Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.
LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.
Today, award-winning storyteller Richard Van Camp is championing the first book by young emerging author...Richard Van Camp. That's right! Van Camp's first book Angel Wing Splash Pattern has been reissued in a Special 20th Anniversary Edition.
Van Camp writes in the new introduction to his book:
"Angel Wing Splash Pattern, looking back now, was me using the short story as a celebration of being Tłįchϙ Dene and being raised in Fort Smith, NWT. Our home growing up was filled with music, books, stories, visiting, laughter, and a fun sense of community… I’ve braided the best of the ’80s with the best of the North in Angel Wing Splash Pattern, and, typing here in our home with my wife Keavy and our son, Edzazii, dreaming together, as I listen to The Sisters of Mercy’s “Colours,” I’ve done this in all of my books ever since. …
So much has changed in a good way these past twenty years with Indigenous Literature. When the first edition of Angel Wing Splash Pattern was published, I could name you twenty-five to thirty Indigenous authors whose work I was inhaling... Now, in 2020, I can’t keep up with all of the new voices and books coming out, and this is a glorious problem to have. …
Twenty years later, with twenty-four books to my name, Angel Wing Splash Pattern is a touchstone for me… If your heart needs an ever-exploding series of glitter bombs, please read Angel Wing Splash Pattern. We are so proud of where this book has gone. Here’s to more readers, more magic and more stories with these characters. This is where they all started finding their way with me and I’m a better man because of all of this. Mahsi cho! Thank you all so very much!
49th Shelf: What particular something have you managed to achieve with this book that you’re especially proud of?
Richard Van Camp: I feel that Angel Wing Splash Pattern was my debut as a storyteller who wanted to explore the sweet mystery and perfect universe of the short story. On top of that, I wanted to celebrate the enrapture of pop culture braided with traditional knowledge that we enjoy in the north. From illegal WWF moves to Barbie Band Aids to hockey stick nunchucks, I wanted to have fun with these stories. I also wanted to haunt the reader. I love a scary story and I feel we have a few in here that'll gallop their way into your soul long after the collection obliviates you. I still can't read "My Fifth Step" without bursting into tears and "Mermaids" takes it all out of me for days after. I gave all I had in each of these stories and I'm so proud of them. We earned every single word.
49thShelf: Tell us about your ideal reader, and where you imagine them reading your book.
RVC: I'm hoping Northerners read this and give me the famous northern nod and say, "Yup. Van Camp knows his stuff. That's how it is up here." As well, I'd love for international readers who are interested in traveling to the north to read the collection and book their tickets pronto to come on up and see just how beautiful the land and people are.
49th Shelf: What authors and works inspired you on your journey in creating this book?
49th Shelf: What’s something you know now that you didn’t know when you set out to write your book?
RVC: I had no idea how far the darkness would take me...and bring me back upside down and scraped at the four way in Fort Smith, mostly put all back together but sometimes inside out and backwards. Some of my fingers still don't work.
49th Shelf: What music were you enjoying when you worked on each of these stories?
RVC: The Classics: Kate Bush, The Sisters of Mercy, My Bloody Valentine, A Ha, The Cocteau Twins, The Mission, Slowdive, Depeche Mode, New Order, Ministry, The Terminator 2 Soundtrack, Sonic Youth. 25 years later, I'm still cranking these bands, adoring them, reexploring them. They fill me. Complete horripilations.
49th Shelf: What bookstore are you most excited to walk into and see your book displayed on the shelf?
RVC: Munro's in Victoria (I did my undergrad at UVIC).
49th Shelf: Who are you most grateful to for support in bringing your book into the world?
RVC: My publisher Kateri Akiwenzie Damm heard me whining about how no one wanted my first collection of short stories and she said, "Richard, what do you think I do for a living? I'll publish Angel Wing Splash Pattern." And she did. With her kickass editing, along with Rene Abram's editing and guidance and that Tim Atherton cover, I knew we were sitting on gold before we went to press. Mahsi cho, Kateri and Rene. Mahsi cho, Kegedonce Press!