Tag Archives: Fred Stenson
This is the second part of a series in which Authors who I’ve promoted in the Authors-Readers International series tell Readers what they’ve been doing during these past few months of self-isolating … See the introduction to Part 1 for a further explanation. (All links on the authors’ names will take you to their A-RI promotion.)
Pincher Creek, Alberta, is my home since last summer, as I believe you know. The advantage is that Pincher in Iso is quite a bit like Pincher not in Iso. Have to watch my step only at the post office and Co-op. And strictly avoid Walmart. Two hour walks are frequent—to offset my beer consumption.
Working on a film with Tom Radford. Great fun.
I’ve been reasonably busy during the pandemic. My book about the secret lives of taxi drivers has been delayed due to all of this chaos, but this has given me a chance to add pandemic-related material to the manuscript. I also taught an online class on travel writing at Pandemic University, and one on nonfiction for the Alexandra Writers Centre. I landed a short piece about COVID brides-to-be on the CBC Calgary website and had a personal essay published on May 18th in the CBC Books’ “Transmission” series. All the while, I’ve been pitching COVID-related stories to various magazines. I am also working on a profile for a US-based medical cannabis journal, and a feature story about sex work in Calgary.
I have a new short story collection coming out this fall with Enfield & Wizenty. The book is called Vermin: Stories, and expected pub date at this point is Oct. 22. Here’s a link to the publisher’s page.
I also finally got a new headshot! (credit Jodi O Photography)
Lori Hahnel continues to add posts to her blog and is going to be offering a webinar on writing in June. See her blog for details.
I wish I could say I’ve been spending my covid time learning a new language, or taking piano lessons, or bullfighting classes online. I have finished a draft of a novel though, and am adapting to online yoga classes. Though I was self-isolating more before the pandemic, when everyone left the house in the morning. Now all four of us are here all day, every day. So an adjustment. Playing my monthly poker game via Zoom has been an adjustment as well. And perhaps it’s a good thing that this is the coldest spring in memory (it snowed yesterday) as fewer people are tempted to go out. But it would be nice to at least have the back yard as an option. And the snow may be keeping the murder hornets at bay.
Again thanks for doing this for us – it is so incredibly generous of you. As for me I’m editing the next two books in my series – Rebirth and Tesla’s Dream, as you know, and hoping to get that done by the fall. The coronavirus has slowed down the process since I have my daughters and granddaughters at home, and there are lots of interruptions. However I’m finding bits and pieces of time to do my work and am also okay with giving some of it up since this is a unique and precious time to be with my granddaughters (note: granddaughters) that I won’t have again. (One of Felicity’s granddaughters even wrote me a fan letter!)
I haven’t written anything on the virus but in my books I predict pandemics as part of the effects of climate change. There is a typical tension between the needs of businesses to make money and the working poor who facilitate that. It’s never been very different; those with less resources have always been sacrificed on the altars of the rich.
Again, thank you for all you are doing to promote Canadian/Alberta authors. It is a huge amount of work. I do appreciate all you’ve done to promote my books.
What have I been doing during the pandemic?
My book, Impact Statement, has been published and is now available from Alpine Book Peddlers in Canmore as well as the independent bookstores, Pages, ShelfLife and Owl’s Nest in Calgary. I believe it will be available through Amazon and Indigo as well, but I haven’t any idea just when that will happen.
Frontenac House and I are talking about having some kind of internet launch. No date or time as yet. It may be a ZOOM event, but that hasn’t been settled yet either. Will let you know when all is sorted out. Here’s a link to the book on the publisher’s site.
Of course, I am still a full-time care giver for my wife, Marilyn. Things are going as well as they can, but some of the work has to be done carefully.
As well, I am now into the gardening season. Trying to get my yards and flowerbeds into shape.
Like me, Canadian author Darlene Foster was in her winter home (Spain) when the pandemic disrupted the world, and she has also not been able to travel home to Canada for the summer months.
During the very strict lockdown in Spain, I have kept busy reading, writing, blogging, reviewing, critiquing, editing, and supporting other writers on-line. I’ve finally had time to reduce my towering TBR pile and have read some classics I’ve wanted to read for a long time. One of the best books I´ve read during lockdown was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Here is my review on Goodreads.
I’m helping other writers with short stories and novels they’re working on and helping promote others who are already published. It’s always important as a writing community to support each other, but especially now during the global pandemic and resulting isolation. Thankfully, technology has kept me in touch with my family, friends and writing community. I hosted a ZOOM meeting for 14 English-speaking writers here in Spain last week and meet via ZOOM with my Canadian critique group on a regular basis. I individually chat with writers on Skype and FaceTime so I have not felt lonely at all. In fact, I´m busier than ever and working on Amanda in France, the ninth book in my Amanda Travels series, writing short stories, and even tried my hand at writing poetry. I was delighted to learn that some parents have been using my books as part of homeschooling. Life is whatever we make it and mine is good!
