Two senior writers from Duncan and Chemainus have been selected as winners of the inaugural Cedric Literary Awards.
The idea was to offer prizes of $3,000 awards to unpublished authors aged 50 or better.
And, in front of a packed house at a special reception held in Victoria last week, Margitta Maud, 76, of Duncan, won for her creative non-fiction work, Out of Darkness, and Joel Scott, 75, of Chemainus took home an award for his novel, Arrow’s Flight.
A total of 168 entries were received from across the province and rounding out the Cedrics are: Irene Lynxleg, 75, a Vancouver First Nations writer for her short story Keesis’s Trimble Park Diary and Susan Braley, 59, of Victoria for her poetry collection, The Imminence of Fracture.
The Cedric judges loved Maud’s work.
“This is a non-fiction memoir written in the third person that reads like a novel. Paddy — the main character — has a harrowing experience in his youth, and flees Ireland with an uncle to live with another uncle in England. From there, he learns how to train dogs and many other things. We loved how the writer uses dialect in the writing that is clear and also relevant to the story. We felt invested in the story and the main character from the get-go with use of very descriptive writing and superb details,” they raved when sending out notice of the winners.
They also enjoyed Scott’s opus, saying it “is a well-written series of vignettes about characters all living in the same small coastal town — all unique and living believable lives. The book builds a convincing world and it was enjoyable to get a glimpse into each life.”
Organizers of the event are pleased with how it’s all come along.
“With no history to draw upon, we’ve created a spectacular beginning to the Cedric Literary Awards,” said Peter Dale, chair of Betterthan50 and founder of the writing competition.
“We have demonstrated what inclusiveness really means by embracing writers from every region of B.C., including First Nations writers,” he added.
Scott wrote his book to keep alive the memories of a special trip: he circumnavigated the globe with his wife and son in the late 1990s.
“I took some of the actual details about the sailing and put a plot into it and made a story. Offshore sailing offers an interesting background to work with,” he said from his home in Chemainus.
Asked how he came to enter the Cedrics, Scott said it was simple:
“They put ads in some papers and I just happened to run into them so I submitted my book. It’s nice to get the $3,000 prize and get 10 cents an hour for writing it.”
But there was more adventure in his background than could be contained in one volume.
“I’ve written a couple more. It’s now become a trilogy. My goal is to emulate the chap who wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He called it an increasingly ill-named Galaxy Trilogy, since it now includes five books.”
Maud is still “very excited” that she won the award.
“I’m still pinching myself. At the ceremony, I hadn’t even had a drink but, when they called my name, I went into some sort of zombie state. I was overwhelmed.”
She’s grateful that her friends were able to help her. “Thank heavens they were there to poke me and say: it’s you, it’s you, go up, go up!”
She’s been a Valley resident for a decade since deciding to leave Victoria for a place with space for horses, and is a prolific writer.
She hasn’t always finished what she’s started.
“I’m one of those people who paint and write stories. This is about German shepherds. I have a German shepherd myself and I love animals. This is about how a dog can get into your soul.
“I’ve probably been writing since I was 12. Then, finally I decided I should finish something. I did and I submitted it. Of course, I wasn’t expecting anything but I was proud that I had finally tried to do something with my writing.”
Maud had previously grouped herself among the legion of people who “don’t think what they do is good enough for awards.”
Now, however, she’s going ahead.
“I see there’s a little short story contest in Duncan. I’ve submitted some stories and we’ll see what happens in that one.”
Cedrics’ executive director Veronica Osborn is putting out the challenge.
“The next call for submissions will be Feb. 1, 2016, and I look forward to seeing even more entries next year,” she said.