ormsby-widget-2016

A Quaker in the Spanish Civil War

Live Souls contains the stunning documentary record of 1,650 photos taken over three years in Spain by Okanagan-raised Alec Wainman, retrieved by his son. FULL STORY

Who’s Who

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John Armstrong and friend

A is for Armstrong
A cat might have nine lives; but John Armstrong has had nine dogs–and counting. John Armstrong’s third memoir, A Series of Dogs (New Star $21), recalls the first nine canines to adopt him as a friend, regarding each animal as a fully realized character. It’s described as “the sort of book that will make your dog whimper and lick your face to make sure you’re okay because you’re doubled over on the floor laughing so hard.” The former bandleader of The Modernettes recalls his first dog, Ruff, followed by a cocker spaniel named Kiltie, Spooky, Chopper, Rip, a $5,000 Rottweiler named Mugsy, Sluggo, Bobo and Seamus. Several cats make cameo appearances. 9781554201181

Inseparable: Mielle and mother Kari Burk

Inseparable: Mielle and mother Kari Burk

B is for Burk
Kari Burk’s illustrated memoir, Snapshot of a Soul Place in the Land of Special Needs (SRP $30) has been honoured with a 2016 Academics’ Choice Award in addition to National Parenting Product (NAPPA) and Family Choice Awards.  Written and illustrated in Castlegar, it was edited, curated and published by Valerie Hennell and designed by Ronan Lannuzel on Protection Island in Nanaimo, B.C. Kari Burk is a landscape gardener and artist who lives with her adult daughter, Mielle, in Castlegar, after parting company with Mielle’s father on the coast and moving to the Kootenays when Mielle was 16. Born with Down syndrome in 1990, Mielle had open heart surgery at eight months old to repair her atrioventricular canal. Her second heart surgery at age twelve was more difficult. 978-0-9947994-0-1

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Janie Chang

C is for Chang
Drawing upon her family’s 36 generations as inspiration for her historical stories, Taiwanese-born Janie Chang’s upcoming second novel Dragon Springs Road (Harper Collins 2017) is set in early twentieth century Shanghai. The story includes an ancient imperial dynasty collapseing, a new government struggling to coalesce, and two girls – one a Eurasian orphan, the other a daughter of privilege – who are bound together in a friendship that will be tested by duty, honour, and love. The twisting plot set against cultural turbulence is a similar tactic to the one used in her first title, Three Souls (HarperCollins 2013) about a ghost for a main character, Leiyin, who had been captivated by a left-wing poet as a teenager during Chinese civil strife in the 1930s. Denied entrance to the afterlife, she must reconcile her three souls: her scholarly yang soul, her romantic yin soul and her wise hun soul. Vancouver-based Chang has also lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand and New Zealand. She graduated from SFU’s Writers Studio and also has a degree in computer science. 978-1443439374

denman-klD is for Denman
Kidlit author K.L. Denman’s latest title is Quiz Queens (Orca Currents $9.95) about boy-crazy Kiara who convinces her studious pal Jane to create a questionnaire to help find her soulmate. It makes for a creative blurb on the back of the book: “Your friend asks you to help her land the perfect boyfriend. You: A. Tell her to go away – you’re reading. B. Agree to create a quiz (even though you think it’s a bad idea). C. Withhold the surprising results when a boy you like comes out ahead. D. Try to patch things up after you both say things you regret.” Denman has written many novels for youth, including under the imprint Orca Currents that specializes in short high-interest novels with contemporary themes, written expressly for middle-school students reading below grade level. Her first work of teen fiction for reluctant readers, Battle of the Bands (Orca 2006), concerns an ambitious high school rock band named The Lunar Ticks, led by Jay, who falls in love with the leader of rival band from a different school. Me, Myself and Ike (Orca 2009), another teen novel, was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award in the Children’s Literature – Text category. It’s the story of a boy struggling with schizophrenia. Publishers Weekly said of the book: “A stark and fascinating portrait of a paranoid and delusional teenager… Denman deftly gets into the head of a mentally unwell teenager while telling a coherent, engaging story.” 9781459813960

