Every farmer knows how valuable the slough is, but in Sheryl Normandeau’s The Slough, the crucial water source is well aware of its value — and a resident of the farm realizes it wants tribute for its services.
Tell us a little bit about what inspired The Slough.
I had seen a very sad report on the news about a child who had drowned after falling through the ice on a slough on her family farm. It made me think about how water functions as both life-giving and death-bringing.
What do you hope readers get from reading The Slough?
I hope they are entertained by it, and perhaps feel just a bit uncomfortable.
How has your time in the Prairies influenced your writing?
My time in the prairies has certainly influenced much of my nonfiction writing – I am definitely exploring the unique prairie climate and geography when it comes to writing about plants and growing food crops.
With stories such as The Slough, I think that prairie living is filled with contrasts. There is a sense of freedom and hope in those incredible wide open spaces, but also dark isolation, as well. Cellphones and internet service haven’t necessarily taken that away. Even if you live in an urban space like I do, if you’ve ever walked several blocks in the middle of a raging prairie snowstorm, you’ll know what I mean. You can feel like you’re the only one on the whole planet, facing a monstrous element.
What do you feel anthologies and short stories accomplish that novellas and novels don’t?
I love the conciseness and preciseness of short stories – they’re little gifts for the reader to rip the wrapping paper from. And what better than one gift? A whole anthology of them, with various angles and styles and perspectives from many authors. Plus, my reading time is sadly far too abbreviated these days, so I am finding that short stories fit in beautifully with my life. I’m thinking I’m not the only one who feels this way.
What other work would you like the readers to know about?
I haven’t written much fiction in a while – I’ve been busy working on nonfiction projects! Over the past two years, I have published several prairie-themed gardening books with my co-author Janet Melrose. There are four of them currently available in the series The Guides for the Prairie Gardener, published by TouchWood Editions.
What are you working on now? What can readers look forward to next?
I have a prairie cookbook coming out in the fall, called The Little Prairie Book of Berries (TouchWood Editions), as well as two more gardening books in The Guides for the Prairie Gardener series, due out in spring 2022.
Alternate Plains: Stories of Prairie Speculative Fiction is available wherever books are sold like Amazon, Chapters Indigo, through our publisher Great Plains Publications, and local booksellers like ours, McNally Robinson Booksellers.