Local author and St. Albert Public Library communications staffer Leslie Greentree is gearing up to release her new book, Not the Apocalypse I Was Hoping For.
The collection of 14 short stories will be available in stores starting Sept. 15.
Greentree's book, her fourth overall and second short story collection, includes tales of a performance artist's death; coffee shop romance; an art collecting bartender; and much more.
"It’s been a long, and involved experience,” Greentree said, adding that the book has been in the works for the past 10 years.
"It’s been shaped and reshaped a lot over that time-frame."
Greentree's previous short story collection, A Minor Planet for You, released in 2006, won the Howard O'Hagan Award for short fiction at the Alberta Book Awards. Greentree's other publications are poetry collections.
In her new book, Greentree said she was more "playful" compared to her previous short story collection.
“In this book I had fun playing around with different perspectives," she said. "I’m really interested in people and how we all fumble around in the world not necessarily doing things that will actually get us to the goals we think we want."
Unlike many fiction writers, Greentree said she generally avoids drawing creative inspiration from her own life.
“I would definitely say that this [collection] is not about my own life in any way," she said. "I think the more that a writer writes, the more that they move away from taking inspiration away from their own life, or at least in my case.
"The inspiration comes kind of sideways as I move through life, not necessarily through things I’ve experienced myself; sometimes it’s a comment or a story that somebody else tells you that twigs something.”
In the case of Bartender Art, the longest story in the collection, Greentree said the idea came to her in two parts.
"Somebody I know who was a bartender mentioned to me years and years ago that they sometimes bought art from budding artists in the bar. I thought that was such a cool idea, so I filed that away in my little folder of writing ideas," she said.
"A completely different conversation in a completely different period of time with a university professor led me to dig into exploring the Greek statues, the Kore — I filed that away as something that was really interesting and that maybe I’d use someday.”
Another way Greentree has differentiated herself from other authors with her new collection is by writing stories from the first-person point of view of another gender. In Not the Apocalypse I Was Hoping For, the titular story, Children in the Walls, and Exit Interview #2 are written from a man's perspective.
“I find it really fun to play in that way, writing from a male perspective," Greentree said.
"I didn’t find it any more challenging than the other characters just because once you dive into a character’s head and figure out what their driving motivations are or what their problem is or what their goal is, then you kind of develop a character’s voice and can just go from there."
Since the collection includes a wide range of topics, declaring or defining a general theme is a difficult task, Greentree said. However, she agreed that many characters throughout the book try to protect themselves from being known fully — many characters have secrets they'd rather not share.
"That element of self-protection is, I think, something that many of us do, that does get in the way of us being happy or being more connected," Greentree said.
"People are complicated and we often do things that sabotage ourselves in our quests for happiness, or whatever it is that we’re looking for.”
While Not the Apocalypse I Was Hoping For will be available in stores starting Sept. 15, Greentree is hosting a launch event at the downtown St. Albert library on Friday, Sept. 16.
For the launch, Greentree will be reading from the book, participating in a question-and-answer period, and signing copies.
"I work at St. Albert Public Library and it’s just such an incredible institution full of such incredible human beings who work so hard to make the community a richer, better place," Greentree said.
"To have my first book launch there at the public library means the world to me.”
Not the Apocalypse I Was Hoping For is published through the University of Calgary Press as part of its Brave & Brilliant series.
"Aritha Van Herk is the editor for the Brave & Brilliant series, and Van Herk is an extremely well respected and well-known Alberta writer with an incredible reputation that goes far beyond Alberta," Greentree explained.
"The opportunity to work with a writer of her calibre and reputation is just amazing — that was very thrilling for me.”