People are strange, when you’re a stranger on Protection Island

Amber McMillan’s memoir suggests Protection Island is a better place for visiting than residing. Howard Stewart suggests looking before leaping.  FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Barman, Jean at Roedde House 2014

Jean Barman

A is for Annance
The oldest French place name in British Columbia that’s still in use is likely Annacis Island, located southwest of New Westminster. It’s an Anglicized version of Annance’s Island, named after Noel Annance in 1827. Later that same year the exemplary Abenaki First Nation employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company oversaw Fort Langley’s official opening. HBC boss George Simpson described him as “Active determined fellow well adapted for a new country being a good hunter.” With his Flathead wife, Annance had two sons in B.C. when he was the right hand man of Archie McDonald at Thompson River in the Okanogan [sic]. Unusually literate and vastly travelled, he’s the subject of Jean Barman’s new biography, Abenaki Daring: The Life and Writings of Noel Annance, 1792-1869 (McGill-Queen’s $39.95). 978-0-7735-4792-6


Allan Brown

B is for Brown
Born (b. 1934) and raised in Victoria, Allan Brown of Powell River graduated from the University of Kingston and taught writing courses in Ontario and at the Malaspina University College branch in Powell River. Having published poems since 1962, he released numerous titles, more than twenty, including Winter Journey (Quarry Press, 1984) and Divinations (Ekstatis Editions, 1998), as well as chapbooks including Images (Lantzville: Leaf Press, 2002), Biblical Sonatas (Serengeti Press, 2008) and Before the Dark (Leaf 2014) which was dedicated to his longtime wife, Patricia (1932-2011). Following a visit to his hometown, Brown became a contributor to the Island Catholic News for about ten years after he had picked up a copy of the publication in a library. He wrote commissioned reviews for ICN and attended events associated with the paper. According to his friend and fellow poet Daniela Rajala, Allan Brown died of pancreatic cancer at age 82 on September 13, 2016.


Aaron Chapman

C is for Chapman
Having grown up in Kerrisdale with neighbours like the poets George Bowering and UBC professor Warren Tallman who spawned the TISH movement, Aaron Chapman  was exposed early in life to the city’s literary culture. Although he didn’t become a poet, Chapman studied history and deveopled a special interest in Vancouver’s entertainment history. He began writing popular books about Vancouver’s history. His latest book is about the Clark Park gang, a wild group of fist-fighters from Vancouver’s post-1960s counterculture. The Last Gang in Town: The Epic Story of the Vancouver Police vs. the Clark Park Gang (Arsenal 2016) is a portrait of Vancouver in the early 1970s that spotlights the after-dark underbelly of the city’s not-so-distant criminal history. In 1972, a year when the Clark Parkers caused particularly aggregious riots, mayhem and headlines – including a nasty altercation outside a Rolling Stones concert at the PNE – the gang became the target of an undercover police squad. It ended in an infamous police shooting, resulting in the death of a Clark Park gang member. A graduate of the University of British Columbia as well as a musican, Chapman is also a member of Heritage Vancouver and the Point Roberts Historical Society. He has been a contributor to the Vancouver Courier, Georgia Straight, and CBC Radio.  978-1-55152-671-3


Dan Dunaway

D is for Dunaway
Having been a rancher, a sailor and the publisher of a community newspaper, Dan Paxton Dunaway turned to writing novels when he published The Seahorse Keeper (Self-published 2009). His follow-up is the Young Adult novel Heart Like a Wing (Ronsdale $11.95). The central protagonist is a prairie girl with a disfigured face. Briony lives at an orphanage until at the age of nine a childless older couple, Dagget and Moll, adopt her. They take her to their home in a small town in northern Saskatchewan where she is bullied by local school kids. To escape, Briony begins flying with Dagget, a bush pilot. On one of their trips to a northern reserve, Briony meets an older Cree woman and learns she herself has a Cree background. Gaining confidence, Briony soon becomes Dagget’s co-pilot and eventually earns her pilot’s licence. Then she learns a disturbing truth about the scar on her face, which makes her question everything she believes.  978-1-55380-476-5

