Evolution of a B.C. trilogy

“Brett Grubisic’s (left) River Bend Trilogy novels are set in a fictional town on the Fraser River, based on Mission, B.C. where he grew up. Here, we learn other ways the titles are linked.” FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Mark Angelo

A is for Angelo
River conservationist and founder of both B.C. and World Rivers Day, Mark Angelo of Burnaby has released his first illustrated children’s book, The Little River That Could (FriesenPress $12.99) demonstrating to readers how the power of one can impact change. The book is inspired by the true story of Angelo who, as a young teacher, led the charge alongside students, teachers and community members to restore a small urban creek. “Serving as a tribute to all those who have dedicated their lives to cleaning up damaged rivers, the book aims to raise awareness among children – and those influencing them – about the value of our local waterways,” says Angelo. “Simply put, healthy rivers and streams make our communities better and safer places to live.” Illustrations are by Ros Webb. 9781039117136

Shashi Bhat

B is for Bhat
Shashi Bhat of New Westminster and editor-in-chief of EVENT magazine has published her second novel, The Most Precious Substance on Earth (M&S $24.95), a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old Indo-Canadian girl who says as little as possible. Nina has troubles with her best friend, a crush on her English teacher, a mother who insists on setting her up with local Halifax Indian boys and her father says prayers outside her bedroom door. Twenty years later, when she is a high school teacher, Nina is still learning how to exist as a woman in the world as she struggles with online dating, grapples with how best to guide her students, and takes self-improvement courses and advanced education classes. All the while, Nina keeps her thoughts and feelings to herself. Publicity for the book notes that the novel “examines the fraught relationships between those who take and those who have something taken” and that it is the “portrait of how silence can shape a life.” 9780771094965

Tanya Christenson

C is for Christenson
Young Creighton was abandoned by his mother at the age of five and doesn’t settle in one place until he is 14 years old because his father works with a traveling carnival, in Tanya Christenson’s debut YA novel A Soft Place to Fall (Red Deer Press $14.95). With little formal education, Creighton must go to an alternate school for kids who struggle with learning. Here, he meets Schooner who can’t read but has his own kind of wisdom and Carin who was a victim of sexual assault when she was thirteen. When the only teacher who seems to truly care about the students announces she is leaving at the end of the year, the students have to fend for themselves. How will they manage to survive in spite of all the personal disasters that challenge them? Christenson is an elementary school counselor and holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (2013). She lives in Creston. 978-0889956384

D is for Deas
Mike Deas and Nancy Deas (as depicted in illustration at right) began their “Sueno Bay Adventures” graphic novel series for middle readers with Shadow Island (Orca, 2019) where Sueno Bay’s mystical properties and inhabitants were first revealed. In the follow up title, Otter Lagoon (Orca $14.95) a young girl teams up with a local bad guy to sell exotic animals and stolen crab because she needs money to save a dog that she’s responsible for injuring. She unknowingly disturbs a fearsome sea serpent that hasn’t been around for 100 years and sets off a destructive string of events. She might be in over her head but her friends rally around before the creature destroys the entire island of Sueno Bay. 9781459819641

Christopher Evans

E is for Evans
Christopher Evans is set to publish his debut collection of short stories Nothing Could Be Further from the Truth (House of Anansi $22.99), due out February, 2022. He portrays people that are trapped between expectations – of who they think they are, who others think they are and who they want to be – and reality. His publisher writes “Resignation and reinvention are always a breath apart,” and that Evans’s characters “have fallen short of their dreams, and for others who never expected more.” Evans is a writer, editor and teacher whose work has appeared in EVENT, the Literary Review, and Best Canadian Poetry and has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He lives in Vancouver with his partner and daughter. 9781487010331

S.M. Freedman

F is for Freedman
Recovering from a near-fatal accident on her 27th birthday, up and coming artist, Eve Gold is desperate to return to her old way of life in S.M. Freedman’s psychological thriller, The Day She Died (Dundurn $18.99). But brain damage leaves Eve confused by repressed memories of a troubled childhood destroyed by lies and even a suspicious death. Does she cling to stories that helped her survive her upbringing or unearth the secrets she buried? 978-1-45974-740-1

Catherine Marie Gilbert

G is for Gilbert
Most visitors to Strathcona Provincial Park, situated in the middle of Vancouver Island, know it as a place of breathtaking scenery with its mountains, lakes and waterfalls. In her second book, A Journey Back to Nature: A History of Strathcona Provincial Park (Heritage House $26.95) Catherine Marie Gilbert shows that behind this picture of serenity lies a volatile history of competing interests that have struggled to protect and define it over the past century—from Indigenous Peoples who have lived on the land for millennia, to European explorers and industrialists who could not see beyond the wealth of its natural resources, to early conservationists and enterprising settlers who wished to preserve the area as a wilderness playground for B.C.’s booming population and nascent tourist industry. Gilbert illustrates this lively history with archival and contemporary photographs and maps. 9781772033588

