I started writing Spells of Blood and Kin ages ago: 2008, the year I attended the Viable Paradise writing workshop. Nine years.
Nine years ago, I had just lost my father. I was trying to write something light, something to distract myself from loss and difficulty. I should have known I didn’t work that way, but it took me a while to understand. When I did, the book I ended up writing was pretty different.
Today, I won the Sunburst Award for that book. In the jury’s statement, one bit really stood out to me:
“Humphrey’s use of a real, contemporary Canadian setting and her refusal to allow her characters any easy victories set this novel apart from a field of strong competitors.”
Italics mine. I was going to say easy victories aren’t a thing I understand, but I do understand that this is a matter of perspective and privilege.
I also understand that the victories that we treasure are the ones for which we worked, and it’s true that the characters in this book work hard for the comparatively small victories they manage. This felt true to me when I was writing it, and still today.
This particular victory, then, feels incredibly satisfying in terms of how I worked for it, and also staggeringly lucky in that so many others did too. The other nominees are amazing! Have you read these books?! It’s an honour even to be mentioned in the same breath. Please go forward and read all the works nominated for the Sunburst in every category!
Writing can be an extremely long game. I had no idea, back in 2008, what I was going to write, or how I was going to sell it. I only knew that I had a pressing desire to write at all, and that it was going to be about a witch. No single day held a particular breakthrough, but so many days held words in them, and the words built up into pages, and finally here I am. Maybe this will be you. Maybe this will be me again. I can’t wait to keep moving forward through all the days and their words.