The 37th annual National Magazine Awards are coming up on Friday June 6. One of the most special awards to be presented at the gala will be the honour of Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer, an award sponsored by the Readers’s Digest Foundation. This year there are 3 finalists, and recently we chatted with each of them to get to know the person behind the pen.
Our first nominee is Suzannah Showler, author of “On the Trail of Ignored Beasts” (Maisonneuve).
NMAF: What is something about yourself that others would be surprised to know?
Suzannah: My brain can’t distinguish between the number 5 and a capital letter B. 5ut I’m working on it.
NMAF: When it came to writing your piece, did you have any sources of inspiration?
Suzannah: I was mostly inspired by the topic itself. I find cryptozoology endlessly fascinating. While I was preparing to write the piece, I became increasingly inspired, too, by the particular cryptozoologists I met. These are people doing their best to apply scientific skepticism to an activity that’s fundamentally motivated by what could be called faith. There’s a fine line between intellectual flexibility and out-and-out madness, of course, and there were times writing this piece when I wasn’t sure which side of that line I was reporting from. But on the whole, I found it genuinely inspiring to meet people living their lives with such imagination, and perseverance, and hope.
NMAF: What are your career goals?
Suzannah: I’ll probably never shake my poetry-writing habit, but I’d love to try my hand at writing something longer in prose. Whether I can actually make that happen and whether that prose would detail true or untrue things remain to be seen.
NMAF: How did you feel about being an NMA nominee?
Suzannah: Very thrilled, obviously!
NMAF: What advice do you have to up-and-coming magazine writers?
Suzannah: I’m more or less a crossover from the literary side, which is one way people land in long-form magazine writing, but it’s maybe not the most efficient route. I would never tell someone: go and write poetry, mostly, and kind of dabble in short nonfiction until someone lets you try something longer. My personal experience doesn’t lend itself to amazing advice.
This interview was edited for content. Special thanks to Nadya Domingo for conducting the interview.
Here’s what this year’s NMA jury said about “On the Trail of Ignored Beasts”:
In On the Trail of Ignored Beasts, Suzannah Showler hunts creatures stranger than sasquatches: the cryptozoologists who love them. Her reporting is strong, empathetic and insightful; urging readers past the wacky subject matter to consider the deeper reasons some of us just need to believe. She presents her subjects respectfully and thoughtfully, and the result is a poetic work of narrative non-fiction.
We’ll find out who wins the award for Best New Magazine Writer at the 37th annual National Magazine Awards, Friday June 6. Tickets.
Q&A with the creators of the finalists for best Magazine Cover
More info on the award for Best New Magazine Writer