The Cobequid Wire

Halifax publisher brings the holidays home

Down Home for Christmas chronicles local yuletide tales

- STEVE GOW

Lesley Choyce is hoping to provide readers with an array of experience­s that celebrate the festive season by sharing some of his favourite East Coast Christmas stories.

The publisher behind Lawrenceto­wn-based Pottersfie­ld Press has just released Down Home for Christmas, the publishing house’s first anthology of local yuletide tales.

“It’s been sort of a tradition for publishers in the Maritimes to do Christmas anthologie­s but Pottersfie­ld never did one — partly on principle,” admits the author and editor, who says the idea came after a discussion with his longtime publishing partner Julia Swan.

“(She) pointed out the fact that, over the years, we’ve published maybe 300 books in total and there already was, amongst the Pottersfie­ld writers, quite a number of stories that were a celebratio­n of winter or actually touching on Christmas.”

As such, the pair teamed up to comb through more than 40 years of Pottersfie­ld archives in search of holiday stories that would appeal to local bibliophil­es.

“We’re trying to cover all ages. There are a few children’s stories that are in there, there’s memoirs of course and there’s purely fictional stories,” says Choyce about the content in Down Home for Christmas.

“I think it was just looking for something that touched on, if I can use the phrase, the spirit of Christmas in the Maritimes.”

The eclectic collection contains works by such popular contempora­ry Halifax writers as Steven Laffoley, Janice Landry and Lindsay Ruck. However, Choyce and Swan also wanted to share the Mi’kmaw experience of the holidays through works by such Indigenous voices as author and advisor Theresa Meuse and Elsie Basque — the first Mi’kmaq educator in the province to teach at a nonnative school.

In addition, Down Home for Christmas gives readers an opportunit­y

“I think it was just looking for something that touched on, if I can use the phrase, the spirit of Christmas in the Maritimes.”

to recall such classic authors as Farley Mowat and Hugh MacLennan, who each share their distinctiv­e takes on stories set during the winter season.

“I think there’s 26 different writers in the book and they are all good stories,” adds Choyce. “They are true or they’re fiction — somewhere between a memoir and a fact — and it came to be a pretty hefty collection. And I think the spirit of the book kind of transcends the usual clichés about Christmas or at least that’s what I like to think.”

Choyce even lends his own talents to Down Home for Christmas with a short story he concocted more than 20 years ago. A 17-page children’s tale entitled Far Enough Island, Choyce’s contributi­on to the anthology follows a young girl and her dog coping at Christmast­ime even as everything in her world seems to be falling apart.

“Far Enough Island was a children’s story based on a true story that somebody told me a long time back,” recalls Choyce, an author of more than 100 books covering everything from poems to creative nonfiction and even young adult novels.

“(I liked) that story partly because it was a dog story and I wanted at least one dog story in the book. Dogs and Christmas always seem to go together hand in hand, (or rather) foot in paw.”

For more informatio­n on Down Home for Christmas, visit: www.pottersfie­ldpress.com

 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D ?? Lesley Choyce founded local publishing house Pottersfie­ld Press in 1978.
CONTRIBUTE­D Lesley Choyce founded local publishing house Pottersfie­ld Press in 1978.
 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D ?? Down Home for Christmas includes such Halifax authors as Steven Laffoley, Janice Landry and Lindsay Ruck.
CONTRIBUTE­D Down Home for Christmas includes such Halifax authors as Steven Laffoley, Janice Landry and Lindsay Ruck.

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