Author spotlight: Ami McKay

Ami McKay, WFNS member and author of The Birth House, has again received the Booksellers’ Choice Award for her second novel, The Virgin Cure.  Ami was first presented with the award in 2007, and received her second Booksellers’ Choice Award at this month’s Atlantic Summer Book Fair on Prince Edward Island.  Presented annually by the Atlantic Independent Booksellers’ Association, past recipients of the award include Donna Morrissey, Alistair MacLeod, and Michael Crummey.  The Virgin Cure is published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada and is a CBA Libris Award Book of the Year Nominee, and was named a “Books of Summer” pick in the July 2012 issue of O Magazine

We chatted briefly with Ami following her win about our region’s independant bookstores and booksellers:

Why do independent bookstores matter?

Because thought, imagination, conversation and community matters. These are the graces bookstores bring to our lives.

What is your relationship, as both a reader and a writer, with independent bookstores & booksellers?

As a writer, I’ve had the great privilege of visiting many independent bookstores for readings and signings. I’ve been well cared for and inspired at every event, on every occasion, without exception. 

Countless times as a reader, the right book came into my life at the right time because a thoughtful bookseller took the time to place it in my hands. The Stone DiariesFall on Your Knees, and Execution    Poems by George Elliot Clarke are but a few books that come to mind. There was something electric in the words of each of these authors, sparks of truth and beauty that challenged me as a person and pushed me forward as a writer.

Do you have any favorite or notable experiences with an indie store or bookseller?

Here’s one of many…

As the mother of two sons, I owe a great deal of thanks to Mitzi DeWolfe and the entire staff at Box of Delights Books in Wolfville, NS, for always taking the time to talk about books and life with my boys.My eldest son, Ian, has just finished his second year at NSCAD, and from his first Harry Potter novel to his collection of paint spattered art books, Mitzi’s store has played an important role in fostering his creative life. He’s currently spending a month in Paris, cat and flat sitting for one of Mitzi’s former employees. He first met her when he was searching for a book to help him learn to speak Russian. He was twelve.

Here is what Michael Hamm, AIBA member and manager of Bookmark Halifax, had to say upon presenting the Association’s award:

“Ami McKay is truly an author of rare talents. It was proven with her first novel, The Birth House, a Canadian and international bestseller. With the publication of her second, Ami has again managed to create a world of historical specificity, so rich and textured in its detail. In The Virgin Cure, we walk through the streets and tenements of Lower Manhattan in the 1870’s, breathing its air of soot and squalor. It can be no other place and time. It is the through the creation of Moth, a girl not yet a teenager who is forced to acquire the skills and wile of an adult in order to survive, that the author reveals her magic once again. Moth is a creature of another century yet she is so immediate that she could be our daughter, sister or beloved of today. The Virgin Cure is a polished gem and with it, this author has secured a place in the hearts and minds of Atlantic Canadian readers and booksellers. For the second time in her short career, Ami McKay has been chosen as the Atlantic Canadian Booksellers’ Choice Award Winner of 2012.”

Scroll to Top

Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at