Carla was born and raised in Vanderhoof, the geographical centre of British Columbia and one of the earliest Mennonite settlements in the province. Though she left Vanderhoof after high school and has lived on Vancouver Island ever since, she still returns in her writing to her childhood hometown, her family, those long Sunday sermons, and the rumble of her father’s logging truck coming down the drive.
Carla’s second memoir with Greystone, Mennonite Valley Girl, picks up where childhood ends and the teen years kick into gear. Think flashlight tag with boys, summer Bible camp, and hormones. Think acid-wash, spiral perms, mixtapes, and sweaty high-school dances circa 1989. Think adolescent yearning and angst, swooning and fire, all brewing within the crucible of a rural small town.
In celebration of the release of Mennonite Valley Girl, enjoy this playlist, with one song for each of the 21 chapters in the book, moving chronologically through the table of contents.
Occasionally, Carla’s writing shows up on other pages:
“In luminous prose that effortlessly portrays the intimate and familiar pangs of growing up, Funk captivates from the get-go, and the ’80s nostalgia will hit the spot for those who came of age amid skyscraper bangs, acid-washed jeans, and the ubiquity of teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron. These small-town stories are big on charm.”
Occasionally, I stand at a microphone in front of an audience and read what words I’ve written. Sometimes, the room is full of people who know how to make poetry reading sounds, the low hmmm and mmmm that seem to mean, Hey, metaphor! or, That seems deep. Or maybe just, You lost me with that image of a monkey loose in heaven.
I’ve always loved listening to writers talk about creative process. Part of that fascination comes from my
nosey nature a natural curiosity about the world. The other part comes from a desire to learn what stokes creativity and how to stoke it more.
I feel his sweating shadow at my back, the archetype of every dawdler, and emblem of each time I’ve shot a glance, rolled my eyes, shaken my head and clucked my tongue over the one who can’t catch up.
The biggest berries grow along the fence line of the farm down the road, their juice fuelled by the cows that graze the fields. Each manure pie and spell of rain mingle down to roots that drink it up, make every pinkish flower burst into a tiny clutch of seeds that sweeten with the bees and hum of sun.
My father wanted to name me Edna, after some hot chick he knew in his fast car days. I picture him at the wheel of his Ford Fairlane and her riding shotgun, shrieking around each hairpin curve, a gauzy scarf tied over her hairsprayed beehive to guard against the wind.