3 Questions with Winter Willow Author Deborah-Anne Tunney

January 20, 2020

Winter Willow is Deborah-Anne Tunney’s second book published by Great Plains Publications under the Enfield & Wizenty imprint. Her first, A View from the Lane, was published in 2016. We caught up with her to chat about her writing process, book inspirations, and her advice for aspiring writers.

How did your writing process for Winter Willow differ from The View from the Lane?

For each story in The View from the Lane there is a distinct narrative arc, as there are also various points of view, treatments of time and characters (although many of these characters appear in other stories in the collection). Because the stories are linked, they exist in relation to each other, much how a mosaic, with its distinct stones together create a whole while depending on its parts for clarity.

The novel, Winter Willow, in contrast is fiction on a larger canvas, and therefore the narrative arc is broader, despite there being a series of “fortunes” and “reverse-fortunes” that happens to the protagonist and gives energy to the plot. In short, the novel does not depend on the variety of voices and points of view, but instead draws some of its narrative power from the consistency of voice and time. Each chapter needs to feed the heightened tension demanded by the plot, while also providing a sense of the contained movement that allows it to be exist as a discrete chapter. And so, the challenge for me as the writer was to sustain the vision, that spark that was the impetuses of the work, to keep the writing continually interesting and fresh.

What are some stories you drew inspiration from when writing Winter Willow?

As a young girl I loved the story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, the idea of the young protagonist alone in a castle exploring, and yet feeling that her true life existed beyond the walls of that palace; this story and others like it held a deep fascination for me. I am reminded also of books I read when I was older, such novels as Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, where we see the protagonist trapped in a mansion which is at its heart a mystery, or Charlotte Bronte’s  Jane Eyre. The form is well known and can even be distinguished in movies such as Sunset Boulevard, where the protagonist is a man, but this shift in power makes it no less compelling. 

What I was attempting to accomplish by using the device of the mysterious mansion was to show how a place and a specific time (or in the case of my novel, a specific season) can be looked back upon as the moment the trajectory of a life is known. To see in that moment the time and place when a character – for lack of a better term – grows up and becomes the person they were meant to be. In this way the mystery extends so that is not merely concerned with revealing the secrets of the house, but also with revealing the way character is defined, and can be altered by experience.

What advice can you provide to emerging CanLit writers who are interested in publishing a novel? 

I would say to such a writer that your aim should not be to get published, but to create something of value that bridges your humanity to that of your reader. Nothing less. As Kafka said, a book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. You should be that ambitious. And if you are successful in this (and also lucky), publishing will be the reward.

That said, I would also tell this writer you need to read, and you need to think while you read how the writer was able to accomplish what they did with only words at their disposal. I’d also suggest they find other writers, people who know the frustrations and the joy of the writing life. This will be your community and a great comfort. You will need them if for no other reason than to know people with whom you can commiserate.

Holiday Gift Guide 2019

December 03, 2019

 

Fear not holiday shoppers, our interactive Holiday Gift Guide is here!

 

We developed this guide to showcase some of our favourite regional and national titles for the casual readers, the coffee table book browsers, and the bibliophiles in your life.

 

Click on a title or a book cover to read the book description and reviews. All books are available at online and standalone retailers in Canada and the U.S.

Meet the Authors: Fall 2019 Book Launches

October 17, 2019

 

Our fall titles are hot off the presses! We’re excited to launch Feral, Winter Willow, Privilege, and Haunted Manitoba at venues across Canada. Listen to the authors read from their new books and be sure to pick up a signed copy. All events are free and open to the public.

 
 

Haunted Manitoba by Matthew Komus

Launch: Oct. 29, 7 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers on Grant Ave.

Reading & Signing: Oct. 30, 7 p.m. at Chapters St. Vital

Privilege by Jason Patrick Rothery

The Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Great Plains Publishing Presents: The Author-Editor Experience: Lee Kvern in Conversation with Jason Patrick Rothery – with Social & Celebration Before & After the Formal Program

Wednesday, October 30 | 7:00—10:00pm
Wurst Restaurant | 2437 4th Street SW Calgary, AB
Free for WGA members | $5 optional donation at the door non-members

Feral by Nicole Luiken

Thursday, Nov. 14 | 8:00 p.m. | Audrey’s Books | 10702 Jasper Ave, Edmonton, AB | Free to attend

Winter Willow by Deborah-Anne Tunney

Friday, Dec. 6 | 7:00 p.m. Rockliffe Community Centre | 380 Springfield Road, Ottawa, ON | Free to attend

Fall 2019 Preview: Books as Conversation Starters

September 03, 2019

A great book is a conversation starter, encouraging you to reflect on the world around you from a fresh perspective. We’re excited to announce our Fall 2019 titles – books you’ll be eager to discuss over the dinner table, in the classroom, and among friends at book club.

