I grew up climbing trees on Cape Breton Island, falling into the brook that ran behind our house, delivering stunning bouquets of weeds to the “old ladies” of the neighborhood, hunting salamaders, hosting elaborate funerals for dead birds and singing constantly, sure in the knowledge that my talent would one day be discovered as I ambled through the woods. My best days were those at the ice cold Atlantic Ocean, the equally as cold Bras d’Or lakes, or those lovely, lovely days of summer visiting my grandparents in Pictou.
Much of this is captured in journals that began when I was about eight or nine years-old, but my writing career didn’t take off until Grade 4 when I discovered the penpal club in the Archie comic books. I hated writing made-up stories, but I wrote regularly to more than a hundred penpals in North America. A love of writing about what is real took me to journalism school where I earned an honours degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax.
I’ve lived, learned and worked in Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories and Alberta with my work appearing in local, regional and national publications. For six years, I penned a popular and humorous weekly column about family life published in then-Sun Media newspapers GP Ink, the Daily Herald-Tribune and other papers.
I have a strong interest in people and an equally strong belief in the power of story to connect us. I think it’s important that we talk to each other, and perhaps more importantly, that we listen.
All of my books are based on or inspired by true stories.
My newest book is a young adult novel, Cold White Sun. It’s the story of Tesfaye, a boy who escapes Ethiopia with his life and is smuggled into Canada. The result of months of intense, deeply personal interviews and countless hours of detailed research, writing his story is among the top experiences of my life. I learned and grew in ways I didn’t know I needed to learn or grow. It was released by Groundwood Books in March 2019.
My middle-grade novel published by Second Story Press of Toronto is set on the Siksika First Nation in Alberta. Lacey and the African Grandmothers is a fictionalized story inspired by a true one. When Lacey hears of how women in Africa are raising their grandchildren because the parents are sick with or have died of AIDS, she contacts the Stephen Lewis Foundation asking if she can help.
My earliest works for children were picture books inspired by my sons. To the Post Office with Mama tells the story of a daily walk with my toddler son in the rural town of Sexsmith, Alberta. A few years later, I chronicled the adventures of another son in To the Pool with Mama, which is set at the former Leisure Centre pool in Grande Prairie. Both books were published by Annick Press of Toronto.
I’m an active member of the Grande Prairie chapter of the Children’s Literature Roundtable, a professional member of the Canadian Authors’ Association and a decades-long member of both the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and the Young Alberta Book Society
And, by the way, I have 100 percent, absolutely no singing talent. It could be that my singing is what killed so many of the birds I buried.
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