“Stories have been part of my life forever. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read, and I hardly remember a time when I didn’t write.”
Merilyn Simonds is the author of 17 books, including the creative nonfiction classic, The Convict Lover, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award and inspiration for Judith Thompson’s play, Hothouse; the autobiographical story collection, The Lion in the Room Next Door; a bestselling novel, The Holding; a travel memoir, Breakfast at the Exit Café co-written with Wayne Grady; a collection of personal essays, A New Leaf; and Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels & the Lasting Impression of Books. A Project Bookmark Canada plaque in Kingston honours The Convict Lover’s place in Canada’s literary landscape.
Merilyn’s new novel, Refuge, introduces us to the reclusive 96-year-old Cassandra MacCallum, whose quiet island existence is shaken by a young Burmese woman who contacts her, claiming to be kin. The story takes readers on a decades-spanning journey, via Cassandra’ reminiscences, through Mexico, New York City, Montreal, and eastern Ontario as she mulls her life choices, and the fate of Nang.
Merilyn was Kingston WritersFest’s first artistic director, and retired from the festival in 2014. She lives in Kingston with her husband, author Wayne Grady.