E is for Eriksson
Ann Eriksson’s fifth novel The Performance (D&M $22.95) contrasts the worlds of elite classical piano with urban homelessness. Hana Knight, a privileged and talented young pianist, develops a tenuous friendship with Jacqueline, a homeless woman who collects empty bottles and cans to buy tickets to Hana’s concerts. Hana is blessed with a magnificent Steinway piano, a place at Juilliard, a Manhattan apartment and a patron who arranges everything, including a European tour. But there is a dark mystery from her past that needs to be faced, and she must put her privileged life at risk to do so. Eriksson was born in Saskatchewan and grew up in all three prairie provinces. Having studied and lived in New Zealand, Europe and Halifax, she came to the West Coast in 1978, living for ten years on Galiano Island. Moving to Victoria in 1990, she completed a degree in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. Her work as consulting biologist on biodiversity has had an impact on her writing. In 2007 she married poet Gary Geddes and they now divide their time between Victoria and Thetis Island, B.C. Ann Eriksson is a founding director of the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy. 978-1-77162-125-0


Shelley Fralic

F is for Fralic
With a foreword by Douglas Coupland, Shelley Fralic and research librarian Kate Bird have combined their skills and knowledge for a second time to present 149 photos from the Vancouver Sun archives for Seventies: Photos from a Decade That Changed the City (Greystone $29.95), featuring representative images from the era as well as pivotal moments in the city’s history such as the Gastown Riot and the founding of Greenpeace. Personalities range from a five-year-old Justin Trudeau to the iconic Chief Dan George. 9781771642408


Shirley Graham

G is for Graham
Marking the 400th hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Shirley Graham’s Shakespearean Blues (Mother Tongue $19.95) is a collection of joyous, tragic, witty, solemn, mysterious and wry poems that emulate the Shakespearean quotes and characters that inspire them. Graham uses Shakespeare as her springboard to explore the human condition, from Puck’s “Lord what fools these mortals be” to Miranda’s “How beauteous mankind is!” It’s like a one-woman show on the page instead of the stage. Shirley Graham came to Canada in 2000 and now lives with her husband, poet Peter Levitt, and their son on Salt Spring Island. She commutes by ferry to work as a psychologist in the Victoria area. 978-1-896949-56-7

H is for Hancox
Ralph Hancox’s third novel in two years, The Ape and the Peacock (Fictive Press $17.99), emanates from his social conscience. Set in the fictional Canadian province of Superior, his story spans a few days in November of 1957, following the paths of two miscreants and their differing fates. As the lives of several high-level government officials and a colourful cast of “destitutes” are forever altered, Hancox explores unequal consequences for the privileged and the dispossessed. After some 50 years in the publishing industry in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Italy – – including 16 years as CEO, chairman and president of The Reader’s Digest Association (Canada) Ltd. – –  Hancox taught Topics in Publishing Management at SFU’s Master of Publishing program for almost ten years upon his retirement.1927663334


Thora Iling

I is for Illing
Former journalist and librarian, Thora Illing wrote a biography of Nellie Cashman (1845 – 1925), nicknamed ‘The Miner’s Angel’, Gold Rush Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Nellie Cashman (TouchWood $18.95). The unorthodox and rugged Cashman was a miner, entrepreneur and philanthropist who lived and worked in some of the toughest boomtowns in the West. She was up and down the coast, from California to Northern B.C., and north and south in the interior from Arizona to Alaska. In addition to staking claims, she set up restaurants, boarding houses and general stores. But she didn’t keep much of the money herself, instead giving away much of it to build hospitals and churches or help fellow miners down on their luck. One of her famous feats was to hike into northern B.C.’s Dease Lake under frigid winter conditions to get to the Cassiar mining area where miners were trapped without sufficient food and dying of scurvy. It took Nellie and six men she hired 77 days to get to the mining site, each on snowshoes pulling a laden sled because the snow was too soft and deep for dogs. They were just in time to save most of the miners. This story passed into legend and Nellie was frequently referred to thereafter as the ‘Angel of the Cassiar.’ Cashman remained tough into her later years and at the age of 77, she earned the title of champion musher of the North. She died in the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria from double pneumonia. The Victoria Daily Times wrote of Cashman, “Like many pioneer women who have known the meaning of hardship, she was of a most kindly disposition, nursing the sick and feeding the hungry and doing all she could to help the unfortunate and her death will be sincerely mourned by a wide circle.” Thora Illing immigrated to Canada as a young woman, fell in love with the space, fjords and forests of the West and stayed. She retired to Sidney. 978-1-77151-159-9

