Jocelyn Brown – 2012 Writer in Residence
1. What was your most memorable experience of being the Writer in Residence?
There were so many! At the moment, I’m remembering a wonderful little memoir group at the Woodcroft Branch. All the participants were such dedicated, talented writers. There was a junior high student who came with his mother to write his Chinese great great grandfather’s story. What a story it was. I was also taken with the story of a young woman who had a stroke, was misdiagnosed and sent home twice, then was sent home without any rehabilitation. Again, the story–and the drive to tell it–was remarkable.
2. Did your year of working with writers change the way you approach your writing? If so, how?
Oh, sure. I advised many of the writers I saw to get closer to the heart of their story, to become more direct and clear. Eventually, I thought I should listen to myself too.
3. What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on another YA novel: Sophie goes to Shanghai. I’m also experimenting with bookmaking at the Nina Haggerty Centre, possibly the most creative zone in the city. I’ll be their writer-in-residence for at least a couple more months.
4. Where can readers find your latest work?
I have an article in the recent issue of Eighteen Bridges: eighteenbridges.com/source/jocelyn–brown
5. What is your advice to writers?
Become part of a writing community. Make sure your work receives rigorous, honest critique. Serious writers will find both community and excellent critique at any of the writing programs at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
(From the epl.ca website):
Jocelyn Brown grew up in Edmonton with her five sisters and her first published stories were about games they invented as children. One of these stories, Miss Canada, was nominated for a National Magazine Award and won the McClelland and Stewart Journey Prize. Her other stories have been published in literary magazines and produced on CBC.
Formerly a theatre costumer and children’s clothing designer, Jocelyn’s first book, One Good Outfit, combined her love of clothing with social satire. Called “a very funny and strangely moving book” by the Edmonton Journal, One Good Outfit is an affectionate guide on making the most of one’s clothing.
Also set in Edmonton, The Mitochondrial Curiosities of Marcels 1-19 is a young-adult novel about grief, crafts, and semi-criminal adventure. Praised by The Globe and Mail for “transcend[ing] the genre,” Mitochondrial received rave reviews across the country and in the States. Jocelyn loves visiting high school writing classes and has held workshops for young writers at the Bennett Centre’s Young Writer Camp as well as at Hamilton’s GritLit Festival. Watch this site for news on her special program for high school students—The Hero’s Journey. If you’re too curious to wait, feel free to contact her.
Jocelyn also writes for Eighteen Bridges. Her recent article “The Dark Side of Pink” explores breast cancer politics.
In her current writing, Jocelyn continues to be curious about Edmonton’s character. Apart from the weather, the mall, and the bad driving, what makes the city distinctive and where did those qualities come from? Over her writing residency at EPL, Jocelyn will try to answer these questions in two works: 1) a novel about a group of unusual children on a dangerous mission and 2) The Margaret Crang Project, a website about a fascinating Edmonton politician.
A former creative-writing instructor, Jocelyn has given many writing workshops and met with dozens of writers about their work. She has also been a participant in writing programs and knows how unnerving it is to submit new material for critique. If your story/play/novel/poem seems stuck and you don’t know what it needs, why not send it to her? She may not have the answer, but you will have an interesting conversation about possibilities.