Nerys Parry’s debut novel, Man & Other Natural Disasters, was a finalist for the Colophon Prize and tied for seventh in the Giller Prize Reader’s Choice Awards. Her writing has been described as “gorgeous throughout” (Kerry Clare, editor of Canadian Bookshelf), “compulsive reading” (Katherine Lyall-Watson), “engaging and thoughtful” (Winnipeg Free Press), and has been shortlisted for several awards, including the Kenneth R. Wilson Canadian Business Press, Event Creative Non-Fiction, and FreeFall’s Fall Fiction Awards. An engineer with a passion for hidden history, Nerys holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Queen’s and a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from UBC. She lives in Ottawa with her husband and two children.
In her own words
I started my first journal when I was five, in kindergarten. It was a diary with a poofy-pink cover and gold edged pages that smelled of the faux-wood panelling in a 1970‘s basement. When I turned seven, I tried to write my first book. A poetry collection, all about flowers, and all in French. I should mention this was about thirty years before I was finally declared by the civil service to be bilingual, and I don’t think I’d yet mastered the present tense in la belle langue. Needless to say, the book was not well received, and I learned an invaluable lesson about avoiding literary conceit early in my career.
I won my first literary prize in grade four. “Alone”, the winning poem, featured “whispering winds” and “hooves of imagination”, and my favourite word ever – yet. Granted, it was a tad bleak, so much so that the administrators at school hinted to my parents that I might be depressed. This was 1970s suburbia, and children were supposed to write about puppies, not being horribly, inescapably alone. Then again, most kids probably didn’t have a mother like mine, who put me to bed reciting the best (and bloodiest) of British poetry through the ages, including Beth Gelert and the bad bishop who is eaten alive by rats. I wrote many poems after Alone, but they didn’t get a lot happier.
I began writing prose about a year after graduating from university. I attended workshops, writing groups and submitted like crazy. After being shortlisted for a few awards and publications, I turned to novels. Man and Other Natural Disasters was written in New Zealand, over 11 years ago. Now I divide my time working, writing, and hunting out “the broken, the maimed, the ones without covers” in garage sales and used book stores across the country. Stories of these curmudgeony adventures can be found on my blog, Remainders. I also love backcountry camping, and make a mean dehydrated stew, so if I’m not here on the blog (or working to fund my writing habit), you’ll probably find me in the woods.