Author Diana Stevan, shown in a file photo, is a finalist in the fiction category of the Whistler Independent Book Awards.

Vancouver Island author in the running for national fiction award

Diana Stevan’s historical novel Sunflowers Under Fire a finalist for Whistler Independent Book Award

A Campbell River-based writer has been selected as a finalist for a national book award.

Diana Stevan is among three finalists in the fiction category of the Whistler Independent Book Awards (WIBAs).

Asked how she felt about the honour on Monday, she said “I was surprised… over the moon, thrilled.”

Sunflowers Under Fire, Stevan’s third novel, is based on the life of her grandmother, Lukia Mazurets, a Ukrainian farm wife, during the upheavals of the early 20th century, including the First World War and the Russian Revolution.

“The story starts when her husband had just volunteered for the Czar’s army, and while he’s in the neighbouring city doing that, she’s delivering her eight child,” said Stevan, who launched the book at the Campbell River library in May.

“She’s really angry, because the Germans and the Austrians are threatening to invade their area, and actually soon after, she has to flee to a refugee camp with her children while her house burns.”

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The saga is based on stories recounted by Stevan’s mother, combined with extensive background research, including at libraries in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, New York City, and Stamford, Connecticut.

Stevan’s grandmother, or baba, never spoke about life in the Old Country, Stevan said.

“I think it’s much like soldiers who go to war, and they don’t want to talk about what they experienced because they bring up some of that pain and heartache that went with what they did,” she said.

Finalists were chosen from a shortlist by members of the Metro-Vancouver branch of the Canadian Authors Association.

The two other contenders for the fiction award are Ann Shortell for her debut novel Celtic Knot – A Clara Swift Tale, and Edythe Anstey Hanen for her book Nine Birds Singing. The winner will be announced in October.

The contest is sponsored by the Writers’ Union of Canada, in partnership with the Whistler Writing Society, Canadian Authors and Vivalogue Publishing.

The WIBAs are open to Canadian authors who have self-published a book or books within the past five years.


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

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