I was born ‘Janice Hodgkinson’ in Quebec, raised in the North (Inuvik, Fort Smith and Whitehorse) then moved south of 60 when I was eleven years old to a rural suburban community in Ontario called Munster Hamlet (my girls’ hockey team was called the Munster Monsters). I left home to become a nomadic hippy with Trudeau’s youth volunteer program – Katimavik – for nine months then soon after, I took a three-and-a half-month outdoor leadership course in Wyoming where I learned to chew tobacco and carry an 80-pound pack, and what’s more important, to climb. I spent the next several years as a climbing and kayaking bum in the summer and ski bum in the winter.
My career path has been hectic and convoluted. I’ve worked as a waitress, pizza cook, housekeeper at a fly-in fishing camp in NWT, assistant bee keeper, geoduck cleaner, cook for loggers, farmer, tree planter, climbing instructor, assistant Outward Bound instructor, radio dispatcher, pro ski patrol, forestry silviculture technician, and elementary French Immersion teacher, a substitute teacher, and a writer.
I’ve always had an obsession with higher learning. I started university in ’87, took a wee break to have two kids, then returned in ’93 with a twenty-month-old and five-year- old. After four adrenal-fatiguing years, I graduated in ’97 with a degree in Education with a minor in French. To date, I have studied at the University of Calgary, College of the Rockies, Athabasca University, Open Learning University, Université du Quebec à Trois-Rivières, UBC, SFU and The Banff Centre for the Arts.
In 2004 I left my home of fifteen years – Golden, B.C. – and moved with my two kids and soon-to-be-new husband to North Vancouver where I took a few writing courses at UBC, graduated from SFU’s Writer’s Workshop in ’07, then participated in Betsy Warland’s Manuscript Intensive in 2009. I’ve participated in the Banff Wired Writing Program with mentor Connie Gault, and the Banff Mountain and Wilderness Writing Program with Marni Jackson, and The Sage Hill Writing with John Vaillant. In 2015, I completed my MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. It is quite possible I’ve taken more writing programs than any other writer in the Lower Mainland. After I handed over my thesis, I made the secretary, Pat Rose, swear she would hang up on me if I ever tried to sign up for another course.
Finding my genre was less of a struggle than learning to write but I did dabble a bit before firmly settling on non-fiction. At age fourteen, I won my first writing competition with a rhyming Halloween poem (I still have it tucked away somewhere) which was displayed in the South Carleton High School library. Any subsequent poetry was too tortured to inflict on anyone. Thirty years later I won the Vancouver Writer’s Festival fiction writing competition with “Grant’s Lunch,” but the only element of fiction in that story was when we acquired our humping bunnies. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that, though sometimes I crave the safety and anonymity of fiction, I’m compelled to write true stories. To make sense of and find patterns in the chaos of life.
My work has been published in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, two North Shore Writers’ Association anthologies, SFU’s anthology, Emerge, and on-line on the Vancouver International Writer and Readers Festival website. I won second and then first place in North Shore Writers’ Association Contests for non-fiction in 2006 and 2010 respectively, second place in fiction in the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival, and in 2011 I won first place in Room‘s creative non-fiction contest. My memoir End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage and Motherhood (a ten-year project) will be published with Random House in April 2018 in Canada, and Counterpoint Press in May 2018 in the U.S.
I live in Squamish, B.C. where I mountain bike, ski, trail run, and climb. My two kids, Jenna and Sam, are adults now (for more about Sam see MMA Fighter Mom and Jenna, see Grant’s Lunch on my writing page) so I live alone with my stuntman husband, Dan, (see I Married A Stuntman) in my dream home surrounded by trees and mountains.