Kelowna writer wins Canada Writes short story contest
Okanagan College English professor Alix Hawley is the winner of the Canada Writes BloodLines short story contest for “Pig (for Oma),” a story based on her grandmother’s experiences in the Second World War.
“Sharp and fresh,” and “beautifully rendered, from the first sentence to the last,” according to contest judge and novelist Lawrence Hill, Hawley’s winning story garners her a $1,000 award from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Hawley entered the contest after learning stories had to include a true family anecdote, saying, “I immediately thought of my Oma, Gerarda Boerboom Bunyan, and her story of smuggling a pig in Nazi-occupied Holland.
“My Oma lived through the Nazi occupation. She’s never been one to back down. Pig-smuggling, turning her back on Dutch Nazi officials who ordered her to salute, harbouring Underground resistance fighters, and getting shot are among her accomplishments. She married an English soldier and had four children, one of whom is my dad.”
Hawley teaches English literature and creative writing at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, saying, “I love teaching short fiction and the novel. My specialization is 19th- and early 20th-century fiction and children’s literature, which I foist upon unsuspecting students. Some of them end up loving it as I do.”
Mixing writing and teaching with raising a family in Kelowna, Hawley remarked on the inevitability of becoming a writer, “If you love writing, it won't leave you alone. It's like a stalker that way. But a pretty pleasant one in the end.”
“Pig (for Oma),” was one of over 800 contest entries in the Canada Writes BloodLines contest, which invited writers to share “moments, memories and lives” of their blood relatives. Twenty stories were selected for a shortlist, with the winner selected by Hill, the 2013 Massey Lecturer, and author of The Book of Negroes.
Other writing credits for Hawley include a short-story collection, “The Old Familiar,” (2008), and a novel, entitled “All True Not a Lie In It,” that is scheduled to be published in early 2015 by Knopf / Random House Canada. She has twice had her work shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize, most recently in 2012 for “Tentcity.”
Hawley’s winning story can be read on the Canada Writes website: www.cbc.ca/canadawrites.
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