Arsenal Pulp Press Butter Honey Pig Bread and Jonny Appleseed finalists for CBC 2021 Canada Reads

2021 marks the 20th edition of CBC Canada Reads. Over four days, the five Canada Reads champions selected will bring their diverse perspectives to this year’s theme: One Book to Transport Us. Canada Reads 2021 takes place March 8-11 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan and broadcasted on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem, and on CBC Books. CBC Books has launched a Facebook group for those who want to read the Canada Reads 2021 books together. You can join the conversation here.

Among the five champions are two books from the B.C.-based publisher, Arsenal Pulp Press. Arsenal Pulp Press is a book publisher in Vancouver, Canada with over 400 titles currently in print, which include literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry; books on social issues; gender studies; LGBTQ2S+ and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and persons of colour) literature; graphic novels and non-fiction; children’s and young adult literature; regional history; cookbooks; alternative crafts; and books in translation. Arsenal Pulp Press is interested in literature that engages and challenges readers, and which asks probing questions about the world around us. Learn about the two champion books, Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead and Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi.

 

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Devery Jacobs is championing Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead. (Submitted by Devery Jacobs)

 

Jonny Appleseed is a novel by Joshua Whitehead about a two-spirit Indigiqueer young man who leaves the reserve and becomes a cybersex worker in the big city to make ends meet. But he must reckon with his past when he returns home to attend his stepfather’s funeral. Jonny Appleseed won the Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. It was also longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The book is championed by Devery Jacobs, a Mohawk actor and filmmaker from Kahnawà:ke Mohawk territory. She can be seen in the film Rhymes for Young Ghouls and the television shows The Order on Netflix, Cardinal on CTV and American Gods on Amazon Prime Video/STARZ. Her next major role will be in Taika Waititi’s new FX series Reservation Dogs. Her feature film as a co-writer, This Place, is set to be released in 2021. Joshua Whitehead is a two-spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation, currently pursuing his PhD. He is also the author of the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer and is the editor of the anthology Love After the End. Jonny Appleseed is his first novel.

 

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Roger Mooking is championing Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi. (Submitted by Roger Mooking)

 

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel by Francesca Ekwuyasi about twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she was a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness. Butter Honey Pig Bread was on the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. The book is championed by Roger Mooking, a chef, restaurateur, television host, author and award-winning recording artist. He has hosted Man Fire Food on the Food Network Canada and Cooking Channel, Greatest of America on Travel Channel and Everyday Exotic on Cooking Channel and co-hosted Heat Seekers on Food Network alongside chef Aarón Sanchez. Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Her writing has appeared in The Malahat Review, Guts and Brittle Paper, and she was longlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize. Butter Honey Pig Bread is her first book. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and currently lives in Halifax.

Discover more from Arsenal Pulp Press. Learn more about CBC Canada Reads.

#ReadBC Bestsellers List

B.C. books cherish and champion the land, stories and diversity of life in the Pacific Northwest. Here are the 15 B.C. Bestsellers from Read Local BC, published by B.C. book publishers.

 

Book excerpt: Takaya: The Lone Wolf | Times Colonist

No. 1 Takaya: Lone Wolf by Cheryl Alexander
RMB | Rocky Mountain Books

An enchanting and evocative look at the unique relationship between a solitary, island-dwelling wolf and a renowned wildlife photographer.

BC Bestseller for 10 consecutive weeks

 

No. 2 Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History by Eve Lazarus
Arsenal Pulp Press

Eve Lazarus peels back the layers of Vancouver’s history to reveal its surprising hidden depths.

BC Bestseller for 10 consecutive weeks

 

Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak – Roy Henry Vickers Gallery

No. 3 Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak by Robert Budd, illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers
Harbour Publishing

With bright and bold illustrations by celebrated Indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers, this sturdy board book introduces iconic sounds of the West Coast and supports the language development of babies and toddlers.

BC Bestseller for 30 consecutive weeks

 

No. 4 The E. J. Hughes Book of Boats by Robert Amos
TouchWood Editions

Boat lovers of all ages and people who enjoy the scenery of BC’s coast will delight in this charming gift book, a worthy addition to books about BC’s art history.

BC Bestseller for 13 consecutive weeks

 

Excerpt from Crossing The Divide: Discovering a Wilderness Ethic in Canada's Northern Rockies | Canadian Geographic

No. 5 Crossing the Divide: Discovering a Wilderness Ethic in Canada’s Northern Rockies by Wayne Sawchuk
Creekstone Press

Wayne Sawchuk takes us from his early days as a logger and trapper to his role in creating the largest protected wilderness area in the Rocky Mountains.

