Hamilton native marveling over 'surreal' GG nomination

Hamilton native Carrie Snyder is still floating after learning her second book is nominated for the Governor General's Award for Fiction.
Hamilton-born Carrie Snyder says it's an unreal feeling to see her book The Juliet Stories on this year's shortlist for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. (Nancy Forde)

Hamilton native Carrie Snyder is still floating after learning her second book is nominated for the Governor General's Award for Fiction.

Snyder, who lived here while her father got a doctorate from McMaster University, is basking in the surreal feeling of her short story collection, The Juliet Stories, getting this sort of attention.

"It was like an out of body, out of time experience. It's kind of unbelievable," she said in an interview with CBC Hamilton from her home in Waterloo. "It's still sinking in."

Snyder's book is one of five on the shortlist, which was announced on Tuesday. The Juliet Stories is a collection of stories about a girl who spends part of her childhood with her peace activist parents in Nicaragua. It is Snyder's second book.

Snyder was born at McMaster Hospital 37 years ago. Her father was pursuing a doctorate in Anabaptist history at the university.

The family only lived here for about a year, so Snyder doesn't remember being a Hamiltonian. But she still visits the city, and plans to run the Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon again this year.

After Hamilton, her family lived in various places — Germany, Nicaragua, Ohio, Ayr. Half of The Juliet Stories takes place in southern Ontario, and Snyder considers the region an important part of her work.

"The geography, the place, it's just part of who I am," she said.

Snyder has been a stay-at-home mom for about 11 years, and in raising her four children, stole as many moments as possible to write. She experienced disappointment and rejection, but writing "is almost an inner drive," she said.

She also received a CBC Literary Award for the short story "Red Rover, Red Rover" in 2006.

About 1,700 books were submitted this year for the Governor General's Literary Awards, which are given in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, children's literature and translation.

"Literary excellence is what drives the Governor General’s Literary Awards," said Robert Sirman, director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts, in a media release this week. "This year’s shortlisted books put the creative talent of our authors, translators and illustrators front and centre."

All five of this year's fiction finalists are from Ontario.