The winners of the HOOK’S 2013 Short Fiction Contest are further proof that putting in the time, day after day, year after year, can pay off.
Second place winner Carolyn O’Neal found the inspiration for her story, “Silent Grace,” last summer while reading an Esquire magazine article about the tar sands in Alberta, Canada.
“The oil that comes out of the Middle East is relatively clean,” she says. “The tar sands, they have to boil it down. You use a whole lot of fresh water. That means they’re diverting massive amounts of fresh water from everybody else.”
Her protagonist is a young First Nation girl whose life is affected by her family’s involvement in the tar sand operations, and O’Neal– who has honed her writing at WriterHouse under the tutelage of one-time Hook contest judge and 2009 second place contest winner David Ronka– hopes the topic will pique interest in the complexity and dangers of oil extraction, no matter where it takes place.
“Fiction can change the world,” she says. “That’s what I want to do– make people a little bit aware of what’s going on.”