No more crow whispering

Now that the drought has ended, it’s time for our Tahsis scribe to consider Liberation Day for Chance, the crow. FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Ace, Cathy

Cathy Ace wins in New York.

A is for Ace
Cathy Ace has been named the winner of the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Light Fiction at the Bloody Words gala in New York in May of 2015, for The Corpse with the Platinum Hair (TouchWood Editions $14.95). The award was created by the board of directors of the Bloody Words Conference—Canada’s oldest and largest gathering of mystery readers and authors—to shine a spotlight on light mysteries. It is awarded annually to a traditional mystery with little violence or gore. For this fourth installment of Ace’s Cait Morgan mystery series,  Cait Morgan has planned a memorable Las Vegas birthday for her significant other, Bud Anderson, but she doesn’t foresee she’ll be once again be dining with murder. It appears Lady Luck is with her when she secures a dinner invitation to the ritzy private dining room at the Tsar! Casino, but the food turns bad when casino owner Miss Shirley, “Queen of the Vegas Strip,” is murdered. When security seals the room, Cait and her friend Bud are locked in with a corpse, twelve possible suspects, and a dangerous killer. With the dining room in security lock down, bodies pile up as the odds of being the next victim rise. 9781771510875

Boyd, David brick wall

David R. Boyd

B is for Boyd
According to David R. Boyd, it’s important to stop and realize that many environmental problems have been successfully identified and combated in the past fifty years. That’s the rationale for The Optimistic Environmentalist: Progressing Toward a Greener Future (ECW $19.95) in which he inspires hopefulness by citing how many billions of hectares of lands and water have been protected by the creation of new parks. Gray whales and bald eagles are no longer in dire danger of extinction. Progress has been made on protecting the ozone layer and renewable energy from wind, water and sun has entered the mainstream dialogue about saving the environment. Dozens of toxic chemicals have been banned. 978-1-77041-238-5

C is for Czaga
Kayla Czaga has been shortlisted for the Late Night Library 2015 Debut-litzer Prize in Poetry for her book, For Your Safety Please Hold On (Nightwood $18.95). The poems move from family to girlhood to adulthood, in a collection of funny/sad family portraits. Late Night Library is a nonprofit organization in the US dedicated to sustaining book culture, promoting literature in schools and communities and supporting a diverse array of writers early in their careers. Winners will be announced in August. For Your Safety Please Hold On won the 2015 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and was also shortlisted for the 2015 Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award and the 2015 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Born in Alberta, Kayla Czaga grew up in Kitimat before moving to Victoria to complete her undergraduate degree in writing at the University of Victoria. She later became an MFA graduate in Creative Writing from UBC. She lives in Vancouver.  978-0-88971-303-1

Demers, Charles red background

Charles Demers

D is for Demers
Move over Bill Richardson. Having hosted the BC Book Prizes on several occasions, Charles Demers has re-entered the literary world with The Horrors:  An A-to-Z of Funny Thoughts on Awful Things (D&M $24.95). The comedian gives new meaning to a 26-er by starting with “A” for “Adolescence”, recalling his sexless teenage years in a Trotskyist sect. “B” for “Bombing” recalls the sickening sensation of knowing your comedy act stinks. “D” is for “Depression.” “F” for “Fat.” “J” for “Junk Food.” “M” for “Motherlessness.” And so on. Born and raised in Vancouver, Demers’ wrote a novel, The Prescription Errors (Insomniac Press 2009), that was soon followed by a “no-holds-barred look at Lotusland” entitled Vancouver Special (Arsenal, 2009), a critique of neighborhoods, people and culture, featuring photography by Emmanuele Buenviaje. Demers’ short essays are born of the friction between estrangement and engagement; his loyalty to the city is ambivalent but inescapable. Or as his friend Kevin Chong wrote in an endorsement, “It’s only fitting that a city with so many unlikely facets–its conspicuous wealth and conspicuously ignored poverty, its inscrutable WASPiness and inscrutable Asian-ness, its left-wing face and right-wing heart–should be both celebrated and excoriated by a writer with such multifarious abilities.” Demers’ concluding chapter ‘Vanarchism’ cites his affinities to the likes of philosopher George Woodcock, punk rocker Joe Keithley, labour historian Mark Leier and APEC protestor Jaggi Singh. Since 2010, Demers has been a regular performer on CBC Radio One’s The Debaters. 978-1-77162-031-4

