Wednesday, April 27, 2011

farmers, cloggers and wrestlers: meet the Atlantic Book Award D250 nominees

the new copy of Atlantic Books Today is out. i've got an article in it about who's doing what with ebooks on the east coast, which i'll post later this week.


in the meantime, check out the profiles of myself and my fellow D250 nominees. you can see the other awards here.   


D250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

Apr 27,2011
Rusty Bittermann, Sailor’s Hope
(McGill-Queen’s University Press)
Josie Penny, So Few on Earth
(Dundurn Press)
Jon Tattrie, The Hermit of Africville
(Pottersfield Press)
Rusty Bittermann, Sailor’s Hope (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
In 140 characters or less (à la Twitter) tell us what your nominated book is about:
Scottish-born sailor, farmer, politician and boat-builder who sought to transform nineteenth-century P.E.I. and of his family’s emigration to California during the Gold Rush.
How does it feel to be nominated?
Delightful.
Who or what is your major influence when writing?
This book was shaped by years of archival research in Scotland, England, Eastern Canada and California; by exploring on foot the places William Cooper and his family lived in Scotland, London, Prince Edward Island and California, and by my access to private correspondence held by William Cooper’s great grandson.
What compelled you to become a writer?
See above.
Of all living and deceased authors, who would you like to meet and why?
At this point, the subject of the biography: William Cooper (he wrote political pamphlets and scores—nay hundreds—of letters to the editor). There are more than a few lingering questions that I would like to resolve!
Briefly share 3 things about yourself that we don't know:
1) Like William Cooper, I once earned my livelihood as a farmer and a logger.
2) My wife and I have recently purchased a PEI farm and intend to return to a life of farming.
3) I share Cooper’s affection for PEI (even in the depth of winter).
Josie Penny, So Few on Earth (Dundurn Press)
 What compelled you to become a writer?
After moving from Labrador to Ontario in 1977 with four teenagers I suddenly realized they would never know from where they came unless I wrote about it. So I wrote my story for them.
How does it feel to be nominated?
I feel proud and overwhelmed that so many people care! It means that Labradorians matter, we deserve to be heard! We have a voice...
In 140 characters or less (a la Twitter) tell us what your nominated book is about: 
Growing up in total isolation where survival (not education) was paramount. How I struggled in vain to maintain my own identity. How I became a depersonalized person.
Who or what is your major influence when writing? 
My first writing teacher at MacMaster University, when I realized that with only a grade seven education I needed to learn the basics of how to write my story!
Of all living and deceased authors, who would you like to meet and why? 
I would like to meet Farley Mowatt, because I thought he was authentic, and wrote as he saw it and was not influenced by outsiders.
Briefly share 3 things about yourself that we don't know: 
1) I’m inquisitive and love to learn
2) I appeared on national TV in 1977 for clogging (the event that got us out of Labrador).
3) I love to play my accordion and lots of other instruments.
Jon Tattrie, The Hermit of Africville (Pottersfield Press)
Who or what is your major influence when writing?
Stephen King taught me how to tell a ripping good yarn; Kurt Vonnegut showed me how to do it in fewer words.
How does it feel to be nominated?

To be nominated for any award is enough to make one giddy, but for The Hermit of Africville to be shortlisted for the Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing is especially exciting. They say journalists write the first draft of history; in this case, I got to do the second draft, too.
In 140 characters or less (a la Twitter) tell us what your nominated book is about: 
In the 1960s, Halifax destroyed Eddie Carvery’s village, Africville. In 1970, he started a live-in protest. He’s still there.
What compelled you to become a writer?
Writing fiction is how I make sense of the world–how I turn the high-speed stream of events that make up life into solid ground under my feet. It allows me to better understand myself and move forward. I write non-fiction to try and bring that traction to others.
Of all living and deceased authors, who would you like to meet and why? 
Albert Camus. The French writer mixed great stories with deep philosophical examinations of the human condition in novels like The Outsider and The Plague. Plus, he died before finishing his last novel, The First Man. I’d like to ask him how it was going to end.
Briefly share 3 things about yourself that we don’t know: 
1) I spent my twenties living in Europe and going by my middle name, Adam.
2) When I started university, I planned to become a police officer.
3) When I started junior high, I planned to become a professional wrestler. My wrestling name was ‘Cool J’ and my specialty was the sleeper hold. 
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