Enjoy this recording of my talk with historian Adam Bunch and find out about my creative non-fiction novel, Hangman: the true story of Canada’s first official executioner
Category Archives: Events and Readings
Hello Nanaimo! Hope to see you tonight at the Portfolio Reading Series, where I’ll be presenting my latest book:
Explore a Dark Part of Canada’s History: Hangman
Vancouver author’s new book explores a dark aspect of Canadian history
Halloween has become a light-hearted celebration of all things ghoulish. But as late as 1910, members of the public, including children, entertained themselves by attending real hangings.
New Westminster, BC (October 21, 2022) – Hangman: The true story of Canada’s first official executioner, from Vancouver author Julie Burtinshaw, examines capital punishment in Canada through the lens of John Radclive, a notorious figure who both fascinated and repelled citizens across the country.
A former British sailor, Radclive was appointed Canada’s first official executioner in 1892, a position he held until his death in 1911. In BC, he executed criminals in Victoria, New Westminster, Kamloops and Nelson. Over the course of his career, Radclive worked tirelessly to bring mercy and dignity to the condemned. He was an outspoken critic of selling tickets – a lucrative and widespread practice that resulted in several riots – and eventually succeeded in establishing private, indoor hangings. A family man, Radclive was also a bombastic figure who enjoyed being a public figure, never wore a mask, refused to apologize for his profession and delighted in pointing out the hypocrisy of the elites. He eventually came to oppose capital punishment and died of cirrhosis, abandoned by friends and family.
Julie Burtinshaw is the award-winning author of seven books for young adults and teens and is an active participant in the local writing community, having served as a judge for the BC Book Awards and Red Cedar and mentored many emerging writers. Hangman is her first work of creative non-fiction, published by New Westminster-based Tidewater Press.
FOR INTERVIEW REQUESTS:
Please contact the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 604-785-8004.
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Filed under Events and Readings, Uncategorized
ABC Bookworld Biography: Me
I loved that this popped up, but have to admit, I don’t think I look like this anymore!
Still, I’m very grateful they for the mention of my books, especially the new one, soon to be in bookstores everywhere!
Burtinshaw’s first creative non-fiction novel, Hangman: The true story of Canada’s first official executioner (Tidewater, 2022) tells the story of John Robert Radclive. After immigrating to Canada in 1890, Radclive became the country’s first professional hangman in 1892. He proved to be a reluctant hangman and took on the job to ensure that death came quickly to convicts sentenced to hang. In Birtinshaw’s story, Radclive comes to question the Canadian justice system and his role within it. From publicity: “Based on extensive historical research and contemporaneous newspaper accounts, Hangman recaps the history of capital punishment in Canada and the ambivalence of public attitudes toward it through a highly personal lens.”
Filed under Events and Readings, My Books Reviewed
Word Vancouver, 2022
Calling all writers! I’d love to see you at Word Vancouver, 2022 on September 25, where myself, Andrew Chesham, Laura Ferina and Joseph Kakwinokanasum, will be Demystifying the Publishing Process with moderator, Rob Taylor.
About This Event
In this panel on demystifying the publishing process: working with a small, independent, or ‘micro’ press, four published authors, two of whom teach at SFU’s Writer’s Studio and two who have recently graduated from the program and have new books out with a local BC press, continue the conversation initiated on our Read Local Blog. The discussion will move from the act of writing to the work of getting your work noticed and published. Panelists will share their insights about working with a small, independent BC publisher.
Location: SFU Harbour Centre, Labatt Hall
Moderator: Rob Taylor
Guests: Andrew Chesham & Laura Farina, co-editors of Resonance: Essays on the Craft and Life of Writing (Anvil Press) | Julie Burtinshaw, Hangman (Tidewater Press) | Joseph Kakwinokanasum, My Indian Summer (Tidewater Press)
Get your free ticket here!
Filed under Events and Readings, Writing Tips
SFU Writer’s Studio Reflections
It should have been a difficult year.
On January 28, 2020, the British Columbia government announced the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, when a traveller returning from Wuhan, China tested positive for a virus the world knew little about though rumours swirled of an epidemic flu type illness alarming in its ability to not just spread quickly but to kill.
