Upcoming 2016 EMWF author Nicholas Ruddock weighs in on Newfoundland, “The Phosphorescence,” and his new book, Night Ambulance.
Mill Musings Guelph’s MFA students return for another round
Youth Writers: Seeking young poets
The Millwright Book Club This month’s recommended reading 
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Eden Mills Writers' Festival
September 16-18th 2016

June 2016

The Millwright:

Musings from the Eden Mills Writers' Festival

Vol. 27 No. 2 | SPRING EDITION 


This month the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival has settled in for the season; we have launched our updated website and officially opened the festival headquarters, Rivermead, at the newly acquired United Church venue in Eden Mills.  Our lineup of authors for the festival is nearly confirmed and will be announced in next month’s Millwright.  Meanwhile, we’ve also found our home on the airwaves:  this month marks the launch of our podcast featuring an interview with Guelph’s own Nicholas Ruddock hosted by Anna Bowen.  We are happy to be partnering with CFRU 93.3 FM, Guelph's campus/community radio station, who will air our podcast in a series this summer. Next month watch for Leon Rooke’s interview in The Millwright as well as a feature interview and podcast with Cordelia Strube


Nicholas Ruddock on Night Ambulance (2016) and the shortlisting of “The Phosphorescence” for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

By Anna Bowen

Listen to the full interview with Nicholas Ruddock on our podcast.

MW: Congratulations on being shortlisted for the 2016 Sunday times EFG short story award for “The Phosphorescence”. Where did this story come from?

NR: When I was once in Nice when I was twenty or twenty-one years old and I walked past the Hotel Le Negresco, it occurred to me that a high wire could be strung from the cupola down into the sea.  It was years later my wife and I saw the phosphorescence off the coast of Newfoundland…and somehow I put those two together -- that someone could ride down a wire from the hotel and hit the water and create a magical kind of scene.

MW: Let’s turn to Night Ambulance, your second novel. Where did this story come from?

NR:  I spent a lot of time in Newfoundland and I wanted to write a particular novel set in St. John's and about the south coast...I wanted it to be in Newfoundland and I wanted it to be about how men can walk away from pregnancy and women can’t. 

MW: So do you see it as a novel about abortion?

NR: Yes…the central crux of it is about abortion, and there are two girls in there who are faced with a similar kind of problem and they take different steps -- one opts one way, one opts another.

MW: You originally published the most gripping scene of Night Ambulance as a short story in The Antigonish Review.  Do you always write the central scene of a novel first and then fill it out?

NR: The first novel, The Parabolist, I wrote without any thought whatsoever. The second one, this book, I wrote without a lot of planning either -- I just went through it.  The third book [Birds and Stones], which I’ve just finished, is much longer.  It was completely planned from the word “go”. I probably wrote a lot of stuff that was discarded from the first two books. Whereas the third one is just smack on.

MW: Can you talk about your connection to Newfoundland?

NR: I went out there as an unformed person, having graduated from medical school, and I ended up with a job as a district medical officer in a very remote place called Belleoram which is disguised very shallowly in this book as Belle Harbour. I wanted to call it by a slightly different name to emphasize that it was fiction.

MW: How did you get from practicing medicine to writing?

NR: I’ve now become more a writer than a doctor, whereas before it was always the other way around. For Birds and Stones I wrote 1500 words a day for 100 straight days -- four months it took.  I used to say I wrote about three hours a day, and then I couldn't think straight. But the last one I picked it up to six or seven...It just sort of rolled along.

MW: Any advice for aspiring writers, young writers or people wanting to enter a second career?

NR: You have to read really good writers -- the best, the most famous writers, which are probably not the best sellers, but the edgy sorts of writers -- to learn what you can do with language. It was doing that that totally galvanized me 15 years ago when I read Roberto Bolaño.  

Ruddock has published two novels, The Parabolist (2010) and Night Ambulance (2016), as well as a collection of short stories entitled How Loveta Got her Baby (2014). Watch the newly released trailer for Night Ambulance


Mill Musings

A longstanding partnership: Guelph-Humber MFA Creative writing students at EMWF

By Anna Bowen
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the University of Guelph-Humber’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. The EMWF has long partnered with the program, which was founded by Constance Rooke, by showcasing four to six students each year.  “It’s an amazing festival, and draws such great crowds and a wealth of well-known writers,” says Catherine Bush, who has been Coordinator of the Creative Writing MFA at the University of Guelph for the past eight years -- “for [students] to participate as readers at the festival is a huge honour.”  

MFA students are chosen by lottery to read at the festival and Bush ensures that there is a balance of both first-year and second-year students. “All of them,” she explains, “respond to the wonder that the Eden Mills Festival is -- the opportunity to read in front of its crowds, and to meet some of the other writers who are there.”

This year, the festival will be hosting Liz Howard, a former UofG MFA student in Creative Writing and the 2016 Canadian winner of the Griffin Prize for Poetry for her first published collection, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (McClelland & Stewart, 2015).  Alumna Soraya Peerbaye was also nominated for the prize for Tell: poems for a girlhood (Pedlar Press, 2015). “We’re just so pleased and proud of them both,” says Bush.

Alumni include writer/director Mark Marczyk of Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Toronto playwright Anna Chatterton, Adnan Khan, and Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature award winner Ayelet Tsabari, to name a few. One of this year’s MFA student readers will include poet Owain Nicholson whose debut collection, Digsite, is due out this fall with Nightwood Editions. “[The festival] is such a great way to showcase the talents of our students,” says Bush. “They are really out there changing the literary landscape.”

Young Writers

“The very young poets, from five years of age into their teens always inspire me because they are so imaginative and both fearless and natural with language… [They] inspire me because they are not even aware of how beautifully they often can express something.”
-- Glen Sorestad (The League of Canadian poets,

Like Saskatoon poet Glen Sorestad, Hannah Gamble of the Poetry Foundation suggests that some fourth graders have an intuitive way with language. “The life of my heart is crimson” writes one fourth grader in her class; “peace be a song, silver pool of sadness” writes another.

We are now accepting entries for our EMWF Teens’ and Children’s Poetry Competitions.  The theme for 2016 is Roads and Journeys. Winners will receive an award, be announced at the festival, and will be published in the 2016 EMWF chapbook of youth writers. Share this with the young people around you and help us encourage the next generation of poets. Check out our website for submission details.
Deadline for entries:  June 30th, 2016

The Millwright Bookclub

Looking for something to read?
Here's a sneak peak at some of the authors to watch for at this year's festival. 
Nicholas Ruddock
Night Ambulance
Cordelia Strube​
On the Shores of Darkness, There Is Light
Copyright © 2016 Eden Mills Writers' Festival, All rights reserved.

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