is an award-winning author whose work explores the discomforting and liberating aspects of Deafness and disability.
THE BUS (2016)
Set on a single day on April 21, 1941, The Bus is told by eight different narrators: six mental patients, the Nazi doctor who must kill them, and the man who must burn their corpses. Herded onto a bus with thirty-five of their peers and unable to see out the painted windows, the patients are transferred from the Scheuern institution to the euthanasia clinic in Hadamar, Germany.
The Bus was meant to be my first novel. It was originally titled Smoke, and was set to be published in 2012, but it was deemed too violent, and so it was pulled. I continued to revise the novel, and pared it down to a concentrated novella that maintained the violence but also balanced it with more varied and involved characters. I submitted the novella to Quattro Books' 2015 novella contest, and won. My prize was a publishing contract.
From inception to publication, The Bus took over eight years to complete. To research the book, I traveled to Germany and visited the Hadamar memorial site, where I saw the shower room and the dissection rooms; the staff also allowed me to see some of the original patient files. Many other books and sources influenced me, from Elie Wiesel's Auschwitz memoir Night to Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's film The Tribe.
Ultrasound tells the story of a couple, Miranda and Alphonse, and what they go through when they attempt to conceive a child. Alphonse, a Deaf man, wants the child to be deaf; Miranda, who has some hearing, doesn't care if it's hearing or deaf. The play explores the consequences of eugenics through the Deaf experience, and asks the question, "In what circumstances would someone not want a child because it was normal?"
Ultrasound is my first full-length play. It was produced by the Cahoots Theatre Company and Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto, and staged at Theatre Passe Muraille in April and May 2016. I'm hoping it will appear on stages across Canada and the US in the years to come.
Bringing this play to the stage was an intimidating process. I'd never had a play produced before, much less one in Toronto on one of the most revered stages in the country. Whenever I write a novel or a poem, I solicit feedback from one person at a time; it's a steady process which I control. With Ultrasound, I received feedback from anywhere up to a dozen people, often with quick (that is, less than twenty-four hour) turnaround on edits; on top of that, I wasn't in control. It was a struggle for me to explain intentions behind certain lines and cut whole scenes as though I was clipping coupons. But the experience gave me thicker skin, and it also taught me to stand up for my work.
MANTIS DREAMS: THE JOURNAL OF DR. DEXTER RIPLEY (2013)
Dexter Ripley, the narrator of my first novel, began as a voice yammering in my head, and he wouldn't shut up, so I took to writing down what Dexter said, hoping that'd quiet him. But Dexter still didn't shut up. He kept saying horrible, fascinating, and insightful things, and eventually, I had a novel in front of him.
A scorching contrarian who launches his circumventive wrath from his wheelchair, Dexter is one of my proudest fictional creations. I had a blast writing this book. There were so many times where I had to stop writing because I was laughing so hard and yelling, "Dexter, you bastard! You wonderful bastard!" Dexter was a great character to write—is a great character to write. He still won't shut up.
Mantis Dreams won the 2014 City of Saskatoon and Saskatoon Public Library Award at the Saskatchewan Book Awards in April 2014. My acceptance speech was terrible—I made jokes that fell flat.
BEAUTIFUL MUTANTS (2011)
Beautiful Mutants is a collection of poetry that explores various aspects of deafness and disability. I'm happy that my first book was a poetry collection. Poetry is the most sensual literary medium, which is attractive to a writer who happens to be deaf. It also presents certain formal challenges, so, being the contrarian prick that I am, I took it upon myself to screw around with form and have fun
Beautiful Mutants was shortlisted for two 2012 Saskatchewan Book Awards and the Acorn-Plantos Prize for People's Poetry. It was also longlisted for the Re-Lit Award.
I was born in Kamloops, British Columbia sometime in the late twentieth century, part of the generation of millennials who elbowed their way in and took over our cultural scene. I lived in Ashcroft, Kitimat, and Prince George before moving to Saskatoon, where I currently live.
I was educated at the University of Northern BC (BA, 2006; MA, 2008) and the University of Saskatchewan (PhD, 2016).
I was born part-deaf in both ears, and this sensory calibration has kept me in a state of perpetual childhood, preserving my imagination and helping me to become a writer.
The writers who’ve had the most influence on me include Mordecai Richler, John Steinbeck, Toni Morrison, Elie Wiesel, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Albert Camus, Hunter S. Thompson, Dennis E. Bolen, Brad Fraser, and Margaret Laurence.
Sunday, January 7th - Lit Live Reading Series - The Staircase Theatre
27 Dundurn Street N. Hamilton, Ontario - 7:30 pm
Monday, January 8th - Rowers Pub Reading Series - Glad Day Bookshop
499 Church Street Toronto, Ontario - 6 pm
More readings and details will come in the near future. Stay tuned!