Accomplished local author Kimmy Beach has been short-listed by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta for her extraordinary latest title Nuala: A Fable.
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta recently announced the finalists for the 2018 Alberta Literary Awards, with Beach landing in the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction.
Nuala: A Fable was released last year by the University of Alberta Press.
“I’m very pleased about it all,” explained Beach of landing on the short-list, and she had no inkling it was coming her way.
However, it was a day of mixed feelings as she also received some sad news about the state of a close relative’s health.
“Then that phone rang and it was (the Writers’ Guild of Alberta) saying I had been short-listed,” she explained. “But having a family member ill gives you every kind of perspective.
“I’ve always had that kind of perspective anyways, but it was brought home to me that day,” she said.
Still, she is thrilled with the news – and also thrilled for the other nominees, too.
Beach is certainly deserving of the recognition – Nuala is an absolute masterpiece – a mesmerizing and insightful tale from start to finish.
The story of Nuala – an enormous and towering wooden puppet of sorts who struggles to find meaning and connect with the community she has been awakened to – unfolds in an increasingly enchanting way. It’s all wonder and glistening newness at first for Nuala and her many servants, including one of the book’s primary characters – ‘Teacher-Servant’.
But those fresh, new and sparkling experiences are slowly overtaken by darker feelings.
Teacher-Servant begins to have doubts about his role, and grows – in ways – to resent Nuala’s stream of needs and her at times frantic intrusions into his thought life.
It’s an utterly unique and compelling story.
“I know that it’s my best work,” said Beach. “It’s my most mature work.”
She’s also happy that it has clearly struck a chord with many readers, as she continually receives feedback about the work.
“People write to me about it – one woman wrote and said she had read it three times in a row, and that it had made her want to be a better person. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I’ll take it!
“No one was saying these things publicly, but I knew that people were responding to it because they were writing me,” she said, adding ultimately this is really the best kind of validation – when folks read one of her books and express to her how much they personally were touched by it.
Meanwhile, each year, the Alberta Literary Awards celebrate the highest standards of literary excellence of authors from across the province.
Beach said it’s also a wonderful season of support from other writers who are typically eager to send their congratulations with the news of a colleague landing on any short-list.
Ultimately, winners will be announced and awards presented at the Alberta Literary Awards Gala on June 2nd in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Calgary.
But coming up next month, reading events will be also be held in Edmonton on May 6th at Audreys Books starting at 2 p.m. and in Calgary on May 16th at the Rose & Crown Pub starting at 7 p.m.
Both events are free and open to the public and refreshments will be provided.
“A couple of books that I’ve also worked on have been shortlisted, so that is (terrific) as well, as I come at it from both sides – a writer and as an editor,” she said. “The Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize is a book that I copy edited, so I feel amazing about that, too. That’s even better for me actually than being short-listed myself.”
That particular book is Annie Muktuk and Other Stories by Norma Dunning.
These days, Beach, as usual, has plenty on the go.
She has a novel about Tom Jones, which is essentially a fun project, she explained. Happily, she will soon be seeing the legend himself perform in Chicago and the spark of inspiration she will no doubt receive from seeing him may help dictate where that project ultimately goes.
She also took 2017 off from writing.
“I did that on purpose – and I read a lot (about 100 novels). I also worked a lot, and did a lot of editing,” she said.
“And I started to get an idea about writing essays about not writing for a year – what I had learned from not writing.”
Beach’s past titles, Nice Day for Murder: poems for James Cagney, Alarum Within: theatre poems, fake Paul, The Last Temptation of Bond and in Cars all resonate with those colourful, creatively powerful attributes that reflect her strengths as a writer and a communicator.
Copies of all of Beach’s books are available at Sunworks in Red Deer, or through the University of Alberta Press.