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.

Wherein 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 in awe 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).

But as a teenager living in a difficult household, I was denied my own library card. Dismissive of the 'sunny-book farm' readings assigned at school and my mother's girlhood collection of classics, I eschewed novels in favour of two forbidden magazines: True Story and True Confessions. Even if their stories weren't truethough I believed they werethey held important life lessons.

Hungry for the real and the true, I plastered the pages of my teen diaries with dramatic headlines cut from those taboo magazines to express my own true stories. And I delved into the leather-bound volumes of our World Book Encyclopedia; searching the indexes, in awe of the breadth of knowledge, 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."

Though 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 when we memoirists, for example, engage the literary 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

  • “The Risky Business of Translating Resiliency Research into Advocacy Practice.” The Newsletter of the BC Institute Against Family Violence, 7(3), 18–21. Winter 2001.

  • “The Risky Business of Translating Resiliency Research into Advocacy Practice.” FOCUS on Children and Youth, 5(1), 9–12. 2000.

  • “Toward Participatory Pedagogy: From Targeting Childhood Risk and Resilience to Teaching Children’s Rights and Responsibilities.” In J. R. Epp (Ed.), Centering on the Margins: The Evaded Curriculum. The Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education (CASWE), International Institute Proceedings, Vol. 73–80. Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa. 1998.

  • “Reconstructing Childhood: Toward a Praxis of Inclusion.” In A. McGillivray (Ed.), Governing Childhood (pp. 225–49). Aldershot ENG: Dartmouth. 1997.

  • “Dangerous Liaison: The Eugenics Movement and the Educational State.” In J. R. Epp, & A. M. Watkinson (Eds.), Systemic Violence: How Schools Hurt Children (pp. 27–49). London UK: The Falmer Press. 1996.

  • Review of "Interrogating Incest: Feminism, Foucault and the Law." Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 11, 295–99. Spring, 1996.

  • “Corporal Punishment in the Family: A Review of Psychology, Sociology, and Women’s Studies Abstracts.” The Ontario Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse. 1992.

doctoral dissertation

  • Rewriting Resilience: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Childhood Resilience and the Politics of Teaching Resilience to 'Kids at Risk.' (UBC, 1999)

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

and pictures ...

creative non-fiction essays

  • "The Nature of Silk Creation | The Creation of Silk Culture." La Vie en Soie II. Joanna Staniszkis, Textile Art Exhibit Catalogue. Provence, France: Dora Maar Foundation, L’hôtel de Tingry, Ménerbes. 2022.

  • "The Creative Spirit." Patricia Gray: Pastels. Vancouver BC: Patricia Gray Inc., 5–9. 2016.

  • “The Dark Path of the Fairy Tale Forest: Journeying Deep into Lesley Richmond’s Tree Series.” Surface Design Journal, 36(1), 12–15. 2011.

  • “From Alchemy to Art: Les Éditions Lucie Lambert.” The wisdom of the imagination: The livres d’artiste of Lucie Lambert. (Sheila Martineau, Ed. & Designer). Vancouver BC: Simply Read Books, 1–27. 2010.

  • “The Fruit of the Creative Spirit is the Work of Art Itself.” Portfolio Collection: Lesley Richmond. (Vol. 40, M. Koumis, Ed.). London UK: Telos Art Publishing, 13–28. 2007.

  • “The Secret Life of Cocoons: The Silk Project of Textile Artist Joanna Staniszkis.” NUVO Magazine, 9, 89–91. 2006.

  • “MetalMorphosis: Worlds Within Worlds with Joanna Staniszkis.” Surface Design Journal, 29(4), 24–9. 2005.

  • “Les Éditions Lucie Lambert: Livres d’artiste and the Wisdom of the Imagination.” Amphora, 139, 6–19. 2005. (Design/reprint, illustrated, Artistory, 1–22, 2007.)

commissioned biographies

  • Jonathan Losee: Landscape Architecture. (Editor, Designer). Vancouver BC: Prospect & Refuge Landscape Architects Ltd. 2019.

  • Finding A Good Fit: The Life and Work of Architect Rand Iredale. Vancouver BC: BLUEimPRINT / Granville Island Publishing. (Editor, Designer). Co-authored with Kathryn Iredale. 2008.

and true stories

personal essays

  • "In the Dying Room." Writers' Union of Canada's annual short prose competition. 2022. [one of 12 juried finalists out of 482 submissions]

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.”

  • "In Each Lovely Thing" (2022). [Companion essay to "In the Dying Room"]

  • "A Beautiful Beast: Finding My Piano." In D. Elza (Ed.), Emerge 14: The Writers Studio Anthology. Vancouver BC: Simon Fraser University, 84–89. 2014.

literary memoir (in revision)

  • I wanted to tell you this: a memoir of magic, music, and madness.

public readings

  • "Smoke and Mirrors." Recorded for Writers Radio, 2022. Link to listen: Smoke and Mirrors

  • "Smoke and Mirrors." The Writers' Studio, SFU. Cottage Bistro, 2017.

  • "Dick Tracy: A True Story." The Writers' Studio, SFU. Cottage Bistro, 2016.

  • "The Master Plan." Vancouver Manuscript Intensive. Havana Café Theatre, 2015.

  • "The Assemblages." The Writers' Studio, SFU. Cottage Bistro, 2014.

self-published booklet

  • The Vignettes: Staying Home Alone with Maxine. 2020. I composed the vignettes during the first few months of BC's Covid lockdown. Link to view: The Vignettes