BC Bestseller for 5 consecutive weeks

 

Birds of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest: A Complete Guide, Second Edition: Cannings, Richard, Aversa, Tom, Opperman, Hal: 9781772033274: Books - Amazon.ca

No. 6 Birds of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest: A Complete Guide, Second Edition by Richard Cannings & Tom Aversa
Heritage House Publishing

The ultimate bestselling field guide to birds of the Pacific Northwest bioregion, now fully revised in its Second Edition!

BC Bestseller for 4 consecutive weeks

 

When We Are Kind, Book by Monique Gray Smith (Picture Books) | www.chapters.indigo.ca

No. 7 When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt
Orca Book Publishers

When We Are Kind celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives.

BC Bestseller for 12 consecutive weeks

 

A book of recipes from the author of the Grape Series memoirs that will transport you to a rustic French cottage surrounded by vineyards, no matter where in the world your kitchen might be.

No. 8 Bisous and Brioche: Classic French Recipes and Family Favorites from a Life in France by Laura Bradbury & Rebecca Wellman
TouchWood Editions

A book of recipes from the author of the Grape Series memoirs that will transport you to a rustic French cottage surrounded by vineyards, no matter where in the world your kitchen might be.

BC Bestseller for 3 consecutive weeks

 

Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya - Mountain Life

No. 9 Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya by Bruce Kirkby
Douglas & McIntyre

One morning at breakfast, while gawking at his phone and feeling increasingly disconnected from family and everything else of importance in his world, it strikes writer Bruce Kirkby: this isn’t how he wants to live.

BC Bestseller for 2 consecutive weeks

 

No. 10 Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder: A Memoir by Julia Zarankin
Douglas & McIntyre

When Julia Zarankin saw her first red-winged blackbird at the age of thirty-five, she didn’t expect that it would change her life.

BC Bestseller for 2 consecutive weeks

 

No. 11 Edible and Medicinal Flora of the West Coast: British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest by Collin Varner
Heritage House Publishing

A clear, concise guide to more than 130 edible and medicinal plants and funghi that grow wild throughout the west coast of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest states.

BC Bestseller for 29 consecutive weeks

 

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No. 12 On Their Own Terms: True Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island by Haley Healey
Heritage House Publishing

A fascinating collection of concise stories about seventeen courageous, independent, and diverse women who shaped the history of Vancouver Island.

BC Bestseller for 7 consecutive weeks

 

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No. 13 Slashburner: Hot Times in the British Columbia Woods by Nick Raeside
Harbour Publishing

Nick Raeside worked at many jobs in the logging business but the one that he specialized in was starting fires—small, (hopefully) controlled fires used to clean up logging slash or debris-laden sites left after the merchantable timber had been removed.

BC Bestseller for 2 consecutive weeks

 

No. 14 Gone Viking: A Travel Saga by Bill Arnott
RMB | Rocky Mountain Books

Bill Arnott guides readers on an epic literary odyssey following history’s most feared and misunderstood voyageurs: the Vikings!

BC Bestseller for 1 consecutive week

 

B.C. book explores the magic, myths and ecology of orcas | Vancouver Sun

No. 15 Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History eds. Martha Black, Lorne Hammond, Gavin Hanke, with Nikki Sanchez
Royal British Columbia Museum

An insightful collection exploring the plight, past and promise of the orca, powerful symbol of BC’s wild coast and apex predator of all oceans.

BC Bestseller for 2 consecutive weeks

 

#ReadBC this holiday and support local B.C. bookstores and publishers

From Terrace and Qualicum Beach to Cranbrook, the Made-in-B.C. Indie Bookstore Map is yours to use in support of your community bookstore, now offering online orders, home delivery and/or curb-side pickup during this holiday season.

The map was curated by Don Gorman of Rocky Mountain Books, from Victoria, BC. View the map here.

West Coast flavours dominate the 2020 Taste Canada Awards shortlist

Chop Suey Nation

2020, a year for home cooks. In its 23rd year, the Taste Canada Awards unveils its shortlist of cookbooks competing for a coveted culinary writing award as well as the virtual gala hosts. Eighty-six cookbooks entered the competition, featuring authors from seven provinces. The shortlist narrowed the competition to five entries per category, featuring authors from six provinces.

British Columbia’s notorious food scene takes a lead with 15 nominations from B.C. publisher titles. View the nominees below, and the full 2020 Taste Canada shortlist here.

