Once Upon a Time star Keegan Connor Tracy's next big role is Canada Reads contender
The actor and filmmaker is championing Greenwood by Michael Christie on the great Canadian book debate
Actor and filmmaker Keegan Connor Tracy is championing the novel Greenwood by Michael Christie on Canada Reads 2023!
The great Canadian book debate will take place on March 27-30. This year, we are looking for one book to shift your perspective.
The debates will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Listen and on CBC Books.
The debates will take place live at 10:05 a.m. ET (that's an hour earlier than recent years). You can tune in live or catch a replay on the platform of your choice. You can see all the broadcast details here.
A novel about our connection to nature, and each other
In the novel Greenwood, it's the year 2038 and most of the world has suffered from an environmental collapse. But there is a remote island with 1,000-year-old trees and Jake Greenwood works as a tour guide there. From there, the novel takes you back in time as you learn more about Jake, her family and how secrets and lies can have an impact for generations.
Michael Christie is a novelist who grew up in northern Ontario and currently lives in Victoria. His 2011 short story collection The Beggar's Garden won the Vancouver Book Award and was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His 2015 novel If I Fall, If I Die won the Northern Lit Award and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
"I was thinking of the idea of a bloodline and wanted to complicate the idea of a family tree. The whole book is an extended metaphor of a family tree," Christie told CBC Books in 2019.
The whole book is an extended metaphor of a family tree.- Michael Christie
"Genealogy isn't a simple story. In my own personal life and experience, families are built much more than they are born. Looking back into your ancestry, all those people have a name and story of their own. There are so many stories to be told in family history so the narrative in the book is structured in that way."
When Greenwood was first published in 2019, it made the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist and won the 2020 Arthur Ellis Award (now the Canadian Crime Writing Awards) for best novel. But making Canada Reads gives the book a second life. And while Christie appreciates awards attention, he is most touched by the impact the book has directly with readers.
"It's so fulfilling and exciting. You don't plan these things, obviously, when you're writing a 550-page novel. You're focused on the story and doing the job well," Christie told Jonathan Pinto on CBC Radio's Up North.
"To see it being recognized by readers, it's really gratifying when someone comes up to me and says, 'I read this novel and it affected me.' What you're aiming for as a writer is to cause emotions, cause illumination, inside the reader's mind. It's been a real wonderful experience to see the book received like this."
LISTEN | Michael Christie reacts to being on Canada Reads:
Actor, filmmaker, author... and now Canada Reads panellist
Keegan Connor Tracy is an actor, director and writer from British Columbia. She has starred in the TV show Once Upon a Time as the Blue Fairy and as Belle in Disney's popular Descendents film franchise. She has also appeared in the TV series The Magicians, Bates Motel, Supernatural and the horror film Z. She is the author of the children's book This is a Job for Mommy! Her first short film, the bilingual The Girl/La Fille won the Jury President Award at the Galactic Imaginarium Festival and the Best Indie Short at the Las Vegas Movie Awards.
Growing up, Tracy used books as a refuge and a way to expand her mind beyond the Ontario neighbourhood she grew up in.
"From the time I was a little kid, I was a typical kid of the 1980s, a latchkey kid. We didn't have money and it was the simplest way to escape. I would pick up whatever book I could find," Tracy said on Commotion.
It's a passion she's carried with her all her life. She's even an author herself: she wrote the children's book This is a Job for Mommy!
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She's approaching Canada Reads like any good student: with intense preparation. "I feel like I should be getting an honorary lit degree. It feels like I am preparing for a university exam," Tracy said on Commotion. "I really want to speak intelligently about all of them."
A book about one family, but also about an entire country
Tracy, was eager to champion Greenwood, a novel she describes at its heart as "a family tale."
She is drawn to hefty, literary novels and loves the clever structure of Greenwood and how it's a multi-generational cross-country story.
"There was just something about this book that for me really felt Canadian, because it really is a Canadian story," Tracy said to Christie in a conversation they had.
"It's just a stunning, beautiful book — but also it tells the story of a complicated family, something we can all relate to. It spans the country from the Maritimes to the West. It has an exciting chase and a mystery, but also it deals with really timely issues about the environment," Tracy said in her 30-second pitch on CBC Radio's Q.
It's just a stunning, beautiful book — but also it tells the story of a complicated family, something we can all relate to.- Keegan Connor Tracy on why she is championing Greenwood
"It is a cautionary tale about how we have used our natural resources and how we will use them in the future, which is something that I think we really need to face as Canadians."
LISTEN | The Canada Reads 2023 contenders speak with CBC Radio's Q: