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Launchpad: Watershed, by Doreen Vanderstoop

"Riveting . . . Watershed is the best kind of futuristic fiction, the kind that becomes grass-roots reality as we read." —Wayne Grady

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Watershed, by Doreen Vanderstoop, which Wayne Grady calls "Riveting...[T]he best kind of futuristic fiction, the kind that becomes grass-roots reality as we read."


Book Cover Watershed

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Watershed is a near-future dystopian cli-fi novel in which extreme drought and mysterious hallucinations plague Willa, a struggling goat farmer, and family secrets threaten to destroy her relationship with her son, Daniel.

Describe your ideal reader.

Someone who appreciates our intimate connection to the land but also enjoys floating off and reading a thriller every now and again. Likes anything by the oracle of dystopia, Margaret Atwood.

What authors/books is your work in conversation with?

Fred Stenson, who clearly loves Alberta as much as I do. Kevin Van Tighem. Sid Marty. Bruce Powe’s The Aberhart Summer. Merilyn Simonds’ The Holding. Canadian Tales of Climate Change, edited by Bruce Meyer.

What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?

Watershed started off as a book about a brittle, sharp-edged woman struggling for identity and survival. In the writing, I discovered what made her journey meaningful was her relationship with her son, and he grew to be an equal partner in the telling. Through the editing process, more sides of Willa revealed themselves. It took all that for me to feel I did her justice.

Was there a part of the book that you returned to as a touchstone during the writing of it?

Without giving too much away... For Willa, it was her conversation with the pastor when he pays her a visit at the farm. And for Daniel, it was the scene where he reveals his secrets to his new love.

An important part of any book launch are the thank you’s. Go ahead, and acknowledge someone whose support has been integral to this project.

I can’t thank Merilyn Simonds enough for helping me get this book ready for submission to a publisher. She doles out gold nuggets at every turn about the process of writing—from concept to completion.

What are you reading right now or next?

I’m really enjoying No Ordinary Woman: The Story of Mary Schaffer Warren, by Janice Sanford Beck. Next up: Motorcycles & Sweetgrass, by Drew Hayden Taylor.



Book Cover Watershed

About Watershed:

It is 2058, and the glaciers are gone. A catastrophic drought has hit the prairies. Willa Van Bruggen is desperately trying to keep her family goat farm afloat, hoping against hope that the new water pipeline arrives before the bill collectors do.

Willa's son, Daniel, goes to work for the pipeline corporation instead of returning to help the family business. When Daniel reveals long-concealed secrets about his grandfather's death, Willa's world truly shatters. She's losing everything she values most: her farm, her son, her understanding of the past—and even her grip on reality itself. Vividly illustrating the human cost of climate change, Watershed is a page-turner of a novel about forgiveness, adaptation, and family bonds.

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