J is for Jones
Kari Jones’ forthcoming tale of West Coast surfing, alcohol abuse and teen angst, At the Edge of the World (Orca 2016) will be also about a deep friendship that becomes burdened by a secret. Maddie and Ivan are long-time friends but as Ivan’s life goes seriously awry, she has to make a decision as to whether or not she tells Ivan’s biggest secret in order to possibly save his life. By letting others know what is going on in Ivan’s family, she will be betraying his trust. 9781459810624

Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Tanya Lloyd Kyi

K is for Kyi
Armed conflicts between India and Pakistan have been stymied by the Siachen Glacier. Winter foiled Napolean’s assault on Russia. Way back in 119 BCE, General Wei Qing took advantage of a sand storm for a surprise attack versus Xiongnu nomads. In order to engage middle-school age readers, Tanya Lloyd Kyi’s 24th book, Extreme Battlefields: When War Meets the Forces of Nature (Annick $16.95 / $24.95), looks at ten military campaigns complicated by nature. Born in Vancouver in 1973, Tanya Lloyd was raised mainly in Creston in eastern British Columbia after her parents opted to escape from the big city. The limitations of small town life led her to skedaddle to Vancouver where, by age 21, she became one of the province’s bestselling authors by ghostwriting and assembling travel and photography books for Whitecap Books. After a stint as a staff writer for the Commonwealth Games in 1994, she attended the University of Victoria. She was an avid Ultimate player who married “the world’s only Burmese occupational therapist.” In the 21st century she bumped her surname Lloyd in favour of her Burmese married name–Tanya Lloyd Kyi–when she published her first young adult novel, Truth (Orca, 2003). 978-1-55451-793-0 pb / 978-1-55451-794-7 hc

L is for Laurence
Vancouver-based independent writer and critic, Robin Laurence won this year’s Royal Canadian Academy of Arts medal, given to individuals who have made a significant contributuion to the cultural life in Canada. Joseph-­Richard Veilleux, RCA President wrote to Laurence that, “You have been one of Vancouver’s most active and integral arts writers and cultural contributors for over twenty years. Your achievements as an award-winning visual arts critic for The Georgia Straight and as a contributing editor of both Canadian Art and Border Crossings magazines, have provided an insightful and intelligent context for the arts in the BC region, and Canada as a whole. Your ongoing dedication to the visual arts in Canada through numerous publications, reviews, essays, and curatorial work, has informed and supported the cultural community of arts in this nation.” Robin Laurence’s published titles include: The Spirit of Haida Gwaii: Bill Reid’s Masterpiece (Douglas & McIntyre, 1997; 2006); and A Sense of Place: Art at Vancouver International Airport (Figure 1 Publishing, 2015). 9781927958261


Claire McCague

M is for McCague
As a scientist with a serious addiction to the arts, Claire McCague’s first novel, The Rosetta Man (Edge US$19.95), is in the sci-fi genre. The protagonist, Estlin Hume loves squirrels and is constantly followed by them. This “talent” results in chronic unemployment and occasional homelessness until two aliens adopt him as their translator. Caught in this ‘first contact’ crisis, Estlin hopes that the military forces converging in the South Pacific don’t kill the messenger. McCague holds a doctorate in chemistry, works in the high tech industry, and her plays have been featured in festivals across Canada. She lives in Delta and Sechelt. 9781770531246

N is for Namir
God in Pink, the debut novel by Hasan Namir, won the Lambda Literary Award in the category of best gay novel at an awards ceremony in New York on June 6, 2016. Previously it was named to the “Globe 100” list of the best books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. God in Pink (Arsenal Pulp $17.95) is about Ramy, a young Iraqi boy who is gay. Ramy struggles to find a balance between his sexual yearnings and his culture. Having lost his parents, he lives with his strict brother and sister-in-law, who pressure Ramy to marry. Eventually Ramy turns to Ammar, a sheikh at a local mosque. A searing exploration of the world of gay Muslims in Iraq, the book contains graphic depictions of violence juxtaposed against serene moments of beauty. Born in Iraq in 1987, Hasan Namir of Vancouver came to Canada at a young age and holds a BA in English from Simon Fraser University. Hosted by comedienne Kate Clinton at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the Lambda ceremony brought together over 500 attendees, sponsors, and celebrities to celebrate excellence in LGBT literature and 28 years of the groundbreaking literary awards. 978-1-55152-607-2