C.C. Humphreys


H is for Humphreys
Author, actor and now Vancouver Public Library’s Fall 2021 writer in residence, C.C. Humphreys has published One London Day (Library and Archives Canada $20), a contemporary London noir thriller that begins on the date July 30, 2018. There’s a cast of characters and connections centered around Joseph Severin, a previously respectable North London businessman who begins doing the books for a rogue spy outfit called the Shadows. Severin is also falling for Lottie — “chaos on two legs” — who seems to only have eyes for a young Black actor on the verge of fame. The Shadows, headed by a psychopath are detected by the authorities and Severin is now in trouble with a hitman after him. Publicity for the book says: “like that genre’s 40’s origins, this story has its hood, its moll, its femme fatale, its fancy boy. Everyone is both protagonist and antagonist. No one gets out unharmed – and some don’t get out at all.” 9781989988046

Geoff Inverarity

I is for Inverarity
In his debut collection of poems All the Broken Things (Anvil $18), Geoff Inverarity writes of the fragility of friendships, relationships, promises, aging parents, hearts, bodies, love, and even time itself. Life is temporary and all things must end. Inverarity injects optimism through the power of the ‘here and now’ and the future’s great hope — the coming generations. He probes the multitude of possibilities “in this fallen world of compromises,” adding that “we’re stockpiling for the short term / the long term we don’t know. / No matter how much you prepare / there’s always something new looming / like the Unexploded Grief Bomb.” In addition to poetry, Inverarity writes non-fiction prose and short films. He’s taught literature and creative writing at UBC and is a frequent poetry contributor to Geist magazine. Inverarity lives on Galiano Island and is currently the director of the Galiano Island Literary Festival. 9781772141757

Carrie Jenkins

J is for Jenkins
Backed by some pretty serious academic credentials (Canada Research Chair in Philosophy at UBC, PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC), Carrie Jenkins’ has released her debut novel Victoria Sees It (Strange Light/Penguin $24.95), which is a mix of queer psychological thriller and gothic mystery. Raised by an aunt and uncle, Victoria is able to leave her English working-class background by getting into Cambridge. Amidst all the rich toffs, Victoria is an outsider. Then, her one friend on campus, wealthy Deb, goes missing. In Victoria’s search to find her friend, she is helped by a police officer named Julie with whom Victoria has an affair. They travel the English countryside investigating various crime sites but Deb is not found. Victoria graduates, moves to various places to achieve academic success, eventually ending up in Seattle. Here she starts to suffer mental health issues and migraines. Victoria is only one of the novel’s narrators; her catatonic mother, who suffered a mental melt-down after bearing Victoria, is the other. 9780771049279

Dietrich Kalteis. Photo Andrea Kalteis.

K is for Kalteis
Most people think “Bonnie and Clyde” when they hear of Depression-era, bank-robbing lovers. But there were other marauding couples during this decade of desperation such as Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson. Dietrich Kalteis fictionalizes their story in Under an Outlaw Moon (ECW, 2021). She’s a teen outsider longing to fit in. He’s a few years older and trouble. Sparks fly when they meet and the two soon marry. Stella dreams of a nice house with a picket fence and Bennie decides to rob a bank to get the money to please her. Surprisingly they pull off the heist but get little loot for their efforts. They plan another one, which gets them on J.Edgar Hoover’s list of public enemies number one – wanted dead or alive. The manhunt is on. 9781770415478

L is for Lawrence
Bats are nocturnal but not young Bailey who hears cries one morning outside his colony’ s tree roost. Against his mother’s orders, Bailey flies out to investigate and finds a young bull moose tangled in a fence. Bailey decides to help free the moose as nearby wolves close in for the kill, in Grant Lawrence’s picture book for kids aged 6 – 8, Bailey the Bat and the Tangled Moose (Orca $19.95 h.c.). A CBC radio personality and former pop musician, Lawrence has twice won the Bill Duthie’s Booksellers’ Choice Award. This is his first kidlit title. 9781459827295

