Library hosts author Caroline Woodward at upcoming reading

Allyson Kenning
By Allyson Kenning
May 11th, 2011

The Rossland Public Library is the place to be this Monday May 16 when acclaimed BC author Caroline Woodward comes to town as part of her book tour of the Kootenays. She’ll be reading from her latest novel, Penny Loves Wade, Wade Loves Penny, which was published last fall by Fernie’s Oolichan Books.

The story is described as “a retelling of The Odyssey, with a road story looping south from the Peace River region to the West Coast and across the province through the Kootenays before the wanderer struggles to find his way north, and home. The story winds around Penny, inventive and resolute ranch wife, and Wade Toland, reluctant rancher and good man, adrift behind the wheel on his last long haul truck run of the season.”
This is Woodward’s fifth novel, and upon its release it hit the BC best-seller list and garnered a stream of accolades from such publications as The Vancouver Sun and The Malahat Review. Previously, two of her novels, Disturbing the Peace and Alaska Highway Two-step, were nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Arthur Ellis Best First Mystery Award respectively.
Touring the Kootenays is somewhat of a homecoming for Woodward, who spent 18 years living in the area, in both Nelson and New Denver. She co-owned Motherlode Books in New Denver for eight years and participated in a three month-sit in in Nelson to help save that city’s university library in 1984. Woodward worked for many years as a teacher and publishing company sales rep, and attended the writing program at David Thompson University Centre in 1983, an experience that was key in her growth as a writer. “I’d already earned a B.A. and a high school teacher’s certificate by that point but I’d come to the conclusion that writing was the only way to synthesize my life experience so DTUC was the best year of my life for that,” Woodward said in an email interview.
In addition to Penny Loves Wade, Wade Loves Penny, Woodward has children’s book out that was also published last year, entitled Singing Away the Dark, which is about a little girl who, living rurally, must trudge a mile in each morning in order to catch the school bus. Published by Simply Read Books, it was shortlisted for two literary awards, and when asked how moving between writing adult fiction and writing children’s stories differs, she responded, “My favourite genre is whichever one I’m working in at the moment so it’s all about finding the right voice for the material and the right form to express my content.”
While she has too many favourite authors and books to actually list, she did mention that there was one series she was particularly fond of as a youth. “I loved a series called My Book House, edited by Olive Beaupre, which began with nursery rhymes from around the world and then, 10 volumes worth, ended with the biographies of writers, musicians, artists and great innovators. Wonderful stories, international stories.”
Woodward lists her main influences as “nature, wilderness in essence, time to think, good books, love, sorrow, pain, joy, the human condition, what motivates us to do what we do, [and] playing with language, finally.” And like many writers, Woodward is also highly influenced by geography. Penny Loves Wade, Wade Loves Penny takes place in Peace River country, which is where Woodward grew up on a homestead. Her experiences living in such an isolated area also informed her writing of Singing Away the Dark.
It seems that living far from the madding crowds is in Woodward’s bones; in 2008, she and her husband, Jeff, took on the job of manning a lighthouse on Lennard Island, which is just off the coast of Tofino. Of how that lifestyle has influenced her life and her writing, she says that it’s given her precious time without the typical distractions of work obligations, while being surrounded by nature. “I’m in heaven for a writer-inspiration, solitude, time, few distractions, beauty–all good!”
Before arriving in Rossland for Monday night’s event, Woodward will have visited Nakusp, Cranbrook, Fernie, and Fruitvale. After her stop in the Mountain Kingdom, she moves on to read in Kaslo and Grand Forks.
For more information on Caroline Woodward, her writing, and her appearances, you can visit her web site here.

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