Author Bill Gaston is nominated for the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Prize in the fiction category for his collection of short stories

Author Bill Gaston is nominated for the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Prize in the fiction category for his collection of short stories

Bill Gaston among UVic writers on Governor General’s list

University of Victoria professor, former students vie for top literary prizes

I

In Bill Gaston’s latest collection of short stories, Juliet Was a Surprise, a beautiful, French weather girl wrestles with the sudden death of her brutish husband, a high-powered lawyer with a fatal desire to tell – and be – the punchline.

But ask Gaston how he so convincingly crawls into the mind of the French ex-pat and her intuitive yet witty observations of American life, and the author’s humour shines through.

“You haven’t seen me, obviously,” he jokes wryly. “I liken it to method acting, when you try to not just look at the outer trappings of someone, but try as best as you can to climb inside and see the world through their eyes. When I’m brave, I’ll take on a female persona with the belief that we’re more alike than we’re different as human beings. We have the same desires and frailties and insecurities.”

Gaston has made a career out of exploring the darkness in everyday characters, and his latest acclamation to the short list of the Governor General’s Literary Awards proves he’s a master at his craft.

The University of Victoria writing professor is quick to point out the success of others who have come through the respected program: former student Arno Kopecky, shortlisted in non-fiction for The Oil Man and the Sea: Navigating the Northern Gateway (Douglas & McIntyre); and poets Arleen Paré and Garth Martens, both graduates of UVic’s poetry program.

“For our population, Victoria really is punching above its weight this year. I think we have more short listed people than Toronto,” Gaston says.

It’s not the first time Gaston has been on the GG’s literary prize list, but he says it’s always “a thrill” to be nominated for his work.

His advice to aspiring authors and his students at UVic remains the same as it did when he began writing: “To look inside, delve deep for truly felt experience rather than to mimic TV-land stories. People today are more attached to the screen and get a lot of their ideas from there, but often the trap can be a superficial spectacle, as opposed to something authentic and felt. We’re more alike than we are different, and if you can access your own dark places, chances are that will resonate with everybody.”

The winners of the 2014 Governor General Literary Awards will be announced Nov. 18 with the winning author in each of seven categories taking home $25,000. For a full list of nominees, see ggbooks.canadacouncil.ca.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushes B.C. government to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read