Rita Moir

M is for Moir
The old adage is that in the “natural order” parents die before their children. Rita Moir explores her family history of the opposite happening in Not of Reason: A Recipe for Outrunning Sadness (Caitlin $22.95). Both her mother and beloved sister underwent heart surgery in the same week. But it was her sister who died within the year while Moir’s elderly mother lived many more years. “I could recite a dozen instances of children dying before parents, three in my immediate family, four if we include my extended family, six if we go back another generation,” she writes. Moir finds solace in her rural B.C. community and takes her mother’s advice to “opt for joy.” 978-1-77386-063-3

Mahtab Narsimhan

N is for Narsimhan
In her latest kidlit title Valley of the Rats (Cormorant 13.95), for ages 9 to 12, Mahtab Narsimhan tells the story of book nerd Krish who goes with his father to Ladakh, India. They get lost in a bamboo forest teeming with black rats and germs, which Krish hates. They end up in the hidden village, Imdur that has the custom of worshipping rats. By mistake, they break a sacred rule and the Imdura threaten to keep the two there forever. Based on the real “rat temple” Karni Mata in Rajashthan, India, Narsimhan’s story explores themes of family, phobias and understanding other cultures. Illustrations by Lee Edward Födi. 9781770866287

O is for Olding
A lifelong reader, always with a book on the go, Victoria-based Susan Olding has written a collection of essays, Big Reader (Freehand $22.95) due out in May. From the dissolution of her marriage to the forging of a tentative relationship with her new partner’s daughter, and from discovering Toronto as a young undergrad to, years later, watching her mother slowly go blind, Olding crafts  essays about what it means to be human, to be a woman — and to be a reader. Her debut collection Pathologies: A Life in Essays (UTP, 2008) was selected by 49th Shelf and Amazon.ca as one of 100 Canadian books to read in a lifetime. 9781988298818

Earle Peach

P is for Peach
Vancouver musician and social activist Earle Peach has written Questions to the Moon: Songs & Stories (Lazara Press $20) about his musical life, how music drives his social activism and his deep belief that everyone has the right to create beauty. Each section in the book begins with a story by Peach, followed by a group of songs that elaborate on the theme. From 1984 – 2000, Peach was the music coordinator at Vancouver’s Carnegie Community Centre on the Downtown Eastside. 9780920999158

Q is for Quintana
Christine Quintana has written Selfie (Playwrights Canada $17.95) about how sexual assault against minors can happen in any community. “The question I want to pose,” says Quintana, “is how can we talk about consent in a way that prevents this from happening in the first place?” She is a Siminovitch Prize Protege winner for playwriting and a founding member of the Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition. Born in Los Angeles to a Mexican American father and a Dutch British Canadian mother, Quintana holds a BFA in Acting from U.B.C. and is currently playwright-in-residence at Vancouver’s Tarragon Theatre. 9780369101259

Carmen Rodriguez

R is for Rodriguez
In Carmen Rodriguez’s historical novel Atacama (Fernwood $22) set in the first half of the twentieth century, the son of a miner and communist union leader meets the daughter of a fascist army officer who is complicit in murder and torture. The two bond and their friendship grows as they develop a deep understanding of each other’s emotional predicaments, a commitment to social justice and a belief in the power of writing and art. The story reflects the true events of the Marusia and La Coruna massacres in Chile in 1925 during which the army brutally suppressed striking miners and their families. Many workers, women and children were killed. Some were imprisoned and tortured. It is estimated that more than two thousand people died. Rodriguez herself is a political refugee, having immigrated to Canada from Chile after the 1973 assassination of the democratically-elected Salvador Allende and take-over by right wing dictator, General Augusto Pinochet. 9781773634777

Chief Willie Sellars

S is for Sellars
In 2014, Willie Sellars, Chief of the Williams Lake First Nation made a publishing splash with his debut kidlit novel, Dipnetting with Dad (Caitlin $16.95) about a boy nicknamed Little Brother who learns the importance of his culture and family. It won a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Chocolate Lily, Shining Willow and Ontario Library Association awards. In the follow-up, Hockey with Dad (Caitlin $19.95) Little Brother’s adventures continue as he grows and learns about the importance of hockey to his Secwépemc community. In one particularly important hockey match, the team goalie gets sick and Little Brother and Big Sister must rely on the wisdom of Grandpa, Dad and Secwépemc cultural values to overcome big challenges. Both books are illustrated by Kevin Easthope, also of Williams Lake. 9781987915808

