Leacock Award winner Cassie Stocks headed to Festival of Words

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Cassie Stocks' debut novel, Dance Gladys Dance, won the 2013 Stephen Leacock Award for humour. Stocks will teach a workshop at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words in July.

Cassie Stocks’ debut novel was inspired by a classified ad.

“It was a Hi 5 stereo, eight-track record player and the last line of the ad was, ‘Gladys doesn’t dance anymore. She needs the room to bake’ and I thought, well that’s kind of sad. Why is Gladys giving up dancing for baking?” she said.

“I just never forgot it and then when I started the story with Freida, this young artist, for some reason I remembered this classified ad and I thought, I should bring this Gladys in and the two of them came together.”

The novel, Dance, Gladys, Dance, won the 2013 Stephen Leacock Award for humour. Stocks, who is from Edmonton and currently lives in Eston, Sask., will be at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

Her novel follows a 27-year-old female painter named Freida who decides to give up on her art. While travelling, she meets a ghost named Gladys from the early 1900s who gave up her dancing.

“The two of them learn from each other and then there’s a whole cast of strange and wonderful people who are also on different learning paths. It’s more specifically about women in different forms of the arts,” said Stocks.

“With Gladys being a ghost that only Freida can see, it gives her no end of trouble because people think she’s losing her mind and talking to herself.”

Stocks said she is really looking forward to being at the festival in July.

“I’ve heard marvelous things about it,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing Moose Jaw and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of the other writers who are there. Some of them I’ve met before and some of them I haven’t and I’m just looking forward to the whole thing. I think it’s going to be a great time.”

At the festival, Stocks will present a workshop for writers called P.I.P.P. — passion, intention, practicality and perseverance.

“It’s for anybody who’s writing anything basically,” she said. “(It’ll be) taking a look at your writing and why a person writes or why they don’t write, ways to improve your writing.”

Stocks has taught that workshop a few other times before.

“It’s fun to meet other writers and to hear that everyone’s struggles are sort of the same, but everyone has usually different solutions or different insights,” said Stocks. “Writing is very isolating in some ways. You’re always along at your desk. So it’s nice to get out and talk to other writers.”

For her personally, writing her first book Dance, Gladys, Dance, was a “big learning curve.”

“I keep thinking that maybe the real Gladys will see the book and see that I have a different version, slightly changed version of the classified ad in the book and get a hold of me and say, ‘Wait, I’m the Gladys,’” said Stocks. “But no one has. So I guess she will remain a mystery, who she actually was.”

The Saskatchewan Festival of Words will take place from July 17 to 20. Early-bird passes are $175. As of June 1, passes are $200. Flex passes for individual sessions are $100.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Geographic location: Edmonton, Eston, Sask. Moose Jaw

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