PRISM international


PRISM international 2013 Fiction Contest

I’m thrilled to learn that my short story “Last Concert – Luzon, Philippines” won first runner-up in PRISM international’s 2013 Fiction contest. The story features a constipated classical guitarist on the last concert of his first tour, a hole in a wall, some dogs, and other stuff. This year’s judge was Annabel Lyon, whose writing I admire. Check out the other winners here: THE WINNERS

In other news, I freaked myself out last night, here’s how: apparently I was staring at my lamp with only one of my eyes (??? I know. I was in bed and the other was blocked by a pillow I guess) so when I turned my light off I could see with my left eye but not my right (due to starting at the lamp) and I thought I’d burst a retina or some other awful thing. (All’s back to normal now.)

In third news, I went to Seattle and geeked it out at comicon. Here’s a shirt I bought:




And some friends I made:




Interview and Novella

A couple days ago Will Johnson emailed and asked if he/PRISM could interview me about my Malahat win and a few of my stories. Will is a UBA Writing MFA student, and went through UVic the same time as me, though we never shared a class. You can find the interview at his site here: Interview with writer Erin (Frances) Fisher or at PRISM here or scroll down and read it here.

In other news, I’ve just finished editing my novella. It doesn’t have a home yet, but because it’s just under 20,000 words I’m hoping I’ll be able to convince some journal or other to adopt it. If not, it probably won’t be seen until I put together a collection of short/long stories. The title is currently under review, but here’s a hint about the subject matter:

And here’s the interview with Will Johnson…

Last year, Victoria writer Erin Fisher won first place in PRISM international’s fiction contest for her story “Bridges”. This year, Fisher repeated that success by taking the top spot in The Malahat Review’s fiction contest. PRISM caught up with Erin recently, to discuss her recent successes and her plans for the future.

PRISM: Your piece “Apiculture” just won The Malahat Review’s Open Season Awards. Congratulations! You’re having quite the year–how does it feel?

ERIN FISHER: Pretty great. It doesn’t change any of the work that must be done, but it provides a boost to energy.

P: Tell us about “Apiculture”. What was your process while writing it, and what were you hoping to accomplish with this story?

EF: “Apiculture” underwent many, many rewrites. I wanted a child narrator who was being built by the events that occur in the story, as well as the depth that is added by the retrospective, but I didn’t want the future time/place/situation of the narrator mattering. I knew the layers and plot of the story before I started writing, but it took a lot of tinkering to get it working properly.

P: Your writing is very experimental/edgy. Why do you feel drawn to non-traditional styles of story-telling?

EF: I’m not sure. I enjoy reading all types of stories, and have tried a less ornamental style of writing, but it came off wrong. Every story (so far) has had a different way of forming in rough draft, but in the end each one comes down to me and it and scissors and a lot of floorspace. Being flexible with structure allows the story’s form to help solve problems. On content: it can be more fun to get to the core of the piece through a little weirdness.

P: Both your prize-winning stories have a strong theme of childhood in them. Is this a coincidence, or is this a theme that you’re interested in continuing to explore?

EF: I’m interested in child narrators because they are in the process of becoming people, and (like I said above) instead of having a wealth of experience behind them, children are being built by the events that occur in the story. Although I have a few drafts of stories without kids, I think that (with or without intent) there will be some aspect of childhood in most of my pieces.

P: You also published a story in Granta this year. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

EF: Sure. Granta published my piece “Suite in Dark Matter” last November. It was published online alongside issue 117 Horror, which (after the shock of acceptance) surprised/amused me. The story is structured after a baroque keyboard suite, and the main character is a pianist who, while digging through compost at night, discovers an angel. In writing this piece I tried to work the rococo style of a traditional suite into the writing. The choice in using the suite structure came down to the content (lapsed pianist) and the POV switch at the end.

P: How long have you been a writer? When did you start submitting your work to literary journals?

EF: I became attached to writing about five years ago. I went to UVic intending to further study composition (music) and took “Form and Structure of Short Fiction” to compare structural styles. After that, I just kept writing.

P: Who are some Canadian authors you admire?

EF: Annabel Lyon, of course Alice Munro, Miriam Toews, William Gibson’s “Burning Chrome”, and too many more. I just finished reading “The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick deWitt–this is one of those books I wish I wrote.

P: I understand you’re currently trying to get into an MFA program for Creative Writing. What else is on the horizon for your writing career? And what are you currently working on?

EF: I’ve been teaching at the Victoria Conservatory of Music for the last six years, and will be continuing on there. I’m planning on doing an MFA either distance or in Victoria, but besides that–just keep writing. In the works: I’ve just finished a novella, and have started the early map of a novel.

