Writing

I’ve written short stories and creative non-fiction, but my novels have received most attention, starting with A Student of Weather (2000), then Garbo Laughs (2003), Late Nights on Air (2007), and Alone in the Classroom (2011).

My first three books sailed rather rapidly into oblivion. In order of appearance, they were Crossing the Snow Line (1989), The Only Snow in Havana (1992), and Captivity Tales: Canadians in New York (1993). It had a sobering effect, watching them disappear with barely a trace. With my fourth book, I was determined to reach a larger audience by writing stories that were more recognizably stories. The result was Small Change (1997).

I have to work hard at narrative. Images come easily, storytelling does not. I do wonder what I lost when I moved into writing novels, since there are aspects of my earlier books that seem fresher and more open and more innovative. What I’ve gained is the experience of immersing myself in fictional lives, which intrigue me and keep me company and take me out of myself.

My stories and essays appear in a number of magazines, most recently Ottawa Magazine and The New Quarterly. My introduction to Alice Munro’s The View from Castle Rock is printed in the Penguin Classic edition, 2010. And the following anthologies include my work.

Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules ed. Jared Bland, M&S, 2011. Proceeds to Pen Canada.

Best Canadian Essays, ed. Alex Boyd, Kamal Al-Solaylee, Tightrope Books, 2010

The Scotiabank Giller Prize 15 years, An Anthology of Prize-Winning Canadian Fiction, Penguin, 2008

The Penguin Book of Short Stories, ed. Jane Urquhart, Penguin, 2007

Writing Life, ed. Constance Rooke, M&S, 2006. Proceeds to Pen Canada.

The Book I Read, ed. Peder Zane, Norton, 2004

Short Fiction, an Anthology, ed. Rosemary Sullivan, Mark Levene, Oxford University Press, 2003

Dropped Threads 2, ed. Carol Shields, Marjorie Anderson, Vintage, 2003

Journey Prize Anthologies 7 and 8, M&S, 1995, 1996

Best Canadian Stories 93, ed. David & Maggie Helwig, Oberon, 1993

The Unmade Bed, ed. Laura Chester, HarperCollins, 1992

Cradle and All, ed. Laura Chester, Faber and Faber, 1989

Awards, Honours

  • 2010 – Project Bookmark Canada, Garbo Laughs plaque unveiled in Old Ottawa South; Gold, National Magazine Awards, Best Short Feature
  • 2008 – Libris Award, Fiction Book of the Year; Ottawa Book Award, Fiction
  • 2008 – Scotiabank Giller Prize
  • 2004 – Ottawa Book Award, Fiction
  • 2003 – Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction
  • 2002 – Marian Engel Award for a woman writer in mid-career
  • 2001 – CAA MOSAID Technologies Inc. Award for Fiction; TORGI Talking Book of the Year Award; finalist, Ottawa Book Award, Fiction
  • 2000 – Finalist, Giller Prize
  • 1998 – Finalist, Trillium Award
  • 1997 – Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction; finalist, Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
  • 1995 – Gold, National Magazine Awards, Fiction; Western Magazine Award for Fiction; finalist, Journey Prize
  • 1993 – Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction

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