I am a Newfoundland-born writer now living in Southern New Brunswick. I’ve lived in various places in Canada, from coast to coast, but now spend my time writing in a cottage near Sussex. I do some of my writing in a tent by the lakeshore, and play guitar and write songs, as well. I’ve recently begun skiing, skating and snowshoeing in winter, while spending the summers writing and experiencing the world.
I have a Ph.D. in American literature and have been teaching university English for 17 years. Before that, I taught high school English, as well as worked briefly as a newspaper journalist and musician. I’ve recently mentored at the prestigious Piper’s Frith writers retreat, offered workshops across Atlantic Canada, including the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick WordSpring weekend and the Write Stuff all-day creative writing seminars for high school students of the greater Saint John area. When not serving on awards and grant committees, I’m working on both a new novel and a short story collection.
My first novel, Finton Moon, won the Percy Janes First Novel Award, and was nominated for the 2014 Dublin IMPAC International Literary Award, the 2013 Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, and the 2014 NL Heritage and History Award. Finton Moon is the coming-of-age story of a young boy who has the magical ability to heal with his hands, a talent which sets him apart from his family and friends.
My short story collection, Moonlight Sketches, won the 2012 NL Book Award. This book features sixteen interconnected tales from the perspectives of various characters in the fictional small town of Darwin, NL. There are recurring characters, sometimes making the collection feel like a novel.
Fierce Ink Press asked me to write a story about my last year of high school, and the result was “The Long Last Year,” a creative nonfiction piece that was published in 2013 as an e-book and again in 2014 as part of a print collection of several other Fierce Shorts.
I have also published both fiction and non-fiction in books, literary journals, and anthologies, while my work also has been featured multiple times on CBC Radio and in newspapers. Finton Moon has been purchased by learning resources centres in schools across Newfoundland, and my fiction is sometimes taught in university courses.
What I Offer
I consult with teachers to deliver the kind of workshop students want. Generally, I will read briefly from my work and discuss how it was written, where ideas come from, and what it’s like to be a writer. I often give workshops in voice that lead students to consider the nature of good writing in excerpts from popular novels and poems, encourage personal introspection and close observation of the world around them and, ultimately, have students write their own story or poem. (I will be available for school visits starting October 25.)