Evenden, Matthew

Matthew Evenden

E is for Evenden
Following World War II, Canada became a world leader in hydro-electricity production. Only Norway produced more per capita and only the U.S. generated more in terms of total output. Allied Power: Mobilizing Hydro-electricity during Canada’s Second World War (UTP $32.95) by UBC’s Matthew Evenden explores how the climate of war influenced Canada’s hydro-electric development and expansion and led to the introduction of greater government controls. Increased production of hydro power also “exacerbated regional disparities, transformed rivers through dam construction, and changed public attitudes to electricity though power conservation programs.” Evenden is a co-leader of The Water History Project which looks at the many ways humans interact with the hydrological environment. 9781442626256

Findon, Joanne

Joanne Findon

F is for Findon
As a professor of English literature at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Joanne Findon, formerly of Coquitlam, has examined the life and times of Sarah Jameson Craig who grew up in rural New Brunswick in the 1800s. Educated at home by her parents when few working class girls were literate, Craig became a skilled writer who recorded detailed accounts of her adolescence through to her senior years. Her journals and memoirs create the framework for Seeking our Eden: the Dreams and Migrations of Sarah Jameson Craig (McGill-Queen’s University Press $34.95). Sarah Jameson Craig’s life took her from New Brunswick to New Jersey, then west to Saskatchewan and finally to British Columbia. As an adult she became an advocate of women’s rights and a staunch dress-reformer, believing the restrictive fashions of the day were a barrier to equality of the sexes. Sarah Jameson Craig was not only an early voice of Canadian feminism; Seeking our Eden reveals her to be a forward-thinker, open to exploring alternative medical treatments (water cures) and drawn to the concept of utopian colonies. Celtic scholar Joanne Findon was born in New Westminster, B.C. and earned her BA at UBC. She received her MA and PhD in medieval studies at the University of Toronto. She is also the author of two picture books, The Dream of Aengus (Stoddart Kids, 1998), a retelling of an ancient Irish myth, and Auld Lang Syne (Stoddart Kids, 1997), a story of Robert Burns told from the poet’s own perspective. As well, Findon’s first children’s novel, When Night Eats The Moon (Red Deer Press, 1999), follows Holly, a young girl sent back in time to 700 B.C., who is thought by the locals to be their saviour. 9780773544802

Aldcorn, Danielle blue jeans

D.R. Graham

G is for Graham
D.R. Graham is the pen name for Danielle Aldcorn, a columnist for the Richmond News, who has written biker and rodeo novels for teens and adults including One Percenter (book one in her Noir et Bleu Motorcycle Club Series); The Handler (book two in the Noir et Bleu Series); Rank; the Brampton Beach Series; and Hit That and You’re Dead. Her novels deal with issues relevant to young and new adults in love, transition, or crisis. Her books are available in eBook format and paperback. Aldcorn worked as a social worker with at-risk youth for seven years before becoming a therapist in private practice.

Helliwell, Tanis under rock

Tanis Helliwell searches for leprechauns and hybrids.

