Local author and St. Albert Public Library communications staff member Leslie Greentree prepares to publish her new book, Not the apocalypse I was hoping for.
The collection of 14 novellas will be available in stores from September 15.
Greentree’s book, her fourth and second collection of short stories, includes accounts of the death of a performance artist; coffee romance; an art collector bartender; and much more.
“It was a long and complex experience,” said Greentree, adding that the book had been in the works for 10 years.
“It has been shaped and reshaped a lot during this time.”
Greentree’s previous collection of short stories, A minor planet for you, released in 2006, won the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction at the Alberta Book Awards. Greentree’s other publications are collections of poetry.
In her new book, Greentree said she was more “playful” compared to her previous collection of short stories.
“In this book, I had fun playing with different perspectives,” she said. “I’m really interested in people and how we all grope around the world without necessarily doing things that will actually get us to the goals we think we want.”
Unlike many fiction writers, Greentree said she generally avoids drawing inspiration from her own life.
“I would definitely say that [collection] is in no way about my own life,” she said. “I think the more a writer writes, the further he gets from the inspiration of his own life, or at least in my case.
“Inspiration comes a little on the side as I go through life, not necessarily through things that I’ve been through myself; sometimes it’s a comment or a story that someone another tells you that brings out something.”
In the case of bartender artthe collection’s longest history, Greentree said the idea came to him in two parts.
“Someone I know who was a bartender told me years and years ago that he sometimes buys art from budding artists in the bar. I thought it was an idea so cool, so I put that away in my little writing ideas folder.” she says.
“A completely different conversation in a completely different time period with a college professor led me to dig into the exploration of Greek statues, the Kore – I filed this as something really interesting and that I might use one day.
Greentree has also differentiated herself from other authors with her new collection by writing stories from the first-person, cross-gender perspective. In Not the apocalypse I was hoping for, title history, Children in the walls, and Exit interview #2 are written from a man’s point of view.
“I find it really fun to play that way, writing from a male perspective,” Greentree said.
“I didn’t find it more difficult than other characters just because once you get into a character’s head and find out what their motivations are or what their problem is or what their goal is, then you develop sort of a character’s voice and can just go from there.”
Since the collection includes a wide range of subjects, declaring or defining an overall theme is a difficult task, Greentree said. However, she agreed that many characters throughout the book try to shield themselves from being fully known – many characters have secrets they’d rather not share.
“That element of self-protection is, I think, something that a lot of us do that keeps us from being happy or being more connected,” Greentree said.
“People are complicated and we often do things that sabotage us in our quest for happiness, or whatever it is that we’ve been looking for.”
Whereas Not the apocalypse I was hoping for will be available in stores starting September 15, Greentree is hosting a launch event at the St. Albert Downtown Library on Friday, September 16.
For the launch, Greentree will read excerpts from the book, participate in a question-and-answer period and sign copies.
“I work at St. Albert Public Library and it’s such an incredible institution full of incredible human beings who work so hard to make the community a richer and better place,” Greentree said.
“Having my first book launch at the public library means the world to me.”
Not the apocalypse I was hoping for is published by the University of Calgary Press as part of its Brave & Brilliant series.
“Aritha Van Herk is the managing editor of the Brave & Brilliant series, and Van Herk is a hugely respected and well-known Alberta writer with an incredible reputation that reaches far beyond Alberta,” Greentree explained.
“The opportunity to work with a writer of his caliber and reputation is just amazing – it was very exciting for me.”