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dee Hobsbawn-Smith celebrates debut novel in North Battleford

Danceland Diary author dee Hobsbawn-Smith read from her debut novel at the North Battleford Library, a novel chronicling family trauma set against the Saskatchewan prairie.

NORTH BATTLEFORD — dee Hobsbawn-Smith wrote her debut novel, Danceland Diary, over nine years, with the idea sparking after her mother and aunt shared a story about their missing grandfather, who may or may not have been put down a well. Smith said her mother was always a sensible woman, saying, 

“My mother would always say, ‘who would ruin a good well?’”

In February, Hobsbawn-Smith was reading from Habeeb Salloum’s cooking novel in North Battleford and returned to the North Battleford Public Library to read excerpts from her debut novel on Wednesday. 

The novel follows a young woman named Luca who is searching for her mother in Vancouver, returning to Saskatchewan in her 30s to care for her ailing grandmother. 

An excerpt from the publisher's promotional material reads, 

“Luka Dekker and her sister Connie are the inheritors of a secretive and disturbing family history going back three generations to the disappearance of their great-grandfather. Their troubled mother, Lark, also mysteriously disappeared; and their beloved grandmother, who raised the two girls, had a life haunted by a traumatic event that is only revealed after her death.” 

Hobsbawn-Smith has eight other published books to her credit, and her recent Bread & Water essay collection won the Saskatchewan Book Award for non-fiction.

Colin Evans, head librarian for the library, welcomed the crowd. 

“I’m honoured to welcome celebrated and award-winning author, poet, and red seal chef, who has won North American and International awards.” 

Smith is a fifth-generation central Saskatchewanite, and her maternal family are Hutterites from the Dakotas. She earned her MFA in Writing and her MA in English Lit at the University of Saskatchewan, telling herself, “I want to figure out how to write a novel,” Hobsbawn-Smith said when she wrote her creative thesis. Today, she and her partner Dave Margoshes live on her family’s ancestral land. 

After reading from her novel, Hobsbawn-Smith took questions from the crowd. During her Q&A, she answered questions about naming the characters, saying that she chose androgynous names for characters who needed strength, adding that the main character would need strength with what Smith put her through.

Hobsbawn-Smith’s Danceland Diary: a novel published through Radiant Press, is available online or in bookstores. Next spring, her newest collection of poems titled Among the Untamed will be released through Frontenac House. 

On the 26th of Oct., Hobsbawn-Smith will be at the Radisson Town Hall at 7:30 to read from her novel and hopes people interested in a riveting story of family and healing trauma will come and hear her speak.