In the busy lives of professors and students alike, the time required for extracurricular creative pursuits is often scarce – and recognition for such work is even less common.
But Scott Randall has not only found the time to write and publish a collection of short stories, the communications professor at Algonquin’s School of Business has also won the City of Ottawa’s top prize in fiction for his efforts.
“It is a sweet position to be in,” said Randall of the city’s support for its artists, “to be in a city that kind of appreciates it.”
Written over the span of two years, Randall’s third collection of short stories, And to Say Hello claimed the award for best in English fiction at the 30th annual Ottawa Book Awards this October, as selected by a jury of his peers.
“The subtle, psychological undercurrents of these stories reveal a writer working with stunning effectiveness and skill,” reads the jury statement. “This is world-class writing that probes the very depths of our everyday lives.”
The collection of 12 stories tackles the relationship between parents and their children, and the difficulties men and women face when raising kids – from the everyday (a mother worries about her child’s language development) to the absurd (a vasectomy doctor faces online infamy for his musical moonlighting).
The endeavour was inspired in part by Randall’s own experience with his wife and young daughter. With family dynamics front of mind, the writer naturally gravitated to stories about families.
“It’s something I keep going back to, you could spend a whole career developing that one idea if you wanted to,” said Randall.
As for the aforementioned time management issue, the author-slash-teacher has managed to break his creative process down to a fine science. He writes during the summer months and performs the more menial tasks involved in writing fiction – such as the revision process – during his pockets of free time during the school year.
“One nice thing about this job, of course, is having the summer,” said Randall. “During the school year, it’s sort of when I can fit it in.”