Books

Audible launches Indigenous Writers' Circle program

The six-month mentorship and workshop program is for emerging First Nations, Métis and Inuit writers.

The six-month mentorship and workshop program is for emerging First Nations, Métis and Inuit writers

The six-month mentorship and workshop program is for emerging First Nations, Métis and Inuit writers. (Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash)

Audible has launched a writing workshop aimed at boosting the voices of Indigenous peoples in Canada. 

The six-month mentorship and workshop program is for emerging First Nations, Inuit and Métis writers in Canada who are looking to work with established Indigenous authors to create their stories.

The chosen writers will be paired with mentors who will coach and guide them through the brainstorming, writing and editing process, as well as help them reach their goals as writers. 

Participants will also attend full-day immersive workshops to learn from industry creators, publishers, content managers, writers and marketers. 

Writers over 18 years of age who self-identify as Indigenous and who are considering a career in literary arts were invited to send in an example of literary work.

Tłı̨chǫ Dene writer Richard Van Camp is a mentor in the Audible Indigenous Writers' Circle.

Richard Van Camp is one of the five mentors in the Audible Indigenous Writers’ Circle. (William Au)

He saw the program as a chance to give back to the writing community, to invest in emerging writers and help get them one step closer to succeeding in the industry.

"I've never been in a program like this where you actually get to work with somebody one-on-one for six months. I think I'll be working with three to five of the writers that are chosen. My goal is to help out Audible, to be a colleague to people I really admire and to be a mentor to emerging writers. But also to get them one step closer to either being represented by an agent or to find the right publisher," he told CBC Books.

Van Camp is one of five mentors who will coach and guide participants through the creative process. The other mentors are Tanya Talaga, Kim Wheeler, Chelsea Vowel and Norma Dunning. 

Tanya Talaga is an Anishinaabe journalist and author of Seven Fallen Feathers and All Our Relations: Finding The Path Forward. She has a Canadian Audible Original Series, Seven Truths, which tells her personal story fighting for Indigenous rights. 

Kim Wheeler is an Anishinaabe and Mohawk writer, publicist and audio producer. Her audio work has been recognized by the New York Festivals, ImagineNative, Indigenous Music Awards and Prix Italia.

Chelsea Vowel, a Métis writer and educator from manitow-sâkahikan near Lac Ste. Anne, Alta., is a Cree language instructor at the University of Alberta. She's the author of Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada.

Norma Dunning is an Inuk writer and professor. She has written two short story collections, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories and Tainna (the unseen ones). Her poetry collection Eskimo Pie: a Poetics of Inuit Identity is a finalist in the 2021 Indigenous Voices Award

Van Camp, who is of the Dene nation from Fort Smith, N.W.T., is best known for his 1996 novel The Lesser Blessed, which was adapted into a film by director Anita Doron in 2012. Over the past 26 years, he has written 26 books in multiple genres, including children's books, novels and comics.

He recognizes how difficult the journey to success can be for writers who don't have any industry connections and thinks the mentorship component of the Writers' Circle can get participants one step closer to getting published.

"Our job is to build them up, make them feel good about themselves. There's nothing wrong with a nine figure book deal. There's nothing wrong with being represented by a major agent to sell your book."

Author and Calgary Public Library’s storyteller-in-residence Richard Van Camp is helping people tell their own stories during the pandemic, as a way to stay connected and remember what it means to be human. He tells us why he's embraced this difficult moment. 12:14

He hopes participants come out of the program as stronger writers, having gained new skills and connections that can kick start their literary careers. Eager to help these emerging writers achieve their dreams, Van Camp says the next step is to start reading the applications to the Writers' Circle. 

"I love helping people get where they want to go. That's our job, and it's our joy."

Applications for summer 2021 have closed, but you can still check out the Audible Indigenous Writers' Circle here.

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