Kathleen May's childhood sexual abuse survival story earns finalist spot in national writing contest

September 19, 2019


HUNTSVILLE - Huntsville’s Kathleen May has been chosen as one of five finalists for the 2019 CBC Nonfiction prize.

The 2000 word non fiction story - The Long Driveway - which earned her a spot on the short list for the prize is a skillfully written, sobering glimpse into May’s reality as a little girl while being sexually abused by a family friend.

She has been writing since the tender age of five.

“As a child I thought a writer was someone who was important, and at that age when the sexual abuse I suffered was beginning, I needed to feel important so it gave me something to distract myself from what was going in in my reality and channel the feelings and fears that I was having into characters,” she said.

Through her writing May was re-framing her reality from terrifying and abnormal to something that happened to the characters in her stories.

The CBC contest was the first one she has ever entered. She wrote the short story specifically for the entry while stepping outside her writing comfort zone.  

“I really want to create a body of work which includes these short pieces and this contest was the prompt to do it,” she said.  “Normally I write novels or novellas, so short pieces are not really my forte." 

She chose to write about a day in her life which carried a lot of emotional weight.  

“My intention was to take the things about this one particular day and create a narrative around it that took away the power that it held within and gave it a power of sharing.  It worked in terms of bringing me as a finalist but it also worked in terms of; it lives outside me now … very much cathartic," she said.

May was notified on Monday Sept. 16 via email that she was one of five finalist.

“It’s nice that it is out now and people can read the full piece,” she said.

Four Ontario writers and one from BC made it to the top five. The winner of the contest will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and will attend a two week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

The winner of the prize will be announced on Wednesday Sept. 25, the four finalists will receive a $1,000 prize and will have their work published on CBC Books.

May is thrilled to be in the company of talented writers and said their “skill is beyond.”

If she wins the grand prize, May has grand plans for the money.  

“If I were to win that, I want to build a tiny house for myself and place it on a piece of property where other women can come and live in their own tiny houses and we can start a community. This is already in the works in Huntsville as I have an entire proposal,” she said.

Regardless if she wins the grand prize stay tuned because Kathleen May’s story is just getting started as she presents her tiny home community idea to Huntsville council n October.

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