September Release of The Alphabet Stones

My new novel, The Alphabet Stones will be released in September by Coburg micropress Blue Denim. I’ve received really amazing cover blurbs from Tim Wynne-Jones, Mathew Cheney, Jan Thornhill, Leanne Simpson, Charles de Lint, Bruce Kauffman and Candas Jane Dorsey. I’m grateful to my esteemed friends and acquaintances for their kindness and generosity. Thank you all so much! Herewith is Candas’s blurb, and I’ll share some of the others closer to the publication date.

A new Ursula Pflug book is a rare and welcome event, and The Alphabet Stones does not disappoint. Delivered in Pflug’s trademark edgy prose style, the novel is filled with a beautiful and terrible nostalgia for the magic that is seen and coveted, sought and never reclaimed…
–Candas Jane Dorsey


I will be reading in Coburg at Northumberland County’s Word On The Street, at Cat Sass in Norwood, and in Toronto at SFContario among other locations; I’ll post details on each launch later in the summer.

I’m super excited as this book has been part of me for almost half my life! I brought an early draft to a workshop facilitated by Judith Merril at Trent University’s Peter Robinson College in 1986. Based on some expansions and revisions I subsequently made, I submitted it to the inaugural (and only–as it turned out) Descant Novella Contest, where it was shortlisted.

When Kate Story and I shared a table at The Toronto Small Press Fair a few years ago, Descant editor Karen Mulhallen stopped by and described how I had brought hard copy of my entry to her house on Admiral Road, barefoot, with a baby on my hip. I must have been house-sitting for my father; I can’t imagine how I’d have gotten from our apartment on Queen West to her house with baby Edward on my hip. Maybe Karen was embroidering when she added the part about me being barefoot!

In 1987 we moved to the country near Peterborough and I applied for an Ontario Arts Council Works-In-Progress grant to turn the novella into a novel. I overwrote when I revised and it turned into the classic four hundred pounder unpublishable first novel, and eventually I got tired of the rejections and put it away. Our beautiful daughter was born. I grew vegetables and hung laundry; I wrote and published all kinds of short stories in Canada, the US and the UK, in wonderful venues including BBR, Leviathan, Tesseracts, On Spec, Transversions, The Nine Muses, LCRW and Strange Horizons; four plays I wrote or co-wrote were produced; I went back to writing reviews, this time of books instead of art; and I got a draft or two closer to the final of my novel Green Music.

The new millennium seemed like a good time to get The Alphabet Stones back out, or Drastic Travels, as it was by then called. When I did, I understood that the original kernel was just as wonderful as Karen and Candas and Judith had said it was, and that what I needed to do was get back to that. I needed to cut away everything I’d added, everything except the core story of the three families and the alphabet stones themselves.

The original inspiration had been a dream I’d had the year before my son was born, a dream so resonant it demanded to be written, in one form or another. The form it eventually took was this novel, but the dream itself is also in the book, only slightly revised. The novel takes place near Perth, where I spent a lot of time as a teenager. The stony fields and cedar swamps of Eastern Ontario are so much a part of me by now that it’s as if they seeped out of my pores onto the pages of this book, a book I don’t think I could have written had we not moved back to the land.

I remember how when I told Karen I was close to the end but it had taken me twenty-five years she said, “Everyone’s got a book like that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *