cultivating story: 

for the love of words and pictures and true stories

As artists and their artworks co-inhere, as writers and their writings meet at the threshold of seeing and saying, so do I embrace the liminal journey of cultivating story. 

Here lives the beating heart of my passion for bringing words and pictures and true stories together. 

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Throughout my childhood, I gazed over the shoulder of my artist-magician father as he hand-lettered and illustrated three volumes of Rice's Encyclopedia of Silk Magic with pen and ink (over 1500 pages; 1948, 1953, 1962). 

But as a teenager living in a difficult household, I was denied my own library card. Dismissing the 'sunny-book farm' novels at school and resisting my mother's leather-bound classics at home, I preferred instead two forbidden magazines: True Story and True Confessions. Even if their stories were not truethough I believed they werethey conveyed important life lessons.

Hungry for the real and the true, I plastered my teenage diaries with dramatic headlines cut from those taboo magazines to express my own true stories. 

And I delved into our volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia; searching the indexes and pouring over the pages of words and pictures and true stories. 

Many years ago, I met a woman who was en route from being a journalist in New York to being a novelist in Vermont. "How does a  journalist on Friday become a novelist on Monday?" I enquired. "Well," she offered, "as a journalist I have to report the facts, but as a novelist I get to tell the truth."

Fact and truth are not so discrete. Nor is it unusual for fiction and non-fiction to cross paths. As a reader and a writer, I favour the smack and sizzle of a gut-punch of a true story written in literary style. This creative non-fiction form differs from non-fiction per se when memoirists, for example, engage the tools and conventions of fiction to tell our true stories.

And pictures, please!

“Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.” Gabriel García Márquez, Living to Tell the Tale, 2003.


words ...

academic papers

doctoral dissertation

Abstract and Dissertation available at UBC Library Open Collections: Rewriting Resilience. 

and pictures ...

creative non-fiction essays

commissioned biography

and true stories

personal essays 

Note from a juror: "Gripping, with evocative details that also conjure up a sense of rawness and the willingness to look on terrible things. The care the voice employs indicates a speaker who is finally coming to face what's unbearable, and the story brings the reader on this courageous journey.”

literary memoir (in the works!)

public readings

self-published booklet