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Squid helps Okanagan College professor ink first fiction book

Corinna Chong largeWhen Okanagan College English professor Corinna Chong decided to write her first novel, she didn’t think twice about whether anyone would read it.

“I just wrote, and figured if there was anything people would wonder about I’d deal with it later,” said Chong.

The method clearly worked, because now Chong is preparing for her book launch of Belinda’s Rings, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 at The Bohemian Café in Kelowna.

The event is the first of three over the coming weeks, including a launch in her hometown of Calgary – at The Rose & Crown Pub.

“These launches won’t be quiet, serious affairs,” she said. “And in Kelowna we’ll be showcasing one of our English students, plus my colleague Jake Kennedy has offered to be the emcee.”

Belinda’s Rings brims with quirkiness and intrigue – from UFOs, and squid, to the challenges facing a precocious teenage girl when her impulsive mother Belinda decides to run away from home to investigate crop circles.

Belinda's Rings“I drew from my family to write the book, but I feel like the characters are really characters now, not people,” she laughed. “They’ve all been fictionalized.”

Eden Robinson, whose work Monkey Beach was short-listed for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award, has described Chong’s work as “fresh and soulful.”

Chong, who at age 28 has been teaching English at the College for the last two-and-a-half years, wrote the draft while doing her Master’s at the University of New Brunswick. She then spent six months editing it, and then shopped it around to various publishers.

In relatively short order – another six months – the offer came in from Edmonton-based NeWest Press – the same press that has published various well-regarded Canadian authors including Wayne Johnston and Rudy Wiebe. It took another year to get it into print.

“It’s been interesting in my classroom because this is the first year that I’ve taught creative writing and I knew the book was coming out so I’ve been able to talk with my students about the whole experience,” she said.

For more information about the book, and Chong’s other work, visit her website at