Darcie has been a food columnist for the Kelowna Daily Courier and Kamloops This Week as well as The Prairie Post, thepeartree.ca, Calgary Beacon and Surrey Beacon. Darcie’s first book of short fictions, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was published by Thistledown Press in September 2010. As the book was being completed, Susan Musgrave was Darcie’s editor, helping to weed out the flowers (the dandelions stayed). Mennonites Don’t Dance was shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Prize and was a runner-up for the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award.
Individual stories published before the book include “Ashes,” which appeared in Half in the Sun: anthology of Mennonite writing (Ronsdale Press), edited by Mennonite poet Elsie K. Neufeld. “Loft” was printed by Rhubarb magazine in January ’08; “Little Lamb” in Prairie Journal, November ’08. “Little Lamb” was also nominated for the McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. “Dandelion Wine” and “Ashes” placed 3rd and 2nd, respectively, in the Okanagan Short Fiction Contest (University of British Columbia-Okanagan).
Born Darcie Coralee Sayler (1974) in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Darcie lived with her mother until she was thirteen, visiting her grandparents on their farm in Schoenfeld, SK, most weekends. She lived with her father in Calgary, then Kelowna, through high school, before marrying her high school sweetheart, Dean Hossack, when she was nineteen. Friesen, her mother’s maiden name, was chosen as a pen name to honour her Mennonite grandparents. She has a sister, Daphne, who’s responsible for a few of the best lines in Mennonites Don’t Dance (though neither sister can remember now which ones they are). The sisters also have a younger brother.
Though Darcie converted to the Seventh Day Adventist religion of her father’s family for several years, she returned to the Mennonite Brethren faith some time after beginning work on the stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance. Being Mennonite, with its accompanying experiences of farm and food, shaped much of the author’s deep faith and love of land (even though she’s never successfully grown anything in dirt). Growing up in cities, Darcie has never had to kill a chicken, though she’s plucked more than a few, and once brought a pig’s snout to school for show and tell.
Mennonites Don’t Dance has been both celebrated and censured in the diverse Mennonite community since its release. For the most part, though, it has been graciously received. When asked whether the stories are, in fact, thinly-veiled memoir, Darcie often replies, cryptically, that, “Sometimes the stories that are most true are also the most fictional.”
I met Dacie Hossack when we were both online students in the Humber School for Writers Programme … but we bonded on the student chat board! Those early exchanges involved discussions about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago. We didn’t have the opportunity to meet in person until a number of years later, when Darcie published Mennonites Don’t Dance and came to Calgary for promotion. I wrote about that encounter here on my blog in the post, I met my best friend for the first time (which still stands today as the second-most popular post on my blog, after one I wrote on making pizza in a pizza oven …) I also posted a photo essay of that day with writing pals because we met with other authors and did some fun foodie things, like visit a chocolate shop where Darcie posed with the sacks of cocoa beans piled up behind the front counter.
And about that food connection … Darcie and her Chef-Husband were always interested in my food escapades and experiments whenever I was back on Bequia, and I helped when she received a request from a reader for an extra-sour sourdough recipe – then wrote about it on her own food blog, Nice Fat Gurdie!
Mennonites Don’t Dance
This vibrant collection of short fictions explores how families work, how they are torn apart, and, in spite of differences and struggles, brought back together. Darcie Friesen Hossack’s stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance offer an honest, detailed look into the experiences of children—both young and adult — and their parents and grandparents, exploring generational ties, sins, penance and redemption.
Taking place primarily on the Canadian prairies, the families in these stories are confronted by the conflict between tradition and change — one story sees a daughter-in-law’s urban ideals push and pull against a mother’s simple, rural ways, in another, a daughter raised in the Mennonite tradition tries to break free from her upbringing to escape to the city in search of a better life. Children learn the rules of farm life, and parents learn that their decisions, in spite of all good intentions, can carry dire consequences.
Hossack’s talent, honed through education and experience, is showcased in this polished collection, and is reflected in the relatable, realistic characters and situations she creates. The voices in the stories speak about how we measure ourselves in the absence of family, and how the most interesting families are always flawed in some way.
Here’s a link to the review written by Jim Bartley that appeared in The Globe and Mail in Feb. 2011.
What Darcie Hossack is working on now: Darcie’s first (in progress) novel, What Looks In, visits both Mennonite and Seventh Day Adventist faiths, as they clash and intertwine, before and after the loss of a family member. As in Mennonites Don’t Dance, the pages are not without their fill of food.
For information on where to purchase Darcie Hossack’s book, please click on the Thistledown Press website.