Alix Hawley is one of those writers I read and burn with...I don't want to say envy, but if I'm honest, that's what it is. She's so damn good. How can I help but envy sentences like the ones in her recent story, "Tentcity," that was shortlisted for the CBC Canada Writes short story prize: "Would it help to imagine the mice were here all along? I think it helps. Let’s say they were always around, living frugal lives in basements and grey corners. Waiting for a signal to go forth and mousify the joint. ... Sometimes at night, I think you can hear their hearts all whipping along together like rotors. In the day, their squeaking sounds like phone music when you’re on hold. Which we are. I am."
Funny and brutally insightful, Alix's writing is sometimes hard to reconcile with the daylight Alix, so gentle and soft-spoken. Her collection of short stories, The Old Familiar, was published by Thistledown in 2008.You can read more about Alix here and here.
|The Henriquez studio at Banff Centre|
Now I think I made up the Banff Centre: the mountain rearing over the place like a tidal wave, the deer reclining nonchalantly on the path to the studios, the walk to town past the old cemetery with the springy gate. The multiple candy stores on the main street.
I’ve had two independent residencies at the studios there. The first time, I wanted to revise the stories for my book. Holed up in my boat—yes, a boat suspended in the air in the woods—I ended up writing four new ones in two weeks. The second, in a cabin complete with piano, I started the novel that is now nearly finished. I do dream of the place now (two children later). Territorial dreams.
Banff put my writing into gear. It has a rough magic. Maybe it’s the altitude or the quiet or the feeling that the whole place supports you, full as it is of great artists and goings-on. I admit to having become a little weird for those weeks, sunk into my own mind, stuttering and foggy when I had to speak to anyone. But it let me not speak to anyone, and I needed that.
I write in my dad’s shed now when I get the chance. Sometimes I come out of there stuttering.