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Sooke writer mentors aspiring author

Darrel McLeod mentoring with Writer’s Trust
Governor General award-winning author and Otter Point resident Darrel McLeod will be mentoring Cree author Joseph Kakwinokanasum as part of the Writer’s Trust of Canada’s Rising Stars program. (Contributed - Douglas & McIntyre)

Sooke-based author Darrel McLeod is a busy man. With another book on the horizon, McLeod balances his writing with a mentorship role as part of the Writer’s Trust of Canada Rising Stars program.

McLeod was asked to take on the role after being shortlisted for the 2021 Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Prize for Nonfiction – for his second book Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity. He’ll be working with Joseph Kakwinokanasum, an author from the James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, who has also been nominated for the CBC Nonfiction Prize.

Mentorship isn’t new to McLeod. He’s been involved on both sides of the relationship before and said it worked best for him when the mentor took a more hands-off approach.

“One of the things that were beautiful about how (my previous mentors) worked with me was they were very careful to nurture my voice, to help me find my own voice, my own writing style, and not interfere with sort of the organic development of my style of writing. But to foster it, and encourage me, and they did it in a really generous way.”

Acting as a mentor is something McLeod hopes to do more of in the future, but he’s also got a busy writing schedule.

“It’s a really tricky balance to strike daily because I find I’m more inspired and motivated when I’m part of a writing community. But I have to really limit how much time I spend because my real goal is to write and spend as much time writing as I can.”

McLeod is currently revising his third book and first novel – set in a fictitious First Nations community in northern British Columbia – which will be released sometime in the fall of 2023. He is also working on the manuscript for his fourth book, a memoir about tackling difficulties he faced in the pandemic.

“One day, I was feeling sorry for myself at home, there in Sooke, sitting at my kitchen table, and my muse came to me and said, ‘Stop whining and write about that. Write about the fact that you have no time to write.’”

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