By Kim McCullough
There are still a couple of spots open in Marina Endicott’s Creating Character workshop at the Fernie Writers’ Conference. If you haven’t signed up, you should. If you haven’t had a chance to read her novels, definitely check them out.
Ms Endicott’s first novel, Open Arms is a wonderful episodic story of a young woman, Bessie, and her journey to adulthood. The characters are original and honest and the women in the novel demonstrate strength that is rarely seen in novels today. The relationships between the women in Bessie’s life are heartbreaking and hilarious.
Good to a Fault, Ms Endicott’s second novel, won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize. This novel starts with a car accident between Clara, who is an insurance adjuster, and the car a homeless family lives in. Things go from bad to worse when, at the hospital, the mother is diagnosed with cancer. Out of guilt, and something more, Clara offers to care for the rest of the family at her house. Good to a Fault digs deeply into our motivation for helping others, the guilt, the self-righteousness, the satisfaction. Again, every character is exquisitely real, and will stay will you long after you finish the book.
I asked Marina a few questions about teaching in Fernie. Here are her responses. (From her final answer, I think it’s clear that her class is going to be a very, very good time.)
Why did you decide to come teach in Fernie?
M.E. — I was very happy to be asked to come: Fernie is kind of my home town. It’s where I started school, in Miss Saddlemyer’s grade one/two split class, which meant I could read all the grade two books too. I’ve heard great things about the conference, especially from my old friend [and past FWC instructor] Peter Oliva, and I love the area. Feels like home.
What are you most looking forward to about teaching at the Fernie Writers’ Conference?
M.E. — It’s always exciting to begin work with a new workshop group, to spend five days getting to know not only the people in the room but the people on the paper, the lives of the characters we’ll be working on.
What can students expect from your class?
M.E. — Five days of unmitigated torture: a searching, painstaking inquiry deep into the souls of their characters; hot-coal grilling from their colleagues; the agony of constant rewriting. And a few laughs.