Nelsonite Eli Geddis has plenty of experience writing long-form fiction, magazine articles, songs and poetry, but until last year he hadn’t explored his short fiction skills. When the annual Kootenay Literary Competition swung around, he decided to give it a shot and his resulting story Ninety Corn Dogs and a Porcupine ultimately took the top prize.
“My story is about two friends who go out into the Flathead Valley to dispose of the ashes of one of the friends’ twin brothers who died,” said Geddis.
“I wanted to capture the idea of refuge as both a safe place and a prison, a containment, something you need to work your way out of eventually.”
Geddis’ story, which culminates with the pair stranded on an island by floodwaters, earned the author a cash prize and was published in the 2013 anthology, which is available at Otter Books.
“I was primarily interested in entering this contest because it’s a really good opportunity for unpublished writers to get their work seen. This one especially appealed to me because of it’s local slant. I could reference Canal Flats and the flood of 2012 and know that people can connect with that,” he said.
Geddis had entered the contest the year before, but rather than writing something original to fit the year’s theme, he excerpted an already existing work.
This year’s Kootenay Literary Competition’s theme is Velocity. Writers may interpret the theme in any way they like, and approach it through any of the genre categories. The theme is to integrated into the creative work at the writer’s discretion.
Geddis recommends that writers interested in participating write something new from scratch, like he did in 2013.
“I would recommend they approach it from a fresh perspective. Velocity means one thing, but what might it mean from a literary standpoint? Talk to your friends, draw from the people around you,” he said.
Geddis said the entire experience, including the gala and the publication of the anthology, was thrilling.
“After I found out I won I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone until the gala, which was kind of funny because I was trying to goad my friends into going but couldn’t let on,” he said.
Geddis noted the gala was a unique opportunity for networking, and second-place finisher Roz Nay has already used the momentum to publish a book.
“Even if you don’t win, you get to go to the gala. You network, meet publishers, writers, agents and basically people who love the written word. It was a good opportunity for me to see the whole literary scene in Nelson and the Kootenays at large.”
Geddis currently has a book-length manuscript with a working title of Little Fishes that he’s working on.
This year’s Kootenay Literary Competition, which is put on by the Kootenay Writers Society, is open to Kootenay residents 18 years an older with categories in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first and second place winners in each category.
All entries must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, January 16, 2015. Prizes will be awarded on February 26.