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Atlantic Books Today
CURRENT AFFAIRS CHAD'S VIEW
Remembering Alistair MacLeod
Reflections on our great writer, and an even greater man
by Chad Pelley
he trouble with writing about Alistair MacLeod’s contribution to Atlantic Canadian literature is that anyone who met the man will want to talk reverently about Alistair himself, and try and put his ethereal presence into words. But I know that if I tried I’d fail, which is a testament to his character. Like many, I was introduced to his work in a first year university course, and if there’s one thing I learned from his stories it was that literature isn’t about plot – it’s a commentary on life. I was a biology student, but studying MacLeod’s work showed me how literature, not biology, is a truer study of life. His impact on Atlantic Canada’s literary landscape is obvious and uncontested – he’s won national and international awards, and No Great Mischief was voted the no. 1 Atlantic Canadian book of all time in Atlantic Canada's 100 Greatest Books (Nimbus Publishing). He’s even been appointed an officer of the Order of Canada. Given that his body of work is but one novel and roughly 20 short stories, that’s a lot of weight and worth crammed into a few books. Some of his work deals with feeling displaced from home, often on account of moving away to make a living. This was a life choice many Europeans colonizing Canada made in the distant past, just as it’s a common choice today for Atlantic Canadians who migrate to find work in places like Alberta. The emotional toll of tearing up one’s roots,
and as a result, a connection to the land and family that made us, is something MacLeod conveys very well, as is coping with the inevitability of change in our culture at home. What remains of us when we cleave ourselves from the culture and people that made us? Though not born there, MacLeod was raised in Cape Breton at a time when the island could only be reached by ferry. Perhaps that isolation is what taught him the importance of place and cultural identity? Cultural identity is certainly something Atlantic Canadians feel more than most, and that could be why his work speaks so loudly to us. MacLeod was a purposefully slow writer. His pace didn’t leave us with a plethora of work, but rather, a lesson.
If there’s one thing I learned from his stories it was that literature isn’t about plot – it’s a commentary on life.
His patience showed us how perfectly crafted sentences will build an emotional bridge between a reader and the story, because we experience a well-written story instead of merely reading it. Also, theme and metaphor, age-old but dying concepts, added meaning and cultural relevance to his work. He was a truly classic writer the way Joyce or Thoreau were. The first time I met him was in an elevator in Toronto after IFOA; a prestigious festival I felt fortunate to be a part of. So you can see the metaphor in “going up” with MacLeod. He walked in saying, “Could you hit 11 for me?” I was staying on floor five, and he floor 11. In life, as in his writing, MacLeod will always be levels and levels above the rest of us. ■ Chad Pelley’s fiction has been recognized with more than 10 awards. He is the editor of The Overcast: Newfoundland's Arts & Culture Newspaper.
CURRENT AFFAIRS PERSPECTIVE
Seasoned journalist Dan Leger knew writing a book about a PEI senator’s troubles in under five months would be a challenge. What he didn’t anticipate was how fast the story would grow
by Dan Leger
Atlantic Books Today
CURRENT AFFAIRS PERSPECTIVE
Now, I have dealt with deadlines all my working life. As a wire-service reporter, I filed to newspapers in six time zones. But this was four and a half months for a first book.
The words flowed. After the first week, I had 3,000. Ten days later, I had almost 10,000. They weren’t all pretty words and the narrative was rough, but it was progress. I tried to get down 1,000 words a day and in fact, the first draft ran to 85,000 words. I worked 110 days straight, sometimes hunched over a table in my old sailboat. Problem was, the story kept developing. By summer, Duffy was the key figure in the biggest political scandal of the Harper years. The press gallery’s best reporters were on it. They turned up a lot of information about Duffy, but also about Senators Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb. The “other three” tainted senators became separate branches of my research. In August, I spoke to Duffy at his place at Cavendish, PEI and the story changed again. We exchanged more than 80 emails in the months that followed. Then in October came the climactic events in the Senate, full of dramatic speeches and political bloodletting. Duffy would be suspended, and Nimbus agreed that event would make a good punctuation mark for the story and the book. I edited right up to the deadline, a TV set on the news channels and an audio feed droning from the Senate. The final edits were finished on Christmas Day. Today, Duffy remains in legal and political limbo, facing 31 criminal charges with his fellow Islanders alienated. The book, Duffy: Stardom to Senate to Scandal, might be finished, but the story is still evolving. ■ Find a review of Duffy: Stardom to Senate to Scandal on page 34. Dan Leger is a print and television journalist based in Halifax. He has worked for The Canadian Press, the CBC and the Chronicle Herald.
