Inuk author’s book on short list for Indigenous Voices Awards
“I did put in a lot of work and I am happy it is paying off”
First-time novelist Aviaq Johnston is up for another award nomination for Those Who Run in the Sky.
Johnston’s young adult book, which was published last year by Inhabit Media, is competing for the title of “most significant work of prose in English by an emerging Indigenous writer” against three other finalists at the 2018 Indigenous Voices Awards.
The awards ceremony celebrates emerging Indigenous writers in Canada, with prizes totalling over $25,000. Johnston’s category comes with a $5,000 prize for the winner.
This year, the IVA gala will be held in Regina, Saskatchewan on May 29.
“I didn’t even know that Inhabit Media had put my book in as a contender,” Johnston said, over the phone on Thursday.
“It was surreal and surprising. I did put in a lot of hard work and I am happy it is paying off.”
Last year, Those Who Run in the Sky was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature.
And the book is also up for the 2019 Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award.
Those Who Run in the Sky is a coming-of-age novel for teens about a young shaman named Pitu as he learns to use his powers, after a violent blizzard whisks him away into the spirit world.
While stranded on sea ice, lost, with no dogs or weapons, Pitu has to navigate the land and use his magical powers to survive terrifying creatures and adverse weather conditions in order to find his way home.
Johnston has learned a lot about the writing world from her time working with her publishers at Inhabit Media.
“They have been pretty amazing to deal with,” Johnston said.
“They have been really helpful in helping me understand. They put me under their wing in more ways than just editing. They’ve given me more opportunities to write and are just really, really patient.”
She says that other aspiring or emerging Inuit authors shouldn’t be shy about sharing their writing.
“And don’t be too discouraged by criticism,” Johnston said. “It is all there to help you be better at writing in the future.”
“It is important for Inuit stories to be told since we are such a diverse group,” Johnston said. “We all have different stories to share.”