Two months later, the Health authority in British Columbia, where I live, announced the first community, non-travel case of COVID-19. Three days later, the first of too many deaths occurred in a care home in North Vancouver. BC declared a state of emergency that is ongoing as I write this.
Six months into the virus, September 2020, I embarked on a ten-month writing program at Simon Fraser University. By then, I’d become accustomed to C-19 protocols, not surprised, but disappointed to find out the course would be online. I’d miss the opportunity of face-to-face learning, though I looked forward to filling the long Covid hours pursuing my writing.
On the first day of ‘class’, I felt both excited and nervous. Excited to meet the group of people I’d be sharing the next ten months with and nervous, afraid my unfamiliarity with the tools of COVID-19 might prove daunting. Slack, Zoom, BB Collaborate, online forums, online discussions, an alternative way of learning for me. What if I couldn’t figure out the audio on my computer? What if I actually looked as awful on their video feeds as I did on mine? Instructions about how to look good on zoom contradicted each other. Background is important, put a beautiful painting behind you, advised one website. Background is a distraction, sit in front of a plain wall, advised another. Correct screen height is essential to your appearance, as is lighting. Different experts recommended different techniques. Look up to the camera, look down to the camera, look straight at the camera. Use natural light, or back light, or sidelight, or dimmed light or bright light. Mute when someone else is talking, mute when you chew, mute when you cough, and mute at any hint of bodily function sounds. Triple check that your video is off. Horror stories of people unknowingly leaving their camera on while undressing during zoom calls went viral.
Already challenged by the intensity of the program, I tried not to think about all the things that might go wrong, but I needn’t have worried. Our first meeting, led by our talented scribe, Claudia Cornwall, and assisted by our wise and kind TA, Maryanna Gabriel, set a tone of encouragement and support that would last the duration of the course.
The speed at which our cohort absorbed our new reality astounded me. Humans are adaptable, whether it be normalizing runs on toilet paper or debating the merit of cloth versus disposable masks. In this viral world, new phrases and words entered our vocabulary: Social distancing, airborne spread, Covid bubbles, variants, VOCs, isolation, quarantine, N95s, Long Haulers, mRNA, lockdowns, herd immunity, vaccine passports, virtual happy hours.
In that first year of Covid, many people, cut off from family and friends, became lonely and depressed. Some faced job loss, illness, and hospitalization, as the virus claimed lives indiscriminately, targeting the most vulnerable in society.
None of those things happened to me. Instead, in the first year of COVID-19, something magical occurred. The magic of building new relationships.
With age, making friends becomes more difficult. As the bonds formed in childhood, high-school and university strengthen, forming fresh relationships becomes challenging and living in lockdown, withdrawing into our private bubbles, means the opportunities to meet and foster new friendships are scarce.
There are nine of us in Memoir Writing, bringing our total to eleven. All are women, some younger, some older, from a variety of backgrounds and countries. We meet virtually, two or three or times a week, on Zoom or BB Collaborate to workshop our stories, to provide feedback and encouragement to each other as we mine our memories to bring our past to the page.
Mental time-travel is hard. Some stories bring joy, some tears. Every time I hear someone read, I’m awed by their talent, their survival skills, their sense of humour, their courage in telling their story. Initially, we knew nothing about each other. We still know less than if we’d met in a classroom or a bar or a café. These have been slow-growing relationships, where every week, every reading, every word adds a piece to the puzzle of the whole person.
Through our stories, we’ve come to know each other, to trust each other, sharing intimate chapters of our lives, usually for the first time.
Our Tuesday morning chats, our Saturday mentor readings, and our Tuesday evening workshops have become the highlight of my week.
Writing is often described as a lonely occupation, but because of my cohort, I’ve never felt alone.
As I sit and write, these women sit with me, poised on the edge of my imagination, their fingers flying over the keys, tapping out their hearts in beautifully crafted sentences. I am thinking about them now, as the course nears its end.
