by Alex Wilks/Special to the Langley Advance
West Coast Book Prize Society shortlisted two Langley authors as finalists for the 34th annual BC Book Prizes Gala.
Andrea MacPherson, 41, and K. Jane Watt, 54, are contenders in two of the seven categories being recognized.
“I was so honoured to be shortlisted among such amazing writers,” said MacPherson. “This year’s shortlist is really strong and I am a fan of the other books included.”
The BC Book Prizes was established to celebrate the achievement of British Columbia writers and publishers – 35 candidates are chosen every year to represent provincial authors in various writing categories and genres.
Each category possesses a jury consisting of three industry professionals and the finalists are determined by a ballot vote.
“It’s a chance to celebrate made-in-B.C. books from indie publishers and established publishers alike,” noted Watt. “That really matters.”
MacPherson’s grew up in Langley and her novel, What We Once Believed, has been selected as a contestant for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize — awarded to the author with the best work of fiction.
“I was a dedicated reader and writer from a very young age. I have distinct memories of the school librarian suggesting more difficult books to me after I had burned through everything at my own grade level,” she noted.
“I was always encouraged to read and always encouraged to be creative. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t thinking about stories.”
What We Once Believed is the story of a young girl, Maybe, and the return of her estranged mother – who is now an acclaimed author.
Awash with fame and passion for the women’s movement, Camille Collins upsets the delicate balance of the community, explained MacPherson.
Competing for another category is Langley historian Watt’s coffee table-styled book, Surrey: A City of Stories.
It was shortlisted for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize – awarded to an author who illustrates through their writing contribution to the enjoyment and understanding of B.C.
Her book was commissioned by the City of Surrey as part of its celebration of Canada 150. It’s described as a colourful, vibrant sampling of stories.
“Books begin with an idea, and although you try to explain to people along the way the possibilities you see and are trying to bring to the page, you need to carry your vision inside you for a very long time before it comes to light on the page,” Watt explained.
Some of the shortlisted authors will be touring across several B.C. communities leading up to the gala on May 4.
“Any event that celebrates writing and writers is exciting to me,” said MacPherson.
“In a time when we see arts funding being decreased and books coverage being cut back, we need these kinds of celebratory events more than ever.”
The winners in the seven categories will be announced at the Lieutenant-Governor’s BC Book Prizes gala in Vancouver next month.
“It’s a privilege to be part of the vibrant book industry in B.C. and to be part of the annual celebration,” said Watt.
For more information or to attend the gala, visit bcbookprizes.ca.