Stay safe and well. We´ve got this!
A bear sat on my deck. No photographic proof of that other than the calling card she left. I wrote a haiku, but it had one too many syllables. So it’s not a haiku at all. I also adopted my 21 year old nephew, who had a liver transplant when he was 16. He’s much safer here than he would be in Calgary, and he wants to apprentice with Dean as a cook. When it’s safe to go back into the kitchen.
I think of you on Bequia so often, knowing you’ve made the best decision for yourself. Traveling home, when you have a home … and a moat, and cats and all your books. I’m glad you’re there, just like I’m glad we’re pocketed away here in Jasper National Park, in the Canadian Rockies. Although, restaurants are re-opening, and guests will be returning soon. To a different experience, but they’re coming, and I’m worried. Of course.
I was worried, at first, that the gravity of a pandemic would pull all creativity to itself and leave me sitting in the dark. About a week in, however, Betty Jane Hegerat (an A-RI-promoted Author), one of my favourite writers and people, posted an offer of Blue Pencil Sessions: up to eight pages, for a handful of writers who might need a fresh look at a work in progress. I gratefully put up my hand and sent her the synopsis of the novel I’m working on. Anyone who knows Betty Jane knows she is the kind of person, writer, teacher who brings out the best in others. She asked for the first chapter after that, and now that she’s reading the sixth, I find myself not only picking up my pace to keep ahead of her (or is it that she’s generating a wave?), but learning to trust myself and the characters I’ve known, now, for so long. I’ve also taken on some web and business writing for a local mountain cabin resort, helping them to communicate with their staff and guests in these far too interesting times.
As well as the bear, I also have four squirrels and a chipmunk who visit my deck, and have been visited by a pair of bluejays (I thought these parts, like where I’ve lived in BC, would only have the blue-black Stellar’s Jays), assorted woodpeckers, thrush, cheeky little nuthatches and chickadees, and a flock of Juncos. Now that the snow is finally gone, my hiking boots have replaced my winter boots, and my camera and I are going out into the park, looking for and finding spring colours. Spring comes later here than I’m used to, but it’s so ridiculously beautiful that it doesn’t really matter.
Fred Stenson is a novelist, non-fiction writer and film writer (born at Pincher Creek, Alberta). Stenson was raised in ranching country near Twin Butte, AB, and attended school in Pincher Creek. He has a BA from the University of Calgary. He published his first novel, Lonesome Hero, in 1974 (Macmillan of Canada). Last One Home followed in 1988. Stenson’s third novel, The Trade (2000), is a richly imagined recreation of the fur trade in western North America. It was the first of a trilogy of novels set in the 19th century Canadian west. The second of these novels, Lightning (2003), featured the cattle frontiers of Alberta and Montana. Both The Trade and Lightning won the Grant MacEwan’s Author’s Prize. The Trade was a finalist for the prestigious GILLER Prize and was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Award. The final novel in this historical trilogy is The Great Karoo, in which western Canadian cowboys sought an end-of-century adventure in South Africa’s Boer War. In his three historical novels, Stenson simultaneously mythologizes and demythologizes the West. He focuses on the lives of ordinary people, the fringe players of history, leaving the larger legends, big ranchers and political personalities to others. Before turning to historical fiction, Stenson wrote several works of fiction set in rural and urban western Canadian contemporary settings: Lonesome Hero (novel, 1974), Last One Home (novel, 1988), Working Without a Laugh Track (short fiction, 1990), and Teeth (short fiction, 1994). Stenson’s numerous non-fiction works include The Story of Calgary (1994), RCMP: The March West (1999), The Last Stack (2000), Glenbow Provincial Park (2012) and Rotary in Calgary (2014). Thing Feigned or Imagined (2002) is a guide to the writing of fiction, published by The Banff Centre Press. Stenson is the author of more than 150 film and video scripts, including two seasons of the documentary series World of Horses (first aired by Discovery Canada). He has edited two collections of Alberta writing, Alberta Bound (1986) and The Road Home (1992). Stenson was a founding member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, serving as its president in 1996. He has been on the council of The Writers’ Union of Canada three times. Since 2001 he has been director of the Wired Writing Studio at the Banff Centre, which ended in 2016. He has been the humor columnist for Alberta Views Magazine since its inception in 1999.
Fred Stenson lives in Pincher Creek, Alberta.
I first heard of Fred Stenson and his writing when I was working in bookstores in Calgary. A book Fred had edited, Alberta Bound, was launched to great fanfare at an event held in 1986 at Sandpiper Books, and I was thrilled that so many of the contributors – some of the top authors in the province at the time, attended that evening! Now, some 30 years or so later, I look over that list of contributors and realize that I’ve promoted a number of the authors during my book career, a few have since died, and a couple became friends. (Shirley Black, were you at this launch party???)
