Stacey Matson | www.staceymatson.com
My high-school chum Stacey Matson burst onto the literary scene as a prolific YA author. While I haven’t had the chance to read Finding Cooper, her Genius trilogy is chock full of top drawer Junior high angst and adventure. Her precocious protagonist, Arthur Bean, navigates family strife, budding romance, and exasperated teachers with the unearned arrogance, strategic daftness, and heartbreaking naivete of…well…a young me. These books hit all of my vulnerable underbellies and raw nerves, while also managing to be immensely endearing and gut-bustingly funny. Calling these books a contemporary spin on Adrian Mole (another series near and dear to my soul) doesn’t entirely do them justice, as Stacey extracts staggering nuance from a breezy collocation of emails, text messages, and class assignments that always feel like so much more than the sum of their parts.
Ethan Cole | www.ethancole.ca
Like Stacey, I’ve known Ethan since the gangliest days of grade ten. Though I’ve had the great pleasure of working and writing with him on several theatre projects, he is first and foremost (to my mind at least) a crooner of the highest calibre. I still keep the album he put out with his first band, Bliss Frequency, on heavy rotation, and have devoutly followed his musical career through various endeavours and configurations, up to and including his lush, magisterial 2017 album Hazlewood Pines. Dude is a poet, and he knows it. He has the heart of a troubadour in the body of a lanky grade ten fucknut.
Shane Arbuthnott | www.shanearbuthnott.com
Shane and I have a strange and surreptitious history. We apparently met as toddlers, when our parents were graduate students together, and then crossed paths nearly two decades later when a good friend of mine became a good friend of his, and recruited him as an actor for our first cross-Canada Fringe tour. Shane would go onto star in Dead End Days, a groundbreaking weekly live-action internet serial (that has the twin distinctions of predating both YouTube and the term “podcast”). I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of Shane’s early screenplays — one of which was an adaptation of my own short story, Mr. Blistersticks — and am thrilled to see him storm the YA fantasy landscape with his remarkable Molly Stout Adventure series. The first two entries — Dominion and Terra Nova — are available now, with a third entry due in the not so George R. R. Martin future.
Deborah Willis | www.deborahwillis.ca
Calgary’s Deborah Willis is a national treasure. While I tend not to read all that much short fiction, her Georges Bugnet prize-winning The Dark and Other Love Stories is like taking a terrific plummet down an emotional well with a flickering torch to light your descent. She’s also an all-around wonderful and compassionate human being.
Lee Kvern | www.leekvern.com
Lee was the editor assigned by my publisher to beat Privilege into shape, and I now can’t imagine writing the book without her. As I noted in my acknowledgements, Lee is not only tenacious, but whatever you don’t like about Privilege, she probably tried to talk me out of, and whatever you do like, she probably encouraged me to keep. Lee is also, of course, an author of repute herself, with her short story collection 7 Ways to Sunday immensely deserving of your attention, soul, and heart.