 

FERAL by Nicole Luiken

17-year-old Chloe fears she’s a Dud, a child born to two werewolves who can’t change into a wolf. If she’s still a Dud by the time she reaches adulthood, she’ll be exiled. In the meantime, she’s at the bottom of the pack hierarchy and the other teens in her small town make her life miserable. 

Then she encounters a feral werewolf with the opposite problem: he’s trapped in wolf form. Chloe suspects the feral is her old classmate, Marcus, who everyone believes died along with the rest of his family in a mysterious plane crash.

Chloe vows to help Marcus regain his human self because giving up on him would mean admitting possible failure for herself, too. But she must act quickly. Pack law mandates killing ferals.

Coming Oct. 30

 

HAUNTED MANITOBA by Matthew Komus

Manitoba may seem like a quiet province, but its prairies teem with paranormal activity.

A ghostly groundskeeper still does his rounds at the Delta Marsh Field Station; strange noises and apparitions of children in 19th-century clothing have been reported at Lower Fort Garry; and Mrs. Kennedy still welcomes guests to Captain Kennedy’s House—just as she did when her home was built in 1866.

Haunted Manitoba shares eerie stories from all corners of the province and places them in the context of Manitoba’s rich history.

Coming Halloween 2019

 

PRIVILEGE by Jason Patrick Rothery

Privilege is a cutting satire concerning the death spiral of the white, male identity.

With his divorce nearly finalized, the surprise success of his freshman book on the wane, and his ill-advised affair with grad student Lara Kitts put to bed, Dr. Barker Samuel Stone is on the precipice of a cozy tenure-track existence.

Then an enigmatic e-mail sends Barker’s life spiralling along an unanticipated trajectory. Summoned to a late-night confab at the campaign office of controversial mayoral candidate Baz Randell, Barker is looped in on an epic, career-ending scandal.

In the midst of mounting chaos, Barker is informed that an anonymous complainant has levied a claim of sexual misconduct against him. Given the university’s embarrassing record of botching cases of misconduct, Barker is advised that the administration is looking to bring the hammer down on someone – anyone – hard.

In his whole life, Barker has never before felt so much like a nail.

Coming Nov. 1

 

WINTER WILLOW by Deborah-Anne Tunney

During a winter season in the mid-1970s, unexpected and dramatic events shape the lives of three people living in the mansion, Winter Willow.

Melanie, a young graduate student, is grieving the loss of her mother and main support system when she discovers that her PhD funding has been cancelled. Then she meets Stone, owner of Winter Willow, an old mansion in her neighbourhood, and is offered a position as his personal assistant. Moving in with him during that snowy and isolating season not only creates a strange sleepiness that makes it difficult for Melanie to concentrate on her studies, but also serves to disrupt the life and routine of Stone and his housekeeper, Celeste.

When Melanie begins a relationship with a fellow grad student, she is confronted with the choice between a future with him and her life at Winter Willow. This novel explores the moment when a life can change, the pivot upon which the future depends.

Coming Nov. 15

Summer launches, beach reads, and more!

July 22, 2019

Upcoming Events

 

Enfield & Wizenty author Katherine Koller will launch Winning Chance in Calgary on Thursday, July 25 at 1 p.m. at Loft 112. Be sure to attend to hear a reading from the collection and get your copy signed!

 
 

Yellow Dog author Monica Nawrocki will be visiting Winnipeg on Aug. 8 to launch her newest book, Cedar Dance, at McNally Robinson. She will be joined by Larry Verstraete (Coop the Great) and Jodi Carmichael (Family of Spies). Join us for a free, fun, family-friendly event!

 

Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards

 

The 2020 MYRCA nominees have been chosen! Yellow Dog titles Coop the Great and Pulse Point were chosen for the Sundogs and Northern Lights categories.

 

Summer Bucket List Books

 
image of a beach with a book lying open on the sand
 

Looking for your next summer read? The collection of stories in Winning Chance is sure to delight. Whether they are contractors running into an ex while on the job, a busy mother pursuing community theatre, or a family building an illegal ice rink after an environmental collapse, Koller’s characters are empathetic portraits of people searching to connect.

