2014 Writer in Residence
The Edmonton Public Library's Writer in Residence program provides services to aspiring and established writers in the Edmonton area including individual manuscript consultations, public readings and talks, information on the publishing process and connections to the writing community.
The Writer in Residence (WIR) also hosts a monthly Writers' Corner at various EPL branches. These sessions bring together writers of all abilities to talk about their writing, listen to guest speakers, and provide support and encouragement to each other.
EPL is extremely excited to welcome Jason Lee Norman as our 2014 Writer in Residence!
All about Jason
Jason Lee Norman was born and raised in the Edmonton area. With a degree in English from the University of Alberta and a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester, he returned to Edmonton in 2009 to make his fortune. He is the author of two short story collections: Americas and Beautiful Girls & Famous Men, and is the co-founder of the #yegwords (Words with Friends) creative writing collective, which holds regular events in Edmonton throughout the year, including the very popular Word Crawl.
In 2013 he introduced Edmonton to 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology, 70 pieces of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction all about or inspired by winter in Edmonton. 40 Below was published by Jason’s small publishing concern Wufniks Press.
In the past few years Jason has nominated himself for dozens of awards but has won very few. He hopes to one day finish his novel so that it may receive a scathing review in the National Post. Thus completing the circle of life.
When Jason isn’t writing sublime, inventive prose he can usually be seen shouting at a television set at one of his beloved sports teams or watching the Food Network.
His office hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(sorted by date)
Year End Event information can be found here.
Writers' Corner with Mike Ross
Mike Ross is the Editor-in-Chief of the online news and entertainment magazine Gig City. Along with that, Mike also writes for the Edmonton Sun. Before being hired by as the music critic for the Edmonton Sun in 1993, Mike Ross was a professional musician who toured the continent during most of the ’80s with various ridiculously-named bands that went nowhere. The three-time Dunlop Award winner has covered the local and international entertainment scene for the Sun during three different decades, and continues to write major concert reviews for the Sun. His articles have also appeared in magazines like Avenue, Alberta Venture and Chart magazine. He received his (musical) education at Grant MacEwan University and learned journalism from the School of Hard Knocks.
Writers' Corner with Janice MacDonald
Janice MacDonald is a Canadian author of literary and mystery novels, textbooks, non-fiction titles, and stories for both children and adults. She is best known for writing five novels featuring amateur sleuth Miranda "Randy" Craig. The Randy Craig Mysteries were the first detective series to be set here in Edmonton, where Janice lives and works. The last installment, Condemned to Repeat, was published in June 2013 by Ravenstone Books, an imprint of the highly respected Turnstone Press, and remained at the top of the bestseller list in Edmonton since its release.
Janice is a lifelong fan of detective fiction and even wrote her master's thesis on the subject. She was a long-time reviewer of mystery novels for the Edmonton Journal and an on-air "crime fiction expert" for the Canadian television series Booked. Her first Randy Craig mystery was published in 1994.
Janice has also had a long love affair with the stage. She was lured away from finishing her MFA in playwriting by the chance to write and produce radio. She has had work produced on CKUA, CBC and ACCESS. She is a board member of the Freewill Shakespeare Festival. She wrote the music and lyrics for two touring historical musicals for Studio North Theatre: Northsong and Making Tracks. When she was younger, she wanted to be Ethel Merman. When she was really young, she wanted to be an elevator operator.
Janice’s books include:
Writers' Corner with BioWare video game writers
Writing for video games is a fascinating section of the writing world that you hardly ever hear about. We’re going to talk with BioWare writers Sylvia Feketekuty and Luke Kristjanson about what it takes to write for some of the hottest video games out there right now. Perhaps you’re a gamer and want to know how to get your foot in the door of the video game industry. Maybe you’re just a writer and want to know about the set of skills that is needed in order to write for video games. Or maybe you just want to come and check out the fabulous EPL Makerspace and all its toys, and learn a little something along the way too. Whatever the reason, I really hope you will join me for this very special edition of Writers’ Corner. Space is limited so get there early and come with lots of questions to ask our guests.
Luke Kristjanson has been with BioWare since 1996. He has written for such games as Mass Effect, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Origins Leliana's Song (DLC), Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age II Dragon Age II: Legacy (DLC), Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin (DLC) Dragon Age Inquisition (in development)
Sylvia Feketekuty has written for Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker (DLC), Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition (in development)
BioWare's legendary Edmonton studio was established in early 1995 by Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk and Augustine Yip, three doctors who studied together at the University of Alberta. They released their first game in 1996 and went on to release six more in the studio’s first 10 years, including Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, MDK2, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. In late 2005, BioWare and Pandemic Studios joined forces; two years later, they announced that Electronic Arts, a leading global interactive entertainment publisher, had bought the partnership, with BioWare retaining its culture and brand.
The latest blockbuster franchises to come out of Edmonton are Mass Effect and Dragon Age. BioWare’s games have continually achieved critical and commercial success.