Jon Turk

T is for Turk
Jon Turk’s fifth adventure narrative about being on the unforgiving savannah with a Samburu headman, Tracking Lions, Myth, and Wilderness in Samburu (RMB $30) explores the aboriginal wisdom that endowed our Stone Age ancestors with the power to survive — and how, since then, our culture has often been hijacked and distorted by our urban, scientific, oil-using world. In 2012, Turk was nominated by National Geographic as one of the top ten adventurers of the year. He has kayaked around Cape Horn and across the North Pacific from Japan to Alaska, mountain biked across the northern Gobi in Mongolia, made first climbing ascents of big walls on Baffin Island and first ski descents in the Tien Shan Mountains in Kirghizia. In 2011, he circumnavigated Ellesmere Island.  Jon Turk splits his time between Fernie, B.C. and Darby, Montana. 9781771604734

U is for Umingmak
Umingmak is the Inuit word for muskox and a symbol of strength, authority and protectiveness. It was also the nickname the Inuit gave Stuart Hodgson, the first resident commissioner of the Northwest Territories who arrived in 1967. Commissioners and their council were appointed then and Ottawa gave Hodgson the mandate to establish a modern, self-elected government in NWT with Yellowknife as its capital. Hodgson succeeded and did so, as Indigenous leader, James Wah-Shee, chair of the Tlicho National assembly says, through recognizing the importance of governing by consensus, which is “the Aboriginal way – and this is part of his legacy.” The story is told by Jake Ootes in, Umingmak: Stuart Hodgson and the Birth of the Modern Arctic (Tidewater $29.95), due out in May. The book also tells how Hodgson co-founded the Arctic Winter Games, organized three royal visits to the NWT, and united the entire population of about 26,000 people in fifty isolated communities spread over 3,400,000 square kilometers.  9781777010102

Dr. Fred Voon

V is for Voon
More than 15 million people visit a hospital emergency department in Canada every year. But did they need to go in the first place? Victoria-based emergency physician, Dr. Fred Voon has written Your Inside Guide to the Emergency Department: And How to Prevent Having to Go! (FriesenPress $36.95 h.c.), busting some common myths and providing practical tips to stay out of the ED. Guiding readers through what really happens in EDs, he answers questions like why you have to wait so long and why other people got seen before you? More importantly, who gets seen faster and how can you get treated sooner? And, who are all these ED people anyway? 978-1777603410

Isabella Wang

W is for Wang
At 18, Isabella Wang was the youngest writer to be shortlisted twice for The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Essay Contest. Her poetry has appeared in over 30 literary magazines including: Room Magazine, The /tEmz/ Review, Train JournalCanthius, Plenitude and Looseleaf Magazine, and she holds a Pushcart Prize nomination for poetry. Her essays are published in carte blanche, Invisible Blog and The New Quarterly. She is also an editor for Room Magazine. Pebble Swing (Nightwood $18.95) due out October 16, is her debut full-length poetry collection. 9780889714069

Xiran Jay Zhao

X is for Xiran
They’ve got over 250,000 YouTube subscribers, 65,000 Twitter followers, 25,000 Instagram followers and a website that averages 5,000 unique visitors per month. Now, non-binary Xiran Jay Zhao of Vancouver is publishing their first sci-fi/fantasy novel Iron Widow (Penguin $21.99) for ages 14 and up. Using a blend of Chinese history and futuristic mecha (humanoid mobile robots) science fiction, the book features a heroine inspired by China’s only legitimate female sovereign, Wu Zetian (who is credited with reducing corruption and revitalizing the country’s culture and economy). Xiran is a first-generation Chinese immigrant who lives and works in Vancouver where they are training to become a biochemist. 9780735269934

Terence Young

Y if for Young
Having retired from teaching English and creative writing at St. Michael’s University School, Terence Young has published a spellbinding collection of poems, Smithereens (Nightwood $18.95) in which he finds the extraordinary in everyday things – the last raspberries of summer, a ferry trip that is detoured, watching TV shows from the past, a family car that lasted twenty years, a child’s picture lost in a fire, a bear at the cottage. All are bits of life that Young turns into “shining artifacts of memory,” a phrase he quotes from Leonard Cohen in one of his verses. 9781550179439

Zena Sharman

Z is for Zena
Research shows what LGBTQ+ communities have long known: that they face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination and denial of their civil and human rights. Zena Sharman’s The Care We Dream Of: Liberatory and Transformative Approaches to LGBTQ+ Health (Arsenal Pulp $22.95) imagines a health system that honours queer and trans people’s lives and bodies; as well as one that is committed to their healing, pleasure and liberation. Sharman adds her own essays on queering health and healing, and transforming the health system, to other LGBTQ+ writers’ work such as stories, poetry and non-fiction. Sharman co-edited the Lambda Literary award-nominated anthology, Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011) and she’s presented on gender, sexuality and health to audiences across North America. She has also been a cabaret host, a go-go dancer for a queer punk band and a campus radio DJ. 9781551528601

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