There is Engeli, who brings me sunshine and warmth, both in her lyrical words and her tropical travels. There is Jenny, coyote whisperer who has taught me to understand and appreciate the dedication and passion of a field scientist. There is Ellen, whose brilliance shines a dazzling light, softened by the golden glow of her commitment to saving lives. There is multi-talented Leesa, whose extraordinary ability to capture my imagination takes me on the wings of fantasy into her world. There is Kate, the Truth-teller, who stories tug at my heart long after I’ve heard them. There is Kae, whose tales of discord and harmony accompany me on a musical journey into a world of sound. There is Karen whose courage to write and fight for the environment reminds me I can make a difference to the planet. There is Nuia whose courageous story of upheaval and beauty reminds me the importance of kindness and love.
Lately, aware that our time together is waning, we talk of the future. Words like ‘seeing’ each other creep into our vocabulary. The possibility of ideas we once took for granted resurface. “Maybe post Covid, we could all get together.”
We reminisce of the past, when humans sat together, touched, shared meals, and inhaled the same air. We imagine talking to each other, not on a screen, but in person.
That intimacy, once familiar, now seems distant. On Zoom, spontaneity is lost, while our ability to listen mindfully improves. Online we dress from the waist up, run a quick brush through our hair, and if we remember, a bit of mascara, but in real-life we’ll toss our slippers and pajama bottoms, dress again as whole people.
There will be no more props. When I picture the writers in my cohort, each one has a personalized backdrop. Leesa triumphs for pure aesthetic value. Ellen for her well-stocked library, Kate for her house-in-progress, Jenny’s blue walls, and affectionate dog, and Kae’s softly painted office, Karen on a boat or in an Airbnb, Engeli’s sun drenched abode, and Nuia wrapped in a warm housecoat, puppy at her side, Maryanna haloed by yellow light, Claudia, with large, black ears. The background’s we chose is a part of how we now visualize ourselves and each other. Imagine Mona Lisa backdropped by a kitchen, instead of a landscape or The Lady of Shallot backdropped by a high mountain, instead of a green and blue Lake, or the girl in Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergere without the bar?
I long for the time when I can meet my writing cohort, my new friends in person, and I hope they will forgive me, if I forget to say “Hello,” and instead shout, You’re muted. I can’t hear you. Your screen is off.
If so, it will only happen once. After all, we are human and we adapt quickly.
Filed under Events and Readings, residencies, Stuff to do, Writing Tips
You are invited to a special one night encore screening of THIS MOUNTAIN LIFE in Vancouver.
Hi movie lovers out there. There are still some tickets left for Demand Film tonight and I think it’s going to be a fascinating show, especially if you love the mountains. Start time is 7pm tonight at International Village, downtown Vancouver. Follow this link for more information. Demand Films This Mountain Life.
Oops, just checked again and Sold Out. There are some other great movies coming though, so still check out the website.
Filed under Events and Readings, General, Stuff to do, Uncategorized
Applications for Residencies at Historic Joy Kogawa House
Residencies at Historic Joy Kogawa House
The Historic Joy Kogawa House is seeking applications for residencies in 2020. The House aims to offer a voice and space for representatives from groups that may experience barriers or feel marginalized within mainstream society; writers whose work resonates with these aims are strongly encouraged to apply. Deadline: February 28. Learn more.
This is such an amazing opportunity for a Canadian writer. The Joy Kogawa House does so much for the literary scene in Vancouver and residents will benefit from the peaceful space to create as well as the opportunity to get to know local writers. I have held book launches here, as have many of my writing colleagues and friends and I’ve attended many readings so can attest to it being a very special part of Vancouver.
Uni of Iowa Writing Courses Online
I’ve recently signed up for a writing course from the University of Iowa. If your interested it’s free, or at the most $50 USD if you want a certificate at the end of the course. Students come from all over the world. The course is not onerous, but it’s challenging and a great way to practice writing. I’m loving it. The course I am taking is called How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women. I’m going to post all of my assignments right here on my blog to track what I hope to be my progress.
Assignment One to follow tonight or tomorrow!
Filed under Blogroll, Events and Readings, General, Uncategorized, Writing Tips