Silent Grace – Award Winning Short Story by Carolyn O’Neal.
Carolyn O’Neal found the inspiration for her story, “Saving Grace,” last summer while reading an Esquire magazine article about the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. While the idea of exploiting oil sources in North America, rather than relying on the Middle East, had initially appealed to O’Neal, the article introduced her to environmental horrors she hadn’t previously understood including the danger the tar sands pose to wildlife and the impact of the oil refineries on humans.
“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.