Last Thursday, at the Okanagan Short Story event, I met the author of The Golden Mean, Annabel Lyon, winner of the Rogers Trust fiction award and finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She remembered my story from the twenty entries she had to read and select for the top three spots. I felt honoured to be read by her and remembered. She encouraged me as a first time novelist to keep padding my resume and not wait for an agent or publisher, as she had not done either. Her first two publications were short story collections.
Annabel was un-agented for her first book. She represented her work herself and negotiated the contract for her short story collection with a publisher. She then got an agent who represented all her work since (two more books of adult fiction, two of YA fiction – she’s prolific!). With a book or two in her hands she had a much easier time finding an agent and being published.
Annabel Lyon gave a delightful presentation and answered every question from the audience. She read excepts from her novel and explained her novel’s main protagonist’s personality (Aristotle), as a person who likely suffered from what is now called Bi-Polar disorder. He was the mentor of Macedonia’s king’s son, the boy Alexander, who later became Alexander The Great and conquered half of the then-known world. Aristotle also mentored Alexander’s brother, a mentally challenged, elder sibling. Everybody working in that field will recognize the first attempts of the normalization paradigm, and the beginnings of occupational and speech therapy that the novels’ great teacher applied in his work with this young, privileged, but nevertheless ostracized, young man.
It was a very interesting evening. I found Annabel Lyon in this first contact a very nice and generous person with an impressive mind. I am looking forward to more of her work.
The short story competition is an annual event sponsored by the University of British Columbia – Okanagan Creative Writing program, the Okanagan College and the public broadcasting network CBC, moderated by Michael Smith, professor of UBC – O’s Creative Writing department . This year’s winners are: First Place: Lindsay Diehl, ‘Basel’, Kelowna; Second Place: Susan Fenner, ‘Axis of Fault’, Vernon; Third Place: Ryan Ennis, ‘Hole’, from Kelowna.
If anyone reading this blog has read The Golden Mean, what do you think about the novel?