By: Priya Migneault
This November 7th, Stonehouse Publishing will release their newest collection of novels via a virtual book launch. The authours included in the launch are Anna Marie Sewell, Danika Stone, Sabrina Uswak, EB Frank, and Robin van Eck, four of whom are Albertan.
This week I had the fantastic opportunity to talk to first-time author Sabrina Uswak about her novel ‘All the Night Gone’.
Sabrina Uswak received her Masters of Science with a distinction in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh and her Masters of Arts from Oxford Brookes University. She is an author, editor, full-time content creator, and born and raised Calgarian.
Her novella ‘All the Night Gone’ is based in Three Hills, Alberta, where we meet two brothers, Ben and Charlie, trying to cope with a tragic accident. The two can’t express their feelings and have contrasting styles of dealing with grief, which begins to pull them apart. Then Dill arrives. She enters their lives and brings more questions than answers with her. As Dill and the boys grow closer, they almost become a family of sorts, but just when things are going well, Dill disappears. Ben and Charlie go on a road trip to find her and discover that they need to deal with their grief together before it separates them completely.
The book is written from Ben’s perspective and is a coming-of-age story.
Uswak says that one of the novel’s main questions is ‘What is family?’; is it who you are related to through blood, or is it something more than that? “Family is given to you, and sometimes you choose it,” she says. However, the novel also touches on humanity's broader themes, such as belonging, loyalty, grief, and connection.
In the book, as the boys face the unknown, they discover more about themselves and who cares for them without explanation, which Uswak says, “I think that’s something that people always yearn for. We are always trying to find where we fit, where we belong, or who cares for us; who loves us; who will be there if things go sideways.”
She says that the idea for ‘All the Night Gone’ started when she began feeling nostalgic for Alberta while living in Scotland. However, she first thought of the characters before the story. “It feels like an ode to nostalgia and an ode to growing up in Alberta.”
Uswak moved to Europe for her education, where she completed both her Masters. “I wanted to live abroad to experience new horizons’ outside of my own, meet people, and travel. I applied based on the program, and the program (at Edinburgh) interested me, as well as the location.” What got her into creative writing was a fascination with reading fiction as a child, which later pushed Uswak into English classes at school.
She is an editor by trade and finds that both writing and editing are fluid while she works. “You can’t write without editing,” Uswak says, “You need to look at your work with a critical eye, which can be hard.” Even if you struggle with editing, she says anyone can write a book; you just have to sit, write, and surround yourself with supportive people. But you should write or carry on being creative for yourself, not for anyone else. If you are looking for support, Uswak says there is a very encouraging literature community in Calgary.
Sabrina Uswak decided to publish ‘All the Night Gone’ after finding out that Stonehouse Publishing was looking for novellas, which she says is rare. Her book was not completed at the time, and she thinks she might never have finished it or showed it to Stonehouse without the support of her friends and family. Uswak always wanted to publish through a small press and did admire Stonehouse from afar. Publishers take a chance and risk on people’s work when they agree to print it, which is part of why she is grateful that her work is being published.
Uswak says she is a mix of both excited and nervous for the launch. She plans to continue writing in the future, hopefully focusing and finishing up some of her short stories.
Stonehouse Publishing launches ‘All the Night Gone’ on November 7th on an online zoom call, which you can attend by purchasing your ticket here on Eventbrite. Each novel has a recommended food and drink pairing to enjoy with the readings. For ‘All the Night Gone’, bring a few salted peanuts to munch on and a Pilsner or Whiskey neat to drink.
You can find ‘All the Night Gone’ online at Amazon and Indigo. However, she highly recommends trying to find it at your local bookstore first or ordering directly through Stonehouse Publishing.