Born in The Netherlands, I immigrated to Canada with my family at a young age and grew up in southern Ontario. I came into my own in my twenties when I arrived in Hay River, Northwest Territories, at the tail end of a cross-Canada hitchhiking journey, and stumbled into a writing career. I had all my worldly possessions in a knapsack on my back, was broke and in need of a job. This materialized as soon as the publisher of a community weekly newspaper, the Hay River Tapwe, found out that I could type — all the qualifications necessary to be a reporter.
I fell in love with writing about the North and never made it back to the road. After several years in Hay River, I moved to the capital of the territory, Yellowknife. I grew up, got married and settled in an off-grid cabin, about 30 km outside of town, at Prelude Lake where I lived with my husband and my dogs for 22 years. I became well known as a northern journalist and freelance writer, serving as editor for a number of publications, including the Northern News Services newspaper chain in Yellowknife and the inflight magazine, above&beyond, Canada’s Arctic Journal. I published stories, columns and editorials in more than 30 periodicals and anthologies.
The beautiful landscape of Prelude Lake nurtured my creativity and inspired me to explore more creative forms of writing. Ever since I began writing for newspapers, I had published creative non-fiction in the form of funny personal columns. In 2010, I published a collection of these columns in my first book, Iceberg Tea, under my own imprint Prelude Books.
My journey from journalist to creative writer was also nurtured by NorthWords NWT, an organization that supports northern and aboriginal writers by holding an annual writers’ festival in Yellowknife, workshops and other literary events. I was privileged to serve as president and then executive director of NorthWords for five years, helping to support northern writers and being supported by them in turn.
Today, I have put the off-grid life behind me and am back in Yellowknife where I enjoy such delights as water running out of the tap instead of having to be hauled from the lake; doing laundry without having to start a generator; using an electric toaster; an electric fridge; a microwave and all sorts of other appliances we didn’t know how to operate when we first moved in.
In between periods of basking in my new world of luxury, I worked on my first novel, Free Love, the story a young alcoholic woman, Marissa, who struggles to stop drinking and build a new life for herself. Free Love was published in early 2016.
Recognition of my work includes an Honourable Mention for my novel Free Love in the Whistler Independent Book Awards, a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for my contribution to northern writing and First Place Recipient of the Jack Sanderson Award for Editorial Writing.
Now for the next adventure, literary and otherwise …