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Karen Enns

E is for Enns
In her third collection of poetry, Cloud Physics (University of Regina $19.95), Karen Enns focuses on endings – cultural, ecological, and personal. Endings may be viewed as tragic but throughout Enns peppers her lines with affirmations of love, music and language. The importance of being rooted in place and history is another favorite topic that she mines for inspiration. Enns is a former pianist and this collection is informed as much by music as her love of language. Her first book, That Other Beauty was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, and her second, Ordinary Hours was shortlisted for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. 978-0-88977-461-2

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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

Dan Green

Dan Green

G is for Green
After a career practicing dentistry in West Vancouver, Hamilton-born Dan Green studied creative writing at UBC. He has two published books to his credit, the latest title being Teeth, Lies & Consequences (Red Tuque $19.95). The story begins in the mayhem and horrors during World War II and its aftermath. Friedrich Mueller, a well-off dentist living in Germany, is caught concealing his Jewish ancestry and must swear a secret oath to escape the gas chambers of Auschwitz. He flees to Palestine with his wife where they open a dental practice in the Jerusalem’s Old City. They practice equality and tolerance and in the process adopt Frankie, an Arab boy, only to be caught up in the sectarian violence that swept through the Middle East in 1948. The family escapes to California where Frankie grows up and follows in Friedrich’s footsteps by becoming a dentist. Initially successful serving famous Hollywood people, his life spins out of control and he travels back to Gaza to re-connect with his Arabic heritage. Things don’t go well for Frankie and he is arrested as a terrorist and murderer. Friedrich rushes to his son’s rescue only to find that, in order to save his son’t life, he must divulge the secret oath he took back in the 1940s. Dan Green continues to live in West Vancouver. He is a member of the Canadian Authors Association, The Federation of BC Writers, and the Palm Springs Writers Guild. 9781537529677

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

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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

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Jack Knox

K is for Knox
Long-time journalist and columnist Jack Knox has published a collection of his essays and “incoherent ramblings” in Hard Knox: Musings from the Edge of Canada (Heritage $19.95). Advertised as a treasure trove of West Coast wit, Knox refers to Vancouver Island as an “Island of Misfit Toys.” He writes about a place where millennials and elders pay more for their bikes than their cars; Albertans come in droves for a double dose of craft beer and culture shock; and any single man who still has some teeth is referred to as “a catch.” In the book’s dedication, Knox thanks someone named Lucille, “who has stuck with me for more than thirty years. I question her judgment.” Knox was raised in the BC interior, and worked at newspapers in Kamloops, Regina, and Campbell River before joining the Times Colonist in 1988. 9781772031492

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Michael Layland

L is for Layland
Trained as an officer and mapmaker in the Royal Engineers, Michael Layland has published his second book about the making of historical maps. A Perfect Eden: Encounters by Early Explorers of Vancouver Island (Touchwood $39.95) is a companion book to his prizewinning The Land of Heart’s Delight: Early Maps and Charts of Vancouver Island (Touchwood 2013) in which he traced the progress of cartographic knowledge about Vancouver Island. His new book digs more deeply into the story of the men who explored the shape of Vancouver Island – what they saw, who they met, and the hazards they faced. He describes the ships they sailed and discusses some of the mysteries yet to be resolved. Layland is president of the Friends of the BC Archives and a member of the Society for the History of Discoveries and the International Map Collectors’ Society. He has eight entries in the two-volume Oxford Companion to World Exploration. Born in England in 1938, he is a former president of the Victoria Historical Society and is on the committee of the Historical Map Society of B.C. 9781771511773

