Mona Fertig’s Mother Tongue Publishing

by Eve Lazarus on March 13, 2012

Years ago when I first started freelancing, I sent off a story to a local magazine. The editor sent it back with a scribbled note saying: “Thanks Eve, no offence, but I’d rather die than publish this.”

Well, thanks Jim, I did take offence, but rejection is part of the job. It goes along with isolation, low paying gigs and a desperate craving for attention. It’s one of the reasons why awards are so important to writers. That and the cash.

BC Book Prizes

by Sheryl Salloum

The Life and Art of Mildred Valley Thornton

Awards give us recognition, access to better paying jobs, and for authors, they sell books. And, that’s just a few of the reasons that I’m thrilled to see Sheryl Salloum’s, The Life and Art of Mildred Valley Thornton by Mother Tongue Publishing, nominated for a BC Book Prize.

Mother Tongue Publishing is a small trade publisher run by the amazing Mona Fertig from her heritage house on Salt Spring Island. While other publishers turn their backs on books that lack mass market appeal, movie options or foreign rights potential, Mona actively seeks out poets,  first-time writers and unrecognized artists.

A couple of years ago Mona began a search for “the great BC novel.” The book that won—unknown writer Gurjinder Basran’s Everything was Good-Bye—went on to win the Ethel Wilson Fiction prize and a publishing contract with Penguin Canada. Ironically, Jack Hodgins, a judge of the contest, was a runner up for the same award.

The Unheralded Artists of BC

Mona Fertig

Mona, grew up in the Kitsilano of the 1950s with her father, George Fertig. George was an incredible painter, but like dozens of others who shied away from the artistic trends of that era, he was largely ignored. Years later when Mona tried to shop her book around about her dad to trade publishers, she was also ignored.

At this point, most of us give up, shove the manuscript away in a drawer and try something else. Instead, Mona set up a publishing company and created a series called “The Unheralded Artists of BC.”  The first book on sculptor David Marshall came out in 2008.

And just because it’s such a crazy thing for a publisher to attempt, I jumped at the opportunity to co-write the second book: The Life and Art of Frank Molnar, Jack Hardman and LeRoy Jensen. Mona’s book on George Fertig came out in 2010. These are exquisitely beautiful collector’s books that add to the richness of our history, and that thanks to Mona, feature artists who are no longer invisible.

So, congratulations to Sheryl and Mona for their nomination for “the book that contributes most to the enjoyment and understanding of BC.” The other nominees are The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver; Fred Herzog for Fred Herzog Photographs; Andrew Nikiforuk for Empire of the Beetle; and Scott Watson for Thrown.

The $14,000 worth of prizes will be awarded May 12.

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

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