WANDA MAE ANDERSON took a long, winding road to arrive at The Writer’s Studio 2015, mentored along the way by Poet Laureate Evelyn Lau and recently published poet Chelene Knight. She was born in Quebec and saw her first published piece appear in the high school yearbook. A singer-songwriter, she boarded a train west with her guitar during the FLQ crisis. Hearing of the midnight sun at a party in Calgary, she followed “the call of the wild” to Canada’s Arctic. Wanda Mae has been published in Tree of Peace, Common Ground, and Our Canada and self-published a book of poems in 1972, Northern Comfort.
ALEX BEZEREDI was kidnapped at a young age by his own imagination. He began writing epic tales of death and betrayal in bubble baths at the age of four, though his writing implements have shifted from plastic knights to a lightweight laptop and journal. Completing his BA in History led to his rejection of the concept of “right answers.” This is something that seeps into all his writing, aptly demonstrated by his projects, which humanize the most bloodthirsty (quite literally) villains in history and myth. He is currently writing a satirical novel about a vampire.
BRITTANY BJORNDAL writes poetry, songs, short stories, and lyrical prose. She graduated from SFU with a BA in English Literature and is currently collaborating with three other poets on a book of poetry. She is hip to poetry, music, stories, flowers, environmentalists, and the outdoors. Poetry, for her, is mysterious, playful, lovely, and powerful, and she’s glad to be part of its grand mystical scheme.
MARK BONDYRA is a writer and a designer living in Vancouver. He is currently working on a collection of short stories, a novel, and, quite possibly, a self-help book. In his free time, he enjoys climbing mountains.
SONAY CHEEMA is a writer and recovering filmmaker. Before settling in Vancouver, she spent her first seven years in Edmonton, where she mastered the skillful art of avoiding the yellow snow. After completing her BA in Film Production at the University of British Columbia, Sonay wrote short scripts, but she currently aspires to write feature-length screenplays. She loves to travel and plans to produce a poetry series based on her experiences abroad.
REBECCA A. COATES has spent the last twenty years working in independent bookstores in San Francisco and Vancouver while writing in her spare time. Her current project is a steampunk mystery called “The Operatrix.” She currently lives in Vancouver, where she finds consolation in life’s fundamental absurdity and enjoys trees.
JOANA COMAN writes fiction and essays. She is currently at work on her first novel, which draws on her family’s experiences during the turmoil of Communist-era Romania and the aftermath of the 1989 revolution. Prior to joining The Writer’s Studio, she completed a BA in English Literature and Economics at the University of British Columbia.
K.P. (KATHERINE) DALY MORRIS hasn’t been writing with sustained vigour for long, except in her head. As a child, she would vividly narrate her own life from the car seat in the back of her mom’s metallic brown Celica every day on the way to preschool. She read philosophy and literature at Capilano University, then at UBC, the latter boring her so fully that she swore off any further formal education before landing at TWS.
VEENO DEWAN was born within earshot of the church bells of St Mary-le-Bow in the East End of London, meaning he can claim Cockney heritage as a working-class Londoner. Veeno grew up in West London and spent a thirteen-year career as as television director and producer for the BBC in London and Birmingham. A graduate of the 2013 Southbank Writer’s Program, he has one film screenplay in development and is now completing his first writing project, a book of interlinked short stories exploring the pan-immigrant experience and cross-cultural themes of love, loss, place, and identity.
LYNN EASTON has lived with her family in a small house in rural Maple Ridge for almost twenty years. She has spent much of that time as a journalist, editor, and columnist and has published in a diverse range of magazines and newspapers—a few of which are still around. She is now concentrating on writing creative non-fiction and poetry.
KATHLEEN FEDOSENKO is a writer, blogger, professional communicator, one-time community radio show announcer in Australia, and former slam poet. By day, she works in public relations. By night, she writes about cultural, family, and personal histories.
Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, JENNIFER GRIFFIN has been a Vancouver-based actor/playwright for many years. She is the recipient of two Jessie Richardson Awards for writing and performing. Her most recent play, The Long Call, was created as part of The Associates Program at Playwrights Theatre Centre, Vancouver. Participating in the poetry cohort at TWS has been an inspiring adventure. Jennifer is thrilled to have had the opportunity to write in what, for her, is a newfound form.
SEN H.H.S., often introduced as Yvonne Hsiao, is a Taiwanese writer residing in Vancouver. She specializes in writing worlds with vivid, fantastical yet familiar details. Many question whether she is writing about our reality or something entirely different. She often exercises the right to remain silent when such questions are posed. Rumours about her being of the supernatural may or may not be exaggerated. Thankfully, the universe does have its consistency, as she mainly writes in speculative fiction. Her Twitter handle is @SenHHS. I heard she may be lured out of hiding with promises of afternoon high tea.
