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. And so, thanks to a generous bequest, Nelson’s Elephant Mountain Literary Festival is pleased to offer the Holley Rubinsky Memorial Blue Pencil Sessions, with Caroline Adderson as EMLF’s 2016 writer-in-residence.
Caroline Adderson was born and raised in Alberta. After high school, she joined the youth program Katimavik and spent a year living in different communities across Canada doing volunteer work: carpentry, radio broadcasting, sheep farming. She then settled in Vancouver where she attended the University of British Columbia, earning a Bachelor of Education with a Concentration in Creative Writing. Over the next ten years she worked as an ESL teacher. Her first collection of stories, Bad Imaginings, was published in 1993; stories from it have appeared in 19 anthologies world-wide. She has gone on to write internationally published novels (A History of Forgetting, Sitting Practice, The Sky Is Falling, Ellen in Pieces), another collection of short stories (Pleased To Meet You), as well as books for young readers. Her work has received numerous prize nominations including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General’s Literary Award, and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize. A two-time Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and three-time CBC Literary Award winner, Caroline was also the recipient of the 2006 Marian Engel Award for mid-career achievement. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, the filmmaker Bruce Sweeney, their son and their dog. In addition to her writer-in-residence duties, Caroline reads from her work along with author Bill Richardson at EMLF’s Saturday Night Live! reading at the Hume Hotel.
A perfect match
Caroline’s connections with the Kootenays and with Holley Rubinsky go back in time. Caroline first met Holley in Banff in 1987; later, her time with Katimavik brought her to Kaslo. She wrote the screenplay for the Kathy Garneau film Tokyo Cowboy, which stars Nelson’s Cultural Ambassador for Dance, Hiromoto Ida. Caroline was one of Holley’s readers for her last manuscript. “My connection to Holley goes back to the start of my writing career when she was on faculty at the Banff Centre and I was a participant. An original in voice and spirit, she was devoted to nurturing new talent. It’s an honour to be asked to lead the first Holley Rubinsky Memorial Blue Pencil Sessions,” she says.