The Calgary Distinguished Writers Program in the Faculty of Arts is thrilled to announce 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 Aug. 15.
The 30-year-old Willis was born and raised in Calgary, but left 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). 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.
“The emotional range and depth of these stories, the clarity and the deftness, is astonishing,” Munro says.
Vanishing and Other Stories, which has since been published in the U.S. by Harper Perennial, as well as in Israel, was nominated for the B.C. Book Prize and chosen as one of the Globe and Mail’s top 100 books of 2009.
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,” Willis says 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.”
Willis will read with 2011-2012 Canadian Writer-in-Residence Jeramy Dodds at the Hello-Goodbye event Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Arrata Opera Centre. The event is free to the public.