cultivating story: 

for the love of words and pictures and true stories

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

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


words and pictures ...

Throughout my childhood, I gazed over the shoulder of my artist-magician father as he hand-lettered and illustrated over 1500 pages of Rice's Encyclopedia of Silk Magic with pen nib, India ink, and card stock. 

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 refusing my mother's leather-bound classics at home, I preferred instead two forbidden magazines: True Story and True Confessions

Even if their short stories were tall talesthough I believed them to be truethey conveyed vital life lessons to this troubled girl. Hungry for the fair and the real, I snipped dramatic headlines from those taboo magazines and taped them to the pages of my teenage diaries, giving voice to my inner hopes and heartaches.

And I delved into our household volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia, scrolling the indexes of history and pouring over the pages and columns 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 had to report the facts, but as a novelist I get to tell the truth."

Facts and truths may, of course, unwind and intertwine, and elements of fiction and non-fiction may well 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 devices of fiction to tell our true stories. And pictures of people, places, and things, 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.

The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink. —T.S. Eliot (18881965).


words ...

academic papers

doctoral dissertation

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

and pictures ...

creative non-fiction essays

commissioned biographies

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

public readings

personal booklets