Writers' (and Readers') Corner
Join four of the five shortlisted authors for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award as they come to talk about their nominated books. The writers will also be joined by local readers who enjoyed these books, and they will be giving their takes on why each of these books is very special from a reader’s perspective. Join us as we discuss and celebrate these great local books and authors.
Michael Hingston is the books columnist for the Edmonton Journal. Called “one of the sharpest young literary critics in this country” by 49th Shelf, his journalism has also appeared in the Globe and Mail, Salon, Eighteen Bridges magazine, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
His first novel, The Dilettantes (Freehand), was a No. 1 regional bestseller and received a starred review in Quill & Quire; the Winnipeg Free Press said it “may well be the Great Canadian Comic Novel.” Hingston’s fiction also appears in the anthology 40 Below (Wufniks).
Born and raised in North Vancouver, Hingston now lives in Edmonton with his partner and two children.
Diana Davidson lives in Edmonton. Davidson’s debut novel Pilgrimage was published by Brindle & Glass in September 2013. Pilgrimage is a book about the violent intimacy of a small place and is set at around the Lac St. Anne Métis settlement, Edmonton, and St. Albert in the 1890s. Pilgrimage has been heralded as a work of “frontier feminism” by Edmonton Journal books columnist Michael Hingston. Kim McCullough, for Prism, has said “Davidson has masterfully turned the tables on these historical ‘facts’ by using them to create a fictional world more real than the one found in any history book." The novel has been on the Edmonton Journal bestseller list all but two weeks since its debut.
Davidson’s other writing has been long-listed for the Canada Writes CBC creative nonfiction prize (2012) and has won the Writers’ Guild of Alberta “Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Prize” (2010). Her work has appeared in 40 Below, Alberta Views, Avenue Edmonton magazine, Little Fiction, The Winnipeg Review, Women’s Words, as well as the academic anthologies Analyzing Mad Men and Spectral America. She has a Ph.D. in literature, and has taught at the University of Alberta and the University of York, UK. She was chosen as one of Edmonton’s “Top 40 Under 40″ by Avenue Magazine in late 2011.
Theresa Shea has published poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and articles in a number of Canadian magazines and journals. Her novel The Unfinished Child dramatically explores society’s changing views of Down Syndrome over the past 60 years. The story offers an unflinching and compassionate history of the treatment of people with Down Syndrome and their struggle for basic human rights.
Born in Maryland and raised throughout the U.S., she moved to Canada in 1977 and currently lives with her husband and three children in Edmonton.
Todd Babiak grew up in a small house in an oil town, with a mother who read horror novels and a father who cut the lawn with his shirt off. He pursued politics and literature in university. He spent a good part of the 1990s in Montreal. These were almost-separation times. It was bracing.
His novel, Come Barbarians (Harper Collins), is a gripping novel of love and loss, murder, revenge and political conspiracy. Babiak has created a complex, magnetic character forced to confront his bleakest hour and his darkest impulses.
Today he lives in Edmonton, a northern city of mystery and enterprise, with long writing trips to France. Sometimes a month, sometimes a year.
Writers' Corner with Chris Craddock
Chris Craddock is a champion of all things creative. He’s an actor/director/producer and he’s written for plays, television, film - you name it. A collection of his plays has just been published by NeWest entitled “Public Speaking and Other Plays." Join us to hear Chris regale us with stories about being a success in EVERY SINGLE MEDIUM THAT EXISTS!
Writers' Corner with Laurence Miall
Join us for a special Writers’ Corner this month with first time novelist Laurence Miall. Laurence Miall is a Montreal-based writer who spent his childhood in England before emigrating to Edmonton at the age of 14. Miall has contributed to The Edmonton Journal, and his short stories have been finalists in the Summer Literary Awards contest and Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers. His first novel, Blind Spot, will be published by NeWest Press in Fall 2014.
We will be talking with Laurence about the process of publishing his first novel, Blind Spot, which is set in Edmonton.
Join us on Sunday, August 31 at 1:30 p.m. at the Strathcona Branch as Laurence answers your questions and also reads samples from his forthcoming novel.
Writers' Corner with Jane Christmas
Born and raised in Toronto, Jane was eight years of age when she threaded a piece of paper into a Smith-Corona typewriter and forged a note from her parents in order to get out of gym class. It worked, and a writer was born. After graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa, Jane worked her way through the editing ranks of various newsrooms, such as The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, The Hamilton Spectator and National Post, and supplemented her income by writing columns and feature articles. She eventually found her writing voice—direct, funny, and insightful—when she moved to Pelee Island, Ontario, (pop. 180) one winter, and wrote a series of columns for the National Post about disconnecting from urban life. The experience became the basis for The Pelee Project in 2002. Her books have been published in Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Great Britain and Portugal, and she has gained a devoted worldwide audience. And Then There Were Nuns was shortlisted for the Leacock Medal for Humour and the Word Awards for Christian Writing. Jane is the mother of three grown children and now lives in England.
