Biography

Fred Stenson, Award Winning, Canadian Author

Fred Stenson, Canadian Novelist and Writer

Fred Stenson, Canadian Novelist and Writer

Fred Stenson is a novelist, non-fiction writer and film writer  (b at Pincher Creek, AB 22 Dec 1951). His most recent novel is Who By Fire (Doubleday Canada, 2014). It is the story of a southern Alberta farm family who suddenly have a dangerous gas plant on their doorstep. The only son in this family pursues a career in the oil industry, a career that ends in the present day Alberta oil sands. It is a story of community and industry, and the tragedy of lives lived too close to industry’s fire. But it is also a novel about loyalty: what loyalty means in a family, a community, a corporation, a country—or in the tormented mind of one individual who feels he has betrayed his own. Stenson was raised in ranching country near Twin Butte, AB, and attended school in Pincher Creek. He has a BA from the University of Calgary. He published his first novel, Lonesome Hero, in 1974 (Macmillan of Canada). Last One Home followed in 1988. Stenson’s third novel, The Trade (2000), is a richly imagined recreation of the fur trade in western North America. It was the first of a trilogy of novels set in the 19th century Canadian west. The second of these novels, Lightning (2003), featured the cattle frontiers of Alberta and Montana. Both The Trade and Lightning won the Grant MacEwan’s Author’s Prize. The Trade was a finalist for the prestigious GILLER Prize and was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Award. The final novel in this historical trilogy is The Great Karoo, in which western Canadian cowboys sought an end-of-century adventure in South Africa’s Boer War. In his three historical novels, The TradeLightning and The Great Karoo, Stenson’s simultaneously mythologizes and demythologizes the West. He focuses on the lives of ordinary people, the fringe players of history, leaving the larger legends, big ranchers and political personalities to others. Before turning to historical fiction, Stenson wrote several works of fiction set in rural and urban western Canadian contemporary settings: Lonesome Hero (novel, 1974), Last One Home (novel, 1988), Working Without a Laugh Track (short fiction, 1990), and Teeth (short fiction, 1994). Stenson’s numerous non-fiction works include The Story of Calgary(1994),  RCMP: The March West (1999),  The Last Stack (2000), Glenbow Provincial Park (2012) and Rotary in Calgary (2014). Thing Feigned or Imagined (2002) is a guide to the writing of fiction, and is available from The Banff Centre Press. Stenson is the author of more than 150 film and video scripts, including two seasons of the documentary series World of Horses (first aired by Discovery Canada). He has edited two collections of Alberta writing, Alberta Bound (1986) and The Road Home (1992). Stenson was a founding member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, serving as its president in 1996.  He has been on the council of The Writers’ Union of Canada three times. Since 2001 he has been director of the Wired Writing Studio at the Banff Centre. He has been the humor columnist for Alberta Views Magazine since its inception in 1999. Stenson has two adult children, Kate and Ted Stenson. He lives in Cochrane, Alberta with his wife Pamela Banting.

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