What influence did university journalism and the UBC student newspaper The Ubyssey have on my life and career? I explain, and reminisce, in a new online series of Q&As, part of the Hundred Year Trek project. (The Great Trek was a huge event in Vancouver, BC in 1922, whereby hundreds of students, supported by many businesses and high-profile folk, marched through the city to rally support for the creation of a university in Point Grey. Their efforts helped launch the construction of the University of BC.)
UBC’s Alma Mater Society reached out to me and other former Ubyssey editors, including CBC’s Justin McElroy, to share what our UBC and Ubyssey life was like, what the big campus stories and issues were at the time, etc. I was co-editor of The Ubyssey in 1979-80 — it’s hard to believe that was more than 40 years ago.
As a UBC history graduate who’s worked as an oral historian, written two history books, and loves research, I was delighted to participate in this project. It’s a way to help promote release of the new book The Hundred Year Trek: A History of Student Life at UBC, by Sheldon Goldfarb, archivist for the university’s Alma Mater Society. I haven’t read the book yet but will provide an update when I do.
Click here to read my interview.
Click here to read interviews with four other former Ubyssey editors.
I was one of eight writers who read as part of the Oct. 21 event “Good Stories Live Here” in Sechelt, BC. This free presentation of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, sponsored by the Sunshine Coast Writers and Editors Society (SCWES), kicked off the Sunshine Coast Arts Crawl. I read my creative nonfiction piece “Navigating the Cosmos,” a tribute to my late husband, which appears in the Beachcombers 50 Anthology, published by SCWES. The other writers who shared their entertaining or poignant works were Jan DeGrass, Mark Cameron, Cathalynn Labonte-Smith, Del Lobo, Isabella Mori, Rosella Leslie, and Atma Frans.
Gayle Neilson photo
Pre-sales have already started for my incest memoir No Letter in Your Pocket, which will be published in May 2023 by Guernica Editions of Toronto. See sales links below.
Price: $25 CDN
Incest denial and sexual assaults disrupt a young woman’s solo spiritual quest and her two romantic adventures in India in 1990-91. Two decades later, after profound healing, she’s resilient at mid-life. Finding the love and intimacy she craves, she can, at last, forgive her dying father—and her mom, for her decades of silence. Unlike many stories of healing and spiritual discovery, No Letter in Your Pocket avoids predictable recovery rhetoric and insular victimhood. Instead, it is a testament to thriving empowerment.
To read praise for the book by novelist Sylvia Fraser, Dr. Bernie Siegel, and feminist/professor emerita Diana Hume-George, click here.
Through University of Toronto Press
IN THE UNITED STATES:
Through Barnes and Noble
IN THE UNITED KINGDOM:
The new Art & Words anthology features fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by more than a dozen BC Sunshine Coast writers, along with accompanying artists. Writers and artists were paired at random to collaborate on an exhibited piece: either the writer wrote something inspired by the artist’s creation or vice-versa.
The book contains my poem “The Razor’s Edge,” inspired by Paula O’Brien’s painting “Big Sky Over Lions Bay,” and my creative nonfiction travel essay “Two realities,” about my time in warring Kashmir, India under curfew in 1990.
The book, published by the Sunshine Coast Writers and Editors Society, includes great colour reproductions of original paintings, drawings, and mixed-media art. It’s available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.
I’m delighted to be part of the anthology honouring the Beachcombers 50th Anniversary. This collection, officially released on Oct. 1, 2022, marks a half-century after the iconic Canadian TV show, The Beachcombers, started. It contains poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from BC Sunshine Coast writers and a tribute to the show’s actor, the late Pat John, who was a member of the shishalh Nation. The book, published by the Sunshine Coast Writers and Editors Society (SCWES), has cover art by Gibsons artist RoseAnn Janzen. The book is available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com, or through SCWES for $12 CDN.
My contribution includes a creative nonfiction essay, Navigating the cosmos, which was written to honour the memory of my late husband, Frank McElroy.
kway?imin Andy Johnson, the shishalh Nation’s cultural ambassador, drummed and sang one of his original songs, plus told a sasquatch story at my book launch in December 2019 at the Sechelt Library. I profiled him in the fall issue of Coast Life magazine.
In the photo to the right, he holds a copy of my picture book Six Stinky Feet and a Sasquatch at the Tsain-Ko First Nations Gift Shop in ch’atlich (Sechelt, BC). The book is available for sale there.
Click here to read the profile of kway?imin and to see more photos.
Along with puppets and fun props, I’ll be reading Six Stinky Feet and a Sasquatch at Gibsons Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 15. Bring the kids for this free 10:30 am event, and they can draw and colour their own Bigfoot character, with a show and tell and Q&A. I’ll have books available for sale and signing.
See you in the Mainil Room. I’ll have a display board of many original illustrations of sasquatches by a variety of artists. Children can use these for inspiration.
I’ll be offering a short webinar on Sunday, Sept. 11 for the creative nonfiction group of the Federation of BC Writers (FBCW). From 10:30 to 11:00 am, I’ll be sharing tips about revealing family secrets and will provide first-hand anecdotes regarding the challenges of writing my incest memoir No Letter in Your Pocket. A short Q&A will follow. Many thanks to the FBCW for inviting me to host this mini-session, which will cover legal, ethical, and other issues.
I’m delighted to present new literary material, inspired by a painting by Gibsons artist Paula O’Brien, at the inaugural Arts & Words event in Davis Bay on Aug. 12 and 13. My Aug. 12 reading, in the 10:30 to noon time slot, is generously sponsored by Canada Council through the Writers’ Union of Canada. The event features at least a dozen local artists, each teamed up with a different local writer. Come on out to Mission Point House, see an exhibition of original art by our talented locals, and hear the literary works that they inspired.
My Aug. 13 event is part of the 4:30 to 6 pm group time slot. I’ll also be starting the Open Mic event at 4:30 pm on Sunday. My readings will include creative nonfiction regarding my 1990 travels in Kashmir, India under curfew and rocket launcher conditions, and poetry, old and new.