Fiction for all ages will be featured at the next Electric Mermaid reading series in Port Alberni.
On Wednesday, April 27, series host Derek Hanebury will read from his new book, Something Else Altogether at Char’s Landing. The second featured reader for the night will be children’s author Leslie Gentile.
Gentile’s debut novel, Elvis, Me and The Lemonade Stand Summer, was released by Cormorant Books in February 2021. It won the 18th annual Victoria Children’s Book Awards for 2021 and is a finalist in both the Rocky Mountain and Silver Birch Book Awards for 2022. It has gone into its third printing in under a year.
Gentile now performs with two of her adult children as The Leslie Gentile Band, and with author/musician sister Karen Lee White as The Half White Sisters. She has been a musician, concert promoter, bookkeeper, education assistant, antique restoration assistant, geoduck shucker and riding instructor.
Gentile lives on Vancouver Island with her husband Dan, and a German Shepherd who is convinced that he’s a lap dog. Gentile is of Salish, Tuscarora and Scottish heritage and lives on the traditional territory of the WSÁNEC people.
Leslie said she’s pleased that her book has resonated with readers of all ages.
“It’s considered a middle grade novel, but I am really blown away by the huge number of adults who have embraced this book and the two main characters, Truly and Andy El, and let me know how their story has impacted them,” she said. “I’ve had a few adult readers tell me that the book has made them rethink their preconceived ideas about Indigenous people — now that is powerful, and for a writer, very humbling.”
Leslie said she’s heard so much about Electric Mermaid that she’s really excited to join the community.
“It’s such a brilliant idea to celebrate and encourage writers with an open mic event,” she said. “I’m looking forward to hearing a diverse group of writers that I wouldn’t ordinarily get to hear — what a gift to be part of it.”
Derek Hanebury is a Vancouver Island writer of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Something Else Altogether (RCN) is his first solo collection of short stories, following the 2020 publication of Both Sides Now (RCN), which was a compilation of stories co-authored with Vicki Drybrough and Libbie Morin, and the 2006 publication of Nocturnal Tonglen (Ekstasis), a collection of poems. He is also the co-editor of Alberniology, an Alberni Valley writing anthology.
His first novel, Ginger Goodwin: Beyond the Forbidden Plateau (Arsenal Pulp), went to a second printing. He has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from UBC and taught writing at North Island College on Vancouver Island until his retirement in 2017.
“We are thrilled to help launch Derek’s wonderful new book,” said artistic director Jacqueline Carmichael.
“He’s a wonderful host and leader for the Electric Mermaid, and his writing is amazing. This book’s short stories are beautifully crafted. It will be a real treat for listeners and fellow writers.”
Electric Mermaid, emceed by Hanebury, is supported in part by Creative BC and the Canada Council on the Arts and by Char’s Landing hostel and venue of Port Alberni. The April 27 edition marks the addition of a new sponsor, Alberni Valley publishing house RCN Media.
Writers of all levels and genres are welcome to register for an open mic reading of up to five minutes with moderator Karl Kjorven at email@example.com.
Electric Mermaid meets on the last Wednesday of the month at 5:45 p.m. at Char’s Landing (4815 Argyle Street). Attendees can choose to Zoom in from anywhere around the continent by going to www.charslanding.com, clicking on the dated event and following the prompts.