ABOUT JUNE

Photo by Janet Baxter

I was well into my teens before I knew I wanted to write. But I was always fascinated by stories – of people, of life, of human frailties, of the countless details that make up the human condition.

I was born and raised in East Vancouver, not far from where I currently live. There were few books in the house, but plenty of storytellers in the family. My aunt, uncles and parents told lively anecdotes about the Great Depression, the war years, and the grind of blue collar jobs. While the other kids went outside to play, I stayed at the table, making myself as small and quiet as possible, so that the adults would keep talking.

In summers, I swamped for my father’s delivery truck on Vancouver’s docks and in the city’s warehouse district. I went on to work on an assembly line, bus tables in cafés, run a small printing press and, eventually, write sketches of the north for The Whitehorse Star. Journalism seemed a practical way to both tell stories and earn money.

I became a teacher next and wrote fiction during my summers off. Some of those stories failed but, gradually, some found acceptance, too. My short fiction won the Pottersfield Portfolio competition, and appeared in The Capilano Review, CV 2, and Other Voices. Later, I returned to the north to journey down the Teslin and Yukon river systems as research for what would become Underground.

In 2002 I enrolled in UBC’s Booming Ground program, where I met Mary Novik and Jen Sookfong Lee, and with them formed the writing group SPiN. Our goal was to see each other finish our first novels, and to our delight we also saw each of them published. The three of us have remained friends and have gone on to write more books.  In September 2015 my  sophomore novel  Two-Gun & Sun was published by Caitlin Press. I turned to nonfiction next with Four Umbrellas: A Couple’s Journey Into Young-Onset Alzheimer’s, co-written with my husband Tony Wanless. It was published by Dundurn Press in October 2020. All this time I have continued teaching, first, writing workshops for adults in Continuing Education programs, then for residents at a treatment centre for addiction in Vancouver. At present I am in the planning stages on another work of fiction.