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Frances Greenslade, whose work Shelter has been drawing accolades from critics as far away as Britain, has now been nominated for the prestigious Ethel Wilson B.C. Book Prize.
“I heard from my publisher earlier this week. Up until then I hadn’t really thought about it too much,” said Greenslade, an English professor at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. “Now, I’m just really pleased.”
Greenslade’s book explores how two sisters deal with abandonment after their mother leaves them behind with friends in the Chilcotin.
“I actually wrote the draft of this book in the early 1990s, shortly after my own mother died, and then I left it because it wasn’t quite right. A few years ago, I picked it up again after I became a mother myself and saw things in a different light.”
Inspiration also came in part through her husband’s experience living in a small cabin in the Chilcotin as a child.
“The cabin didn’t have any electricity and he would tell me about the sound the Coleman lantern would make as it slowly went out at night,” she said.
This year’s list of nominees for the Ethel Wilson prize includes some heavy-hitters, not lost on Greenslade.
“Have you seen the list,” she laughed. “I’m just happy to go to the party.”
The other nominees are:
- Half-Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan, which won the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize- The Beggar’s Garden, a debut novel by Michael Christie- Into That Darkness, by Steven Price who earlier work Anatomy of Keys was named a book of the year by the Globe & Mail- and Once You Break a Knuckle, by D.W. Wilson who received the University of East Anglia’s inaugural MAN Booker Prize Scholarship.
The winners, along with those for poetry, non-fiction, and the regional Roderick Haig-Brown prize, will be announced at a gala reception May 12 in Vancouver.
Just last month, Greenslade’s book made it onto what’s known in Britain simply as the Waterstones 11 – the top 11 debut books named by the book retailer as must reads.
Greenslade received her Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at UBC. Her first book, A Pilgrim in Ireland: A Quest for Home, was published in 2002. She’s currently working on her fourth book, Sing a Worried Song, set in rural Manitoba and Bombay in the 1970s.