Shelly Leedahl has captured the feeling of small-town Saskatchewan in her most recent book of short stories called “Listen, Honey.”
The Saskatchewan-born writer grew up in Meadow Lake and “many small Saskatchewan towns” before moving to Saskatoon, where she spent her adult years. She also has spent time in Middle Lake in recent years.
This is Leedahl’s 10th book, and while her style is recognizable, no two of her books are alike in content. She attributes that to her nomadic life in recent years, splitting her time between Edmonton, the Sunshine Coast and Middle Lake.
“It’s good for new landscapes and people,” Leedahl said. “And a lot of my writing is based on something I experienced or something I’ve read.”
She has written two novels, several collections of short stories, four anthologies of poetry as well as literature for children. One of her novels, “Riding Planet Earth,” is in the national school curriculum for juveniles.
“Listen, Honey” is a book of real-life contemporary stories set in Canada.
“I’m very interested in character relationships, be it marital or sibling,” explained Leedahl. “This time, there’s a fair bit of humour as compared to my previous book, “Wretched Beast.” Several of these stories have already been published in literary magazines across Canada.”
In an excerpt from “Listen, Honey,” we read about a woman from the city in a small town café:
“Kit studies the menu: specials handwritten on a slip of paper, and stapled in. Salisbury Steak, Pork Cutlets, nothing over eight dollars.
“She envisions the scores of villagers who gathered here. Farmers with waning, old country accents in the same chairs at the same tables, talking about the sorry state of crop prices, the high cost of inputs, and how global warming might ruin it all before their grandsons are old enough to run a combine.
“Men who had to leave school to help their fathers seed and harvest. They’ve been hungry these children.”
Leedahl says she can’t remember a time when she didn’t already know that she wanted to write books for a living. Having said that – she adds that it isn’t easy to live off a writer’s paycheck, and feels fortunate to have a job as a radio-advertisement copywriter to help supplement the income.
“You know it’s not unlike writing poetry,” Leedahl surmised, “because ads have to be concise, and very pleasant to the ear. So, rhythmical – and sometimes you can put humour in it. It’s a fun job.”
Leedahl will be reading excerpts from her new book at a book launch, August 8 at 7 p.m. at her home in Middle Lake (106-3rd Ave).