Bragg Creek author library’s new writer in residence

By: Carmen Solana-Martin

  |  Posted: Thursday, Aug 15, 2013 08:03 am

Barb Howard
Barb Howard

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With a twinkle in her eye and a hearty laugh, an award winning local author hopes her enthusiasm for writing will inspire others to find their passion too.

Bragg Creek author Barb Howard will be the 2013 Writer in Residence for the Calgary Public Library from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30.

A fiction and creative non-fiction writer and editor, Howard said she is honoured to be chosen for this new role which will allow her to share her work with and mentor other writers.

“This position feels like a reward for writing for the past 20 years,” she said. “One nice thing about the writer-in-residence appointment is that it affirms that I am an established writer.

“I haven’t just been hanging out in my pajamas and talking about it for 15 years - although there have certainly been a few pajama days.”

Howard’s most recent book, Western Taxidermy, a collection short stories, won the Canadian Authors Association (Alberta Branch) 2012 Exporting Alberta Award, and is one of three finalists in the short story category at the upcoming 2013 High Plains Books Awards, based out of the United States.

Her other works include novella Notes for Monday, the novel Whipstock, and young adult book The Dewpoint Show.

Howard also co-edited and contributed to the 2012 anthology Embedded on the Home Front: Where Military and Civilian Lives Converge.

A writing instructor at the University of Calgary Continuing Education Department, Howard has taught students since receiving her Master of Arts Degree in Creative Writing in 2000.

Her residency will be divided between mentoring writers and editing their manuscripts, hosting free writing sessions and readings, and working on her own project.

Beginning Sept. 1, writers can submit manuscripts and meet with Howard for individual consultations at the Memorial Park Library.

Howard acknowledged that critical feedback can be difficult to hear and she plans to positively motivate the writers she mentors.

“I want to offer help and encouragement and I’ll provide feedback in a supportive way,” she said. “I want people to leave excited about their rewrite and their writing.”

“Nobody should leave crying.”

The public launch to welcome Howard to her residency and learn about the programs she will offer is on Sept. 5 at the Memorial Park Library from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Before she became a full time writer, Howard was a corporate lawyer, and she developed an interest in the state of the legal profession and how that is reflected in literature.

As part of her residency, she will work on a non-fiction project about law and literature.

“My writing project will start as a long form essay and when I get enough material I will expand it,” she said.

Howard was also a volunteer probation officer and a court accompanist which lead to her keen interest in social justice.

“My writing involves social commentary,” she said. “As a court accompanist I was able to help people which gave me a passion for social justice as well.”

An outdoor enthusiast, Howard bikes, cross county skis, hikes and snowshoes on the trails around Bragg Creek, which has been her home since 1993.

Those natural surroundings inspire her outdoor pursuits as well as her work.

“I love nature and Bragg Creek’s environment plays a large role in my writing.”

Classified by one of her editors as Alberta gothic, Howard writes quirky regional stories inspired by the people and geography of her community.

“My work is influenced by Bragg Creek and my day to day life in the foothills,” she said. “Quirky people and situations also inspire me.”


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