The Read Local BC initiative began in 2015, but this spring, we truly blossomed; our new website was launched, with original content, interviews and excerpts, and lots of news and accolades. Even after only 9 months running the site, there is lots to summarize and we’re excited to share a selection of content highlights.
The website launch coincided nicely with our Spring event series. We held three events (two in Vancouver, one in Prince George) with 15 authors reading: Fiction From BC with Carleigh Baker, Alban Goulden, Shekhar Paleja, Ahmad Danny Ramadan, and Iona Whishaw; Women of BC with Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Andrea MacPherson, Miriam Matejova, Meredith Quartermain, Anahita Jamali Rad, and Sylvia Taylor; and Interior Perspectives with Sage Birchwater, Clayton Gauthier, Janet Romain, and Bev Sellars.
The local book and publishing industry celebrated a number of notable anniversaries this year. Caitlin Press marked their 40th anniversary during the Growing Room festival, and Talonbooks is officially over the hill as they marked their 50th anniversary (and gave us a great tour of Talon HQ).
Galiano Island Books celebrated 20 years as an independent bookseller, and the Georgia Straight touted their 50th with a commemorative book of covers (which we excitedly excerpted).
We were excited to hear a lot of great publisher news this year. Three new imprints were launched: VS Books as part of Arsenal Pulp Press with Vivek Shraya to support emerging BIPOC writers, Feed Dog Books, a surrealist poetry imprint with Anvil Press edited by Stuart Ross, and Robin’s Egg Books, a comedic imprint from Arsenal Pulp Press with Charlie Demers at the helm.
In other interesting news, the Royal BC Museum launched an online publications store, which allows wider access to some speciality and out-of-print publications, and UBC Press unveiled their shiny new website this summer.
Fall was a whirlwind of events and festivals, as always. Read Local shone a spotlight on the 30th annual Vancouver Writers Festival, the 35th Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, LiterAsian and Word Vancouver. However, LiterAsian was a bittersweet event with the passing of Jim Wong-Chu earlier this year.
Read Local BC also participated in Word Vancouver: we exhibited in the Independent Publishers tent, launched Poetry in Transit 2017 with Adèle Barclay, Wendy Donawa, Rhonda Ganz, Ulrike Narwani, Jeff Steudel, and Onjana Yawnghwe, and hosted a kidlit reading event with Nicola I. Campbell, Jen Sookfong Lee, David Starr, and Irene N. Watts and Kathryn E. Shoemaker as part of our fall series.
Our fall reading series continued in November with three events: Time and Place in Sidney with Yvonne Blomer, Christopher Gudgeon, Keith Ogilvie, and Barbara Pelman; Unknown to Known in Nanaimo with Wayne Norton, Judith Plant, Shanon Sinn, Rob Wood, and host Mike Calvert; and Climate, Conservation and Controversy in Vancouver with Robert Falls, Robert Griffin, Pauline Le Bel, Kevin Vallely, and host Frank Wolf.
Awards All Around
BC publishers and authors hit it big in awards this year: Alex Marland won the Donner Prize for Brand Command (UBC Press); several BC cookbooks won Taste Canada Awards; Rolf Knight received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award; Jordan Abel won the Griffin Poetry Prize for Injun (Talonbooks); a number of BC publishers and authors won BC Book Prizes; Bad Endings by Carleigh Baker (Anvil Press) was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and won the Vancouver Book Award; Ivan Coyote’s Tomboy Survival Guide (Arsenal Pulp Press) was shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction; Wade Davis won the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness; just to highlight a few.
Seriously, there were a lot more book award shortlist nods and wins.
Exclusive Sneak Peek
Choosing excerpts to run is always tricky; you need a piece that will entice without requiring too much backstory. Recipe excerpts are perfect for that—and we were thrilled to feature a recipe for Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote from First, We Brunch by Rebecca Wellman (Touchwood Editions).
Journalist Travis Lupick personally selected a timely chapter about the Portland Hotel from his new book, Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction (Arsenal Pulp Press).
When Caitlin Press re-released an edition of Alison’s Fishing Birds by Roderick Haig-Brown with illustrations by Sheryl McDougald and linocuts by Jim Rimmer, we had an “exclusive illustrated excerpt from “The Heron.”
A Queer Love Story: The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout (UBC Press) is an epistolary work of under-appreciated CanLit history, and we were proud to share an excerpt from 1990 correspondence between Rule and Bébout.
In My Honest Opinion
We also featured several opinion pieces by local authors and publishers. Sylvia Taylor praised book designers because we do judge books by their covers, even if we shouldn’t. UBC Press launched a new website and agency and digital marketing coordinator Megan Malashewsky took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the process. Daniel Francis won the Pierre Berton Award, the Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media and penned a piece about the importance of local history.
Dina Del Bucchia launched her debut short story collection and mused upon how her poetry and fiction complement each other. Carleigh Baker, whose collection of short stories won the Vancouver Book Award, discussed finding just the right cover art to reflect the emotional complexity.
In Their Own Words
There’s a lot of fun to be had for both the interviewer and interviewee with a Q&A, particularly if they’re a humour author like Jack Knox, who recently released his second collection, Opportunity Knox (Heritage House). Debut novelist Arushi Raina has received incredible accolades for When Morning Comes (Tradewind Books) and we were excited to talk about her literary journey so far.
Maia Caron discussed her novel, Song of Batoche (Ronsdale Press), written after discovering she was Red River Métis and had ancestors who fought with Louis Riel. In honour of Pride Month in June, we featured a Q&A with Robin Stevenson, author of Pride: A Celebration of Diversity (Orca Book Publishers)
These are just a handful of notable interviews, you can read more in our Interview category archive.
We have to admit that 2017 was a tough year for CanLit and the world, but we wanted our year-end roundup to highlight positive news. We are happy to have shared books on important topics, increased diversity, award recognition, and new publishing initiatives. Thanks for joining us in 2017! Looking forward to 2018, we are committed to continuing to highlight the diversity and accomplishments of BC publishers and to encourage reading, sharing, and buying of BC books year-round.