Writers to Watch – Hmmm… Aren’t We Forgetting Somebody?

The lovely Amanda Leduc included me on her list of Canadian Up-and-Coming Writers to Watch, which she wrote in response to other, more recognized lists, like the ones put up by CBC Books and the Globe and Mail. Amanda’s list was dedicated to writers who have yet to publish their first book, and it listed some amazing writers I know (through Twitter and literary magazines) like Kris Bertin, Alex Leslie, Will Johnson, Erin Frances Fisher and Trevor Corkum, and others I didn’t know like Braydon Beaulieu, Cody Klippenstein and Marjorie Celona. I was proud and honoured to be on it, but I can’t say that I was surprised. NOT because I think of myself as someone to watch (…) but because writing a list celebrating her peers is just the kind of thing Amanda would do.

Amanda and I met a few months ago on Twitter. I came across her profile, which led me to her blog. I liked what I read and began following her. She followed me right back and wrote me what may be the nicest message I have ever received from a stranger. Turns out, Amanda has read some of my work and liked it. As we continued chatting, I remembered that I read some of her work (her story “Evolution,” which was published in Prism) and liked it too. We exchanged a few emails and she became my first Twitter friend. Later that month she came to hear me read at Pivot (and then blogged about it saying even more nice things) and soon after that we had a four-hour lunch at an Indian buffet on Queen Street West. We discovered that we both have our first books coming out in winter 2013, can both eat for four hours straight, and both possess a talent for spilling food on our clothes, which made us book twins and BFFs.

In May, when the time came for the Writer’s Union‘s AGM, I begged Amanda to be my conference buddy, and I was delighted when she agreed. We flew to Vancouver (on different planes, unfortunately) and spent a few wonderful days being geeky and wide-eyed at the conference together. (Amanda, being the blogging and social media goddess that she is, wrote eloquently about it in her blog. She also tweeted like mad throughout it. Me? By the time I thought about it, it was July).

As I got to know her better, over a few lunches and coffees and at least one memorable afternoon getting sun-burnt at Trinity Bellwood, I learned that Amanda is one of those generous writers who believe in building a community. We had many conversations about the value of a writing community, the importance of being happy for one another, and how—despite our best intentions—sometimes we still have to battle the inevitable envy and jealousy that come with the trade. Amanda regularly tweets and blogs about other writers, and has no qualms about celebrating other up-and-coming writers like herself. She also started a Literary Lunch event in Hamilton that brings writers and readers together. She believes in giving back, in supporting her peers. I love her for it.

So in the spirit of community and generosity, Amanda posted a list of nine up-and-comers on her awesome blog (talking about jealousy: I envy how quickly this girl can write. She blogs almost every day—funny, clever, insightful posts— and still has time to write her fiction/creative nonfiction, and she has a real job, too! If I blogged that much, I would never get any writing done. I’m that slow.) Since Amanda (AKA social media goddess) actually has people following her on Twitter, the list started circulating and gained some attention. Even CBC Books (whose list led to Amanda’s response) retweeted it.

Now, you may notice when you read the list that Amanda isn’t on it. That’s because she wrote the thing. To me, that seemed like an oversight. So, I decided it would only make sense to add a number 10 (I mean, NINE names?

What kind of list only has nine names on it??? It’s clearly missing an up-and-comer.) So here it is. The missing Writer to Watch to round up this list.

10) Amanda Leduc

With her impressive list of contest wins and publications (3rd place in the Prairie Fire CNF contest in 2007, 1st Runner-up for the Prism Fiction contest in 2008, shortlisted to the CBC Literary Awards in 2006) it is no surprise that Amanda’s first novel, The Miracles of Ordinary Men (forthcoming with ECW in spring 2013), has already been garnering attention. AND she’s huge in Slovakia, or will be soon, once the Slovak edition of her novel will be published there next year. Amanda is already hard at work on another novel,  continues to write some creative nonfiction, (which is a good thing, because her essay, “Chasing Audrey,” the 3rd-place winner at the 2007 Prairie Fire contest, was a thing of beauty), and blogs about writing and reading and writers at Waiting for the Echo. Also, she’s kind of awesome.