Catherine Owen

O is for Owen
Prolific Catherine Owen’s The Day of the Dead: Sliver Fictions, Short Stories & an Homage (Caitlin $20) is described as a series of collisions between genders in the realms of sexuality, relationships, art and grief in three sections: Men & Women, Muses and The Dead. We are told to expect interactions between boys, girls, ghosts, men, women and all sorts of bystander animals. LGBTQ?+ What the heck, we might as well also mention Owen is a bass player in the metal band Medea and she blogs at Marrow Reviews. 978-1-987915-20-4


Gudrun Pflüger & Nahanni, her dog

P is for Pflüger
When Austrian-born Gudrun Pflüger retired from athletics (Mountain Running World trophy winner 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997) the certified field biologist relocated to Western Canada where she got involved in the conservation of B.C.’s coastal wolf population and studied wild wolves in the Rocky Mountains. Diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, Pflüger was told she had eighteen months to live. Taking the wolf as her role model, she immersed herself in the wilderness of the mountain ranges of western Canada as an unconventional approach to self-healing–and has survived. Her memoir Wolf Spirit: A Story of Healing, Wolves and Wonder (Rocky Mountain Books $28) has been shortlisted for the 2016 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival award for Mountain and Wilderness Literature. 978-1-77160-127-6

Q is for Quartermain
Set in Vancouver, in 1972, U Girl (Talon $19.95) is a coming of age story about Frances Nelson as she arrives in big city for her first year of university, escaping her small-town life. Sexual experimentation, drugs, working at menial jobs, meditating on Wreck Beach and studying at the University of British Columbia during the “free love” era are all incorporated in her struggle to be taken seriously as a woman with a desire for gender equality. 978-1-77201-040-4


Carolyn Redl

R is for Redl
Having won a writing contest when she was eight years old, Carolyn Redl has been penning stories ever since. She grew up in Saskatchewan, attended the University of Saskatchewan and later earned a PhD in English from the University of Alberta. She eventually ended up teaching in Vancouver. She has written many travel articles, published poetry and short fiction and has a collection of poetry, earthbound (Borealis Press, 1978) and now, a full-length memoir, A Canadian Childhood (FriesenPress 2016).  She grew up on a northern Saskatchewan farm, which became the focus for her memoir, capturing what it was like living a rural Canadian life in the 1940s and 1950s. Redl describes skiing to school, collecting magpie eggs for bounty, and swimming in a frigid snow-melt pond. It is also a coming-of-age story describing Redl’s awareness that her father longed for a son, being bullied at the one-room country school she attended, and moving to town for high school where she lived in a garage. 978-1-4602-8831-3


Stephen Scobie

S is for Scobie
The Griffin in the Griffin’s Wood (Ekstasis $29.95), a spy novel in the tradition of John Le Carre’s The Russia House, is a marked departure for Victoria-based poet Stephen Scobie. Known for his  long narrative poems (McAlmon’s Chinese Opera; RLS: At the World’s End), and for his extensive critical work on Canadian literature, as well as on figures such as Georges Braque and Bob Dylan, Scobie’s latest literary output is set against the backdrop of a critical moment in modern European history (the fall of the Berlin Wall), and at the same time a playful game with the genre conventions of the spy novel itself. He earned a PhD from the UBC after which he taught at the University of Alberta and at the University of Victoria. Scobie is a founding editor of Longspoon Press, an elected member of the Royal Society of Canada, and the recipient of the 1980 Governor General’s Award for McAlmon’s Chinese Opera (1980) and the 1986 Prix Gabrielle Roy for Canadian Criticism. 978-1-77171-105-0

