25th Trillium Award

The Dirty Dozen, with Jael Richardson

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Jael Richardson

Writer and self-confessed jock Jael Richardson has good reason to be counting down the days to the 100th Grey Cup. As the daughter of CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey, the sport is in her blood — and, as she confesses in her response to today's Open Book Dirty Dozen, the CFL also saved her life. To find out how, you'll want to read her memoir, The Stone Thrower: A Daughter's Lessons, A Father's Life (Thomas Allen Publishers), due to be released in stores on September 8th.

If you didn't already have your own reasons for looking forward to this year's Grey Cup, here's another one: a documentary about Chuck Ealey and The Stone Thrower will be aired on TSN as part of the series Engraved On A Nation: Stories of The Grey Cup, The CFL and Canada. Find out more here.

Jael Richardson's Dirty Dozen

1. My secret TV crush is Patrick Stewart. Not so much as X-men?s Xavier, but definitely as Captain Jean Luc-Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Thanks to Netflix, I may also have revived my crush on Josh Brolin as a rebel-without-a-cause Pony Express rider in the Wild West 1980s series The Young Riders.

2. I am a Trekkie (No. 1 was a bit of a giveaway) — but only of the Next Generation variation, which is totally reasonable, because it?s the greatest series ever. I have never been to a convention, although I would totally wear a TNG Star Trek Enterprise authentic costume if I could get that nice teal blue kind that was worn by the medical team that included Counselor Deanna Troy.

3. I studied theatre in university. My dream when I was done was to go to NYC and score a role on Law and Order. I figured at the very least I was qualified to play a dead body.

4. I refuse to eat mustard. It should be self-explanatory, but if not only one word is necessary: disgusting.

5. Growing up, my dad called me Boo or Booper and my mom called me Tilly or Matilda. Three out of four are longer than my actual name.

6. I wrote for the first time in Grade 12. I wrote for the second time in my last year of university. Both were plays that my teachers at the time told me were wonderful, although no one has ever staged them. That?s when I decided to take up memoir writing. No stage or additional actors required.

7. I find writing incredibly lonely. I prefer to write next to people, especially when they are willing to be silent. Other writers or readers are ideal, because they not only understand this arrangement, they appreciate it. I love love love working in libraries. It feels like words are just floating around in that bibliophilic environment. Sometimes good words just rain down on me through a magical kind of literary osmosis.

8. I?m a total jock. I spent most of my time in university playing varsity soccer. I love watching sports, especially football.

9. I had a bald, black Cabbage Patch Doll that I slept with until?well, later in life, let?s just say. Her name is Freddy Carol, and when I was younger I thought her head would be hard enough to protect me from burglars. My husband forced me to give her to my son when he was born. He?s three, but, frankly, he?s not taking very good care of her.

10. I love the Canadian Football League, because?well there?s just so many reasons. It?s so unique. They?re our only national professional sports league. Canadians ranked the league ninth on what defines us as a nation. And, well, they kind of saved my life (you?ll have to read the book to find out why). Watch a game. Watch a few. Watch the 100th Grey Cup this November.

11. I have a wicked salt tooth. I will turn down brownies, cookies, and ice cream for a handful of chips or French fries. I generally do not like to share my own chips and fries, but I will take yours if they?re in arms reach. It?s a compulsion. I?m sure there?s a name for it.

12. The Stone Thrower is a dream come true. It?s everything I love about life — it?s about faith, family and raising children through life?s challenges and political conflict; it?s about heroes and hardship. It?s the hardest thing I?ve ever done, but it has also been one of the most rewarding. It has exposed me to a new world of friends and supporters — literally across the globe — who make me believe that good things can still happen, that good people still exist, in a world where so many suffer unjustly.

Jael Richardson has a Bachelor of Arts degree and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. Excerpts from her first play, my upside down black face are published in the anthology T-Dot Griots: An Anthology of Toronto?s Black Storytellers. Her first memoir, The Stone Thrower, was just released. She currently lives in Brampton with her husband and son, and teaches literature and communications at Humber College. Visit her at her website, jaelrichardson.com.

For more information about The Stone Thrower please visit the Thomas Allen Publishers website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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