This past week was great and gut-wrenching experience for me. The great part was being nominated for the Winterset award and getting to hang out with fellow nominees Craig Francis Power and Russell Wangersky: two excellent writers shortlisted for their debut novels. It was awesome (and humbling) to be able to share the stage with them, hear them read and talk candidly about their work, and “pretend” with them that we all knew what we were doing at Government House in St. John’s.

I don’t know of any of Russell’s flubs in protocol but Craig forgot his tie and I accidentally skipped the receiving line and crassly called the lieutenant-governor “John” instead of “your honour.” But we muddled through the ceremonies, tried not to embarrass ourselves, and enjoyed the fancy food and drink.

Those were the great aspects. The gut-wrenching part was not waiting to hear who won: not for me anyway. My attention was focused on not letting food poisoning from the day before get the better of me. I would much rather have been nervous than worried that I was going to harf smoked salmon in the middle of John Crosbie’s speech to us writers whose “creative lying” and “nefarious ways” he is glad to support!

It was truly an honour to be grouped with writers like Russell and Craig, to get a nod from writers like Kenneth J. Harvey, Libby Creelman, and Randall Maggs, the judges of this year’s award.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Russell’s or Craig’s novels, you should put them on your summer readings lists. You won’t be disappointed. They are two astonishingly original voices with unique prose styles and fresh fictive visions of the world (St. John’s in particular). And they are both wickedly funny!

The Toronto Star had this to say about Russell Wangersky: “It’s as if the wickedly observant Alice Munrow and the bawdy Al Purdy had produced a love child, by way of a gritty newsroom.” And Newfoundland poet Patrick Warner has said of Craig Francis Power’s debut novel Blood Relatives that it “brings Newfoundland to light in all her dark comic glory.”

So, a cyber toast to my fellow nominees and an especially hearty e-congrats to Russell, this years BMO Winterset Award Winner!

If you’re interested in hearing any of us read just click on our names below. (These readings were originally aired on Sat. March 26th on CBC’s Weekend Arts Magazine with Angela Antel).

Cheers!

Russell Wangersky, reading from his BMO Winterset award-winning novel The Glass Harmonica.

Craig Francis Power reading from him award-winning novel Blood Relatives.

Samuel Thomas Martin reading from his short story collection This Ramshackle Tabernacle.

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