*** Post Originally Published 2015 ***
When you really hope to win something, but have no expectation that you will, write an embarrassing acceptance speech. That way if you don’t win, you will at least feel a sense of relief at not having to read embarrassing speech.
That was my strategy in writing my acceptance speech for the Howard O’Hagan Alberta Literary Award.
But I happened to win.
So I had to sing.
I wish I had video to share with you, but text will have to do. Thank you again to everyone involved with the award, the writer’s guild, and the event. It was absolutely fantastic and I am so happy to have caught up with old friends and to have met new ones!
I’m so happy to be here. I’ve longed to be a part of the Alberta Literary Community for years, but as the mother of young children and the partner of a shift-worker, it’s difficult for me to participate in much more than play-dates and lone writing sessions right now. Please don’t get me wrong; I adore my daughters and I’m very fortunate to spend so much time with them. But, I must confess, when we’re cuddled up on the couch watching The Little Mermaid for the hundredth time, I’m often on my phone, scrolling through reviews of book launches and conferences and awards ceremonies like these, fantasizing about someday taking part.
Ariel is like, “I wanna be where the people are…”
And I’m like, “I wanna see, I wanna see them… reading!”
So I’m just so happy to be here tonight, and so grateful. Thank you, Judges; thank you Writer’s Guild of Alberta; thank you Words in 3D planning committee; thank you, especially, Natalie Cook, for being such a friendly first point of contact. I feel like maybe I am part of this community, now; like, maybe I do belong. It’s a big, happy feeling. Thank you all.
Thank you also to those I love who travelled so far to join me here tonight. My mother, Angela, who furnished my childhood home with an absolute feast of literature; my sister, Kim, and my brother, Daniel, who take on the roles of often my first readers and always my most enthusiastic cheerleaders. My sister’s boyfriend, Kyle – Hey, Kyle, I don’t know you that well but I think it’s pretty cool you travelled from Calgary for this, so thanks!
An enormous, over-the-streetlamps-and-the-moon-and-all-the-stars thank you to Margaret Macpherson. Without Margaret’s support and insight, this story would have limboed in hard drive purgatory for all eternity. I should also thank those in charge of the Metro Writer’s in Residency 2014 program for my access to such a talented and encouraging mentor.
I must also mention story’s publishing team at Tahoma Literary Review, especially Mr. Joe Ponepinto, TLR’s gentle fiction editor. And I can’t forget my father, who unfortunately couldn’t be here, but who played a huge role in my development by serving my siblings and I outrageous tales of magic throughout our childhoods. Also, for assistance with the story’s dialog, a thank you to my friend Ms. Erin Rengier, a junior high school teacher and cheerleading coach.
Lastly, my husband. Oh Honey, thank you. Thank you for digging a desk out of your mom’s garage attic when I was nineteen, and for rigging up space heaters in the drafty spare room of our first home so I had a place to write. Thank you for reading everything I’ve ever written even though your *gasp* medical-enthused mind prefers scientific nonfiction to short stories. Thank you for not being embarrassed when my dirty words are shared by our friends on Facebook and discussed at parties. Thank you for answering my endless medical and emergency questions so I can get my gorier scenes just right. Thank you for introducing me to others as a “writer” long before I began introducing myself that way. And thank you for saying the word as though it meant “rock star”.
Again, just thank you to everyone involved. As the Little Mermaid would say if she were more literary than love-sick, I am just so happy to be
out where they write,
out where they talk,
out where they stay up later than 8 o’clock!
Tonight, I’ve seen, I’m so glad to be, part of thiiiiiiiis wooooorld!
View stunning photography of the event Here
and access the story, “But for the Streetlamps and the Moon and All the Stars”, here.
The short story, But For the Streetlamps and the Moon and All the Stars mentioned above has transformed into the first chapter of the novel Always Brave, Sometimes Kind. Published by Brindle & Glass, this book is forthcoming September 2020.
Set in the cities, reserves, and rural reaches of Alberta, Katie Bickell’s debut novel is told in a series of stories that span the years from 1990 to 2016, through cycles of boom and bust in the oil fields, government budget cuts and workers rights policies, the rising opioid crisis, and the intersecting lives of people whose communities sometimes stretch farther than they know.
We meet a teenage runaway who goes into labour at West Edmonton Mall, a doctor managing hospital overflow in a time of healthcare cutbacks, a broke dad making extra pay through a phone sex line, a young musician who dreams of fame beyond the reserve, and a dedicated hockey mom grappling with sense of self when she’s no longer needed―or welcome―at the rink.
Always Brave, Sometimes Kind captures a network of friends, caregivers, in-laws, and near misses, with each character’s life coming into greater focus as we learn more about the people around them. Tracing alliances and betrayals from different perspectives over decades, Bickell writes an ode to home and community that is both warm and gritty, well-defined and utterly complicated.