 

Culinary Narratives:

Chop Suey Nation by Ann Hui (Douglas & McIntyre)

Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada's ...

 

Island Craft: Your Guide to the Breweries of Vancouver Island by Jon Stott (TouchWood Editions)

Island Craft: Your Guide to the Breweries of Vancouver Island ...

 

General Cookbooks:

Duchess at Home by Giselle Courteau (Appetite by Random House)

Duchess at Home 電子書,分類依據Giselle Courteau - 9780525610335 ...

 

Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook by David Robertson and Kerry Gold (Figure 1 Publishing)

David Robertson's tarte Tatin | Eat North

 

Let Me Feed You by Rosie Daykin (Appetite by Random House)

Let Me Feed You: Everyday Recipes Offering the Comfort of Home ...

 

Regional/Cultural Cookbooks:

Burdock & Co by Andrea Carlson (Appetite by Random House)

Burdock & Co by Andrea Carlson - Penguin Books Australia

 

Cedar and Salt: Vancouver Island Recipes from Forest, Farm, Field, and Sea by DL Acken and Emily Lycopolus. (TouchWood Editions)

Cedar and Salt: Vancouver Island Recipes from Forest, Farm, Field ...

 

Coconut Lagoon: Recipes from a South Indian Kitchen by Joe Thottungal and Anne DesBrisay (Figure 1 Publishing)

Coconut Lagoon: Recipes from a South Indian Kitchen: Thottungal ...

 

Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen by Kim Thúy (Appetite by Random House)

Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many ...

 

Single-Subject Cookbooks:

Living High Off the Hog by Michael Olson (Appetite by Random House)

Living High Off the Hog: Over 100 Recipes and Techniques to Cook ...

 

Modern Lunch by Allison Day (Appetite by Random House)

Modern Lunch: +100 Recipes for Assembling the New Midday Meal: Day ...

 

Vegetables First by Ricardo Larrivée (Appetite by Random House)

Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable-Forward Recipes: Larrivee ...

 

Health and Special Diet Cookbooks:

Peace, Love and Fibre by Mairlyn Smith (Appetite by Random House)

Peace, Love and Fibre: Over 100 Fibre-Rich Recipes for the Whole ...

 

The Living Kitchen by Tamara Green and Sarah Grossman, (Appetite by Random House)

The Living Kitchen: Healing Recipes to Support Your Body During ...

 

The Long Table Cook Book, Plant-Based Recipes for Optimal Health by Amy Symington (Douglas & McIntyre)

The Long Table Cookbook: Plant-based Recipes for Optimal Health ...

 

Mini Incite: A Celebration of Indigenous Voices with the BC and Yukon Book Prize Finalists

For a stirring final event of the mini-Incite season, the Vancouver Writers Fest partners with the BC and Yukon Book Prizes to celebrate some of British Columbia’s incredible Indigenous talent, all nominees for the 2020 BC and Yukon Book Prizes. The BC and Yukon Book Prizes, established in 1985, celebrate the achievements of British Columbia writers and publishers. These are stories of place, of displacement, of resilience and healing. Join the special event on YouTube Live Wednesday, June 17 at 7pm PDT.

In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience (University of Regina Press)

Helen Knott, a 2019 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Author, shares her deeply intimate and provocative memoir of intergenerational trauma and becoming, In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience (University of Regina Press), which is nominated for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.

 


SH:LAM (The Doctor) (Mawenzi House Publishers)

Joseph A Dandurand shares his insightful and sweeping poetry collection SH:LAM (The Doctor) (Mawenzi House Publishers), which follows the story of a Kwantlen man given the gift of healing. His collection has been shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Award for Poetry.

 

On/Me (Caitlin Press)

Francine Cunningham shares her debut poetry collection On/Me (Caitlin Press), a suite of emotive and powerful poems on her lived experience as an Indigenous woman, mental illness and urban life. Her collection has been nominated for the Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes.

Tune in with their host Sean Cranbury, the Executive Director of the BC and Yukon Book Prizes, live on YouTube for an unforgettable discussion, before the winners are announced Saturday, September 19, 2020. Learn more about the nominees at bcbookprizes.ca.

RSVP and submit a question for the panelists here.

Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press and Read Local BC Champion BIPOC Storytelling

Arsenal Pulp Press is a Vancouver-based independent publisher leading and championing with a focus on books on social issues; gender studies; LGBTQ and diverse literature; graphic novels and non-fiction; cookbooks; alternative crafts; visual arts; and books in translation.

