On Friday, Sept. 12 The Theatre On King Street hosted a full house for the launch party of They Have To Take You In, a new anthology of short fiction on the theme of family released by Hidden Brook Press and raising money for the Dana Fund (a charity to “promote and support mental health recovery and wellness by working with individuals, families and community partners” according to their account on charity crowdfunding site ‘canadahelps.org’).
On hand was the anthology’s editor, Norwood-based author and editor Ursula Pflug (ursulapflug.ca).
Pflug has been writing for decades and her latest novel, Motion Sickness (illustrated by former Peterborough illustrator SK Dyment) was released by Toronto publisher ‘Inanna’.
Her previous books include the novels Green Music and The Alphabet Stones as well as collections After The Fires and Harvesting The Moon and she has also written non-fiction about books and arts and worked as an editor for The Peterborough Review, Takeout, The Link and a number of other clients.
When asked how she came to the project she replies “A couple of years ago Kingston poet Bruce Kauffmann edited an anthology for HBP entitled That Not Forgotten. It was a fundraiser for the renovations on the Purdy House in Prince Edward County with the goal of turning it into a writers’ residency. I met publisher Tai Grove at the launch and he asked me if I had any ideas for projects.
“As to the fundraiser aspect, I spoke to a few potential partners, but Gordon Langill is an old friend and he has a literary background so that gave him specific insight from the outset.
“The fact that Dana Tkachenko was a remarkable writer was very exciting. I’m really pleased that we were given permission to publish her work. By the way, the donation link to the Dana Fund can be found via the CMHA home page at: https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/4840”
They Have To Take You In, which gets its title from the Robert Frost poem, “The Death of the Hired Man” features selections from a wide variety of authors, says Pflug: “Our better known authors include Michelle Berry and Leanne Simpson from Peterborough, Linda Rogers and Silvia Moreno-Garcia from BC and Jan Thornhill from Havelock.
“Joe Davies, also from Peterborough, is widely published in the short story form. P.J. Thomas is author of several books including her remarkable novel about mental illness, Almost Up and Down.
“It was important to me to include writers who are just starting out as well as those who are established, so I’ve also included work by talented newcomers Georgia Fisher and Tapanga Koe among others.”
Asking about the literary scene in Peterborough, she manages to hit on every nook and cranny for people interested in the literary arts and would-be writers alike.
“There is a Trent based series at Traill College called Writers Reading which hasn’t posted its fall season yet. The Peterborough Poetry Slam hosts monthly events at The Spill and elsewhere. Word-Up, another Spoken Word series, also takes place at The Spill.
“At the Cat Sass series in Norwood I scheduled both local and nationally touring literary authors for two and a half years. We’re doing occasional events now only as the wonderful Cat Sass coffeehouse has closed.
“On the good side, an offshoot of Toronto’s Chi-series is just starting up. The series will be hosted by Derek Newman-Stille at Sadleir House and I’ll be presenting there on October 16, together with Ian Rogers and Kate Story.
“Going to events is a great way to connect with other readers, with writers, and with the publishing community. Events are also a great place to buy amazing books.
“Broadview Press is located in Peterborough but they are an academic publisher. Ordinary Press has been an occasional publisher of plays and anthologies.
“I edit short fiction for lifestyle quarterly The Link. It’s flash length meaning under a thousand words and our mandate is to publish local authors, both from the city and surrounding areas. Folks should feel welcome to send me work via The Link but it has to be polished and ready for publication.
“Writers shouldn’t feel limited by geography; many publishers have a mandate to foster talent and work with emerging authors including those outside of their immediate area, and there are also excellent lists of literary publishers online. The OAC’s Writer’s Reserve compiles one such list.”
With the Peterborough launch of They Have To Take You In behind her, she’s going to be very busy with much of her own work: “I’ve got events coming up to promote Harvesting the Moon, Motion Sickness and They Have To Take You In.
“I’ve also got a novel, Down From, in draft form that I’d like to finish one day. It’s about a couple of witches who live in neighbouring villages. They’re both artists, mothers and gardeners. The story tackles the ways in which women undermine instead of support each other. Gossip as black magic. Strong stuff.”
The success of this launch as well as many of the multi-genre interest for the spoken and written word (the Peterborough Poetry Slam nights—the fourth Thursday of every month—tend to draw really well once the students come back) demonstrate the growing diversity of the arts and culture economy in Peterborough and yet more opportunities for students to connect with similarly interested peers and those already working in their respective fields.
They Have To Take You In as well as all of Pflug’s other works are available online at Chapters/Indigo and Amazon.