Elaine McCluskey writes about the people you might find in the corners of life. She has published four short-story collections — Rafael Has Pretty Eyes; Hello, Sweetheart; Valery the Great; and The Watermelon Social — and two novels, Going Fast and The Most Heartless Town in Canada. Her latest collection, Rafael Has Pretty Eyes, was released in March 2022 by Goose Lane Editions. Her stories have appeared in anthologies and most 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 lives in Dartmouth, N.S. For many years, she spent countless days at paddling regattas and watched both of her children race for Canada. She has worked as a journalist, a book editor, and a university lecturer. She has a BA from Dalhousie and an MA from Western.

Her last book was: The Most Heartless Town in Canada


From the Author

I started writing fiction when my two children were young. The stories in The Watermelon Social came to life during a time when the three of us drove around town in a Honda Civic that filled with water when it rained. We frequented strip malls, public 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 almost 80 years. Boxing. If you read my collection, Hello, Sweetheart, you may sense the grief that came from losing him some years later.

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 said: “McCluskey is a wickedly funny storyteller at her best, as sharp as she is compassionate.”

I am happy that my fourth short-story collection is being published by Goose Lane Editions where the talented Bethany Gibson, who edited Going Fast, works her magic. Rafael Has Pretty Eyes takes readers inside a payday loan store, a doomed political roast, and a bar that is just looking for trouble. Described as character driven, this book is peopled by outliers and underdogs, the people I find compelling.