 

 

Their comprehensive shelf features BIPOC writers from British Columbia and beyond. It is our responsibility to do better, to take action and to make change, beginning with education and active support. BC independent bookstores are important representatives of Black and Indigenous B.C. writers’ content. You can browse and purchase works from Arsenal Pulp Press on their website.

 

Read Local BC has compiled antiracist texts, to support learning about systemic racism and its effects, and supporting Black artists, writers, and business owners.

 

Reading Lists
12 (Mostly) Canadian Books about Racism, Anti-Blackness, and Anti-Racism, Plus Places to Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is from Casey Stepaniuk
25 Books About Being Black in Canada a from CBC Books
Awesome Anti-Racist Kids’ Books from 49th Shelf
Black Lives Matter reading list from Red Balloon Bookshop
BLM: Books by Black Authors from All Lit Up
Confronting and Combating Racism from the New Westminster Public Library
Publishing@SFU’s List of Books You Need Right Now from Simon Fraser University’s Publishing department

Resources
Anti-Racism Resources from Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein
Justice in June from Bryanna Wallace and Autumn Gupta
Resources for Race, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion n from We Need Diverse Books
Support Local Black-led Organizations from Pivot Legal Society
Black-Owned / Black-Focused Bookstores to Support Now created by Don Gorman of Rocky Mountain Book Publishers

 


Map of Black-owned/Black-focused Bookstores to support now

Alexis Roumanis of Engage Books wants to help children understand COVID-19

Explaining COVID-19 to young children can be challenging for families. Engage Books wanted to create accessible resources for parents and educators to help children understand the significant impact that COVID-19 is having on their lives. Engage Books created multi-level educational books to empower young children to read about COVID-19 on their own, or with the help of an adult. This simple act empowers young readers, and is an important step in making this situation a little less scary.

As COVID-19 is affecting millions of children across the world, Engage Books strives to translate these books into multiple languages. To help support their efforts, physical copies are available for purchase. To help make this book available to as many children and families as possible, this eBook is offered free of charge to everyone.

Engage Books partnered with Munday Media & Design to donate a Story Walk of the Level 2 and Level 4 books. Each page of these books are now printed on signs, and placed in the park at Oliver’s community centre for families to read the entire book as they walk from sign to sign. We chatted with Alexis Roumanis about his determination to take an initiative in educating facts in a meaningful way.

Tell us about your book and how it came to ideation.

When schools closed in March, my boys (6, and twin 5-year-olds) were asking lots of questions about COVID-19, and I realized that parents around the world are being asked similar questions. A few days later, I decided to use my experience in writing and publishing children’s books, along with the involvement of talented publishing professionals, to put together three books for Level 1, 2, and 4 readers.

Did you collaborate with anyone to create the book?

Over the past several years, I have worked closely with children’s book editor, Jared Siemens. He has a keen eye for detail, and knows intuitively how to structure a children’s educational book. Recently he has been working in the non-profit sector, performing a wide variety of relief and poverty prevention work internationally. When I approached him with the COVID-19 series, he immediately appreciated the significant impact that this could have on children, and began helping me with the finer details of structuring each book. I am very grateful for his help.

Tell us about your work at Engage Books

Engage Books publishes a wide variety of content. I began by publishing classic titles from the likes of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and James Joyce. Since, Engage Books has branched out into a variety of areas including bullet journals, and children’s books. One of our books, The Toddler’s Handbook, has been so successful that we have translated it into 20 different languages. I divide my time between writing, editing, finding new images, laying out new content, and coordinating workflow with publishing professionals. One of my favourite things is coming up with new concepts, and planning out a new series of books.

 

 

What were the early days of your career like? How did you get to where you are now?

After I graduated Simon Fraser University, I enrolled in SFU’s Master in Publishing (MPub) program in 2007. During my time in the MPub program I established Engage Books, and began publishing some of my first books. My goal upon entering the program was to start a book publishing company, and I wrote my thesis on this endeavour. After graduation, I began working full-time for other publishers, and built Engage Books slowly in my spare time. Over the past decade, I’ve edited hundreds of children’s books, and written about 100 educational books for other publishers for children in grades K-12. Engage Books now has several hundred titles, and I am now able to focus solely on Engage Books.

What inspires you as a creator? What are your influences?

