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Amherst’s Rhindress nominated for Atlantic Book Award


AMHERST, N.S. – When Charlie Rhindress was asked to write a biography of Rita MacNeil, he didn’t do it in search of accolades or awards.

That’s why he is so surprised that his book I’m Not What I Seem has been nominated for an Atlantic Book Award.
“I’m very excited, I certainly didn’t expect that,” Rhindress said. “I’ve written plays for a very long time, but I’ve never written a book. There were times I wondered if I knew what I was doing, but to receive the nomination is a great honour.”
Rhindress is nominated for the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, along with Turmoil as Usual: Politics in Newfoundland and Labrador and the Road to the 2015 Election by James MacLeod and Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life by Erin Wunker.
The awards will be presented May 18 in Halifax.
Rhindress was approached by Formac Publishing soon after MacNeil’s death in 2013 because he had written Flying on Her Own nearly 20 years ago. The play, that was produced by Live Bait Theatre in Sackville, N.B., was about the Cape Breton singer and activist’s life.
The former artistic director at Live Bait Theatre, Neptune Theatre and Eastern Front Theatre said it was difficult writing the book because MacNeil was a very private person. He interviewed many of the people who worked with MacNeil and those who knew her best. The story that emerged was of a strong, but sensitive woman who was very caring.
He said he’s overwhelmed with the reception the book has received.
“I’m very happy with how it has went. It was very well received and has been a best seller in Nova Scotia. As of March it was still Number 3 and it hit Number 1 earlier. I’m shocked at how well it has sold.”
Rita’s popularity, especially in Nova Scotia, helped the book sell, Rhindress said.
“People were drawn to her. She had such a great story, the idea of this person who started out in a poor family from Cape Breton and had this dream of being a great singer,” Rhindress said. “She achieved her goal despite having so many things against her. She not only survived by she achieved her goals. It’s a very inspirational story.”
The book is in its second printing and Rhindress has been asked by Formac to write a second biography, this one on country music legend Stompin’ Tom Connors.
Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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