I live and write in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I grew up in a small town in eastern Saskatchewan. At various times I’ve also lived in Vancouver, Denmark, France, and Australia. My varied professional career has included work as a librarian, editor, social science researcher, adult education program developer, waitress, and garment factory worker. That’s me to the right, floating in a canoe on the Churchill River in Northern Saskatchewan.
A few days after I defended my thesis for a Master of Continuing Education degree, my family and I moved to Australia for a year. Having no job and no arrangements for daycare, I looked about for ways I could spend my time creatively and still be on call for my young son. I discovered that the initial capital outlay associated with writing is very low: pen, notepad, dark roast coffee. Other costs are still being reckoned. The first of the stories that would later appear in Sightlines were drafted in a small house just over the dunes from Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Australia. Though they were written in a setting that offered a breeze off the Indian Ocean, these first stories had to do with children lighting fires in Saskatchewan pastures and digging deep dark holes in backyards in a small prairie town. Sometimes you have to be far away to see the important things about home.
A writer friend once commented to me, “What I love about your writing is that it manages to be both funny and sad at the same time.” (Thank you KW.) I cherish this comment, as I find that life itself manages to be both funny and sad.
My work has received numerous awards and nominations in competitions sponsored by CBC Radio; the Writers’ Union of Canada; the Writers’ Trust of Canada; literary magazines The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire, The Malahat Review and NeWest Review; the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick; and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild.
Sightlines, a collection of interlocking stories, won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and the Saskatoon Book Award. Excerpts from my novel The Art of Salvage were shortlisted in competitions on both the East and West Coasts of Canada. My stories have appeared in literary journals across Canada and been broadcast on the CBC radio programs Between the Covers and Gallery. RGB Productions of Regina produced a short film of my story The Stuff That Makes You Lift Cars, directed by Billy Morton. I shared space with Gabriella Goliger and Darryl Whetter in Coming Attractions 98 (Oberon Press).
My favourite places to write are a cabin in the boreal forest on the shore of Christopher Lake and The Broadway Roastery in Saskatoon. Also tremendously important are the retreats for writers and artists sponsored by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, especially the two-week session each February, when there are opportunities not only to work hard, but also to stand in the orchard and watch for owls, cross-country ski, skate, walk in the woods, toboggan, have small birds eat nuts and seeds from the palm of your hand, and raise a glass with a community of artists and writers. All this at St. Peter’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery on the prairie.
An alumna of the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Banff Writing Studio, and beneficiary of the writer-in-residence program sponsored by Saskatoon Public Library and the Canada Council, I’ve had the opportunity to work with, among others, Sandra Birdsell, Dave Margoshes, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Michael Winter, Elizabeth Harvor and Robert Kroetsch.
I’m a past member of the board of the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the committee for the SWG writers and artists colonies. I’ve also served as associate fiction editor for the literary magazine Grain and mentored apprentice writers through private arrangements and through mentorships offered by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild and the Master of Fine Arts in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan.