Elaine McCluskey writes about the people you might find in the corners of life. She has published three acclaimed short-story collections — Hello, Sweetheart, Valery the Great, and The Watermelon Social — and two novels, Going Fast and The Most Heartless Town in Canada. Her stories have appeared in anthologies and over twenty Canadian literary journals, including Room, The Dalhousie Review, subTerrain, The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead, and Other Voices. One story was a Journey Prize finalist; another placed second in the Fish international contest in Ireland. She won the Other Voices short story contest and the Pottersfield Portfolio contest. She won a diamond ring in a story contest held by Saturday Night. She lives in Dartmouth, N.S. For many years, she hung around paddling regattas and watched both of her children race for Canada. She has a BA from Dalhousie and an MA from Western. My girl

My latest book:The Most Heartless Town in Canada



Before I was a fiction writer, I was a journalist: radio, TV, but mainly print. At my last stop, The Canadian Press, I met my husband, Andrew, a news photographer.

Before I was a journalist, I was a university student. I graduated from Dal and Western, where I studied journalism and learned that some schools in Canada have marching bands.

Before I was a university student, I was a kayak paddler, and at that time nothing else mattered. I paddled at Banook Canoe Club and I was, like some of my characters, immersed in a parallel world, an escape from the anonymity and tedium than can be life.

I grew up on Victoria Road in Dartmouth where my mother still lives; my favourite Christmas gift was a Jon Gnagy art kit. My father trained boxers, and we owned a monkey. My mother knit me a green Mary Maxim sweater depicting The Three Little Pigs, and it is a source of profound disappointment that I cannot knit because I dream of creating pigs, airplanes, and pheasants from old Mary Maxim patterns.

I started writing fiction when my two children were young. The stories in The Watermelon Social came to life during a time when we drove around in a Honda Civic that filled with water when it rained. We frequented strip malls, libraries, and swimming pools. Some people think the title story is about suburban angst; I say, maternal love.

My novel, Going Fast, delved into the worlds of boxing, paddling, and newspapers and could never have been so real without the input of my father, Tom, who was involved with boxing for 80 years.Boxing

My writing has been described as innovative and darkly humorous, and this is perhaps my favourite observation from a reviewer: “She captures the quintessential Canadian ability to mock ourselves and others as a form of social and personal healing.” The Winnipeg Free Press says, “McCluskey is a wickedly funny storyteller at her best, as sharp as she is compassionate.”

My latest book, The Most Heartless Town in Canada, looks at secrets, grief, and the divide between urban and rural Canada. It was published by Anvil Press in Vancouver and it has a kick-ass cover.

I am writing stories again with an eye to a fourth collection.