H is for Helliwell
According to publicity materials, a 2008 survey conducted by Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion found that 55% of Americans said they believed in guardian angels. Tanis Helliwell’s seventh book, Hybrids: So you think you are human (Wayshower Enterprises 2015) expands on her earlier book, Summer with the Leprechauns, which she claims sold 50,000 copies world-wide and has been translated into seven languages. Hybrids cites various archaeologicaI, mythological and cultural (First Nations and others) discoveries to examine the the possibility that other sentient life forms exist which have interbred with humans creating hybrids. Helliwell offers her evidence for the existence of 22 different human-hybrids, such as elementals, angels, dolphins, giants, dragons, centaurs, pan and many others. Tanis Helliwell of Powell River has worked ‘to bring spirituality into the workplace’ since 1976 with corporate clients, resulting in Take Your Soul to Work: Transform Your Life and Work (Random House, 1999). No mention was made in publicity materials about her previous publication about communing with leprechauns in Ireland, a self-published memoir called Summer of the Leprechauns: A True Story (Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1997). It has been followed by another self-published memoir, Pilgrimage with the Leprechauns: A True Story of a Mystical Tour of Ireland (Wayshower Enterprises 2010). “Some years ago I lived in an old cottage in the village of Keel on the west coast of Ireland,” she begins. “I shared Crumpaun Cottage with a leprechaun and his family who had lived there for a very long time. The leprechaun befriended me and taught me about elementals…” Helliwell describes leading her fourth “mystical tour of Ireland” to sacred sites as an unmitigated disaster that simultaneously served as one of the most significant events of her life. Self-described as a student and teacher of Inner Mysteries, Helliwell has founded her own International Institute for Transformation and has led tours and pilgrimages to sacred sites in Egypt, Israel, Peru, Bolivia, India, Nepal, France, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, the American Southwest, New Zealand, Japan, Kenya and Greece. She claims to have heard and seen elementals, angels and master teachers on other planes since childhood. 9781987831016

I is for Isabella
The Red Bicycle (Kids Can $18.95) by Jude Isabella follows the journey of Big Red, Leo’s cherished bicycle, as it makes its way from North America to Africa. Leo is too big for his bike and donates it to a charity that ships it to Alisetta, a young girl in Burkina Faso. Alisetta can now travel much more quickly to her family’s farm and to the market. The next owner of Big Red is Haridata, a young woman who uses it to deliver medicine and carry sick people to the hospital. The Red Bicycle reveals how something as simple as a bicycle can have a powerful impact on lives half a world away. Illustrated by Simone Shin. Jude Isabella of Victoria was a managing editor of YES Magazine, a science magazine for kids, for twelve years. She writes science books for kids. She has also written for The Walrus, New Scientist, the Loh Down on Science, Canadian Geographic, Medical Post, WILD Magazine, Readers Digest, Archaeology Magazine, BC Magazine, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Spirituality and Health Magazine, and The Tyee, focusing on science, health, and the environment. 978-1-77138-023-2.

Judson, Gillian

Gillian Judson

J is for Judson
As a lecturer at Simon Fraser University, a director of the Imaginative Education Research Group and coordinator of the Imaginative Ecological Education program, Gillian Judson has produced Engaging Imagination in Ecological Education (Pacific Educational $29.95), this book “illustrates how to connect students to the natural world and encourage them to care about a more sustainable, ecologically secure planet. Cultivating ecological understanding can be more challenging for teachers than simply imparting knowledge of ecological issues; it requires reimagining the human world as part of, not apart from, nature.” Dr. Judson obtained her BA and MA at the University of Victoria, and a Ph.D from Simon Fraser University. 978-1-926966-75-5

Kluckner, Michael horizontal

Michael Kluckner

K is for Kluckner
Artist and heritage expert Michael Kluckner has turned a new page for his first graphic novel, Toshiko (Midtown $19.95). Set during World War II, Toshiko and her cousin have been sent to BC’s interior due to the internment of Japanese Canadians. They are placed on a farm near an unfriendly town where most residents view them as enemies. But one of Toshiko’s classmates is curious and sympathetic about the exile of Japanese-Canadians, and romance develops. The scandal of their relationship pushes the couple out of BC’s interior and back to Vancouver, where they will be forced to face the racial, moral and social realities of wartime Canada. 978-0-9881101-7-5

