Literary Prizes·CBC Literary Prizes

The Stepsister by Maggie Jansen

Maggie Jansen has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for The Stepsister.

2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Maggie Jansen is currently writing a memoir. (Rachel Jansen)

Maggie Jansen has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for The Stepsister.

About Maggie

Maggie Jansen turned 60 in March of this year. Last November, she graduated from the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Education's creative writing program. She grew up in Calgary, Alta., but left for the co-op English program at the University of Waterloo in 1978. Next, Jansen moved to Toronto. All her life, she loved books, taught ESL, worked in book shops, libraries, wrote press releases — but lacked the courage to write. In 2006, she got sober, and with the support of family, friends and teachers found the courage to write her memoir, which is still in progress.

Entry in five-ish words

Childhood vignette, dysfunctional role models.

The story's source of inspiration

"That summer working at the Stampede was a turning point for me. It was when I realized that my family life was no ordinary family life. It was making crepes with my stepsister — who never became my stepsister — that I started to feel alone, and scared. Thanks to 12 years of sobriety, I can re-see these vignettes from my past. Whilst I see the darkness within them, I also see their light, warmth and even humour. I write for me, and to share that light, the hope recovery has given me with those still battling the dark."

First lines

"I was 12 when my mother left our family to find herself, find something else, someone else: left us to fend for ourselves. I wanted to believe that I was okay. I did my best to clean 1215 Riverdale Avenue, our family home, the way my mother had. I made sure my sister's terrycloth sleeper suits were clean when I did our laundry. Saturdays, I polished 1215's yellow oak floors with paste wax and our ancient Hoover buffer. I graduated from my robin's egg blue Kenner Easy Bake Oven that I'd had since Grade Three, to 1215's white ceramic stove."

About the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have their story published on CBC Books and will have the opportunity to attend a writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their story published on CBC Books.