Joan Haggerty, a former teacher at Houston Secondary School, recently published a book, The Dancehall Years, has been shortlisted for the B.C. Book Prizes: Ethel Wilson fiction award.
The Ethel Wilson fiction award recognizes the original literary fiction work of an author who has lived in B.C. or in the Yukon for the last 12 months.
“I moved to Houston in 1990 and lived there until I moved to Telkwa in 2005,” said Haggerty.
Haggerty taught English at Houston Secondary School for 15 years before she retired in 2005 and moved to Telkwa. Before that she lived in Vancouver teaching in the creative writing department at UBC, and has previously spent time in England,Spain, and New York City writing.
“After I retired I started working full time on the novel. I’ve been working on it for the past 20 years actually,” said Haggerty.
A former Houston Secondary Grade 12 student of Haggerty’s, Erin Kelly, was also one of the main editors of The Dance HallYears.
“I took her with me to Vancouver the year after she graduated and helped her get set up at Emily Carr University and so on.Eventually, some years later we got back in touch. She was an outstanding literature student, and she ended up getting the main editing credit, [for The Dancehall Years] she was one of the three main editors of the book,” said Haggerty.
Haggerty says it felt great when she was informed that her book had been shortlisted for the 2017 Ethel Wilson fiction award for B.C. Book Prizes.
“It’s very lonely work being a writing, and especially writing a long novel where you have to be pretty isolated with the characters. And so it feels good to be recognized. It means a lot to me,” said Haggerty.
Winners of the B.C. Book Prizes will be announced on April 29.
The Dancehall Years is about a child on Bowen Island whose summer fun is disrupted by the outbreak of war.
The story of the protagonist, Gwen Killam, begins from a young girl learning how to swim from her instructor, Takumi Yoshita, who disappears along with his parents who are known for their devotion to Bowen Inn Gardens, to a grown woman and mother struggling with the dissolve of her marriage.