Over the decades since that book was published I’ve known Fred through his own writing, mainly the novels, and also because he was living in Cochrane where, when I was repping for publishers, I paid regular visits to one of my more “interesting” bookstore clients, George Parry at Westlands. Fred was a regular at the coffee shop next door, and everyone in Cochrane knew everyone else at that time. Fred was also a friend of another sales rep I’d known since I first began selling books, Greg Gerrard (whose photo of Fred is above). This business is so intertwined!
It wasn’t until much later, when I returned to Calgary as an Alberta sales rep once again in 2008, that I actually repped any of Fred’s books, and then it was only for a reprint of his novel, The Trade. In the meantime, I had been taking online writing courses and Fred Stenson had written what I thought was one of the most useful books on writing I’d read, and one that will always remain in my personal library, Thing Feigned or Imagined. This blurb says it all: “Somebody commissioned to design the perfect writing mentor would probably come back with Fred Stenson. Stenson is wise, funny, and blessedly enthusiastic about the craft of writing. This is a book real writers are going to use, again and again.” And that is so very true!
During that same time, Fred Stenson was a faculty member at The Banff Centre where he was the director of the Wired Writing Studio for eleven years. And he continued to write his own fiction, and commissioned non-fiction, to great acclaim.
Who By Fire
Fred Stenson’s most recent novel is Who By Fire (Doubleday Canada, 2014). It is the story of a southern Alberta farm family who suddenly have a dangerous gas plant on their doorstep. The only son in this family pursues a career in the oil industry, a career that ends in the present day Alberta oil sands. It is a story of community and industry, and the tragedy of lives lived too close to industry’s fire. But it is also a novel about loyalty: what loyalty means in a family, a community, a corporation, a country—or in the tormented mind of one individual who feels he has betrayed his own.
Ella Ryder has never known another home. Her three children are growing up in the same house as she was born in. Suddenly, that is a very dangerous place to be. From the award-winning, bestselling author of The Trade, Lightning and The Great Karoo, comes a powerful, passionate novel about two generations of a family caught in the path of progress.
Who by Fire is a novel of rare emotional depth and profound resonance. With unflinching truthfulness and precise detail, Fred Stenson portrays the crunching impacts between people and industry, of lives left twisting in the winds of change.
One more of Fred Stenson’s novels I’d like to mention here is The Great Karoo, because although it’s again based on Canadian history, there’s also an international aspect to it, as part of it takes place in South Africa during the Boer War. “The Great Karoo begins in 1899, as the British are trying to wrest control of the riches of South Africa from the Boers, the Dutch farmers who claimed the land. The Boers have turned out to be more resilient than expected, so the British have sent a call to arms to their colonies — and an a great number of men from the Canadian prairies answer the call and join the Canadian Mounted Rifles: a unit in which they can use their own beloved horses. They assume their horses will be able to handle the desert terrain of the Great Karoo as readily as the plains of their homeland. Frank Adams, a cowboy from Pincher Creek, joins the Rifles, along with other young men from the ranches and towns nearby — a mix of cowboys and mounted policeman, who, for whatever reason, feel a desire to fight for the Empire in this far-off war.” Another piece of Canadian history that, to me, had been previously unknown.
What Fred Stenson is working on now: “Right now I’m buried in work on a documentary film, I am still a humour columnist at Alberta Views Magazine, and I’m looking forward to getting back to my fiction when the film work is done.”
For more information about Fred Stenson, please see his website.
Fred Stenson has also been a guest on my blog Reading Recommendations in Sept. 2014.
Over on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, I’ve been busy for almost exactly a year now (I began writing that blog on Nov. 18, 2013!) promoting Authors and their books to Readers.
Some of these Authors have been new-to-me, many are established, and a number of them are long-time friends and colleagues. Not wanting to play favourites, I do encourage readers to look through the complete alphabetical list of 168 Authors I have already promoted during this year.
There are a number of these authors whose writing I’ve had the privilege to read – either as finished books they’re promoting on my blog, earlier published works or, in some cases, as a beta-reader for unpublished manuscripts – and I wrote two posts listing both self-and-traditionally published Authors whose work I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!! For those complete posts, including lists and links to Authors, please click on Dylan Hearn’s Pay It Forward for self-published authors … and Traditionally Published Authors on Reading Recommendations.
Since Sept. 4, 2014, when the second list appeared, I have read and IMMENSELY enjoyed books by a number of other Reading Recommendations Authors and, in alphabetical order, I’d like to share those names with you now. (All names are linked to their original RR post.)
I still have a large stack of print and eBooks yet to read that are written by Reading Recommendations Authors. I have no doubt I’ll be creating another list very soon! I do hope you have as much pleasure as I’ve derived from discovering and reading books by the Authors I’ve featured on Reading Recommendations!