When I focus on a new project, I wonder how I could make the most of myself, and what impact my actions could have on others. When creating children’s books, I am appreciative of the positive effect that words can have on developing minds. My ultimate goal is to instill a belief in children that anything is possible. I am inspired by Elon Musk. Not because of his success and an individual, but because his actions are focused on solving real-world problems. When faced with the threat of pollution, Elon Musk decides to focus on electric vehicles, and creating renewable energy with solar panels. To make travel safer and faster, he began digging tunnels under major cities and plans on connecting cities with ultra-fast Hyperloop pods. Musk is also dead-set on sending people to Mars as humanity’s ultimate safety net.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Publishing in an industry with many creative outlets. It has allowed me to branch out into writing, editing, production, marketing, layout and design. My advice is to learn as much as possible about the publishing process, as it will not only help you become better within a specific field, but it will give you an opportunity to move your expertise to multiple departments. The best way to learn about the publishing process is to attend Simon Fraser University’s Master in Publishing (MPub) program. It is an in-depth, and rigorous 16-month program that helps students to develop the practical and conceptual tools they will need to flourish in an industry that is constantly changing. I am extremely fortunate to have found the MPub program nearly 13 years ago and am happy to see the program flourishing under its director, John Maxwell.

Alexis Roumanis and his children read What is COVID-19 together

 

What impact do you hope to achieve with those who read the book?

My goal with Level 1, 2, and 4 readers is to empower young children to read about COVID-19 on their own, or with the help of an adult. This simple act empowers young readers and is an important step in making this situation a little less scary. As COVID-19 is affecting millions of children across the world, we are striving to translate these books into multiple languages. I have enlisted the help of three of SFU’s graduate students from the MPub program to work remotely with professional translators in different countries. They are working fast and will have French, Spanish, and Hindi editions of all three books available for distribution in early May. Our goal is to reach as many children as possible.

Where can people access and purchase the books?

To support our efforts, copies of all three books are available for purchase on all Amazon websites. eBooks will be available on all major platforms in May. Libraries can order directly through Ingram’s iPage.

Are you doing any innovative creating from home during this time? 

When I contacted the MPub program several weeks ago, I was surprised to learn that most of the 16 student’s internships had fallen through. Many publishers decided not to take on interns while their offices were closed. I hired on two interns by distance, one from BC, and the other has moved back to her home in Ontario. We are collaborating on a daily basis, using Zoom, Google Docs, and email to keep in touch. Generally an intern would work closely with a supervisor in a publishing house, however, we are finding that with the use of innovative technology, we are able to collaborate and accomplish daily goals. The internships have started off extremely well, with the MPub students developing interactive eBooks, and new content for young children. It is difficult to see students held back by COVID-19, and I am excited to be working with such a talented group of people.

Support Engage Books by purchasing copies on Amazon: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 4

 

A spread from What is COVID-19

Top 10 tips for B.C. book lovers for Victoria Day long weekend

Make a win-win decision: Read Local BC, get discounts and delivery! BC’s book publishers and distributors have you covered from poetry to bestselling cookbooks. These are top 10 tips for BC book lovers so you can read your way through Victoria long weekend.

1. Arsenal Pulp Press is currently offering 25% off all in-print titles plus free shipping for orders over $50 (promotional code STAYSAFE)

2. Talonbooks is offering 25% off all books on their website from now until June 1

3. Orca Book Publishers is running a Giveaway for Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health by Melanie Siebert until midnight PDT May 10.

4. Rebel Mountain Press is offering 30-50% off select titles.

5. Royal BC Museum Publishing is offering a 30% discount and reduced shipping on Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History through May 17, 2020 in their Publications Shop using promo code SPIRITS30

6. The Royal BC Museum Foundation Shop is offering 20% off site wide for the month of May (note that this cannot be combined with the Sprits of the Coast offer)

7. UBC Press has 20% off of all print books and 30% off of all e-books at www.ubcpress.ca. When ordering print books, use the discount code “CabinFever” at the checkout, and for e-books, “Housebound.” Learn more.

8. Get 30% off everything in Anvil Press‘s online bookstore. They’re shipping twice a week!

9. Greystone Books is donating 25% of website sales to local independent booksellers. Customers can enter the name of their local bookstore at checkout.

10. Heritage House Publishing, Rocky Mountain Books, and TouchWood Editions, along with their distributor, Heritage Group Distribution, are extending a helping hand to independent bookstores while they experience challenges due to COVID-19 by offering them an extra 20% off their invoices until stores are able to reopen.

Thanks to ABPBC for the hot tip in their Read Local BC at home newsletter! Check out the map of Canadian Indie Bookstores Who Deliver, created by Don Gorman, publisher of Rocky Mountain.

