Mary Rose Donnelly was raised in the shadow of an ancient willow on a windy hilltop near the town of Alliston, Ontario. The youngest of a clatter of eight, she avoided all responsibility to roam hills and woods in search of morels, blackberries, bake-apples and quiet. In high school, at Banting Memorial, she was introduced to the lads: Bill Wordsworth, Bill Shakespeare and Walt Whitman, three of the first loves of her life. She spent four years reading great books at St. Michaelʼs College at the University of Toronto. Two years passed with LʼArche International in France and Toronto before she continued her studies in journalism at the University of Western Ontario. As a reporter, she worked for The United Church Observer in Toronto and Noticias Aliadas in Lima, Peru. Back in Canada, she began a collaboration on Katharine: a biography of Dr. Katharine Boehner Hockin, published by Woodlake Books. For a number of years, she worked in production at The United Church of Canada and as associate editor of Compass magazine. Her debut novel, Great Village, published by Cormorant Books, won the 2012 Atlantic Book Awardsʼ Jim Connors prize for fiction. Now, living in Mississauga, she's still likely to trade anything in her pocket for a wild apple pie.

Bower Bird Gems

I must tell you how I work. I donʼt have my novel outlined and I have to write to discover what I am doing. Like the old lady, I donʼt know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it over again.
Flannery OʼConnor, The Habit of Being

In your humility, you lay down the words carefully, watching all the angles. Now the earlier writing looks soft and careless. Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back.
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

E.M. Forster never gets any further than warming the teapot. Heʼs a rare fine hand at that. Feel this teapot. Is it not beautifully warm? Yes, but there ainʼt going to be no tea."
Katherine Mansfield, Journal 1917