T is for Trunkey
One of the benefits of book awards, beyond serving as a good excuse for writers and supportive book folks to break bread, is they can introduce emerging authors such as Laura Trunkey who first received a Social Work degree before veering towards her MFA in Creative Writing through UBC’s Optional Residency program.  After graduating with a degree in social work, she was employed at a shelter for homeless youth and worked with children who have special needs at Tillicum Elementary. A writing class from Lorna Jackson was a major catalyst along the way to becoming a freelance editor and an Artistic Associate of the Victoria Festival of Authors. She has written a children’s novel, The Incredibly Ordinary Danny Chandelier (Annick 2008) and had stories appear in Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow (D&M, 2010) and Pennies in My Pocket: Stories of My Brother (Brindle & Glass 2012). The appearance of her first short fiction collection, Double Dutch (House of Anansi $19.95) hasn’t made her a household name yet either. But now the Victoria resident, who grew up in the Fairfield neighborhood, has been shortlisted for the $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize for Greater Victoria authors. Appropriately dubbed as weird and wonderful, Trunkey’s stories can delve into bizarre storylines: An elephant named Topsy is killed on Coney Island by Thomas Edison in 1903. Ronald Reagan’s body double falls in love with the first lady. A single mother believes her toddler is the reincarnation of a terrorist. A man grieves for his wife after a bear takes over her body. But other stories can be touching and realistic: A young deaf girl visits Niagara Falls before she goes blind.  9781770898776

Alternes, Serge book jacket Live SoulsU is for Uncharted
Jim McDowell’s book from Ronsdale Press about the first European to reach the area that has become greater Vancouver, Uncharted Waters: The Explorations of José Narváez (1768-1840), received a Silver Medal for Western Canadian history at the Independent Publisher Book Awards that honour the year’s best independently published titles from around the world. Another Ronsdale title, Live Souls: Citizens and Volunteers of Civil War Spain by Serge Alternes and Alec Wainman received a Bronze Medal for European regional history. The IPPY Independent Publisher awards were presented in Chicago before Book Expo America.

V is for von Essen
With text by Phil Saunders, Derek von Essen’s photos are featured in No Flash, Please!: Toronto Music Scene 1987-92 (Anvil $25), a compendium that records the pop music scene in Canada’s largest city during the early 1990s. Working for various independent publications of that era, the pair covered concerts and gigs by local bands as well as music from touring groups that included Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Jesus Lizard, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Henry Rollins. Von Essen works in graphic art, photography, painting and mixed-media assemblage for fine arts, dance, theatre, music, film and publishing projects. 978-1-77214-037-8

wheeler, christine

Christine Wheeler

W is for Wheeler
Since 2002 Christine Wheeler as been certified as an Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) practitioner, helping alleviate thousands of people from physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges and instead to live with hope and joy. Wheeler lives in Vancouver, B.C. In The Tapping Solution for Teenage Girls: How to Stop Freaking Out and Keep Being Awesome (Raincoast $15.99), Wheeler applies her EFT skillset and teaches teenage girls how to use tapping to reduce stress and have more confidence in any situation. Tapping is a technique where one physically taps meridian points through the human body which helps with the flow of energy. This book focuses tapping on the stresses of teenage girls and helps them deal with problems such as grades, test anxiety, conflicts with parents or sibilings, as well as friendships, romantic relationships and breakups. 978-1401948924

X is for Xinjiang
As a sessional lecturer at UBC, Kim Trainor has released Karyotype (Brick $20), a poetry collection about a woman who lived four thousand years ago. Dubbed Loulan, her body has been preserved in the sands of the Taklamakan Desert—the largest desert in China, in the southwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The word karyotype, we are told, is “the characteristic chromosome complement of a species.” Trainor worked in a biomedical library and for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Previously her poetry won the Ralph Gustafson Prize from The Fiddlehead and the Long Poem Prize from The Malahat Review. 978-1-77131-379-7


Clea Young

Y is for Young
Having had three stories included in Journey Prize collections, Clea Young, another graduate of the UBC Creative Writing department, already had an agent prior to the publication of her first collection stories, Teardown (Freehand $19.95), described as an arresting collection about people “arguing about lamps in IKEA, drinking gin and tonics on a dock in summer, unemployed and without prospects.” Young is currently an Artistic Associate at the Vancouver Writers Festival–prospects unknown. We choose believe Billie Livingston when she writes, “Teardown captures a multitude of lives on the cusp of critical change. Young’s prose is nimble, her dialogue smart. This is a remarkable debut.” 978-988298-01-6

Z is for Zsuzsi
We confess we have a hard time flipping through many of the lit mags. But there are some outstanding exceptions. Hence we’re glad to report that Zsuzsi Gartner recently picked up the Silver National Magazine Award in Fiction for her story The Beguiling that was published in subTerrain‘s Outsiders Issue. We actually read subTerrain cover to cover. They don’t bombard us with self-promotional emails every week. They rely on content.

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