Gloria Ann Wesley is an award-winning writer and a retired teacher. She is the author of several books of poetry, children’s literature, and young adult fiction, including Chasing Freedom (Fernwood Publishing, 2011), which was listed as a Grade Nine and African Canadian Studies resource by the Nova Scotia Department of Education and was shortlisted for the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2012 (Atlantic Book Awards), and If This Is Freedom (Fernwood Publishing, 2013), which was selected for One Book Nova Scotia in 2017. Her latest book is called For King and Country,to be published by Formac.
Read on to learn more about Wesley’s writing, the inspiration behind her historical fiction and her life during the pandemic.
I see you have a new book coming out this August – For King and Country. It looks interesting, a combination of fiction and non-fiction. What is it about?
For King and Country is about a young man, Wilbur (Will) Wesley, who wants to fight in the First World War. Though he attempts to enlist, he is turned away because of rampant prejudice, but he remains hopeful that attitudes will change. When Will is finally accepted, it is not to fight, but to be part of a construction company, eroding his dreams of valour and pride as discrimination continues to plague his service.
What is it about this particular battalion that is significant?
The No.2 Black Battalion was Canada’s first and only all-Black military regiment.
Many of your books deal with the black experience in the past. Why do you gravitate to this theme in your writing?
Literature can be a powerful force for enlightenment, create discussions and act as a bridge to address the racism that continues to restrict inclusiveness, justice, and respect. Because Black novels, relevant to and about the daily lives of African Nova Scotians did not exist, I decided to take on the work of filling the gap.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My advice is that if you have a special interest or something you really want to say—write about it. Aspire to please yourself first and then others may follow.
What’s great about writing in your part of Nova Scotia?
In Nova Scotia, there are so many untold stories waiting to be discovered.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is Lay’s plain potato chips with a Snickers bar and a Pepsi or peanut butter and strawberry jam on crackers.
What do you do when you have writer’s block?
When my brain freezes, I go to bed early, then wake up at one a.m. and write for an hour or two, then sleep in. It’s great to be retired.
A lot of artists have been creatively stymied during the pandemic. Have you found that? Has your writing been affected?
The pandemic seems like just another day to me. My writing routine has not changed. I am a recluse by nature and continue to write at all hours of the day and night. The one thing I miss is public engagements.
What are you working on now?
I’m editing a book about a young woman who is coming to terms with the repression of sexual assaults she experienced as a child. A total 360 from historical fiction.
What are you most looking forward to when restrictions are eased?
I’m really looking forward to leaving the province to visit family members and hug my grandchildren.
– This Author’s Spotlight with Gloria Wesley updates an earlier spotlight posted in July 2018. Additional questions by Marilyn Smulders