The Whistler Independent Book Awards 2024 Judges

Amber CowieFinalists’ Judge for Fiction

Amber Cowie is a novelist living in a small town on the west coast of British Columbia. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, The Globe and Mail, Crime Reads, and Scary Mommy and has been endorsed by numerous bestsellers including Samantha M. Bailey, Shannon Kirk, Kerry Lonsdale, Catherine McKenzie, Robyn Harding, and Blake Crouch. Her first novel, Rapid Falls, was a Whistler Book Awards nominee, hit number one overall on Amazon, and was a top-100 bestselling Kindle book of 2018. Her next book, Last One Alive, will be released by Simon and Schuster Canada in summer 2022. Amber’s website.

Darcie Friesen HossackFinalists’ Judge for Fiction

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and, for eleven years, wrote food memoir for various western Canadian newspapers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the 2011 Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize and the 2012 OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. She is at work on the second draft of a novel, Strange Fruit, which marries Seventh-day Adventists into the Mennonite homescapes for which she’s already known. Connect with Darcie

JJ LeeFinalists’ Judge for Non-fiction

JJ Lee is a well-known author, journalist and broadcaster. In 2014, he hosted the CBC radio show, Head to Toe (now available in podcast). His fashion and personal essays are published in ELLE Canada. His memoir piece, “ELLE First: You are beautiful”, tied for Gold at the 2011 National Magazine Award for Best Short Feature. His debut book, The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, the BC Book Prize Huber Evans Non-Fiction Prize and the Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. It was longlisted for the 2018 Canada Reads. JJ’s website.

Sonja LarsenFinalists’ Judge for Non-fiction

Sonja Larsen’s work has appeared in literary publications in the US, Canada and the UK. Her memoir Red Star Tattoo: My Life As a Girl Revolutionary (Random House Canada)  won the 2017 Edna Staebler Non Fiction award and was shortlisted for the Writers Trust Non Fiction Award. She lives in Vancouver BC where she is currently working on her second book about her experiences running a computer lab in an inner-city community centre. Sonja’s website

Andreas OertelFinalists’ Judge for Children’s Prize

Andreas Oertel was born in Germany, but he’s lived most of his life in Canada. He’s travelled all over the world and had a hundred different jobs—everything from rickshaw driver to health inspector—but he always goes back to writing.

Andreas’s middle-grade fiction is critically acclaimed and has been nominated for many awards (Silver Birch Award, Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award, and Charlotte Award). He spends much of his free time visiting schools and talking to young people about the magic of reading and books.

 Andreas’ website.

Sara LeachFinalists’ Judge for Children’s Prize

Sara Leach is the award-winning author of nine books for children, including the acclaimed Slug Days trilogy. Her middle grade novel Count Me In has been translated into four languages, and won the Red Cedar Book Award.  In addition to being a children’s author, Sara is also an elementary school teacher–librarian. She is a frequent presenter at elementary schools and public libraries, both in person and virtually. Sara lives in Whistler, BC, where she enjoys skiing, hiking and biking in the local mountains. Sara’s website.