Corner Gas Animated writer Meredith Hambrock latest Saskatoon library writer in residence

Submitted photo. Meredith Hambrock will be the 2023/24 Writer in Residence for Saskatoon Public Library. Hambrock worked as an executive story editor for Corner Gas Animated, and published her first novel in 2022.

Meredith Hambrock will be Saskatoon Public Library’s 43rd writer in residence, and the first screenwriter in the position.

Julia Peterson

Saskatoon StarPhoenix

When Meredith Hambrock arrives to start her year as writer in residence for the Saskatoon Public Library in September, it will only be her second visit to Saskatchewan. 

But Hambrock, an award-winning television writer and novelist who was born in Toronto and now lives in Vancouver, said the Saskatchewan literary scene has been a fundamental part of her craft and career.

“I had a really great time in Saskatchewan in 2015, when I went to the Sage Hill Writers Retreat,” Hambrock recalled. “I got to work on a novel with Miriam Toews there, which was amazing, and she helped give me the early confidence to keep going.

“I got to meet so many people in the Saskatchewan writing community. It was such a formative two weeks of my career; such a turning point. I loved everybody, and I had such a good time, and it stands out to me as such a happy time in my life.”

Hambrock wound up getting an agent because of the manuscript she worked on at Sage Hill — and her debut novel, Other People’s Secrets, was published in 2022. That novel was named one of The Rap Sheet magazine’s Best Reads of 2022, and was nominated for a Lefty Award in the Best Debut Mystery category. 

But Hambrock may be best known for her work on Corner Gas Animated, where she served as executive story editor and wrote nine episodes of the critically acclaimed show.

She said the writer’s room was full of mentors and encouraging colleagues who helped her take her craft to the next level.

(Corner Gas creator) Brent Butt was someone who really invested in me as a writer — I learned so much about storytelling from him,” she said. “And (Corner Gas Animated supervising producer) Andrew Carr was also really influential to me.

“When we worked together in the writer’s room, he taught me so much about grounding comedy in reality and the human experience, so things don’t get too crazy.”

Now, she’s excited to be paying that mentorship forward as the library’s writer in residence, where she will offer workshops, programs and consultations to writers in the community.

“I’ll get to spend more time with writers, which is my favourite thing above all,” said Hambrock. “Writers are my favourite kind of people, so getting to really dig in with the community is something I’ve been looking forward to.”

During her year at the library, Hambrock is planning to run seminars about writing half-hour comedies for television and writing for animation.

“We’re really excited for Meredith’s term as writer in residence to begin,” said the library’s senior manager of programming and creative spaces Katie Edwards. “We’ve never had a screenwriter in this position, so there’s a lot of opportunity for our community to learn from her.”

And in between all her educational and community-focused work, Hambrock is also planning to spend her year as writer in residence working on her next novel, which she describes as a “literary mystery climate fiction sort of work” that celebrates the types of characters she loves most. 

“With my fiction, I really do lean in to anti-hero characters in particular, especially this dreaded ‘unliabke woman’ character — whatever that is,” said Hambrock. “I think I’ve always had a mission to bring a more honest kind of female character to whatever I’m working on, because that’s what I’m drawn to.

“I want to write characters that make me laugh and that I can identify with. And often, the response to my writing seems to be that these characters are sort of anti-heroes. But I’m OK with that.”

Hambrock will be the library’s 43rd Writer in Residence.