Writers' Corner with Zarqa Nawaz
Zarqa Nawaz is best known as the creator of the CBC television series Little Mosque on the Prairie and has recently released a collection of stories about her own life, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque.
Born in Liverpool and raised in Toronto, Nawaz already had a Bachelor of Science degree from U of T when she realized that staying out of medical school would be her greatest contribution to Canada's health care system. Unfazed, she coolly switched career plans and received a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism from Ryerson in 1992.
Nawaz worked as a freelance writer/broadcaster with CBC radio, and in various capacities with CBC Newsworld, CTV’s Canada AM, and CBC’s The National. She was an associate producer with a number of CBC radio programs including Morningside, and her radio documentary The Changing Rituals of Death won first prize in the Radio Long Documentary category and the Chairman’s Award in Radio Production at the Ontario Telefest Awards.
Little Mosque on the Prairiebrought Nawaz’s own laugh-out-loud take on her everyday culture clash to viewers around the world. And now, in Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, she tells the sometimes absurd, sometimes challenging, always funny stories of being Zarqa in a western society.
Join us at the Edmonton Public Library as Zarqa Nawaz shares some of her stories, answers your questions, and signs copies of her book, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque.
Jan. 7, 2014 - Back to Work
Today is my first day of work as the EPL Writer-in-Residence. I came in last week to get keys and email passwords and door passwords and microwave passwords but today is my real first day. [Read more]
Jan. 9, 2014 - The Morning Show Circuit
This morning I was up early to go on the Edmonton morning news to tell people about the EPL and the Writer-in-Residence program. Hopefully some people saw me and now know a little bit more about me and might think about sending me an email or giving me a call to help out with their writing this year. [Read more]
Jan. 20, 2014 - First Writers' Corner of the Year!
One of my duties during my time as Writer-in-Residence is to host Writers’ Corner events each month. Writers’ Corner hosts a friendly and supportive gathering with a different guest author each month. [Read more]
Feb. 5, 2014 - A Lot of Things Have Happened (are happening).
It’s February already! My first month as WIR has come and gone. Here are some things that have happened: [Read more]
March 26, 2014 - The First 85 Days.
Today is my 85th day as the Writer-in-Residence at the Edmonton Public Library. Although the EPL has been rather cake-happy as of late, I have not as of yet been presented with a large sheet cake in the shape of the number 85. Perhaps they’re waiting for a more even number, but I digress. [Read more]
Frequently asked questions
1. Do you give feedback on anyone’s writing? Do I have to be published?
Yes, my job is to give feedback on creative writing in all genres. New, unpublished writers are especially welcome to send material.
2. How do I send something to you?
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you can leave your writing in an envelope at the main desk of the Stanley A. Milner Library.
5. My writing is too awful to show you. Can I come just to talk about writing?
Sure, you can come to talk about any aspect of writing. The conversation will be much more relevant to YOUR writing, though, if we can talk about that. Trust me: first drafts are always dreadful. It’s terribly embarrassing to hand them over, but if you’re stuck—do it! (I’m guessing you’re a tad overcritical.)
6. What kind of feedback will you give me?
What kind would you like? If you would like me to focus on, say, character development, I will. Or, if you want a more general critique, that’s fine too. We’ll talk about what will be most helpful for you.
- Fiction, non-fiction, scripts: maximum of 10 double-spaced pages
- Poetry: 5 short (one-page) poems
9. When should I come to see you?
The best thing to do is email me at email@example.com to set up an appointment. My office hours will be posted here after the new year. You’re welcome to drop by then, but I might be busy with other writers.
Get in touch with me
You can email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him at 780.496.5999.
His office hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Drop-ins are accepted; however, it’s best to email or call ahead to ensure he's not out with another client.
Jason Lee Norman / Writer in Residence
c/o Stanley A. Milner Library
7 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB T5J 2V4
- Fiction, non-fiction, scripts: maximum of 10 double-spaced pages
- Poetry: 5 short (one-page) poems
Check out Jason's website at www.jasonleenorman.com
Follow Jason on Twitter at @bellyofawhale
You are seeing double!
For the second year, EPL is pleased to be working with our partners in the Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries on a regional program that offers not one, but two Writers in Residence working throughout Edmonton and area.
EPL along with the Fort Saskatchewan Public Library, St. Albert Public Library and Strathcona County Library welcome Jason Lee Norman and Margaret Macpherson as the 2014 Metro Federation Writers in Residence.
Jason will be the EPL Writer in Residence, based at the Stanley A. Milner Library, and will dedicate his time to working with Edmonton’s writing community. Margaret, meanwhile, will split her time between the regional libraries.
Find out more about Margaret MacPherson at www.margaretmacpherson.com
Read the official news release