Former Douglas student gives reading of debut novel
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
Literature Alive, run by the Creative Writing Department, welcomed back former Douglas student and Other Press contributor Carleigh Baker on September 20 to read from her debut novel Bad Endings. The novel is a collection of short stories published earlier this year, which is currently a finalist for the 2017 City of Vancouver Book Award.
Baker, an Indigenous writer, spoke candidly about the inspiration for her work. She said it began seven years ago around Sixth Street and St. George here in New West, just as her then-marriage began to fall apart. This prompted her to ask herself what she would do if she could do anything. Her answer was to write, so she enrolled herself in the writing program at Douglas. “I needed something I would have no excuse to skip, even if I slept in,” she jokingly explained. She is currently working on her MFA at UBC.
Adding that most of the stories in Bad Endings began during her time at Douglas, Baker read from the introductory story of the collection, titled “War of Attrition,” inspired by her time handing out Metro newspapers at 22nd Street Station.
The story explores her rivalry with another paper distributor at the station—a Ukrainian mail-order bride disguised as a Russian mail-order bride—and the beginning of the friendship born out of it. “I really like dark humour and female friendships,” said Baker.
She then read from another story, admitting it was based heavily on someone who works for the City of Vancouver. She ended the evening taking questions from students and offering career advice based on her experience in the publishing industry.
“A lot is based on who you know,” said the writer.
Literature Alive events are held periodically throughout the year. These readings are free and open to the public, so keep an eye out around campus for posters announcing the next event.