Here are a few things you might not know about writers you might know:
Fernie novelist Angie Abdou was a competitive swimmer (an advantage in writing The Bone Cage).
Psychological thriller writer Mark Nykanen is a former investigative reporter for NBC news (informative for his novel Primitive).
Nonfiction writer Rita Moir is handy with a chainsaw, a get-down-to-itness mirrored in her book Buffalo Jump: A Woman’s Story.
Former New Denver mayor and memoirist Gary Wright packed his belongings in a ’57 Chev in 1968 and drove north to evade the draft (and like the title of his book, was Unrepentant).
Yep, writers have lives, which inform their books, which, by extension, inform us. And how lucky for us they do! Today is BC Day, and so a column about BC writers — the ones you know, and the ones you have yet to meet — seems like a good idea.
ABC Bookworld is a database of more than 11,000 BC writers and my go-to resource for finding out anything about anyone who ever published in BC. It is the companion site of the quarterly magazine of all things literary in British Columbia, BC Bookworld. It’s all part of a BC literary-awareness crusade on the part of author and publisher Alan Twigg, who in 2014 became a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his relentless and enthusiastic promotion of BC writing.
Says Twigg: “This is not how I make my living. Some days it’s a labour of love; other days it’s a pain in the neck. But mostly it’s been a pleasure to download my brain, resurrect the contents of bygone BCBW issues, encourage the accumulation of articles and essays to preserve British Columbia literary history, gather author photos, share our files with the public and hopefully generate more knowledge of the people who have put the best of themselves into their books.”
Those BC writers who put the best of themselves into their books make fine books indeed. Next month the library celebrates BC books with displays and a wee contest to check your literary literacy (say that five times fast).
The prize is a copy of the beautiful book 111 West Coast Literary Portraits, with photographs by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright, a foreword by Alan Twigg, and text by the authors themselves: poems, interviews, and words from Caroline Adderson to W.P. Kinsella, Alice Munro to Fred Wah.
How many BC writers can you read in August? Check out our display, which will change through the month. Try typing in the keywords “British Columbia author” into our catalog and see what comes up.
We’ll post a 100-mile diet of local writers with our book display, including kids’ lit authors Ann Alma and Cyndi Sand-Eveland, prolific writer-of-everything Ernest Hekkanen, and mystery maven Deryn Collier (these are but the tip of the local literary iceberg).
For inspiration, check out anthologies such as Rock Salt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry (811.608, where you can find local poets Susan Andrews Grace, Bobbie Ogletree, and Tom Wayman). Decide to read BC classics by writers such as Emily Carr, Malcolm Lowry and Anne Cameron, just a few of the 150 BC books and authors profiled in The Essentials by Alan Twigg about writers, their works, and their lives — from 1774 to right now, available in the stacks at 810.9.
Oh Canada, Oh BC, oh! — better get reading. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to spend my BC Day.
Anne DeGrace is the adult services coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to nelsonlibrary.ca.