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Short Story Prize

The Shortlist: Q&A with Adrick Brock

There are ten names on the shortlist for this year’s CBC Short Story Prize. But before we announce the winner, we want to let you know a little about the writers whose stories rose to the top. 

Adrick Brock is a 24-year old writer from Toronto. He currently lives in a motel somewhere in British Columbia, where he works as a seasonal tree-planter. His story, "The Hunting Club", is shortlisted for the 2011-2012 CBC Short Story Prize. 

1. Tell us about yourself
I currently live in a motel on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. It’s tree-planting season out west, and after a winter of (unpaid) writing in Montreal, that means time to start making money again. I am set to begin Graduate studies at the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing program in September, 2012, and am excited to once again call Vancouver home.

2. What do you usually write? 
These days I commit most of my writing time to the short story. I’ve always loved short fiction, the brevity and punch of it, and I find a lot of inspiration within the form. All the while I plod forward with various script and novel ideas that I hope to realize within the next few years. 

3. Have you submitted to the competition before? 
I submitted a short story to the competition in 2009. It was about a failing romance between a crab fisherman and a hair stylist who meet in a Prince Rupert motel room and drink too much whiskey. It wasn’t very good.

4. What is your story about?
“The Hunting Club” is the story of a 50-something woman imprisoned by her memories and her guilt. I don’t want to spoil any of the mystery but suffice it to say there is a dark stain in her family and marriage that she must either continue to live with in silence or finally act upon.

5. What was the inspiration for your story?
Like most of the fiction I write, inspiration can be as vague and minute as a single image or sentence. In the case of “The Hunting Club”, inspiration found me driving 100 km/h on the Trans-Canada highway. I was moving to Montreal in August with all of my stuff in the car, and somewhere outside Ottawa I started to notice that the province had dedicated each bridge or highway overpass to a police constable. At the time all I had was the opening line: “They are naming a bridge after my husband.” So much of the voice of the narrator was distilled in those few words. I knew then I had something.

6. How long did you work on the story? How many drafts did you write?
I wrote this story in three sittings in September and reworked it five or six times. I could have reworked it another twenty times but all of a sudden it was November 1st and I had to submit to the competition!

7. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I was surprised to find out I was a writer before I had ever decided to be one. A very influential high school teacher, Mr. Reed, prefaced our Grade 12 Writer’s Craft class with the statement: “Writers write.” Since then I’ve tried my hardest to write first and foremost and leave “being a writer” out of the equation. 

8. Who's your favourite Canadian writer and why?
My current favourite Canadian author is Michael Ondaatje, because I just finished rereading The English Patient. The month before that my absolute favourite Canadian author of all time was Lynn Coady, before that Zsuzsi Gartner, Lee Henderson, Sarah Selecky, Leonard Cohen…you see where I’m going with this.

9. What's your favourite short story ever written and why?
“Cathedral” by Ray Carver. As a writer who comes from poetry and has a tendency for heavy-handed prose, I have a reverence for the minimalists. “Cathedral” is Carver at his finest, manoeuvring his mundane, everyman protagonist from the pits of jealousy and indifference to the wide-open vistas of human empathy. What is special in this story is the ease of the narrator’s voice and how it seems to expose his suffering to the reader while simultaneously closing himself off from his own self-awareness. So good it made me want to write short stories of my own.

Adrick Brock holds a BFA in Creative Writing and is set to begin his Master’s at the University of British Columbia in September, 2012. His poetry has appeared in One Cool Word and Canadian Woman Studies. His non-fiction has appeared in Vancouver Magazine and Momentum.

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