John K Samson Comments on “Bridges”

Prism sent a few of John K Samson’s comments to John Threlfall and he passed them on to me:

Judge John K. Samson felt Fisher’s story was “crafted as tightly as an enduring poem, and is full of fuse-like sentences that fizz and explode in unexpected spots. The narrator is pleasingly unclear and unsettling; I’m still not entirely certain who or what it is, though I have some ideas about it I cherish. The slightly opaque parts of it are actually strangely inviting—it is a story that allows the reader to participate and speculate, and there is something playful about it. I guess that makes sense, as it concerns innocence and childhood. I found it remarkably original.”

UVic’s the Ring does an Article

Thanks John for putting this together, and to Matthew for his help and encouragement this year!

UVic’s The Ring says….

“Erin Fisher is $2,000 richer, thanks to her first-place win for a story originally written as a first-year assignment for the University of Victoria’s Department of Writing. Fisher, now a third-year Writing student and winner of the 2009 Cadboro Bay Book Prize for Fiction, was selected as the Grand Prize Fiction winner in the 2011 PRISM International poetry and fiction contest for her 2,500-word short story “Bridges.”

Chosen from a field of over 250 entries by this year’s fiction judge—noted songwriter and publisher John K. Samson of The Weakerthans fame—Fisher describes “Bridges” as a story about “a six-year-old girl who spends her time watching her sister, watching herself and telling stories; it’s about quietness in people, and connections.”Originally written in two weeks for a first-year writing class, “Bridges” was reworked as an entry for The Malahat Review’s 2010 Open Season Award in Fiction, where it was shortlisted as a finalist, before being redrafted and sent to PRISM. “This will be my first publication, and it is a much-needed moral boost,” says Fisher, an award-winning pianist who also teaches at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. “I’ve spent a lot of years composing music and playing music, and in order to work on writing words I had to shift part of my focus from those studies. It’s good to know both fields can complement each other.”

Fisher says she hadn’t originally planned on pursuing writing at all. “When I first started at UVic, I was thinking of finishing off a music degree in composition,” she recalls. “I took a course from Lorna Jackson to see how the structure of short stories could compare to a musical structure, and got addicted. After luring me in, the writing department showed me what to watch for in technique and craft.”

Acclaimed local author Matthew Hooton (Deloume Road) was one of Fisher’s writing instructors this year and says it has been a “humbling experience” to read her work. “I’ve found myself in the paradoxical position of trying to engage with her work in class and get out of her way at the same time,” he says. “She has a knack for choosing the right word, the right metaphor, the right structure, the right line of dialogue. This prize is the literary equivalent of a warning shot over the bow of the establishment. It won’t be the last time you read her name—trust me, I’ve seen what she’s got coming next.”

Founded in 1959, PRISM International is the oldest literary magazine in Western Canada and published some of the first works by such iconic Canadian writers as Margaret Laurence, George Bowering, Alden Nowlan and Margaret Atwood.”

PRISM international posts 2011 Fiction/Poetry Winners

PRISM says:

This year we received over two-hundred and fifty short stories and over three-hundred and fifty poems! Needless to say, the decisions were difficult and the quality of the work was phenomenal. But after weeks and weeks of deliberation, the editorial board and the editors decided on the final shortlists. The poetry shortlist went to Brad Cran — the poet laureate of Vancouver. And the fiction shortlist went to John K. Samson — musician, fiction enthusiast and publisher.

The winners of 2011 PRISM international poetry and fiction contest are —

Poetry Grand Prize Winner — $1,000
“My Father in his garden, depicted in the woodblock print of the Taishō dynasty” by Pamela Porter

Poetry First Runner-up — $300
“Reincarnation Study 1982″ by Sheryda Warrener

Poetry Second Runner-up — $200
“Pop Quiz” by Scott Ramsay

Fiction Grand Prize Winner — $2,000
“Bridges” by Erin Frances Fisher

Fiction First Runner-up — $200
“Squatters” by Robert James Hicks

Fiction Second Runner-up — $200
“The Ghost” by Mark Jacquemain

Congratulations to all of the winners! Thank you to everyone who entered! And thanks to our judges Brad Cran and John K. Samson! The winning entries and runners-up will be published in the Summer 2011 issue of PRISM (49.4).

ALSO: The New Malahat Review Launches tonight! I’m teaching but it should be a fun thing!

PRISM international contest winner: Erin Frances Fisher

That’s right, I couldn’t wait any longer to let it out. I found out last week that I’ve not only been shortlisted but won PRISM international‘s competition. Expect a formal announcement from them any day now.

The judge for this year was John K. Samson, a member of The Weakerthans and founder of independent publisher Arbeiter Ring Publishing. Besides that, he’s championed both Miriam Toew’s novel A Complicated Kindness and Heather O’Neill’s novel Lullabies for Little Criminals on CBC’s Canada Reads. I am totally ebullient about this; my brain just might float out. Both of those novels are on my shelf and Miriam Toews is reading here in May.

What this means: Erin Frances Fisher is getting published. It also gave me a much needed moral boost, and some concrete place to tie my both hopes of being a real writer, and my buoyant brain.