L is for Longe
Robert Longe worked in mineral exploration for many years as a geologist, consultant, and chief executive of a junior public company. His own experiences searching for mineral deposits in many parts of the world convinced him that the industry, much of it based in Vancouver, provides enough excitement, unique characters and engrossing situations for an entire genre of novels. His first novel, The Nisselinka Claims, is his contribution. It’s a family saga that spans three generations. In the early years of the 20th century Edward Wickford, a settler in northern British Columbia, lays claim to a rich vein of copper and gold. But events outside his control wreak havoc with his plans and dreams of wealth. Two world wars and two generations later, his grandson’s ownership of the same mineral rights is threatened by a hard-driving promoter of a public company listed on the junior mining market. The resulting conflict in a high-stakes treasure hunt run by professionals, but spiced by rogues, propels the story to its climax.

Margison, Alan

Alan Margison

M is for Margison
Born and educated in England (BSc from Bristol University), Alan Margison has spent most of his life teaching and working in Canada. He also has a BA from the University of Toronto. The Tangerine Trio (JAMpot Press, $17.95) is his first novel, published under the pseudonym Rian Everest. It is a romantic thriller. The book’s back cover blurb notes that the novel includes: “…factual historical settings with related excursions into religion, politics, philosophy, and observations about love.”  978-0-9919711-0-7

Nozick Nicole 2015- longshot

Nicole Nozick

N is for Nozick
Nicole Nozick is the new Executive Director of the Vancouver Writers Festival, taking over from Camilla Tibbs who has become the Executive Director of the Richmond Gateway Theatre. Nozick holds a B.A. in English from University of Cape Town, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Tel Aviv University. Most recently, she was Director of the Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival in Vancouver.

O is for Olav
Prolific and much-decorated UBC geographer and author Olav Slaymaker–surely one of the most memorable names in B.C. literature–won’t be able to attend the investiture ceremony for his Order of Canada in May because he will  be off in Siberia, doing whatever it is that venerable geography professors do. With degrees from Cambridge and Harvard, Slaymaker is the author or editor of a dozen books and an expert on climate change in cold climates. Officially retired since 2004, Slaymaker still specializes in the sustainability of mountain environments, alpine hydrology and geomorphology, lacustrine sedimentation and the human impact on geomorphic and hydrological processes. He shares an office with heavyweight geographer, Cole Harris, who is arguably better-known beyond academe, but his name isn’t as much fun to say.

Edgar Pankratz

P is for Pankratz
Edgar Pankratz was born in 1930 in Katharinenhof, a Mennonite village in eastern Ukraine. After World War II, he immigrated to Canada, where he worked in a printing plant. He completed his high school education and went on to medical school, where he specialised in obstetrics and gynecology. In 2015, Pankratz self-published Escape to Paradise (produced by FriesenPress) the story of a Mennonite family fleeing to Canada from  persecution in Europe during World War II. Like the author, the story’s main protagonist, Theo Dirks, was born in a Mennonite village in the Ukraine. As the Second World War breaks out, Theo and his family are exiled to Siberia. Through disastrous circumstances they manage to escape and return home. But just as the family gets back to the Ukraine, the Germans arrive. Theo becomes drafted, first as a translator and then into the dreaded, and hunted, SS. In the meantime, his family is evacuated by the German Army, ending up in Poland, then East Germany. Theo finds them there after being released from a prisoner-of-war camp. Re-united, they eventually make their way to Canada. Throughout their brutal tribulations, the family finds strength and liberation in their faith. 978-1-4602-6572-7

