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Local author Koscielniak challenges herself with book of short stories

By Kevin Anderson, The Northern Times

 Two years since the release of her last effort, Kapuskasing author Hélène Koscielniak has released her sixth book, entitled “On n’sait jamais à quoi s’attendre” (or translated to English: “You Never Know What To Expect”).


This newest work has a new wrinkle for both the author and readers, as rather than being a novel, Koscielniak has published a book of short stories.
“I decided to try to do a book of short stories because I wanted a different challenge,” she said. “I had written five novels, in which I had a lot of room to speak to the reader. In a short story, everything has to be more condensed and concise. Every word has to mean something because you don’t have an endless amount of room.
“It took me a while to get the rhythm, but once I did it went quite well. Writing short stories was a completely different experience and it was kind of refreshing. With a novel, you’re immersed in the same characters and story for a long period of time and it can be difficult. With short stories, you write a little piece, then you’re done with that story and those characters and you take a break.
“To make it even more interesting, I made it so every story has a surprise ending, hence the title. With a lot of books of short stories, the author will simply take the title of one story for the cover of the book, which I find can be a bit misleading. I wanted something for the cover that represented the entire book. That’s where the title came from.”
Also interesting in this book, is that Koscielniak has decided to write all of the dialogue in what she terms “Tarois”, and describes as the Franco-Ontarian, French dialect.
“There is no such thing as ‘good French’ or ‘bad French’. There is just French and a number of different dialects. Some people have asked me if I regret my decision, but I grow prouder and happier with my decision every time I answer that question.”
Koscielniak described the book as full of short stories, set in small-town Northern Ontario, but centered on universal themes.
“Regardless of where you live, we all have common threads that we share,” she commented. “The themes in this book will appear to both people in this area and to a broader audience.”
Hélène Koscielniak’s “On n’sait jamais à quoi s’attendre” is available at CKGN at a cost of $23.