A Kelowna writer has made it to the finals of a national writing competition.
Corinna Chong, who teaches English at Okanagan College, is one of five writers who made it into the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize with her story titled Kids in Kindergarten.
She said finding out she made the shortlist was a shock.
“It feels amazing. I’m so thrilled,” she said. “I didn’t expect to get this far and I was just so happy to be on the longlist.”
Based on the title, one might think it’s a heartwarming story about children but Chong’s story is centred on motherhood and the loss of a child.
Chong said she had been thinking about miscarriage and motherhood a lot since she experienced them herself.
“I was interested, particularly, in this story of loss because of other stories I’ve heard about miscarriage as well as my own experience,” she said.
“Based on that, I started thinking about the way we grieve miscarriage in our culture and how isolating it can be.”
The unnamed protagonist of Kids in Kindergarten is trying to process and grieve a very recent miscarriage, having gone through previous ones as well. In that character and her interactions, Chong said she wanted to identify the kind of resentment a person can carry when someone wants a child so badly but it doesn’t happen for them.
“When someone is in that situation, it seems like everyone around them is able to have children and there’s a sense that maybe you would treasure it more than them because it was so easy for them,” she said.
Currently, Chong is on leave from teaching and is working on finishing her second novel. Her first novel, Belinda’s Rings, was published in 2013. Her other work, including reviews and short fiction pieces, have been published in The Malahat Review, Room, Grain, and The Humber Literary Review.