EVAN HOLMES is one of these “desert-loving English”—a natural consequence of growing up as an expat in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At around the age of eleven, it occurred to him—suddenly—while drinking stolen, bootlegged moonshine on a dusty rooftop, that death was looming. This thought, in combination with his hopelessly romantic leanings for one Miss Lacy in his seventh-grade English class, gave way to—what else?—writing poetry. When he read her the poem and she came down from the bleachers and kissed him, he felt two things: one, thank God for lovely girls, and, two, if death is black coffee, victory is milk and honey. Thus, the power of art was revealed. If at first punk rock was sufficient to provide an outlet, it was when he first read East of Eden while driving through the hills of Northern California with a girl he knew he couldn’t love that it struck him “the ballad” as a means of expression would no longer be sufficient to mitigate his mortality. He has since been writing prose and is currently working on a non-fiction book about his longstanding acquaintance with the Devil. He’s not religious, but he has theological and superstitious leanings–a propensity which he blames on his zodiac sign. He is, after all, quintessentially Sagittarius.
REBECCA JAMIESON is from Maple Ridge, BC. She writes mostly in the speculative fiction genre and is working on her first novel, which combines modern-day Vancouver with dark Irish folklore. She writes simply to tell a story, with the intention of creating a world that readers can dive into, become lost, wander, and resurface feeling satisfied and full. Not everyone is adventurous in life—that is why we have books.
ANNETTE LEBOX is an award-winning Maple Ridge poet with more than forty-five poems published internationally in literary journals such as Event, Poetry Canada, Prairie Fire, The Southern Review, and Scrivener. She is also the author of five picture books, including Peace Is an Offering (Penguin Random House, 2015) and Salmon Creek (winner of the BC Book Prize). Her YA novel Miracle at Willowcreek was shortlisted for the Hackmatack Award and the Manitoba Reader’s Choice Award. Circle of Cranes was shortlisted for the Manitoba Reader’s Choice Award. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at UBC in 1995.
Before birth, A.J. LIN was a yearning thought, a touch, an embrace, and a real good time. She was both the sperm that won the race and the lucky egg that beat the odds. A graduate of UBC’s Creative Writing program, she spent two decades doing everything possible to avoid writing. Eventually she ran out of resistance and came to The Writer’s Studio to find help for her affliction. She spends her time between Vancouver, Toronto, and Hawaii, taming digital technology for a living.
SUSAN MACRAE is a writer and artist from Edmonton, Alberta. She received her BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and her MA in English/Creative Writing from The City College of New York in Harlem. She presently teaches English and literature courses to international students at Columbia College and is at The Writer’s Studio working on creative non-fiction with JJ Lee.
LUCIA MARGUGLIO lives between the cultural hub of Montreal and a glass skyscraper overlooking the ocean in Vancouver. Her versatile working experience in diverse settings and across cultures fueled her passion for tales of ordinary people, which she believes are worth writing about and a great source of inspiration. In her non-fiction debut, Lucia gives a voice to an elderly gentleman who uncovers fifty years of lies and deceit, revealed in handwritten letters she was asked to translate from Italian into English. True to her Italian heritage, Lucia’s passions include family, friends, food, wine, and travelling.
HEATHER MARSHALL has a BA in Political Science from SFU and an MA in Cultural Planning from UBC. She has taught English at UBC, the Open Learning Agency, and in the Republic of Cyprus. Heather has recently attended the SFU Writer’s Studio, the Whistler Writer’s Studio, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the UBC Writing Centre. She is currently writing a creative non-fiction novel, a fiction novel, and a collection of linked short stories. Heather has shared palm wine from a rusty tomato tin with a Maasai elder, has seen a loincloth-clad hunter step lightly through the jungle, and has broken her nose laughing. She has raised three remarkable children.
CHRISTINA MYERS is a thrift-store junkie living in a house that is too small for all the treasures she finds. She left a long-time journalism career to take over as managing director of internal operations (a.k.a. stay-at-home parent)—no pay but the benefits are pretty good. She continues to freelance and still loves the rush of a newsroom on election night. She came to TWS to revive a lifelong love affair with creative writing and is working on several non-fiction projects (with occasional forays into fiction). She can be found on Twitter at @ChristinaMyersA.
PEGGI PEACOCK had a dream. But she sold out for cold, hard cash and paid travel. She has spent most of her adult life prostituting her writing skills to a long list of corporate clients from Vietnam to Vancouver. With her addiction to financial stability being managed by a support group called family, she is finally able to pursue her lifelong dream of writing for free. She is now working on a science-fiction novel and a number of other projects that mock humans as a weird, self-important little species.
SHAZIA HAFIZ RAMJI writes and edits in Vancouver. Her work has been longlisted for the Best Canadian Poetry anthology and has recently appeared in The Rusty Toque, Frog Hollow Press’s Vancouver anthology, Lemon Hound, and Canadian Literature. She received the inaugural Yale Road Scholarship for The Writer’s Studio 2015, where she is pleased to be mentored by Meredith Quartermain, whose latest book is I, Bartleby.
SARAH RAUCH has been writing forever, a steady hand in a diverse and traversing lifestyle. She writes mostly poetry, prose poems, and pen-fast memoir or fiction. She usually writes alone, but also pursues writing practice with others in a common thread. So far her work, preferring to be unfettered, has not been geared much at all toward publishing. The poems do occasionally push, though. We’ll see.
