Three local writers are in the running for this year’s CBC Non-fiction Prize.
On Sept. 17, CBC Books announced the longlist for its annual award for short, unpublished non-fiction stories, and among the 35 writers from across Canada are Vicki McLeod and Rachael Preston of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island’s Sheila Brooke.
McLeod and Preston are nominated for their works Georgie and The Story Teller, respectively, while Brooke is the lone candidate with two pieces in the competition, Le Trajet/The Way There and The Curve of Forgetting.
The winner receives a $6,000 award from the Canada Council for the Arts, has their entry published on CBC Books and gets the chance to take part in a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The four finalists each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council and their works will also be published on CBC Books. This year’s judges are writers Yasuko Thanh and Bill Gaston and journalist Robyn Doolittle.
McLeod said it was “a little bit overwhelming” when she learned she made the longlist, but as someone new to autobiographical memoir writing it was also validating and motivating.
Her entry, Georgie, is part of a series of short stories McLeod is writing about the remote Washington State campground where she spent her summers as a child in the 1960s. She said the place was full of people “living off the grid,” hippies, draft dodgers and working class people and “Georgie was just this larger-than-life woman who was part of this retinue of interesting characters that populated this particular marginal space.”
McLeod said Georgie was a very influential figure in her life and was a likely “romantic liaison” of her divorced father’s, although that wasn’t obvious to her at the time.
“This particular narrative is about her revealing some of her past to me when I was a quite young child still. I was probably nine or 10 years old…” McLeod said. “She reveals some of her past to me that is both shocking and surprising, although I’m a little bit too young to really process it so I process it in a way that a child would.”
McLeod said she would be “thrilled” to win the Banff Centre residency.
“Just being able to have that focused time to work on your writing without distraction and to be able to have that kind of support and mentorship that that kind of program offers would be invaluable,” she said.
The shortlist will be revealed on Sept. 24 with the winner being announced on Oct. 1.