Map of B.C. independent bookstores offering pickup and delivery services

From Terrace and Qualicum Beach to Cranbrook, the Made-in-B.C. Indie Bookstore Map is yours to use in support of your community bookstore, now offering online orders, home delivery and/or curb-side pickup during COVID-19. ⁣

The map was curated by Don Gorman of Rocky Mountain Books, from Victoria, BC. View the map here.

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The Art of Asking with Nav Nagra, Publisher of Room Magazine

On March 11th, Room Magazine is hosting its fourth annual literary and arts festival celebrating diverse Canadian writers and artists, Growing Room. The festival was created in commitment to deepen learning about inclusion and accessibility, both within the systemic structures of the festival and the creative curation. Growing Room is a celebration, a protest, a reflection, a re-visioning, a gathering, a question, and a dream.

Nav Nagra, who was recently appointed as the new publisher of Room Magazine is no stranger, having been a collective member since 2014 holding various roles. Her passion for the publishing industry has taken her through various initiatives and organizations throughout the province including consultancy with Breathing Space Creative, serving on the board of Vancouver Art Book Fair and the Professional Development Committee of AFP Vancouver.

We speak to Nav about her journey with Room Magazine and multi-disciplinary skills that have afforded her a wealth of experience in British Columbia’s publishing industry.

 

 

Tell us a little about yourself, your work and Room Magazine.

I’m a first-generation Canadian and I feel like this and the culture I was raised within really informed my interest in storytelling. Most of my life was spent living in a multi-generational house with a Grandmother who loved sharing stories and quite frankly, gossip and I think those interactions made me want to become a storyteller. I made sure my education was always centered around books and writing and then shortly before I graduated from university, I found out about Room Magazine and inquired about getting involved with the magazine. I started at Room Magazine in 2014 as the Advertising Coordinator, moved onto our Editorial roster and now am extremely humbled to be Publisher. I have published a few small pieces of poetry and hope this year will bring about a lot more writing for me.  I’m also currently working on what I hope will be a novel.

 

For those who may not be familiar with B.C.’s magazine publishing industry, what are your thoughts on the ever-evolving landscape? What does the future of magazine publishing look like?

I think the future of magazine publishing will see magazines appearing on more than one platform in more than one format. We’re seeing it now with magazines starting podcasts, YouTube channels, and other types of audience engagement. I don’t think print is dead and I may be naive in thinking so, but I don’t see print going anywhere for a while. I do think that magazines need to be a bit nimble going forward and work towards becoming as digitally accessible as possible while maintaining a print presence.

 

What were the early days of your career like? How did you get to where you are now?

The early days of my career were really formed by me asking a lot of questions and finding ways of getting involved in editorial work. I have an accidental art history background and this led to my work at an art gallery and creating artist catalogues for emerging and established artists. I was almost rabid in my university days trying to find any publication that would allow me to write an article or blog post about pretty much anything. As I moved within my career, I always made sure that I could do something that would bolster my editing abilities and allow me to write. I guess I am where I am now because I would always say yes and then scope out the next opportunity. And though I acknowledge that not everyone has the privilege of doing this, I am very glad I was able to.

 

What inspires you as a creator?

I am very inspired by music and movies. I love reading but I find that I am so baffled by the talent of the writers I read that I never feel I can create such amazing works so I take the emotions I feel from movies and music and translate that into my writing and other creations. My influences change so quickly it’s really hard to narrow it down. Right now, I would say from a writing standpoint, I am most inspired by Carmen Maria Machado, Roxane Gay, and Chelene Knight. Oh! And Fleabag – I found so much inspiration from that show.

 

 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Ask questions! The art of asking is real and if you’re able to, ask lots of questions. One thing that I like to do if I’m interested in a certain aspect of the industry is I ask if I can go to coffee with someone just to find out how they got where they are or if they have any advice. For the most part, folks are more than happy to sit down with someone to share some wisdom. I know that I would not be where I am if I hadn’t just asked.

 

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

As of now, it’s definitely becoming the Publisher of Room Magazine. If you had asked me in 2014 where I thought my path would lead with Room, I would have never thought I would end up as Publisher. I am so humbled in my role and by the team at Room.

 

Are there any upcoming events or initiatives in the pipeline for Room Magazine?

Yes! Our Growing Room literary and arts festival is happening in Vancouver from March 11th – 15th and features so many amazing artists and writers. You can find out more and get your tickets at festival.roommagazine.com.

 

Visit Room Magazine’s website for more information.