Speaking to a packed room at the Old Church on Sept. 17, award-winning author Ivan Coyote entertained an audience with anecdotes from their life.
Some were endearing, such as the tales of their grandmother recycling candy.
Others, while still humorous at times, touched upon more serious tones, like the story about a man in a store wanting a “woman’s opinion” on how a hat looked on them.
Coyote was in Smithers as part of their “Small Towns, Short Stories” tour which was sponsored by the Northwest Library Federation (NWLF).
They also gave a presentation to students at Smithers Secondary School (SSS).
Coyote said most of the work was done by Melissa Sawatsky, who works at the Smithers Public Library and is the director of the NWLF.
“It was a mixture of school shows and library gigs,” they said. “So, I did Dease Lake, Prince Rupert, Terrace Hazleton, Kitimat, Smithers, Houston — I hope I’m not forgetting anywhere — and then finished in Prince George to begin the residency at the University of Northern B.C.”
They also told The Interior News a little bit about their newest book Rebent Sinner, which is scheduled for release Oct. 1.
Coyote said the title came long before the book was ever written.
“Someone used to hand letter these signs that said ‘repent sinner’ and leave them all over scattered all over the sort of downtown Vancouver and the Downtown Eastside under people’s windshield wipers.
“I got one left on my truck years and years ago and they were hand lettered and this one looked like maybe someone had bumped her or she had shifted her elbow or something and the P in repent had a little stick sticking out of the top and when I first looked at it — and I’d seen many of these signs over the years — it looked like it said ‘rebent sinner’ instead of ‘repent sinner’. And so I thought rebent sinner, hmm, I like it.”
The sign would sit atop Coyote’s writing desk for years and years, and they said whenever they looked at it they would always think to themself it would make a great title for a book.
“Every time I looked at it I thought rebent sinner has so much more interesting connotations for me than repent sinner.
“So the title sort of started before the book actually did.”
In its description, Rebent Sinner is described as a set of “beguiling and revealing stories of what it means to be trans and non-binary today, at a time in their life when they must carry the burden of heartbreaking history with them, while combatting those who would misgender them or deny their very existence”.
“There’s sort of an essay thread that’s kind of similar to a Twitter thread but they’re longer essays but they’re sort of related, so I linked them together because they’re part of a family of stories.
“And then there’s a lot of these short, short, short pieces which I which I sort of gathered in piles and clustered according to theme, so one of them is blood. … one of them is ‘market’ one of them is ‘street’ one of them is ‘to and from’ which is letters and responses … there’s ‘show and tell’ which is about stuff that happened like at gigs and after gigs and in the signing lineup.”
Currently Coyote is working on a murder mystery.
“[It’s] based on sort of two stories that are rooted in my real life growing up in Whitehorse, so it’s set in the Yukon.”
Currently Coyote is finishing up a three-week residency at the University of Northern B.C.
And while they’ve enjoyed their time on the road, they are also ready to head home.
“I’ve actually been away from home since June 1, so it’s been a really long stretch of road. I’m ready to go home.”