Approach to Life
This is one writer’s story. Like many of us, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life, personal and professional. Reading, and a fundamental belief that this world is really bigger, more wonderful and mysterious that circumstances would have us believe, has kept me going. You will find this in glimmers throughout all my work. But the most recent YA books are like the lavender bush where the magic is out in full bloom.
When I was sixteen and had just graduated from high school, I left home. My sweetheart and I bought an old leaky wooden troller and went commercial fishing. I loved the life. After two years, we bought a bigger troller, got married, and fished up in Hecate Straits and the West Coast of BC. Over the next five years, I learned I could handle 50 plus knot storms, the motor cutting out when we were a hundred feet offshore in heavy weather, living in a space the size of a regular bathroom 24/7 with someone I loved (most days), and finding a real sense of community among my fellow fishers.
After my hard physical stint fishing, I got sidelined with back problems. I lost my job, my home, my marriage. I acquired a wheelchair and a cane. During this time I went back to university and studied writing, read an inordinate amount, and started a relationship with the man I’ve now been married to for over three decades. After nine pain-filled years, I got out of the wheelchair and to this day, I’ve continued reinventing myself.
Shrinking Markets, Rabbit Holes, New Stories
As well as literary journals, my work has appeared in main stream magazines such as Chatelaine, Saturday Night, and Reader’s Digest. Why didn’t I settle down in one genre? I was earning money from my writing. My ambitions to be a successful journalist and all my efforts in that direction were applied in just the wrong era. Magazines were shrinking, newspapers amalgamating. Otherwise who knows what side track I might have wandered off on? The editors at Chatelaine told me I would’ve been their next Western Garden Editor, but they’d decided the job could be handled better from Toronto.
Instead of losing myself in journalism, I disappeared down the teaching rabbit hole. For fifteen years, I taught Creative Writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I started off as a sessional, then was hired as a regular faculty member, and finally (not sure this was a promotion) as Chair. During that time, I continued to write and publish books. I’ve been very fortunate to have had lovely publishers, including Sono Nis, Ronsdale Press and Wolsak & Wynn.
While I had many wonderful students at Kwantlen, it was a brutal marking load. In my very last term I told my students that I was graduating. Retirement implies a winding down and I’m not doing that. I am living fulltime on Pender Island,
one of BC’s beautiful, deer-filled southern Gulf Islands, with my husband and dog. I’m writing up a storm! In my spare time, my husband and I manage a vacation rental cottage on
our property, and I am getting involved in with e-publishing in its many forms.
I’ve just finished a book of epic Norse poetry (or is a novel?) and a magic YA novel involving dark magic, revenge and belonging. Recently I started my second YA novel in the same world with even more fantastical elements. I’m also working on a book of poems about the magic of being on the water.