Marina Endicott, a creative writing instructor at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, has received her second Scotiabank Giller Prize nomination for her latest book, The Little Shadows.
Endicott, whose second book, Good to a Fault, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in 2008 and won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize best book, says she is pleased to have been nominated again. “It’s a beautiful big list of great books, and an honour to be in such good company,” she said.
The latest book revolves around three sisters who become Vaudeville singers following the death of their father, and how they navigate through life and the little shadows that hide behind the curtain.
She says that her work at Augustana Campus paid out some interesting dividends in helping the book come together.
“I was lucky enough to have a tour of the old Bailey Theatre in Camrose just as renovations began on the old vaudeville house,” she said. “That tour was incredibly useful in the early stages of writing The Little Shadows, and [in describing] my vaudeville girls’ tour to Camrose in 1915.”
Endicott, who is currently working on two new projects, Hughtopia, a contemporary novel about a middleaged man trying to fix the lives of his friends; and Difference, an historical novel set in 1910 about a clipper ship captain’s wife who buys a small boy in the south seas, says the process of writing is always a new exploration, one that requires to start from scratch every time.
“Unlike a surgeon who would get better and better at appendectomies, I can’t write the same book over and over,” said Endicott. “I have to learn how to write each new book.”
Yet, despite being an accomplished author in her own right, Endicott sees her work teaching students as not one of professor to eager student, but of a writer in company of other writers. The experience of teaching, she says, is less about delivering knowledge to the class than about sharing and working with each other through the exploration of the creative experience.
“Of course I know more than they do, because I’ve been working at it longer and thinking about it pretty hard all this time,” she said. “But when I write, I still sit down to a blank page and attempt to pull a world out of my head—exactly what they have to do themselves.
“I hope the motivation and encouragement my students get from me comes through our work together.”
The Giller Prize shortlist will be announced on Oct. 4. The televised announcement of the winner will be made on Nov. 8.