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Thistledown Press Fall 2018

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  • 1
    catalogue cover
    Angela of the Stones Life in the Time of Revolution Amanda Hale Canada
    9781771871655 Paperback FICTION / Short Stories Publication Date:October 01, 2018
    $19.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.44 in | 300 gr | 168 pages Carton Quantity:56 Thistledown Press
    • Marketing Copy


      “All of Cuba is a museum now. We live off our old Revolution,” laments Gertrudis, one in a cast of characters teetering on the verge of political change while held in the grip of the past. Cuba is the place where the grandchildren of peasants become consultant surgeons, but also the place where necessity as the mother of invention is put into extreme practise. In Havana, the buildings like the peoples’ dreams, are constantly being restored. But so too in the rural districts, in towns like Baracoa, you will find boisterous people who idolised the Fidel past and continue to mourn his passing while those like Godofredo, born in January 1959 as a victorious Fidel marched into Havana, limps along the streets of Baracoa where he encounters tourists and townspeople while maintaining his anonymity as the peanut vendor. In Amanda Hale’s stories, Cuba comes alive with a gentle humour and through the richly detailed portraits of the families of Baracoa as they struggle with the political changes that are reshaping Cuba.

      Meet Daniela who flies from the roof into the arms of her unfaithful husband; Sonia who marvels at the new world of her cell-phone crazy teenagers; Tito, a world away in Miami, who rants about Obama’s handshake with Raúl Castro; and witness a corpse that travels the length of Cuba and back in a nightmare of bureaucracy, all while Ángela huddles for the night on her bench in Parque Central.

      Amanda Hale is an award-winning writer who has published three novels, two poetry chapbooks, and now her second collection of linked fictions set in the Cuban town of Baracoa. She is currently collaborating as librettist on Pomegranate — an opera set in ancient Pompeii. A fourth novel, Mad Hatter, is forthcoming.

      Hale is an established writer with reader followings on the west coast where she lives and Toronto where she teaches. Her previous books have been well-reviewed and have sold beyond the literary market into schools. She has sold rights of her work into Spain and South America.

      Her previous publications include:
      Sounding the Blood (Raincoast Books 2001)
      The Reddening Path (Thistledown 2007)
      My Sweet Curiosity (Thistledown 2009)
      Embrace of the Alligator (Thistledown 2011)
      Mi dulce curiosidad, Scriba NYC 2017- Spanish edition of My Sweet Curiosity
      Sondeando la sangre, Ediciones Holguín 2017 – Spanish edition of Sounding the Blood

      Marketing & Promotion
        • Launch Hornby Island and Toronto
          Denman Island, at Abraxas Books
        • Courtenay at the Laughing Oyster
        • Vancouver at 32 Books

        Hale is currently organizing a reading tour for Manuel Verdecia, a Cuban poet/novelist, for April/May 2019. Will combine this tour with promotion of Angela of the Stones.

        • Advertising in Canadian print and online magazines 
        • National review copy send-out
    • Awards & Reviews

      Relit Award for Fiction 2010, Long-listed
      Relit Award for Fiction 2002, Short-listed

      The New York Times Book Review calls Sounding the Blood "an ambitious, utterly convincing historical novel . . . "

      “The Reddening Path is cleverly structured, with a style that fluctuates between dreamlike poetic imagery and a traditional quest-for-identity narrative … an intriguing look at post-colonial biculturalism set against a moving backdrop of familial love and personal enlightenment.”— Quill & Quire.

      “Discovering Amanda Hale is like discovering that there are stars somewhere beyond the reach of city lights and gaudy neon signs . . . a writer who combines the love of the body with the search for the soul in a way that truly evokes the questing spirit of Renaissance Man” —Gillean Chase, Victoria BC blog review of My Sweet Curiosity.

