Providing a push for writers

September 2, 2016

Author Marina Endicott brings her illustrious career to MacEwan as the 24th writer in residence

Marina Endicott has written four critically acclaimed novels and has taught creative writing across the country. But when it comes to talking about the kind of stories she writes, she admits that’s not where her strength lies.

“I feel like if I could talk about it, I wouldn’t have to write novels,” she says with a laugh. “In order to tell you what kind of story I'm writing, I often have to go to 600 pages.”

Writers looking for help with their projects—whether it be essays, novels, short stories, poems, screenplays and beyond—will find a kindred spirit in Marina, MacEwan University’s writer in residence for 2016.

Marina worked in theatre for 25 years when writing fiction began to overlap with her career. As an actor, she would write about the characters she was playing. “The change into fiction was more like coming home from a journey rather than reaching the end of a journey. It was like I’d gone on this trip in order to come back to my real place.”

WATCH: 20 questions with Writer in Residence Marina Endicott 

Her first short story, “Being Mary,” was published by Grain Magazine. “I sent that story out to a magazine because I just thought that’s the way it worked: you send something to a magazine, they publish it and they send you cheques.”

She continued to write and publish stories, and was contacted by a publisher wondering if she had a novel. No, but she had three novellas that she was able to rewrite and edit into a novel. Open Arms was short-listed for the Amazon First Novel Award and serialized on CBC Radio.

“Then I wrote another novel, and the publisher didn’t want it,” says Marina. “Nobody wanted it, and it got rejected over and over. That was when I realized this writing thing was not that you sent your work out and they send you money.”

Nine rejections later, the novel found its way to the right publisher. Good to A Fault ended up winning the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book for Canada and the Caribbean, and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

“It was a nice vindication after those rejections,” she says. “Not quite as many as J.K. Rowling though…”

Starting September 12, Marina will be on campus to share her experiences and knowledge, give readings, help other writers and work on a major project of her own. She knows firsthand the importance of talking to a writer in residence.

“I probably wouldn’t have sent out that first story to Grain Magazine,” she says, “except that I went to a writer in residence at the library in Saskatoon, and she told me what to do and gave me that tiny little push that said, ‘You can do this. Go ahead.’”

Marina Endicott is MacEwan’s writer in residence from September 12, 2016 until April 7, 2017. If you would like to book an appointment, visit

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