Fall 2017 Titles
Jesus on the Dashboard
a novel by Lisa Murphy-Lamb
Teenage years can be complicated, even when you haven’t been abandoned by your mother at age ten. It is the 1980s and teenage Gemma lives with her well-meaning father, Nathaniel, goes to ‘art therapy’ once a week and tries to come to terms with growing up motherless. She collects facts about her long lost mother, Angie (height, weight, eye-colour, mint lip-gloss) and develops a rare syndrome she calls PMMSM, People-Make-Me-Stupid-Mad. Then comes the strange, almost unthinkable news: Angie is back, attending church in a nearby town. She is ready to return to motherhood, and to prove it, she has adopted a Korean infant. Then an invitation: would Gemma like to stay with a family in Angie’s community over the summer?
Gemma, who has never had a friend in her life, suddenly finds herself living in a house full of God-fearing teenagers, and every Sunday, facing the prospect of maybe, just maybe, seeing a mother she is pretty sure she hates.
Praise for Jesus on the Dashboard
"A smart, quirky teen grappling with her mother roots, Jesus on the Dashboard pushes the coming-of-age boundary. This God-is-in-the-details story edifies that fine line between teenage angst and adult illumination. Jesus, love and motherhood on the fly, Lisa’s Murphy-Lamb’s debut novel is complex, edgy, and insightful."
Lee Kvern is the Canadian author of three books and award-winning short stories.
"In Jesus on the Dashboard, Lisa Murphy-Lamb has captured an amazing voice, clear, authentic, and fiercely individual, a ravenous girl who speaks to all who know the deep hurt of abandonment, the cruel edge of absence. Gemma has a therapist and a father, but she is on a quest for the mother who left her. Her PMMSM syndrome ("People Make Me Stupid Mad") chronicles a deep and hilarious doubt. She won't let anyone touch her, she has given up smiling, and everything is worse than she wants it to be, but she is a riveting character, compelling and ineluctable. This novel will make readers hungry for more."
Aritha van Herk is a writer, editor and professor who lives in Calgary.
About Lisa Murphy-Lamb
Originally from Kamloops, B.C., Lisa Murphy-Lamb began her career as an elementary teacher inspiring young students to read, spell and put words on the page only to discover later in her career WordsWorth summer residency where writers, as young as 12, out-skilled her, out-read her and out-danced her.
When not writing, Lisa spends her time around writers trying to soak up their smells, their habits, their vocabulary or, at the very least, the pens that fall into the cushions of the chairs at Loft 112, where she spends much of her time as Director. Loft 112 is a place in Calgary's East Village where writers come to read their work, listen to others read their work and have been known, on occasion, to drink wine. Lisa also washes their wine glasses.
Married with two boys, Lisa discovered her love of a good cocktail around 20 years ago and also how good the love of three humans can feel.
Jilted by her near-beau in England, Florence Southam travels to the exotic new world of the Saskatchewan Prairies, both to attend the wedding of her cousin and to recover from her recent disappointment. Despite Victorian-esque outward appearances, Florence soon discovers that in the Cannington Manor settlement, social niceties quickly give way to the practicalities of survival and her own unquestioned beliefs are suddenly thrown into doubt by new possibilities of selfhood and the potential of finding love outside the conventional social norms of her upbringing.
Praise for Few and Far
"Allison Kydd's Few and Far is an absorbing novel of nineteenth century settler life, brimful with fascinating historical details and living, breathing characters. If you wonder what it might have felt like to be a young woman on the Canadian prairies in the 1890s, this is the book for you. Beautifully researched, the novel is also touching and romantic."
Sue Sorensen, author of A Large Harmonium
"Allison Kydd strikes the perfect tone to convey the conflict between British upper-class consciousness and the reality of homestead life in the Canadian West. She portrays this period of history in vivid detail, but from a twenty-first century perspective that casts it in a slightly different light. "
Shirley A. Serviss (author of Model Families and Reading Between the Lines)
"What is a British family of good-standing to do when their eldest daughter is jilted and there is no other eligible gentleman waiting in the wings? Jane Austen would certainly have had the mannered solution, but Allison Kydd's narrative broadens horizons. Having grown up in close proximity to Cannington Manor, an historic park that began as an aristocratic English colony, Allison Kydd knows both the landscape and the history well. Clearly, though, she has also done the research necessary to recreate Cannington Manor in the 1890's and imagine the impact on poor Florence when she is shipped off to Canada to attend her cousin's wedding. Strongly evocative of Austen's novels of social commentary, Few and Far draws the contrast between the landed gentry and the common folk, in this case, the rougher edged "Canadians" who know and have weathered the challenges of the prairie. Far more than historical romance, this is a novel rich in language, and touching in the depiction of a young woman's naivety in a culture both familiar and yet distressingly different. "
Betty Jane Hegerat (author of The Boy)
About Allison Kydd
After spending most of her adult life in cities, Allison Kydd returned to country living and southeast Saskatchewan in 2008. Once settled in Indian Head, Allison published her first book, the novella Emily via the Greyhound Bus (2012, Thistledown Press), which was shortlisted for a Saskatchewan Book Award.
When she is not writing, Allison can be found in the garden, cycling, or Scottish country dancing. She is a member of the Writers' Union in Canada, the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild (SWG), and the Writers' Guild of Alberta (WGA). She has served on the board of the SWG and the Canadian Authors' Association, Alberta Branch.
Allison lives with her partner, Kevin Wittingham. She has three children, five grandchildren, and three grand-dogs.