Some Recent Writings

Whoa! It’s been a year and a half since I’ve posted anything here. That has to be a new record since I started blogging a long time ago! A lot has happened since my last post. I quit my day job at CBC. My second son was born. I completed the first draft of the sequel to Moon of the Crusted Snow. I got vaccinated against COVID-19. And so much more! I’ll offer up more details on all of those things when I can. But I’ve shared a bit about my recent life events in some fun freelance writings over the past year and a bit. Now that I’m a full-time author/sometimes freelance journalist, I have the freedom to explore some more personal and introspective kind of writing gigs, which has been fun. So I’ll highlight a few of them here, in hopes of prompting myself to write in this particular blog space a bit more. Here goes:

As the pandemic was intensifying in the Spring of 2020, the Toronto Star asked authors to write about how COVID-19 was affecting their lives. I chose to write about the impending birth of our son Ayaabe, and they published my reflection a little more than a week before he was born. It’s hard to believe he’s almost a year and a half already!

When I left daily journalism around the same time, the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police prompted widespread discussions about systemic racism in all realms and sectors. I couldn’t help but reflect on my career and experiences in mainstream Canadian journalism, and what I witnessed over the course of nearly two decades. I was invited by Robert Jago to contribute to a series he edited for the Walrus called Terra Cognita, so I wrote a letter to aspiring Indigenous journalists.

By last fall I was deep into developing the sequel to Moon of the Crusted Snow. I read and listened to a lot of Anishinaabe stories and history to keep my head in the world I was trying to create. And then I had a major revelation about oral storytelling and memory while watching an old video of an elder from my home community, and wrote all about it for the Globe and Mail.

Also for the Globe last fall, I got to interview my friends and mentors Eden Robinson and Cherie Dimaline about the genres our stories inhabit as Indigenous writers. It was a really fun conversation!

Another really fulfilling opportunity that came up since I jumped back into the writing world full-time is a regular column for Open Book. You can find all of my writings over the past year and a bit here, and for one specific and always timely example, here’s a column on Indigenous identity and the responsibilities of telling stories.

Just in time for their annual early exit from the NHL playoffs, I wrote about being an Anishinaabe fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the Walrus. Despite the loss, I really enjoyed looking back on my lifelong fandom, and the impact of George Armstrong on all of us Indigenous fans. Fandom for us isn’t always so straightforward.

Finally, with Indigenous history finally starting to be properly reflected in the mainstream Canadian psyche, I wrote about falling statues and changing names after recent events at my alma mater. 2021 was a year of significant change in this country’s awareness, and I was honoured to contribute to that discussion.

Those are just some of the writings I published over the past year and a half with Canadian periodicals. I’ll add another post in the coming weeks with some of the other projects I’ve been involved with since becoming a free agent. It’s been very rewarding to share these ideas and experiences far and wide, so big thanks to you all for your ongoing interest and support! In the meantime, you can always check my Facebook page for other writings and news.

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A Moon of the Crusted Snow Sequel

Updates here have been very sparse lately, but I have a big one to share now. I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be working with Penguin Random House Canada on a sequel to Moon of the Crusted Snow. Here’s a bit more from my literary agent, Denise Bukowski:

Based on the success of his bestselling novel about an apocalypse in a northern First Nation, Moon of the Crusted Snow, Anishinaabe writer and CBC broadcaster Waubgeshig Rice has been commissioned by Random House Canada editor Rick Meier to produce an as-yet-unwritten sequel set ten years after the events that forced the residents to retreat into the bush and resume their traditional lifestyle. The novel is expected to be published in 2022. Congratulations, Waub!

The story will pick up more than a decade after the blackout, following Evan Whitesky and his daughter Nangohns as they lead a small group of Anishinaabeg from their community on a voyage south. They seek the remnants of the world that once was on a quest to return to their people’s original homelands on Georgian Bay. It will be an ambitious story of sweeping reclamation.

I’m very thrilled to work with Rick Meier and the Penguin Random House team to develop this story. I can’t wait to revisit this world and these characters. They have stayed with me in many poignant ways for a long time, and I believe they deserve more of their story told. So big thanks to Denise Bukowski for finding me this opportunity, and to PRHC for their faith in the journey ahead. And of course, I will always be extremely grateful to Susan Renouf and everyone at ECW Press for helping me create this world in the first place.

This opportunity also means other big changes in my life, namely moving on from journalism and my career at CBC. I’ll have much more to say about that soon.

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A Moon of the Crusted Snow Playlist

I don’t usually listen to music while I write. Sometimes I’ll put on some powwow music or ambient heavy metal during the creative process, but I typically find anything with discernible English lyrics distracting when I’m trying to put English words together. I do draw a lot of inspiration from music, though, and I’ll play a song or two before I sit down to write, and again when I’m done for the day.

Many songs influenced the writing of Moon of the Crusted Snow and were part of that pre- and post-writing ritual. Songs with speculative lyrics or dystopian themes were obviously in high rotation, given the story’s post-urban setting and plot. I also found myself drawn to songs that felt like cold, bleak winter. And to counter that darkness, I also played tunes that hinted at renewal and a more hopeful future. So here are some of the tracks that carried me through writing this novel, in no particular order:

Nine Inch Nails – “The Day the World Went Away”

PJ Harvey – “The Ministry of Defence”

Propagandhi – “A Speculative Fiction”

Deltron 3030 – “3030”

A Tribe Called Red – “Burn Your Village to the Ground”

Metallica – “The Four Horsemen”

ISIS – “20 Minutes/40 Years”

Red Fang – “Prehistoric Dog”

Sepultura – “Refuse/Resist”

Stevie Wonder – “Higher Ground”

Bj√∂rk – “Pluto”

Alexisonfire – “The Dead Heart”

Biipiigwan – “Nibaak”

Danny Brown – “When It Rain”

Iron Maiden – “Run to the Hills”

And on another audio-related note, the Moon of the Crusted Snow audiobook is available at Audible!

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