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 Hasan Namir

N is for Hasan Namir

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

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Richard Osler

O is for Osler
A former money manager and financial journalist, Richard Osler turned to writing poems in 2001. His latest collection Hyaena Season (Quattro Books $18) grapples with the extremes of human experience: from dark undercurrents to tender epiphanies. Whether delving into life in the killing grounds of Rwanda and DR Congo, or staying closer to home in Canada and exploring stories of physical and emotional conflict, his focus is always deeply personal, his approach narrative with lyric intensity. Osler lives in Duncan where he is preoccupied on a full-time basis as a poet, workshop leader and blogger. While working as a freelance panelist, he appeared on the CBC Radio’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski more than 200 times over nine years.  978-1-988254-24-1 978-1-987915-20-4

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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

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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

S is for Sherwood
From 1905 to 1952, there was an agrarian settlement on the north shore of Ootsa Lake in central B.C. about sixty kilometers south of Burns Lake. During the ‘20s and ‘30s, George and Else Seel raised their children towards the western end of the lake near the largest village of Wistaria. Elsie and her son Rupert remained there until 1952 when Kenney Dam construction, as part of the Alcan project, raised the level of Ootsa Lake, flooding their property, also forcing the evacuation of the Cheslatta First Nation. Jay Sherwood’s seventh book, Ootsa Lake Odyssey: George and Else Seel – A Pioneer Life on the Headwaters of the Nechako Watershed (Caitlin $24.95), retrieves the history of that vanished, mixed community. 978–1987915211

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

U 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.

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Keith Valentine

V is for Valentine
Born and educated in England, Keith Valentine immigrated to Canada to work as an agricultural scientist. In 1960, he started hard rock mineral prospecting in Northern B.C. and later mapped soils in West Pakistan (as it then was). Then he joined the Research Branch of Agriculture Canada and mapped soils, primarily in BC. Valentine ended his career with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) riding herd on projects in the Indian subcontinent and negotiating the United Nations Convention on Desertification. In retirement, he learnt to restore books and carried on traveling as his CIDA years had given him a taste for remote journeys and the confidence to go to such places. In 1983, he started carrying a sketchbook instead of a camera, compiling more than 40 such books. From these, he published Finding a Place to Sit (self-published $25.00) with three main themes: 1. What happened when he tried to draw instead of taking photographs (he saw what was actually in front of him, not what he thought was there; he met people, especially locals; he could draw where photos were forbidden; people asked him to draw them; etc.) 2. Examples of the resulting blend of sketches with stories and events of the places he visited (a total of 90 sketches are in the book) 3. Providing hints and techniques to encourage others to attempt the same travel/sketch activities. Valentine’s key market is itchy-to-travel readers who have a propensity to slow down, look, enjoy the moment, and return home with an immediate, compact record of their trip, whether they are on a year-long journey or a Viking Cruise. He says the contents of the book are his contribution to the Slow Movement. Keith Valentine lives on Pender Island.

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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

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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

By Sarah Race, www.sarahrace.com

Zena Sharman

Z is for Zena
Editor Zena Sharman’s “moving and incendiary” LGBTQ anthology, The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care (Arsenal $18.95), presents true stories from queer and trans people about their health-care experiences and challenges. From gay men with HIV recalling systemic resistance and to a lesbian couple dealing with the experience of cancer, the stories and essays from health-care providers and activists explore and examine the challenges and politics of LGBTQ health issues in the shadow of the new post-truth Trump era. Contributors include Amber Dawn, Sinclair Sexsmith, Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco, Cooper Lee Bombardier, Kara Sievewright and Vivek Shraya. Zena Sharman co-chairs the board of the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre, a holistic health care centre for transgender and gender-diverse communities, located on Kingsway in Vancouver. With a Ph.D in interdisciplinary studies from UBC, previously Zena Sharman has co-edited the Lambda Literary award-nominated anthology, Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011), and she has been a cabaret host, a go-go dancer for a queer punk band and a campus radio DJ. 9781551526584 [photo by Sarah Race]

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