Bellingham author and artist Nancy Canyon's new eBook, "Dark Forest," is a collection of poignant short-short stories based on her life growing up in Eastern Washington. Her artwork adorns the cover.
Canyon will share her book at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Village Books, 1200 11th St., and will exhibit more of her art Nov. 2 through Dec. 6 at Honey Salon, 310 W. Holly St. Details: nancycanyon.com.
Question: What are some of your creative projects?
Answer: My current writing work involves formatting "Whispering, Idaho," my first novel, for eBook. My second novel, "Stealing Time," is in the editing process. Both will be launched early next year.
Also I'm working on a memoir based on two summers I spent as a fire lookout attendant on Corral Hill, outside Grangeville, Idaho, when I was in my 20s.
And I'm working on a series of paintings for a solo show hanging at Honey Saloon that opens during the Nov. 2 Downtown Art Walk. The series began with the painting "Reflection on Padden Creek," which hung at Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher for the "Fate of the Forest" exhibit. The painting inspired my reflection series.
I paint in my art studio, Studio No. 21, 1000 Harris Ave., in Fairhaven.
When I'm not painting, I teach writing in my studio in the Morgan Block building. I also teach writing at the Academy of Lifelong Learning and through Whatcom Community College.
Lastly, I work as a licensed massage therapist, specializing in craniosacral therapy since 1994.
Q: How does "place" play into your writing and art?
A: Eastern Washington was my home for 36 years. I can't think of my childhood without recalling ponderosa pine and black-eyed Susans. Every river reminds me of the Spokane and the huge basalt domes we scrambled over after crossing the rapids on a shaky suspension bridge.
Nor can I imagine downtown Spokane without the thundering falls at flood stage in the spring. You can actually stand above them on a bridge ... it's both frightening and enlivening.
As an artist, the Palouse continues to flow through the lines in my paintings. The rolling hills are sculpted by tractor tines tilling rich topsoil. In the spring, the fields are spring-wheat green; in the summer, golden wheat contrasts with the wide blue sky.
As for the west side ... it's the water and the way the light reflects from it ... you'll see when you view my reflection paintings. When I write or do art, I try to capture nature and "plant" it in my reader's imagination.
Q: How do you "dig deep" in your work process?
A: Growing up, I had to keep the secret of abuse. Now I'm compelled to tell the truth in my writing. It has taken me years to learn to be totally honest, vulnerable and nonjudgmental. I do this by writing fast, ignoring the editor in me if possible. You need a safe group to write like this, and luckily, I have one.
As far as refining my work, I do this alone. Then I take my refined work to my editing group, so their eyes can be on it as well.
Q: What's "Dark Forest" about?
A: The stories are based on my childhood growing up in Spokane. The content is somewhat dark ... in that it explores a young girl's feelings about her body, about her personal safety, about her loneliness. The eBook can be downloaded ahead of time from Amazon, to your computer or eReader: tinyurl.com/6mu5k74.
Reading along with me will be my friend and author C.J. Prince. Her novella, "Catching My Breath," is about a young woman - an artist- overcoming abusive relationships. There will be a reception at the Book Fare Cafe afterward.
Q: How do you spend your leisure time?
A: I love the mountains and have made several treks this summer, hiking to astounding views. I also love to photograph, so I always carry my digital Nikon. I've studied photography ... first in the '80s in art school, and now on my own, shooting and then working with the shots on my computer.
I just took an exciting class with Jeff Aspnes, a local Bellingham photographer. We shot at sunset and in the dark, playing with exposure time and shifts in zoom as the photos exposed, light-painting the night with high-powered flashlights. I was so excited by this class that when I arrived home from Deception Pass (on the full moon) I couldn't sleep.
Reach MARGARET BIKMAN at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-2273.