      “The integration of the lyrical, factual, and narrative elements, which has been so ambitious in all Hale’s books . . . was thrilling. Pure pleasure to read.” — Amnon Buchbinder review of My Sweet Curiosity

      “Written with warmth, compassion and understanding, In the Embrace of the Alligator is one of those rare glimpses into the real Cuba, its people, and its stories.” — Eva Stachniak

      “Hale has come to know and understand aspects of Cuban society that tourists in resorts don’t always see, and has used her experiences to create a rewarding collection. Her writing is strong and sensuous.” — Erinna Gilkison, BC Bookworld.

  • 2
    catalogue cover
    Thorn-Field James Trettwer Canada
    9781771871709 Paperback FICTION / Short Stories Publication Date:October 01, 2018
    $19.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.5 in | 325 gr | 196 pages Carton Quantity:40 Thistledown Press
    • Marketing Copy


      James Trettwer’s inter-linked collection of stories, Thorn-Field, dissects small-town life and probes into complications of those who live there. The fictional town of Liverwood’s main employer is the potash mine that seems to arc over the town and everything people do. With a novel-like persistence to detail, Trettwer’s stories observe how the towns people thread their way through the thorn-fields of their relationships which are complicated by their addictions and obsessions and by the numbing constancy of their lives. In the background the mine looms large, its four-rotor boring machines rumble deep under the earth, while six kilometers away, Livewood town life embraces their rhythm. In assembling Trettwer’s links between stories, we witness elimination of the romanticism often associated with small town simplicity, and see the exposure of the unhappiness, corruption, and the exploitation that drive the town’s human affairs. The stories disclose the fears of those whom the mine has orphaned like Lourdes whose life forward was always fraught with uncertainty that had to be met with bravado; the stories describe all the hard-drinking and the uncertain young men like Dillon, Darryl and Blake, or the young women driven by lust that leads to unwanted pregnancies. In Thorn-Field small town life is anything but idyllic but rather becomes a collage of human foibles and peoples’ dangerous vulnerabilities.

      Scattered throughout the stories are the addicts, enablers, those obsessed with better lives and those who are resigned to small town life under the big smokestacks. Thorn-Field is a collection of linked short stories that examines how small town despair can cripple the spirit but also how community faith and trust can heal it. These are stories of what it means to remain locked into a life where narrow thinking and idle talk can destroy the will to find something better than a place where rumours fly and there’s no place to hide.


      James Trettwer was a winner in the Saskatchewan Writers Guild's John V. Hick’s Long Manuscript Award in 2016 for this short story collection. He has also won the SWG's Short Manuscript Awards. He has been most recently published in TRANSITION, Spring, and the anthology Wanderlust: Stories on the Move, by Thistledown Press in 2017. James lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.

      Marketing & Promotion
        • Regina Book launch  (Flint or Tony Roma’s)
        • Readings in Regina and Moose Jaw
        • Word on the Street, Saskatoon
        • National review copy send-out
        • Regional Advertising
    • Awards & Reviews

      Saskatchewan Writers Guild's John V. Hick’s Long Manuscript Award 2016, Winner

      “Thorn-Field . . . with its unique imagery and painful and profound moments, impressed the judges by its pacing, strongly rooted symbolism, and character-driven story.”

      —2016 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Awards Judges

  • 3
    catalogue cover
    Rank 6 Firestorm Barry McDivitt Canada
    9781771871624 Paperback YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Action & Adventure Reading age from 12 - 21 Publication Date:October 01, 2018
    $15.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.38 in | 300 gr | 155 pages Carton Quantity:64 Thistledown Press
    • Marketing Copy

      The terror of fire is known to all but when fire erupts into its most terrifying form, Rank 6, mayhem and death are often not far behind. So the question is: Why would someone willingly approach an inferno that swirls with fireballs and whirls with temperatures that can reach 1000 degrees Celsius?

      For Emily who makes such a decision, there is no quick, easy answer. She already knows something about destructive power. Her struggles with depression and her own suicidal thoughts had recently brought her face to face with destruction and death. As she rashly races into that danger to rescue a panic-stricken dog, she can't say if she is seduced by the fire’s powers or if it is just her identification with the dog’s vulnerability and helplessness that makes her scorn the deadly risk.

