Tanya Coovadia’s short story project

How it all started

In the summer of 2015, the Collective took on an unusual project. One of our members, Jane Cawthorne, heard from a fellow MFA student, Tanya Coovadia, that she had cancer. Jane is a huge admirer of Tanya’s work, especially a series of linked short stories that are set on Ontario’s Pelee Island. With Tanya’s permission and the help of our member editors, a book was born. Pelee Island Stories is our first crowdfunded project. Here’s how the project unfolded.

July 23, 2015 – Kickoff

Posted on Tanya’s GoFundMe campaign site.

Tanya Coovadia is a talented writer and an all around wonderful friend. She has a collection of moving stories set on Pelee Island in Lake Erie where she lived as a child. Tanya also has cancer – Stage 4 esophageal cancer. (If you want to know more about this, see her blog, I’m literally fucking dying.

I have this dream of having Tanya hold her own book of stories in her hands and have some of her amazing writing to give to her family and friends. To a writer, what can be better than holding your own book in your hands? And for the rest of us who don’t know how to help or who live far away, this is a tangible gift we can give to her.

Here’s more background. Tanya and I met as MFA students at the Solstice Program for Creative Writing at Pine Manor College in Boston. Our program director advises all new students to fall in love with someone else’s writing, and I fell in love with Tanya’s. Tanya earned her degree in July 2015.

I happen to belong to a publishing collective called the Crabapple Mews Collective, and we have everything we need to create a great book for her. Well, we have everything except money. Tanya has done all the hard work in writing the stories. My sisters in the collective and I are volunteering our editing skills. But there are a few people who need to be paid. These include the book designer and the printer.

With $2000, I can get a beautiful design for the book and print a short run (about 50) of Tanya’s Pelee Island Stories.

You might ask, why not do a bigger print run? Well, I’m trying to work quickly. Time is pretty important right now. My priority is to get this ready as soon as possible. Also, the goal here is to give Tanya a gift of her own work, not to sell books, although that might be something we could consider in the future. This will be a very limited edition. If we go over the goal, we can print even more for her to give away, or possibly even print some to sell to all of you, but I have to take this one step at a time. I’d rather start small and grow.  When we are done, Tanya will have the files to do with as she wishes and all the up-front costs will have been covered for her.

You might ask, why not do a smaller print run? The upfront costs of design would get spread out over an even smaller number of books, increasing their individual cost even more.

You might also ask, why not do this through a traditional big house publisher? Good question. First, it’s the time thing again. Second, there are only a few stories, and generally, a publisher would want more. It will be a slim little volume, but packed with great prose. One of the stories has already been published in an anthology put out by Writers In Paradise, a writing conference in Florida. But there’s something special about seeing a whole book of your work.

When someone has cancer, no one knows what to do or how to help. This is one way. Thanks for helping.

August 4, 2015 – Update

Tanya’s crowd-funding campaign has reached its goal!

(Jane – is this ok? it’s from your email) People are mailing me cheques. So we should be able to print quite a few books. With the funds raised through GoFundMe, I received a little over $1800 and this new money brings us back over $2000. The printer at U of T will try their very best to print fast. It’s the beginning of school, so they are busy, but she knows the situation and, like the rest of us, will work as fast as she can.

September 20, 2015 – Update

Tanya has her book! The first book arrived at her place this week. A box of books will arrive some time in the next two or three weeks. Tanya has the files and it is her plan to make Pelee Island Stories available on Amazon. She is also having a book launch in St. Pete. I’m sure she will be keeping everyone informed via her blog. Happy reading my talented friend and enjoy all the well-deserved accolades on these beautiful stories.

This is my last update for the project. I’ll take this opportunity to say one more huge thank you to all of you for making this dream come true.

Tanya Coovadia

Tanya with Pelee Island Stories