KIRI SAWYER once wanted to spell her first name with a y, an i, and an e. She has lived in BC for most of her life, but also in Ottawa and Edinburgh, Scotland, which she can no longer say correctly, if she ever could. She loves stories of all kinds. She loves to read and spend time with dogs and cats. Sometimes she writes.
ZURI HADIYA SCRIVENS is a writer, knitwear designer, and two-time breast cancer survivor, born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. Currently living in Langley, BC, with her husband and five-year-old son, Zuri divides her time between selling handmade knitwear through her Etsy store, 12 Little Things, and writing her first memoir, an exploration of a husband’s and wife’s shared bond of post-traumatic stress disorder. She is a lifelong athlete, having played rugby at both the university and provincial levels, and is now in her second year of dragon-boating with Abreast with FORT-itude in Fort Langley, BC.
LEAH SHARZER is returning to poetry after years of academic writing. Originally from Vancouver, she has been studying French literature in Paris for the past six years. Learning a new language and a new culture ignited a passion for exploring other-ness. She is currently working on “Subject-non-sujet,” a project which tries to approach, through language, the unsayable parts of ourselves. Leah has been inspired by her mentor, Meredith Quartermain, and her fellow poets to write until her wrist falls off.
T.K. SOHAL grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. While in The Writer’s Studio, she worked on her science fiction novel. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences from Simon Fraser University and Master of Public Health from the University of Sydney, Australia. She is an avid writer and world traveller, which inspires her to create new stories. Her passion for business, science, and technology has led to new and elaborate ideas.
MARGOT SPRONK once practiced the art of short imperative phrases as an air traffic controller (“Cleared for takeoff!”), and later as a parent (“Don’t touch that!”). Regrettably, this skill languishes at the bottom of her literary toolbox now that she writes creatively—much to the chagrin of her writing group, who surely long for just a few less adverbs. Margot is currently writing a post-apocalyptic novel with the working title “Late Effects”—or perhaps it’s two novels. Her protagonists hope for a trilogy, for as undocumented citizens of an imaginary realm, it’s tough to find steady work in Canada.
SARAH M. STEPHEN started writing at an early age, first scribbling pages of notes while pretending to be a journalist before she could actually print. After mastering the alphabet, she moved into poetry and short stories, which she explored throughout grade school and university, enjoying a few early successes, including having a short story published in a magazine and anthology. Upon graduation, she traded writing creative tales for corporate ones. In early 2014, after ignoring the pull of prose for over a decade, she was inspired to rediscover her first love and cautiously resumed creative writing.
EMILY E.A. STRINGER is a freelance writer in the fields of ecology and Canadian society. When concerns for our physical world become too much, Emily turns to fantasy and young adult novels to alleviate the stress. She has written screenplays, short stories, and children’s picture books, and is currently juggling two novels (or they are tug-of-warring her). Her short stories and poems have seen publication through Canadian anthology Polar Expressions, Waterloo’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Club, and UBC’s undergraduate journal Ignite. Emily draws inspiration from the beauty of her immediate surroundings in Vancouver, BC.
DG THIEL has led an examined life. Three noms de plume authored the journals she kept from the age of five through the remaining eleven years she lived with her birth family. A military upbringing overshadowed by parental mental illness propelled a childhood that criss-crossed the globe from North America to Southeast Asia and back. Her journals captured adventures and hardship in three countries, ten temporary residences, and nine private Catholic schools. DG joined The Writer’s Studio to advance her first work of creative non-fiction, exploring themes of mental illness, dislocation, abandonment, sense of place, transformation, and individuation.
CRISTINA VIVIANI was born in Santiago, Chile; she grew up speaking Spanish and German. Her family moved to Canada when she was nine. She is the author and photographer of the book Tafoni Natural Design and Weathered Stones. Her poems have been published in two chapbooks: Bone and Vertigo West/One. Room and Event will publish six of her poems in their next issues. Cristina has a background in architecture, fine arts, and dance improvisation, and has always been writing. In 2014 she completed the Southbank Writer’s Program. Currently, she teaches graphic design and is working on a new manuscript of poems.
KT (KATHERINE) WAGNER writes speculative fiction, both long and short forms, with occasional forays into other genres and her garden. She lives in Maple Ridge, organizes Golden Ears Writers, and is a Southbank Writer’s Program 2013 alumna. Online, she can be found at www.northernlightsgothic.com.
RYLEIGH WALSH once travelled the entire continental US by foot before getting a blister and calling it a day. She has her black belt in karate, is a fully qualified aerobics instructor, and does recreational bull riding. She is also a pathological exaggerator. Everything she says must be taken with equal parts optimism and skepticism.
VALERIE CHALKER WHITFIELD is emerging from the background of Valerie White, an academic physician who has published numerous medical papers in a strict and factual format with a minimum of speculation. Her year at TWS has allowed her creative side, which was never really encouraged and, indeed, was suppressed for most of her life, to begin to appear, with the nourishment of her mentor, teachers, and workshop-mates. Her writing name change is emblematic of this process and incorporates the two most important influences in her life. She thanks the Popp family for lending her their story.