Q is for Quiver
A dwarf mistletoe can shoot its seeds up to 50 feet away. The Arctic heather plant can create subtropical conditions within its leaves. Often exposed to bitter cold, relentless winds, intense heat, drought, fire, pollution and other adverse conditions, such plants demonstrate remarkable strategies for surviving their environment. Jesse Vernon Trail’s first book, Quiver Trees, Phantom Orchids and Rock Splitters (ECW Press $24.95), highlights the world’s most unusual plants for a general audience of plant and nature enthusiasts. Quiver Trees is also a fact-filled reference source on some of the lesser-known plants that populate landscapes around the world. Jesse Vernon Trail is an instructor and curriculum developer in environment, ecology, sustainability issues, horticulture and the natural history of plants. His articles have been published in The Ecologist, Garden Making, Canadian Gardening, Plant and Garden, Fine Gardening, Gardenwise, Harrowsmith Country Life, Alive, and Outdoor Canada. He lives in Vernon, B.C. “Gardening will never go out of fashion,” Trail told the Vernon Morning Star newspaper. “People will always buy plants even when they don’t have very much money. There is something in the greenery and beauty of plants that gives us a feeling of comfort and joy.” 978-1-77041-208-8

Ross, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Ross

R is for Ross
Born and raised in Victoria, Elizabeth Ross completed a BA with majors in English and creative writing at Vancouver Island University, followed by an MFA in creative writing at UBC. She has been a poetry editor of PRISM International and her work has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies including Best Canadian Poetry (Tightrope Books 2013). Her book of poetry, Kingdom (Palimpsest Press $18.95), takes a confessional approach in which she asks questions and argues with the answers.  In her poem Prayer, Ross asks for all things a ‘good girl’ should aspire to be: “Raise me to cook a healthy diet. To write thank you letters. To set and unset the table. Carry things. Fetch things….” She continues her wish list to include avoiding boyfriends with long hair, to learn how to teach herself and how to respect others, but ends with the cryptical, “Teach me how to tell a lie. SEE PRISM INTERVIEW: 978-1-926794-24-2

Shelton, Anthony

Anthony Shelton

S is for Shelton
Anthony Alan Shelton captures the playful, subversive culture of Portugal, a nation forever trapped between land and sea, salvation and damnation. Heaven, Hell and Somewhere In Between (Figure 1, $45) is a companion piece for a major exhibition that opened in May 2015 at the Museum of Anthropology. The book combines an in-depth analysis of Portuguese art and culture with photographs of 40 artworks—ceramics, masks, puppets—and another 60 supporting images from medieval frescoes, roadside icons, graffiti, and images of carnival performers and artisans at work in their studios. Complex, contemporary, theatrical, political and often controversial, this is the theatre of a nation, where official ideologies collide with homegrown creations and spew forth deeply felt emotions; from ecstasy and transcendence to suffering and penitence. Shelton is director of the Museum of Anthropology and a professor at the University of British Columbia. He studies the changing practices of collecting and exhibiting art & artifacts and has published numerous works on the subject, as well as on various aspects of Mexican ethnography and cultural history. He has also published extensively on critical museology, collections’ history and the anthropology of Latin America. Shelton co-authored a tribute to the museum with Carol E. Mayer entitled The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (D&M, 2010) to accompany its redesign and opening in 2010. 9781927958247

Matzourani Tzoutzi 2

Tzoutzi Matzourani

T is for Tzouti
Three months after asking her lover to leave, Tzoutzi Matzourani is tormented by his absence. Craziness took hold of them when they were together; now an equal craziness pervades her passionate longing for him to reappear. Her reminiscences and pleadings are addressed directly to him in Hear Me Out: Letters to My Ex-Lover (Libros Libertad $20), translated by Manolis Aligizakis. The urgency of Matzourani’s poetic bereavements reveals how sexual desire can seem like a form of illness, a cruel intoxication. Love lifts us; love debases us. And nothing else matters. Tzoutzi Matzourani lives in Athens; Aligizakis is a publisher in White Rock. 978-1-926763-40-8

U is for UBC
Library Students at UBC have created a digital archive called The Bud Osborn Collection to honour the work of Downtown Eastside activist and poet Bud Osborn who died in 2014 at age 66. The Osborn poems are accompanied by images by Richard Tetrault, and in collaboration with designers David Bircham and David Lester. There’s a UBC website and a short film about Osborn on this BCBookLook news site. UBC Library has simultaneously mounted a permanent exhibit to honour the life and work of George Woodcock, a project kickstarted by a fundraising campaign organized by B.C. BookWorld. [For the Osborne video, go to Home page and scroll down left column to BookLook videos. The UBC site is ]