      Her actions are spontaneous, thoughtlessly bold at the beginning, but once cut off from the safety of the firefighters, and alone in a fiery inferno, Emily begins to realize that her reckless actions could kill her. When the thought takes hold, she knows that she really does want to live and scrambles to kick her survival instincts into gear. Instinctively, she begins to realize that the dark struggles and personal battles of her life may be part of the solution to save he life. Maybe adapting the negative qualities of her life into forces of survival, will give her the chance to stay alive. Maybe the experience that made her feel so lost can save her. Time is short and, as the terror of the fire compounds with her panic, self-doubt, injury, and exhaustion, she finally reaches deep within herself to see what is there.

      Barry McDivitt worked as a journalist in radio and television for more than thirty years. His stories appeared regularly on the Global TV network and the CBC radio and TV networks, as well as in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. He also worked for Global TV’s promotions department and in government public relations. He presently writes Young Adult novels and works as a communications director in high-tech. He lives in Kelowna, BC.


      The Youngest Spy (Thistledown 2007)

      Redcoats and Renegades (Thistledown 2012)

      Marketing & Promotion

        Launch: Kelowna Library

        National review copy send-out
        Select Print Advertising

  • 4
    catalogue cover
    Insomnia Bird Edmonton Poems Kelly Shepherd Canada
    9781771871693 Paperback POETRY / Canadian Publication Date:October 01, 2018
    $20.00 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.25 in | 275 gr | 96 pages Carton Quantity:96 Thistledown Press
    • Marketing Copy


      The poems in Kelly Shepherd’s Insomniac Bird are a cartography and a geography of Edmonton. The poems which shift between short, individual lyric pieces and found text emulate a black-billed magpie’s nest with the subject-matter and also physically, with the words and lines. The poems generate the theme of home (the bird’s nest, the city), and not feeling at home; sleeping, and the inability to sleep. The magpie (the insomnia bird) is the protagonist and the muse, the thread that connects everything to everything else in this work.

      As such, Shepherd’s poems move across the surface at speed, like Edmonton’s NAIT train, and dive like magpies after the occasional tasty image or crumb of detail. The city as it spreads out across the Prairies, can do nothing to prevent urban sprawl, and grows taller with each new highrise building and office tower and sinks deeper into the ground, which is memory!

      The city with purple fingers and black feathers
      is bending branches outside the window.
      In the photosensitivity of morning,
      The city is an open window that can’t hear itself think.

      While Shepherd’s poems are at times critical of Edmonton’s automobile culture and urban sprawl, his tone remains ironic rather than moralizing and he is consistent in his use of dark humour to avoid being didactic. With such guidance the poems effectively disclose what is not seen, what is repressed, what lies behind the scenes in the city he shares with magpies.


      Kelly Shepherd has worked as a kindergarten teacher in South Korea, and a construction worker in northern Alberta. His first full-length poetry collection, Shift, was published by Thistledown Press in 2016 and longlisted for the Edmonton Public Library’s People’s Choice Award in 2017. He has written six poetry chapbooks, most recently A Hidden Bench (the Alfred Gustav Press, 2017). Kelly has a Creative Writing MFA from UBC Okanagan, and an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Alberta, with a thesis on sacred geography. Originally from Smithers, British Columbia, Kelly lives in Edmonton where he teaches at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. He is also the poetry editor for the environmental philosophy journal The Trumpeter.

      Shepherd's previous publications include:

      Hidden Bench (chapbook), the Alfred Gustav Press, Vancouver, spring 2017

      Shift, Thistledown Press, 2016

      The First Metaphor, chapbook and gallery exhibition of poetry and linocuts with visual artist Alison Kubbos. Shown in the Bleeding Heart Artspace, Edmonton AB, as part of the 2015 Edmonton Poetry Festival and in Gallery Vertigo, Vernon BC, summer 2014.

