Archives for category: Writers
Me with my agent, Dean Cooke, and the Editorial Director at HarperCollins at the prize announcement

Left to right:  My agent, Dean Cooke, me, and Jennifer Lambert, the Editorial Director at HarperCollins, at the prize announcement on Granville Island. (Photo: UBC Creative Writing)

At the Vancouver Writers Festival they shortened the shortlist and announced the winner of the UBC/HarperCollins Canada Prize for Best New Fiction. And guess what?   It’s me.

This is an incredible honor. This means that not only do I have an agent, but I also have a book deal with HarperCollins Canada. The book is slated to come out in Spring 2016.

I wrote this novel as my thesis for the MFA degree at the University of British Columbia seven years ago, and it’s amazing to me that it has finally found a home. There’s lots of work ahead—I have just begun digging into the editing process—but I’m excited for the chance to work on this book again, to make it the best it possibly can be.

Below are the judges’ comments on the novel:

Chelsea Bolan’s In the Place of Silence is a compelling and vibrant novel set in contemporary Mexico, where old paternalistic customs still hold sway. When a young girl is banished from her home, the reverberations are deeply felt in an already fractured family. Bolan portrays, with deft skill, a mother’s anguish, a sister’s desperate search and a father’s hypocrisy, alternating these distinctive narrative voices to build toward an ultimate revelation. Moving from the shiny resort towns of the coast to the most dangerous streets of Mexico City to the furtive, undocumented lives of illegal immigrants over the American border, In the Place of Silence is an engaging, beautifully realized novel, and a fascinating exploration of betrayal, steadfast devotion, and the ways in which our own biases can harm what—and who—we love the most.

 
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Incredible news!  The manuscript for my first novel, In the Place of Silence, has been shortlisted for the HarperCollins Canada/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction.  It’s been seven years since I wrote the book as my Master’s thesis in grad school, and the possibility of it finally getting out into the world seems extraordinary to me.  We’ll see what happens:  The winner will be announced on October 24.

Borderlands_40Out of Austin, Texas, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review has released issue Number 40—and I’m honored to have one of my poems, “Let Them Light,” be a part of it. This issue, as well as my poem, is all about loss. We are always losing, every moment of our lives, whether it’s someone we love or something we hoped for, or the small failures of every single day. The poems in here confirm this. But they also reveal what can be gained or recovered—be it beauty, a quiet revelation, or something simply appreciated. Thus the meditative photographs of agave by Joel Salcido, documenting tequila production in Mexico, to help assuage the loss.

ognwanniversaryCelebrate literary non-profit Old Growth Northwest‘s first year this Sunday, June 8 (yes, that’s tomorrow) from 4-6 p.m. at Vermillion Art Gallery in Seattle!  Created by a group of super-smart, inspiring individuals, we’ll raise a glass to all they’ve contributed to Seattle’s literary landscape:  an array of sliding scale writing workshops across the city, Voices Behind Bars, Gay Romance NW Meetups, a reading and open mic series, as well as two literary journals.  And remember, that’s only been in a year.  What will they do in coming years?  With your help, everything!

At Vermillion tomorrow they’ll also debut Writing on the Wall, a projected installation of over 200 works of poetry and flash fiction (including a dozen or so of my poems); there will also be raffles and reveling and readings.  I’ll be reading alongside some incredible writers:  Andrea Speed, Terra McKeown, Nick Schwarzenberger, Susan V. Meyers, Laylah Hunter, and Katherine Hervey. I’ll present a piece I wrote in response to a prompt they provided when I read back in December—bearing the bad first attempts and wrong turns recorded in my notebook to show how I finally arrived at the poem.

This organization is doing great things for this city.  Help them do more great things.  Give them money.  Buy a ticket to the party.  Bring a book for the book drive for the prisoners in their Voices Beyond Bars program.  Give them more money.  Support them as they support and encourage writers, readers, and the literary arts in the Pacific Northwest.

Ryan Boudinot has announced that he is not just donating all royalties from Blueprints of the Afterlife—he’s donating all his royalties from all his books for the rest of his career to the Seattle City of Literature budget.  He’s also donating any foreign sales to publishers in Cities of Literature to those cities’ organizations.

