Meet the Jury: Waubgeshig Rice
February 2, 2022
Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist from Wasauksing First Nation. He has written three fiction titles, and his short stories and essays have been published in numerous anthologies. His most recent novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was published in 2018 and became a national bestseller. He graduated from the journalism program at the university formerly known as Ryerson in 2002, and spent most of his journalism career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a video journalist and radio host. He left CBC in 2020 to focus on his literary career. He lives in Sudbury, Ontario with his wife and two sons.
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I knew I wanted to be an author when I first read the work of trailblazing Indigenous authors as a teen in the 1990s. I wasn’t exposed to Indigenous authors or books in high school, but thankfully my aunt Elaine knew I was a keen reader and had interest in creative writing, so she gave me novels by people like Richard Wagamese, Louise Erdrich, Thomas King, Lee Maracle, and more. Those legendary writers showed me that my experiences were valid and deserved space in literature. I was encouraged and empowered to dream of becoming an author, and thanks to the guidance and support of many storytellers, authors, family, and community members, that dream has come true.
What is your favourite writing routine?
My preferred writing routine is to get to work as soon as possible in the morning once the kids are at school and day care. I find that’s when my mind is sharpest and most enthusiastic. I tend to run out of gas a bit by lunch, and then after eating, I usually leave the house to work elsewhere. If the weather permits, I’ll go to a park or somewhere outside with a seat, but more often I’ll head to a coffee shop or the library until it’s time to pick up the kids. Sometimes I’ll write a bit in the evenings, but that’s usually when I hang out with my wife Sarah and relax.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a new novel called Moon of the Turning Leaves, which is the sequel to my last novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow. It’s scheduled to be published in May 2023. I finished the first draft about halfway through last year, and my editor Rick Meier and I are working through the revisions now. It’s coming together!
If you could tell your younger writer-self anything, what would it be?
Your stories are important, and you deserve platforms to share them. Stay proud of being Anishnaabe! There is important solidarity in writing and sharing our stories, and eventually Canada will listen to us and read what we write. Keep the storytelling spirit strong.
If you didn’t write, how would you spend your time/what would you do for work?
If I didn’t write for a living, I’d spend more time properly learning the language of my people, Anishinaabemowin. I learned the basics as a kid on the reserve, but I never learned it fluently. My goal is to eventually be able to share fluent knowledge with my children. If the stars align, I’d like to become an Anishinaabemowin teacher someday!
What are you most looking forward to being a juror for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize?
I’m really looking forward to reading the best books published in Canada, and discussing them with brilliantly talented fellow writers. I have deep admiration and respect for the people I’m joining on the jury. I’m honoured and thrilled to have this opportunity, and it’s a responsibility I take very seriously. As a writer, it will be a very enjoyable and valuable learning experience as well. I can’t wait to start reading and discussing!
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