      Fort McMurray Tricksters, The Alfred Gustav Press, Vancouver BC, 2014.

      if one petal falls, Leaf Press, Lantzville BC, 2012 (Korean translation by Sunhyung Kwon).

      the bony world, The Rasp and the Wine, Edmonton AB, 2010.

      Circumambulations, Publishing Beyond Borders, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2003.

      Marketing & Promotion

        Launch at Audreys Books, Edmonton

        Reading Tour:
        The Kasbar (Edmonton)
        The Edmonton Public Library
        Calgary Shelf Life Books
        Gallery Vertigo in Vernon
        UBC Okanagan in Kelowna
        National review copy send-out
        National Advertising

    • Awards & Reviews

      Alberta Public Library's People's Choice Award 2017, Long-listed
  • 5
    catalogue cover
    For the Changing Moon Poems and Songs Anna Marie Sewell Canada
    9781771871686 Paperback POETRY / Canadian Publication Date:October 01, 2018
    $20.00 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.22 in | 255 gr | 88 pages Carton Quantity:108 Thistledown Press
    • Marketing Copy


      At a time of cultural change for Indigenous people that feels relentlessly tidal and epochal, For the Changing Moon: Poems and Songs records the ebb and flow of what it is to live here and now in Canada, as a woman, an indigenous woman, a culturally mixed woman, a daughter, a mother, a peace-seeker and a warrior.

      The book includes work visually designed for the page, and work composed to be chanted, sung, and spoken amongst ourselves. We are asked to experience it as a record of the shifting times, and understand how the mood of the world can strike change in an individual, sometimes, like a rogue wave; and other times, slowly and methodically like a lunar tidal pull.

      If you can do this Can you, Can you do this?
      If we can do this, Can we? Can we do this?

      Anna Marie Sewell's poems court performance as they incorporate the energy of slam and employ the beat structures of chant. They encourage us to enter their spells and incantations always built with an ear for sound and with an eye for images of dream and wonder. Her invite and challenge is clear: “Come lovers of language, seekers of change, moon-mad prophets, come. Read and share these poems and songs, and answer them back with your own.”

      From this specific place, Canada, during a moment of global sea change, these poems and songs reach for the moon-mad natural soul in all of us, that part of all of us that lives to follow the Great Song.


      Anna Marie Sewell writes at Her poetry is part of the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers production Ancestors&Elders (world premiere April 27). Her debut collection, Fifth World Drum (Frontenac Press, 2009) will be joined in September by For the Changing Moon (Thistledown Press). Anna Marie was Edmonton’s 4th Poet Laureate (2011?13), and created The Poem Catcher public art installation at City Hall. She curated over 1,000 pages of community writing collected there, posted at

      A multi-disciplinary artist, Anna Marie’s practice centres on collaborative projects, and her writing plays across boundaries of language, culture, and worldview.

      Recent work has appeared in:

      Ancestors & Elders, cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary collaborative Dance Theatre show, produced by Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, world premiere April 27, 2018, at Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Sewell composed the spoken word narrative poetry, in addition to her role as Story Consultant.

      Eighteen Bridges magazine, family history essay, originally titled “Coming to Canada: A Gardener’s Meditation,” published as “The Truth Is in the Dirt.”

      The Yards magazine, mini-history, “The Legend of the Lane,” to be reprinted in April, 2018, in Alberta Views.

      Stroll of Poets 2018, Anthology, due out March 25.

      Rubaboo Festival, 2017: Wide Awake for 30 Years—excerpts from poetry/essay project, a personal/social history of 1985?2015: spoken word / theatre / song

      Reconciling Edmonton, multidisciplinary community history project first produced in 2015, currently still on tour.

      Writing the City: Poets Laureate of Edmonton, 2005?2013 (Edmonton Arts Council, D. Barbour, editor, 2012): 4 poems, 1 essay, plus curation of 4 poems by community poets.

      Marketing & Promotion
        •National review copy send-out
        •Advertising in regional literary magazines such as Eagle Feather News and Alberta Views

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