Kelly, Carla

Carla Kelly

V is for Vegan
A vegan for ten years, Carla Kelly has followed Vegan Al Fresco: Happy & Healthy Recipes for Picnics, Barbecues & Outdoor Dining with True to your Roots: Vegan Recipes to Comfort and Nourish You (Arsenal $26.95), a collection that provides inventive ways to produce root vegetables—roots, tubers and rhizomes. Having cooked at hotels around the world, she has written two other titles along the way, Quick and Easy Bake Sale and Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking, and she operates a website called The Year of the Vegan. 9781551525327

Whishaw, Iona

Iona Whishaw

W is for Whishaw
A former high school principal and a graduate of the Creative Writing Master’s program at UBC, Iona Whishaw has followed her much earlier children’s book, Henry and the Cow Problem, with a murder mystery, Dead in the Water (Friesen 2015). The heroine Lane Winslow is inspired by the author’s sophisticated and adventurous mother who was risk-taker. “She cut a swath through life that was completely independent,” Whishaw writes on her blog. “It was she who put my father through university, and bought our first houses.  When we were children she hitchhiked to Alaska with interstate truckers because she was tired of waiting around for my father to come back from geology field trips, and in the same devil-may-care spirit drove me and our German shepherd all the way to Nicaragua to find him, long before the highway through Central America was even complete. She wrote books and spoke 6 languages, and went off to university to get 4 Master’s degrees after I grew up and left for university. And of course, there was that brief episode of spying during the war in South Africa where my father was a pilot for the RAF.” In a tiny community near Nelson, populated by older British émigrés from before WW I, a young British ex-secret service agent looks to put the war and England behind her, only to be arrested when a dead body is found in her creek. Burdened by the requirements of the Official Secrets Act, she is unable to clear herself. Whishaw’s grandfather was a spy in both World Wars. For UBC Creative Writing department head Linda Svendsen, author of Marine Life, has provided praise for the independently published novel: “Inspector Darling and Lane Winslow join the ranks of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane in this exquisitely written, psychologically deft postwar mystery. I couldn’t put it down.” 978-4602-5496-7 (-4 paperback)

X is for Xwisten
A Xwisten First Nation elder, Christine Jack is one of twelve indigenous elders whose lives are celebrated in Wisdom from our First Nations (Second Story $10.95) by Lyle Ernst and Kim Sigafus. Born in Lytton in 1967 as her mother’s tenth child, she overcame alcoholic parents and various family tragedies, including her mother’s death when Christine was eight, and was raised by her aunt and uncle in Lillooet. Overcoming alcohol and drugs, she became the first girl in her family to graduate from high school in 1985. Christine Jack has since worked to stop violence against women. 978-1-927583-55-5

Young, Janine Alyson b&w

Janine Alyson Young

Y is for Young
Sunshine Coast-based UBC Creative Writing student Janine Alyson Young has been shortlisted for the annual $10,000 Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first English-language collection of short fiction by a Canadian author from among 37 collections submitted. Born to backpacking ski bums during the 1980s, Young is a self-described former Generation Y taco stand operator. As a child, she read every book she could in her local library. Her debut fiction collection Hideout Hotel (Caitlin 2014 $18.95) contains several stories of small-town women taking refuge alone, set in coastal BC, the Yukon and Western Australia. Young was 28 when the collection appeared. 978-1-927575-46-8

Z is for Zuberi
Dan Zuberi’s Schooling the Next Generation (University of Toronto $32.95), chronicles ten East Vancouver elementary schools located in neighbourhoods with diverse populations and lower income levels. The book focuses on the challenges that principals, teachers, parents and students face, and Zuberi also explores how they are overcoming those difficulties. 9781442626843

  • About Us

    BC BookLook is an independent website dedicated to continuously promoting the literary culture of British Columbia.