 

Take a trip to your favourite local park and catch up on some history with Assiniboine Park. Discover the park’s past including a merry-go-round, Sabbath observance, and more!

Award Nominations!

April 29, 2019

The Manitoba Book Awards have released their shortlist! Join us on Friday, May 3rd at the 2019 Manitoba Book Awards Gala as we celebrate Manitoba authors.

More Abandoned Manitoba: Rivers, Rails and Ruins by Gordon Goldsborough

  • Shortlisted for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award
  • Shortlisted for the Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher

Family of Spies: Paris by Jodi Carmichael, design by Relish New Brand Experience, interior illustrations by Jamie Gatta

  • Shortlisted for the Manuela Dias Design and Illustration Award

We’re also pleased to announce that Forgetting How to Breathe by Anita Daher was shortlisted for IODE Violet Downey Book Award

Way to go, Great Plains authors!

Spring List & Fall News!

November 06, 2018

Our latest e-news is set to hit inboxes Wednesday morning, November 7th! Do you want to join our mailing list? We send an e-newsletter out every few month or two with our publishing news. Sign up here!

We’ll be announcing our Spring 2019 list, which you can check out here!

Hot Summer to Fall Launches

August 07, 2018

Summer has been hot hot from coast to coast and we hope you have found time to curl up in the shade with a great book!

It’s never too early to jot fall book launches into your calendars and we hope you can join us for the following Winnipeg events at McNally Robinson on Grant:

October 11th – Parallel Prairies, edited by Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash, will get you set to spook!

October 25th – More Abandoned Manitoba, Gordon Goldsborough’s much anticipated follow-up to the 2016 hit!

November 18th – Coop The Great launches his adventure! This middle grade book by Larry Verstraete will have you rooting for this down-and-out dachshund.

Have A Glad Dad This June!

June 05, 2018

Father’s Day is coming and Great Plains has you covered! Share the image above on your social media pages and tell us a story about what make your dad (or the father figure in your life) special. Four books will be given to four winners*, with two helping to keep your #WpgWhiteout memories alive!
*Winners addresses must be in Canada. 

Stuck In The Middle 2 by Bartley Kives and Bryan Scott
The Sign for Migrant Soul by Richard Cumyn
Golden Boys by Ty Dilello
The Hot Line by Geoff Kirbyson

Be sure to tag us in your posts (you can find us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook). We’ll announce the winner on June 11th.

More Great Plans news here!

Have you heard?

March 20, 2018

Our authors have gotten some great radio play this week!

Curious about why Angie Abdou asks “why isn’t Thomas Trofimuk a household name?” Listen to her audio review of This Is All A Lie on CBC Alberta! Following Angie’s rave review, Daybreak Alberta hosted Thomas for an interview, which you can listen to here.

Anne Mahon has committed her life making a difference. Let’s Give A Damn interviewed her about her volunteer work, and how that led to her commitment to share the stories of people in marginalized communities in her books The Lucky Ones and Redemption. Get ready to be inspired and check it out.

Yellow Dog Launches!

January 30, 2018

We have dates scheduled for the launches of our Yellow Dog titles this spring!

April 12th – Anita Daher kicks things off with her novel, Forgetting How To Breathe.

April 29th – Get ready for espionage at the launch of Family of Spies by Jodi Carmichael.

May 11th – Colleen Nelson and Nancy Chappell-Pollack wrap the spring season with Pulse Point.

All of our Yellow Dog launches will take place in Winnipeg at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Grant Park. We hope to see you there!

 

Starred Reviews & Bestsellers

January 02, 2018

Happy 2018!

We are thrilled to start the new year with a starred review in Quill & Quire for Thomas Trofimuk’s This Is All A Lie. Grab your copy of this exceptional magazine for Canadian literature, which calls Thomas’ novel “a powerful, dazzling accomplishment.”

This Is All A Lie has also been selected for The Complete NP99: The best books of 2017 by The National Post!

Looking back at 2017, we are thrilled to see three Great Plains non-fiction titles on the McNally Robinson Manitoba Bestsellers list. If you haven’t grabbed a copy of Stories Best Left Untold, Abandoned Manitoba or Stuck In The Middle 2 yet, be sure to catch up on these bestsellers in 2018!