About

Susan Olding (photo credit John W MacDonald)I was born in Toronto, Ontario, grew up in Oakville, returned to Toronto for university, and eventually moved to Kingston to go to law school. Or that was the plan. It turned out I wasn’t destined for a legal career. But I stayed in Kingston anyway, and apart from a couple of years in Vancouver and the Gulf Islands, I’ve lived here ever since.

To support myself, I’ve sold soap, small leather goods, and Scandinavian fashions. Over the years, I’ve also worked as an accounting clerk, a waiter, an editor, a teacher, and both as a bookseller and chicken eviscerator. A dubious distinction, true—but one I share with Alice Munro. And I’ll make use of any literary fairy dust I can find.

The fact is, I came to writing late. Despite being one of those obnoxious people who’s never had any doubt about what she’s meant to do, I’ve rarely found the doing of it quick, painless, or free of complications. Take the ingrained fear that art is a “frill.” Mix with the need to make a living. Layer with some serious self-doubt. The result is a barrier as sturdy as any limestone wall. Who do you think you are, and all that. Let’s just say I’m a work-in-progress.

My first book, Pathologies: A Life in Essays, won the Creative Nonfiction Collective’s Readers’ Choice Award for 2010. 49th Shelf and Amazon.ca chose it for their list of 100 Canadian books to read in a lifetime. A hybrid of memoir, personal essay, lyric essay, and other braided forms of creative nonfiction, it’s often used as an exemplar text in creative writing courses throughout the country.

I also write poetry, fiction, and reviews. My work has appeared widely in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies across Canada and the United States, including Canadian Notes and Queries, The New Quarterly, The L.A. Review of Books, The Malahat Review, Maisonneuve, and the Utne Reader, and has won a National Magazine Award and two Edna Awards, among other prizes and honours. You can find out more about that on the books and publications pages.

Between 2012 and 2015, I wrote web copy and edited science articles for the innovative coaching company, Precision Nutrition; their website gets thousands of visitors a day. I am currently Program Editor for the Kingston WritersFest and I also write author profiles for the festival.

I’m a partner, a parent, a stepparent, and the guardian (you might say) of a feisty Siamese cat. I like to read, cook, eat, walk, skate, lift heavy things, drink red wine, travel, and play in my closet. To find out more, especially about writing process, check out the linked interviews. Or contact me directly. And thanks for visiting.

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