Riel Nason is a Canadian novelist and textile artist (quilter).
Her acclaimed debut novel The Town That Drowned won the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize for Canada and Europe, and the 2012 Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. It was also shortlisted for several other literary awards as well as longlisted for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Her second novel All The Things We Leave Behind was published in September, 2016. Of the novel, internationally bestselling author Karma Brown said “All the Things We Leave Behind is full of sensory detail and evocative prose, and like its author, Riel Nason, is a gift to Canadian literature. From the cheerful Purple Barn antique shop, to the mystical boneyard deep in the woods, to a missing brother named Bliss, main character Violet carries us effortlessly through this lovely coming-of-age story not afraid to show its haunting side.”
Riel Nason grew up in Hawkshaw, New Brunswick and now lives in Quispamsis, NB with her husband, son, daughter and cats.
4Q: Thank you for being our featured guest this week Riel. I’ve recently read your story – The Town That Drowned – which is an award winning novel and I enjoyed it tremendously. Please tell our readers a bit about it and where the inspiration came from.
RN: The Town That Drowned is a coming-of-age story set against the background of the permanent flooding of the St. John River Valley in 1965-67 when the Mactaquac Dam was built. It is set in the fictional town of Haventon and follows 14-year-old Ruby Carson and her 9-year-old brother Percy. I wanted to write a book set in the area where I grew up, and a fictionalized take on the flooding that happened before I was born seemed the perfect inspiration for a story.
4Q: Your newest book – All the Things We Leave Behind – is garnishing great reviews. Can you share what this story is about?
RN: In this book I return to the same area as The Town That Drowned is set, although this time it is 1977. Seventeen-year-old Violet has been left in charge of her family’s antique store for the summer while her parents go searching for her missing older brother Bliss. She is haunted by his absence – and also by a white deer that it seems only she can see.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.
RN: Since it is getting near Christmas, I’ll share the fact that we always had a birch Christmas tree when I was a child, rather than an evergreen. My mother was very allergic to evergreen trees and we really didn’t want an artificial one. We had an endless forest behind our house so we would just go out there and cut our own birch tree each year. We put on lights and all the usual decorations the same as if it was an evergreen. We put it in a big pot filled with rocks. It sometimes fell over (I think often helped by our cats). It was lovely, especially at night when the lights seemed to float between the branches. Since I’ve had my own children, we’ve also decorated a birch tree a few times.
4Q: So what’s next for Riel Nason?
RN: More writing. I have just started a new fiction work that I am very excited about. I am also a quilter and have a quilting project book coming out next June.
Thanks so much for having me here Allan!
Thank you Riel for sharing your thoughts with us this week on the Scribbler.
Please drop by Riel’s website – www.rielnason.com – for more information about her and her books.