WILLIS, Deborah

Author Tags: Fiction

Deborah Willis is a Victoria-based fiction writer. See below.


Vanishing and Other Stories (Penguin 2010) 9780143170228 $24.00

Nominated for Vanishing and Other Stories
BC Book Prizes (2010)

from BC Book Prizes catalogue
Evocative and passionately written, Vanishing and Other Stories explores emotional and physical absences, the ways in which people leave and are left, and whether it’s ever possible to move on. Readers will encounter a skinny, freckled ice-cream scooper named after Nina Simone, a visionary of social utopia, a French teacher who collects fiancés and a fortune-telling mother who fails to predict the heartbreak of her own daughter. In the title story, a writer vanishes, leaving unfinished work and unanswerable questions. A doctor, mourning a loss, takes up blackjack. After his wife leaves, an aging cowboy is seduced by a city girl. In these stories, secrets are both kept and unearthed, and lives are shaped by missing lovers, parents and children. Deborah Willis was a winner of PRISM International’s annual fiction prize and her work has appeared in literary journals across Canada. Born in Calgary, she now lives in Victoria.

Willis at Kogawa House
Press Release (2012)

Historic Joy Kogawa House proudly announces Victoria author Deborah Willis as our 2012 writer-in-residence.

Deborah Willis was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Her short fiction has appeared in Grain, Event, Prism International, and The Walrus. Her first book, Vanishing and Other Stories, was named one of the Globe and Mail’s Best Books of 2009, and was nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in British Columbia and the Governor General’s Award. Willis resides in Victoria, B.C., but will live and work at Historic Joy Kogawa House from January 15 to April 15, 2012.

“I’m so pleased to have the chance to live in the Joy Kogawa House,” says Willis, who will work on her second collection of stories during her residency. The mandate of the house states that writers-in-residence will spend sixty percent of their time writing and forty percent on community outreach. “The personal, private work of writing is balanced by time spent on community programs. It’s a wonderful way for me to experience living in Vancouver.”

Willis will work with three community groups, offering a four-week writing program for teens from local high schools, a reading program for newcomers to Canada in partnership with the Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Centre, and co-facilitating writing workshops for sex workers and former sex workers in partnership with Aaron Golbeck of Downtown Eastside Studio Society. She will also run a writing workshop for children, with Sarah Maitland, in the KidSafe Writers’ Room at Queen Alexandra Elementary School.