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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Finalist Mark Beauregard

Mark Beauregard has been a motorcycle journalist, gourmet ice cream manufacturer, film archivist, funeral home attendant, and university professor. As a fundraiser, he has helped raise millions of dollars to support nonprofit arts and community service organizations in Tucson, Arizona, where he lives. Before writing novels, Mark performed in nightclubs as half of the comedy team Blind Rage & Nick, and he still juggles occasionally out of nostalgia. In addition to The Whale: A Love Story, he has published five novels under the name Mark Zero. He has lived in many places throughout the United States and Europe.

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The Whale: A Love Story

A rich and captivating novel set amid the witty, high-spirited literary society of 1850s New England, The Whale offers a new window on Herman Melville's emotionally charged relationship with Nathaniel Hawthorne and how it transformed his masterpiece, Moby-Dick.

In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville finds himself hounded by creditors and afraid his writing career might be coming to an end. His last three novels have been commercial failures, and the critics have turned against him. In despair, Melville takes his family for a vacation to his cousin's farm in the Berkshires, where he meets Nathaniel Hawthorne at a picnic and his life turns upside down.

The Whale chronicles the fervent love affair that grows out of that serendipitous afternoon. Already in debt, Melville recklessly borrows money to purchase a local farm in order to remain near Hawthorne, his newfound muse. The two develop a deep connection marked by tensions and estrangements, and feelings both shared and suppressed.

Melville dedicated Moby-Dick to Hawthorne, and Mark Beauregard's novel fills in the story behind that dedication with historical accuracy and exquisite emotional precision, reflecting his nuanced reading of the real letters and journals of Melville, Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and others. An exuberant tale of longing and passion, The Whale captures not only a transformative relationship--long the subject of speculation--between two of our most enduring authors, but also their exhilarating moment in history, when a community of high-spirited and ambitious writers was creating truly American literature for the first time.


Finalist Caroline Miley

Caroline Miley is an art historian and writer with a long-time passion for art, the English landscape and literature. She was born in Europe and emigrated to Australia as a child. She is a graduate of LaTrobe and Melbourne Universities and has published several non-fiction books on art, craft and social comment. The Competition is her debut novel.

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The Competition is the story of a Georgian-era artist who must enter a painting competition that will see the winner’s career made. In the protagonist I wanted an ordinary person, a man of his time, who struggles with the sort of issues that everyone throughout history has had to deal with: getting ahead, worrying about money, falling in love, fear of failure, boredom, relationships. He’s passionate about his art and wants to succeed, but isn’t sure what that consists of. His life lacks meaning, although it’s not until he becomes involved with the radical politics of the era, with frame-breakers and the fall-out of the Industrial Revolution, that he can see what the problem is and be inspired to do something about it.


Finalist Dwayne Brenna



Dwayne Brenna is the versatile author of several books of humour, poetry, and fiction.  Coteau Books published his popular series of humorous vignettes entitled Eddie Gustafson’s Guide to Christmas in 2000.  His two books of poetry, Stealing Home and Give My Love to Rose, were published by Hagios Press in 2012 and 2015 respectively.  Stealing Home, a poetic celebration of the game of baseball, was subsequently shortlisted for several Saskatchewan Book Awards, including the University of Regina Book of the Year Award.  His first novel New Albion, about a laudanum-addicted playwright struggling to survive in London’s East End during the winter of 1850-51, was published by Coteau Books in autumn 2016.  New Albion won the 2017 Muslims for Peace and Justice Fiction Award at the Saskatchewan Book Awards.  It is one of three English language novels shortlisted for the prestigious MM Bennetts Award for historical fiction.  His short stories and poems have been published in an array of journals, including Grain, Nine, Spitball, and The Antigonish Review.

Brenna has acted at the Stratford Festival and has appeared on television in various nationally and internationally broadcast programs including For the Record, Judge (CBC Toronto), The Great Electrical Revolution, and The Incredible Story Studio (Mind’s Eye).  His movie credits include The Wars, Painted Angels (with Kelly McGillis), Black Light (with Michael Ironside), and The Impossible Elephant (with Mia Sara).  A series of character-based vignettes called The Adventures of Eddie Gustafson, written and performed by Brenna, had a five-year run on CBC Radio.

He is also the author of several books on theatre research, including Scenes From Canadian Plays (Fifth House) and Emrys’ Dream: Greystone Theatre in Words and Photographs (Thistledown).  His book Our Kind of Work: the Glory Days and Difficult Times of 25th Street Theatre (Thistledown 2011) was subsequently nominated for a Saskatchewan Book Award in Non-Fiction.  He has contributed articles on theatre to Theatre Notebook (London UK), The Dictionary of National Biography (London UK), The Canadian Theatre Review, and the Czech journal Theatralia.

Having completed his PhD at the University of London (England), Dr. Brenna is an active proponent of internationalization at the University of Saskatchewan, where he is employed.  He was involved in the development of an exchange with Mazaryk University in the Czech Republic, where he taught a module on Canadian theatre.  He has taught (and learned) mask in the aboriginal village of Boruca in the mountains of Costa Rica.  Most recently, he taught a course in mask at the University of Hyderabad in India, the first step in developing an exchange between that university and the University of Saskatchewan.  He regularly leads a study abroad course in London and Stratford-upon-Avon for students at the University of Saskatchewan.

His stage plays have been produced at Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham, 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon, and the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.

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New Albion follows the lives of the employees of the New Albion theatre in London, England, in 1850, through the journal entries of the stage manager, Emlyn Phillips. Fighting its own reputation, hindered by its location and ""sketchy" (at best) audience, as well as a police commissioner who demands "morally upstanding" plays, and a playwright so decrepit and addicted to laudanum that the actors of the New Albion are never sure what to expect, the troupe attempts to put on the best show possible, each and every night. The reader is introduced to the entire company of actors, all of whom have their own set of issues, who consistently band together as a community and family in the face of every obstacle - and there are more than a few of those. As the theatre encounters problem after problem, Phillips must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of his passion.