A Humber College grad beat more than 1,400 people to win this year’s CBC Nonfiction Prize.

Becky Blake’s winning story, “Trust Exercise”, is about her first love Anton, who she met as a teenager.

“In 2013 my friend Eufemia Fantetti, a teacher at Humber, was launching her short story collection A Recipe for Disaster and she asked me if I would write something on the topic of food to read at her event,” Blake explains, talking about how “Trust Exercise” came to be.

“Food and love are two things that sort of go hand-in-hand for me. A first draft of “Trust Exercise” was the result, and after working on it for a few years off and on, I thought it might be time to send it out!

“With regards to writing such a personal piece, I always try to write as if no one I know will ever read my work – that seems to be the best way for me to get at the truth. And then I just have to deal with my nervousness later, when and if the piece gets published.”

Becky Blake
Becky Blake. Photo by Ayelet Tsabari.

Blake’s ties to Humber run deep. She studied theatre at the college in the 1990s and in 2002 enrolled in the School for Writers correspondence program.

“Working with Elisabeth Harvor as a mentor through that program allowed me to take my writing more seriously for the first time,” says Blake.

Seven years later she was back for more, this time the University of Guelph's Creative Writing MFA, which is held at the University of Guelph-Humber campus.

“I really can’t say enough good things about that program — it’s truly excellent. The professors and other students in the program have now become colleagues and friends. The program gave me a lot of extra time for writing, and for thinking about why and how people write. It was a challenge for me, in all the best ways.”

Next up for Blake is the release of her first novel, Scratch, in Spring 2019.

“I started this novel … while doing my MFA, and it’s about pickpockets, squatters, and graffiti artists in Barcelona.”

Not one to take it easy, she has three new books in the works – her second novel, a short story collection and a book of personal essays.

This is Blake’s second time winning a CBC writing prize. In 2013, she won the broadcaster’s Short Story Prize for “The Three Times Rule.”