Writer, teacher, and mentor Holley Rubinsky passed away in August 2015 in Kaslo, B.C. Born in California, her literary career was launched when she won the Samuel Goldwyn Creative Writing Award. While attending the Banff Publishing Workshop in the 1980s, she met literary luminaries including Alistair MacLeod, Sandra Birdsell, W.O. Mitchell, and Douglas Gibson. There, she met and fell in love with BPW founder Yuri Rubinsky; they married in 1984. Holley and Yuri settled in Toronto, where Holley went on to win the National Magazine Award, the Foundation Award for Fiction, and the Journey Prize, and earned a nomination for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Holley hosted The Writers’ Show on Kootenay Co-op Radio from 2006 to 2008, interviewing writers and publishing insiders. The list is a who’s who of literary notables, including George Bowering, John Vaillant, Angie Abdou, and Kathy Page. She hosted writing retreats at her Kaslo home, offering support, mentorship and critique, drawing gratitude and occasionally blood: Holley was legendary in her directness, passionate as she was in her desire to draw out the very best in a writer. It was important to Holley that her legacy of literary mentorship and critique continue. In 2016, thanks to a generous bequest, Nelson’s Elephant Mountain Literary Festival offered the first Holley Rubinsky Memorial Blue Pencil Sessions with Caroline Adderson as EMLF’s writer-in-residence; the tradition continues in 2017 with accomplished author Fred Stenson.
Fred Stenson has written 19 books and 150 films and videos. His sixth novel and ninth book of fiction, Who By Fire, was published by Doubleday Canada in 2014 and was long-listed for the IMPAC Award. His other fiction titles include the historical novels The Great Karoo, Lightning and The Trade. The Trade won the WGA George Bugnet Novel Award, The City of Edmonton Book Prize, and the Grant MacEwan Writer’s Prize. It was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. The Great Karoo won the Grant MacEwan Writer’s Prize and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Thing Feigned or Imagined, Stenson’s book on the craft of fiction is available from Banff Centre Press. Stenson was the director of the Wired Writing Studio at The Banff Centre for 15 years. He is a regular columnist for Alberta Views magazine. He was the 2015-16 Writer In Residence at the University of Alberta. He lives in Cochrane, Alberta.