he proposal was unexpected but straightforward: write a book of at least 50,000 words on the career of PEI Senator Mike Duffy and his entanglement in the Senate expense scandal. The deadline was another matter entirely. In mid-June last year, Nimbus Publishing suggested that a Chronicle Herald column I had written about Duffy could be expanded into an interesting and timely book. And why not? The story was rocking the national headlines and after decades of covering politics, I had the contacts. Plus, publishing a book was a lifelong personal goal. I figured I could have a manuscript completed by the spring of 2014. Problem was, Nimbus was thinking October 2013. After some negotiation, we settled on Nov. 1, giving me four and a half months for a full book, from a standing start. Now, I have dealt with deadlines all my working life. As a wire-service reporter, I filed to newspapers in six time zones. At the CBC, I helped produce more than 15,000 newscasts. But this was four and a half months for a first book, on a developing story, from a bare outline. I started by writing what I already knew about Duffy, which was substantial. We had worked in the same pack during my six years in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Duffy had spent a career in the media and political limelight, leaving a wide digital wake. And I worked the phones, tapping political and media contacts in Ottawa, on PEI and across the country. Parliamentary transcripts and RCMP documents were invaluable primary sources.
AUTHOR BUZZ INTERVIEW
Michael Crummey likes to say that he was born in a mining town “as far from the water as you can get and still be in Newfoundland,” but his award winning poetry, bestselling novels and short stories ring true with Atlantic voices. His new novel, the darkly humorous Sweetland (Random House), follows Moses Sweetland as he remains in his remote island home long after the rest of the town abandons it to the ghosts and the weather. Read a review of Sweetland on page 33.
What do you consider to be your best quality? I have a very thick head of hair. Sadly, it’s all downhill from there. A quality you desire in a partner: Patience! What do you appreciate most about your friends? Book recommendations. Beer at the Duke during the playoffs. Bad puns. Dinner parties.
If you could be someone else for a day who would it be? My dog. He’s got a pretty sweet set-up, if you ask me. Where you would most like to live? Somewhere with a more temperate climate and a longer summer. Greenland comes to mind. Favourite colour: Black, which contains all colours. Your favourite fictional heroes: Henry Smart in Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry. Oddly Flowers in Jessica Grant’s Come, Thou Tortoise and Rockwell Kent in Michael Winter’s The Big Why. What is your greatest fear? Being broke. Followed closely by having to work a real job again. How you want to die: Well, not at all, of course. But since I have no choice in the matter, I would prefer to go in my sleep, late in life, while I still enjoy food, have all my faculties and most of my teeth. Your present state of mind: I was fine until I was forced to answer the last question. Now I feel like I need a beer. And a bowl of chips. ■
Your favourite poets: Jack Gilbert. Paul Muldoon. Wistawa Your favourite occupation: If you mean, favourite of all the occupa- Szymborska. Karen Solie. tions I’ve endured, then I would have Favourite authors: to say writer. If you mean, favourite Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Mavis Gallant. hypothetical occupation, I would have Recently reading Faulkner and realizing to say writer. most of the best bits in Cormac McCarthy (who I think is brilliant) are riffs What is your idea of happiness? on or lifted from Faulkner. A cold Sapporo and a bowl of Kettle Brand Organic Salt and Pepper chips. Your favourite food & drink: See my idea of happiness, above: Your idea of misery: Sapporo, Organic Salt and Pepper chips. Mowing the freakin’ lawn.
