Two years spent in Osoyoos provided inspiration for Patricia Webb, successful author and poet
Patricia Webb says Osoyoos will always have a special place in her heart and continues to inspire her creative pursuits more than a decade after leaving the community.
Webb is a writer, poet and artist who lived in Osoyoos in the late 1990s for over two years.
She has lived in Port Moody for the past several years.
Webb’s short story, called Second Time Around, has been named one of five finalists in the national CBC Writes competition, where she has reached the final five against more than 1,800 competitors.
Patty-Kay Hamilton of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, was named the winner on Monday for her story called The Hunter and the Swan.
Webb was one of four runners-up. All four will receive $1,000 and the recognition of being finalists in a contest considered the most important for unpublished literary work in Canada.
The impact of living and working in Osoyoos 15 years ago was so indelible that Webb has decided to make this town the focus of her first novel and a book of poetry she is hoping to publish over the next several months.
“Both the novel and the manuscript of poetry prose are based on my experiences when I lived in Osoyoos, although the name of the town will be fictional,” said Webb, in a phone interview from her home in Port Moody, B.C. late last week.
“Living in Osoyoos had a huge impact on me because it brought back a lot of my creative urges that had gone away. It’s such a beautiful place and I started sketching again for the first time in years. I finished dozens of black and white sketches in my two years living there. It was just a very enjoyable place to live and I’ve never forgotten my time there.”
Because her parents live in Penticton and she has a brother in Keremeos and sister in Okanagan Falls, Webb, 54, visits the South Okanagan on a regular basis and always makes a point of returning to Osoyoos, she said.
“Almost every time I come back to visit family, we take a drive to Osoyoos,” she said. “I like to look back at where I lived and the places I worked when I was there. It was a very happy time in my life and it obviously influenced my writing as I’ve set the location for my first novel and my first book of poetry on my time in Osoyoos.”
Second Time Around is a short story about a couple who struggle when the husband’s prostate cancer returns for the second time, said Webb.
“It’s a story about a husband and wife and how they deal with the emotional rollercoaster of cancer returning for the second time and the effects on their relationship and lives,” she said.
The winner of each category in CBC Writes – other prizes are being awarded in fiction and poetry – receives $6,000, a two-week residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and having their work published in Air Canada’s en Route magazine, said Webb.
The CBC contest is considered the most prestigious literary award for unpublished work in Canada.
“Plus you receive a tremendous amount of national exposure, which is what any aspiring writer is looking for,” she said.
Originally from England, Webb settled with her parents and four siblings in Winnipeg during a bitter cold winter in 1967.
Her family moved to Calgary and lived there for five years, until her father took a job in Langley, which she called home for much of her life.
She moves to Osoyoos in 1998 to take a job working in a hotel as a chambermaid.
Her love of writing dates back to her early years in Calgary, she said.
“I wrote my first poem when I was 11 or so,” she said. “I grew up in a family with a lot of interest in the arts. I have siblings who draw and paint and another sister who makes crafts out of animal bones.
“I’ve had a passion for writing in various forms most of my life, although I have got bogged down in working and not writing much at various points in my life.”
Her first novel, tentatively titled The Bone Church, tells the story of a young man who has a difficult time dealing with his brother’s death, said Webb.
She has been working on her first book of poetry, tentatively titled What Donkey Said, for more than a year.
The Bone Church was almost completed, when she “threw half the manuscript away” several months ago. She hopes to finish it before the end of 2014 if at all possible.
Her goal is to get either the novel or book of poetry to a respected publisher within the next calendar year.
There are very few days when Webb doesn’t spend at least a couple of hours writing.
“I try and write every single day, even if it’s not necessarily on the novel or poetry,” she said. “It’s very much a part of who I am.”
Her daughter, Amanda Primeau, is an aspiring writer and poet who assists her with editing her own work, she said.