At the AWP conference on Saturday, Ryan read part of the UNESCO application for his portion of the Hugo House Writers in Residence reading. The opening placed Seattle geographically within the world and traced the long line of the region’s storytelling traditions, reaching back through centuries.  So beautiful was the excerpt that the next reader, the amazing Karen Finneyfrock, thanked Ryan for making her cry over an application.

You can hear more on March 12 at Town Hall.  It’s going to be awesome.

Buy this book and help Seattle become a UNESCO City of Literature.

Buy this book and help Seattle become a UNESCO City of Literature.

Fiction writer Ryan Boudinot is really, really serious:  Make Seattle a UNESCO City of Literature; “focus relentlessly on doing good.”

At the Seattle Public Library last fall, Boudinot laid out on loose sheets of paper randomly spread about his feet, the why and the how of making Seattle a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.  In short:  it would give Seattle more opportunities to collaborate both within the city and with the rest of the world.  It would introduce the world’s readers and writers to Seattle’s readers and writers.  It would foster conversation, connection, global exchange.  “We get stuck in our little tunnels,” he said.  Stuck in our own worlds, and as writers, also stuck in the worlds we create—and sometimes stuck in our little corner of the Pacific Northwest.

Putting together the UNESCO application is a collaboration in its own right, involving everyone who reads, writes, and loves books in greater Seattle area.  One of the things that struck Ryan as he went out to spread the word was how rich our literary community is.  He already knew it was rich, but:  There was so much out there that he didn’t even know about, he said—for instance, he’d discovered an independent bookstore that he’d never heard of.  And sitting in that room at the library, seeing just a fraction of people who write, read, and otherwise support literature,  I could see that richness of our literary community, too, in a way I hadn’t really seen it before.

It was because everyone was out of their little tunnels.

All these individuals and organizations willing to connect, willing to bring a little bit of fire.  Just being there, I already felt more connected:  My time spent alone in a room writing had a place out here, in the city, in the world.  That the very reason I write is to forge communication and connection—yet, it can be isolating at times.  But at the library, I realized that we already are a City of Literature, in which every one of us plays an important part.

Most is in place for Seattle to be part of the Creative Cities Network, but we are also lacking some things:  A press that devotes itself to literature in translation, an international literary festival, and a young author’s conference—and more ways for writers to find everything they need to be successful in Seattle.  Many writers still look to New York for representation and/or for publication—and to have that is something that most people, it is safe to say, would not give up.

In one of the email updates a few months after this meeting, Ryan wrote that he fired his New York agent, and told his New York publisher that they should not expect another book from him.  He decided his next book should be 100% Seattle-made, and that in order to make Seattle a thriving literary city, we need to work within it, to expand it with our own breath.

I had to read that email several times to be sure I was reading it correctly.  Then it took me a few days to process it.  A few questions continued to loop through me:  Is he crazy?  How is he going to make a living?  Should I worry about him?  Then:  In his position, would I be brave enough to do that?  I still don’t have an answer to the last question, but I hope that I would be brave enough.

It’s an understatement to say I admire Ryan Boudinot’s drive and sacrifice to connect us to each other and to the rest of the world.  We do have the ability and resources to make Seattle a great literary city, we just need to—well, believe in it.  Invest in it.  Nurture it.  Throw all our irons into the fire.

Here are a few small things you can do to help support Seattle in the quest of becoming a UNESCO-designated City of Literature:

1. Write to the mayor.

Click here to write a letter to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to declare your support for this bid.

2. Buy Blueprints of the Afterlife.

Ryan Boudinot will pledge all his royalties from his latest novel, Blueprints of the Afterlife, towards making Seattle part of the Creative Cities network.

3. Go to the Town Hall meeting, Wednesday March 12, 7:30 pm.

Tonight Ryan Boudinot and guests will present the contents of the City of Literature bid to the public.  To quote: “Let’s come together to celebrate everything that makes Seattle one of the greatest cities in the WORLD for readers and writers.”

On Tuesday, December 10th at the Rendezvous in Seattle, I’ll be sharing the stage with Evan J. Peterson, Benjamin Schmitt, and whoever else comes in off the street as part of the Old Growth Northwest reading series.

Old Growth NW is serious about local literature.  A nonprofit that fosters creative writing in the Seattle area by offering free workshops to writers, it’s a really great thing for those of us who cannot afford to participate in a workshop otherwise.  Plus, these guys are really nice.

Whether you have something to read or just want to be read to, please come!  Reading starts at 6:30.Image