Atlantic Books Today
AUTHOR BUZZ INSIDE THE AUTHOR’S STUDIO
An long-standing Atlantic Canadian crafting tradition helped author and artist Deanne Fitzpatrick find her voice
Words Laurie Glenn Norris Photos Barry Norris
AUTHOR BUZZ INSIDE THE AUTHOR’S STUDIO
t’s the colours that first attract you as you walk into Deanne Fitzpatrick’s Rug Hooking Studio at 33 Church Street in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Then comes the urge to run about, handling the wool and jersey swatches, silk ribbons, fleece bundles and Curlylocks yarns that overflow the baskets and painted tables. Whimsical hooked rugs crowd the walls. You’re charged with an overwhelming desire to be productive and engaged to “Create beauty everyday,” as the studio’s motto recommends. Artist and writer Deanne Fitzpatrick works among this stimulation daily. The terracotta walls of her glassed-in office are visible to everyone who enters the studio. She likes being accessible to both clients and staff. She started rug hooking 22 years ago, to decorate a newly purchased farmhouse. As a child in Newfoundland, she watched her mother and grandmother hooking rugs. For her mum it was only “a chore of poverty, a chore of necessity.” However, Fitzpatrick’s personal foray into rug hooking has revitalized it as an art form and led her to a successful writing and business career. She first operated out of her home, and later set up shop in a space behind an upscale men’s clothing store managed by her husband, Robert Mansour. In 2007, the couple purchased the building, and she took over the adjoining storefront. Fitzpatrick’s cozy office is filled with colour, books and inspiring quotes. A large rug-hooking frame occupies almost half of it. A pair of rugs, entitled Port Greville Poppies, hangs over a cluttered desk. She once shared her office with the communal tea corner, but she purchased a bike and needed more room. “It was time I had my own space.
Left, clockwise from top: Deanne Fitzpatrick started rug hooking 22 years ago to decorate her farmhouse and has since turned it into an artform and a career; a bowl of textured yarm waiting to be worked; colourful skeins cover every surface at Fitzpatrick’s rug hooking studio. Right: Fitzpatrick crafts her latest rug on the hooking frame that dominates her office.
It’s not much but it’s all I need. I don’t need anything fancy.” Her conversation is peppered with the concept to which she now dedicates her life: beauty. “I love the publishing process. The publisher comes back to me with this beautiful book, with my name on it and my images. We should take the time to make something beautiful every day, get some beauty in our lives. We all think we have to be intellectual or stronger, but beauty is enough. Life is supposed to be beautiful.” Fitzpatrick writes with her office door closed, but still feels she’s in the middle of things. “I like to work with hubbub on the periphery. I got used to that when the kids were little.” And she finds concentration different for writing and rug hooking. “I can listen to music or a podcast when I’m hooking, but when writing, nothing,” she says while working away at Seven Trees, her latest rug. “It’s based on a tree on the way to Parrsboro, high on the top of a blueberry field. I have seven sisters, so I expanded it to seven trees.” She wrote her first book, Hook Me a Story: The History and Method of Rug Hooking in Atlantic Canada (Nimbus Publishing), because “I felt that there were no Atlantic Canadian books on the topic. They were all American and that really bothered me when there was such a strong Atlantic Canadian tradition.” In 2007, East Coast Rug Hooking Designs: New Patterns from an Old Tradition (Down East Books) was nominated for both an Atlantic Book Award and an Independent Publisher Book Award. In 2013, her first collaboration, Singily Skipping Along (Nimbus Publishing) with children’s author Sheree Fitch, netted her another ABA nomination. Current projects include a knitting book, a second collaboration with Fitch and a new book, Simply Modern: Contemporary Design for Hooked Rugs (Nimbus Publishing), due out in October. “I dreamed of being a writer, but until I started hooking I never had much to write about. It gave me a voice.”
Fitzpatrick doesn’t keep a rigid writing schedule. “I’ll write in spurts, a week on, a week off. But I stick to deadlines.” As she finishes one book, inspiration for another one always comes to her. A friend once told Fitzpatrick that she was “doing more than hooking rugs,” which got her thinking about the bigger picture, and gave birth to her motto: Create beauty everyday. “Tell them that I do know every day is two words,” she laughs, explaining that in rug format, everyday just looked best. Her concentration on beauty, in her rugs, home, books and studio, is testament to the value of immersing oneself in what you love and enjoy. Now her life and work have created a public space in which others are inspired to do the same. ■ Laurie Glenn Norris is a freelance reviewer and writer. Her book Haunted Girl was nominated for a 2013 Atlantic Book Award. She is currently working on her first novel.
Atlantic Books Today