July 26, 2012
The Calgary Distinguished Writers Program in the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts is honoured to announce that author Deborah Willis, writer of the acclaimed Vanishing and Other Stories, will be the 2012-2013 Canadian Writer-in-Residence. She will begin her 10-month residency at the University of Calgary on August 15, 2012.
Willis, 30, was born and raised in Calgary, leaving in 2000 to study English and Creative Writing at the University of Victoria. She experienced major success with her first book, Vanishing and Other Stories, published in 2009 by Penguin (Canada).
During her residency, Willis will immerse herself in the writing of her next collection of stories. She will also devote half of her time to manuscript consultations with local writers while doing public readings and talks at community events such as WordFest.
“It’s exciting,” says Willis of her new role. “This is probably one of the best known residencies in Canada. It’s so well regarded.” Professionally, Willis is looking forward to developing her work and mentoring student writers. On a personal level she’s keen to catch up with family and friends and reconnect with the city where she grew up. “I think where you’re from is the richest material for most writing,” she says. “There are so many places that are so familiar and rich with memories. Revisiting them will be really interesting for me, as a writer.”
Vanishing and Other Stories has since been published in the United States by Harper Perennial, as well as in Israel, nominated for the B.C. Book Prize and chosen as one of the Globe and Mail’s top 100 books of 2009. A collection of short stories, it was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Literary Fiction, a lofty honour that saw Willis competing against her greatest influence as a writer, the iconic Alice Munro. Munro herself praised Willis, stating: “The emotional range and depth of these stories, the clarity and the deftness, is astonishing.”
Willis will read with 2011-2012 Canadian Writer-in-Residence Jeramy Dodds at the Hello- Goodbye event on Thursday, September 13, from 7:30 p.m. at the Arrata Opera Centre (1315 7th St. SW). The event is free to the public.
Established in 1993 by the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts, the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program has brought two Nobel Laureates, Derek Walcott and Wole Soyinka, to the university, along with such literary giants as Art Spiegelman, Oliver Sacks, Timothy Findley, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret MacMillan, Ursula K. Le Guin and many others.