July 4, 2016
Wow day! Big surprise. The longlist of titles nominated for the inaugural Whistler Independent Book Awards included my book, For Elise; Unveiling the forgotten Woman on the Criddle Homestead. It’s another milestone! Last March when I discovered the Independent Book Awards contest I thought, ‘at last a contest for self-published books.’ The rules applied to my book including a publication date within the last five years. One catch, would creative non-fiction be thrown out of the non-fiction because it included fiction incorporating fact. I didn’t want to pay a hefty entry fee plus postage to mail my heavy book to BC, only to have it disqualified. They assured me it qualified, and I justified the expense because all submissions would receive a written critique. To be among the top 10 titles, therefore is an great honour. The finalists will be announced July 18 and winners at the Whistler Writers Festival Oct 13.
This is my response to the selection committee:
I am thrilled to know that my creative non-fiction family story, For Elise, has received a nomination for your Whistler Independent Book Awards. It feels too good to be true because my family, the Vanes, were ashamed and really did not want me to open a ‘can of worms’, let alone write a book about their ‘family secret’. I found it very difficult to go against their wishes, but felt compelled, no matter what might come forth. I persevered through twelve years of digging, compiling, organizing, and finally writing the story. It was risky, writing from the underside of the established Criddle tradition. However, now the family is thankful to know the truth, and also, is coming to the realization that the shame need never have been their burden.
In this year of celebrating 100 years since the granting of women’s right to vote in Manitoba, it seems fitting to read a story which shines a painful light on the powerlessness of our foremothers. Readers have written to say they will not forget Elise, and furthermore, they will live forward with new appreciation past sacrifices and of our place in society today.
I am deeply thankful to receive this honour.
A quote from a reader: ‘I couldn’t help but think of Elise when Mother’s Day was celebrated…. I think I will plant a perennial in her honour in my own garden. . . . something very resilient despite any difficulties.’