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Jessica Johns spotlights treaty relationships in her debut novel, ‘Bad Cree’

Jessica Johns, ‘Bad Cree’ (Doubleday Books, U.S.; HarperCollins, Canada).
Jessica Johns, ‘Bad Cree’ (Doubleday Books, U.S.; HarperCollins, Canada).

This week on The Write Question, host Lauren Korn speaks with Cree (nehiyaw) novelist Jessica Johns, author of Bad Cree (Doubleday Books in the U.S., HarperCollins in Canada), the story of Mackenzie, a young Cree woman who returns, night after night in her dreams, to a memory from before her sister Sabrina’s untimely death: a weekend at the family's lakefront campsite, long obscured by a fog of guilt. But when the waking world starts closing in, too, Mackenzie knows this is more than she can handle alone. She heads home, to High Prairie, Alberta, where her family’s history, and its secrets, may provide some relief. Bad Cree is as much a tension-packed exploration of the unknown as it is an exploration of grief and family (which, perhaps, are as equal parts of the unknown as spirits and dreams).

About Jessica:

Jessica Johns is a nehiyaw aunty with English-Irish ancestry and a member of Sucker Creek First Nation in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta. She is an interdisciplinary artist and winner of the 2020 Writers' Trust Journey Prize.

Her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction has been published in Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass Buffalo, CV2, SAD Magazine, Red Rising Magazine, Poetry is Dead, Bad Nudes, Grain, The Fiddlehead, Canadian Art, C Magazine, Brick, Reissue, Maisonneuve, The Globe and Mail, Best Canadian Essays 2019, among others. She has spoken at various literary and arts festivals such as WORD Vancouver, Vancouver Writers Fest, Room Literary and Arts Festival, FOLD Festival, Victoria Festival of Authors, London’s Literary and Creative Arts Festival, and Blue Metropolis.

Her visual art has been featured at the 2022 Rhubarb Festival, grunt gallery, and at Latitude 53.

She serves on the editorial board for GUTS – An Anti-Colonial Feminist Magazine, the advisory board for the Indigenous Brilliance reading series, and also brews kombucha as the founder of kokôm kombucha.

Jessica Johns recommends:

White Horse by Erika T. Wurth (Flatiron Books)

Severance by Ling Ma (Picador USA)

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

The Trickster Trilogy by Eden Robinson

Lauren Korn recommends:

The Only Good Indians and the Indian Lake Trilogy by Stephen Graham Jones (Gallery Books, Saga Press)

Shutter by Ramona Emerson (Soho Crime)

The “fractured fairy tales” ofHelen Oyeyemi (Riverhead Books)

Death in her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

The team for this episode of The Write Question included Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Chris Moyles, co-producer and editor.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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