Coleen grew up in East-end Toronto, managing somehow to attend seven different schools by the time she’d finished high school even though her family only moved once (and no, she was never kicked out or even encouraged out, well, maybe nudged once).
A teacher she had in early elementary school has to be held responsible for giving Coleen the writing bug, although to be fair it probably would have bitten her sooner or later anyway with all the reading she did. For two years she was asked to write a story every day in class, and when she was no longer asked, well, she did it anyway. The experience firmly entrenched the idea in her mind that there was no other career for her but to be a novelist.
Unfortunately the need to pay rent got in the way and for years she toiled in boring office jobs by day and by night studied English and history at two universities and communications at college (more schools!). Eventually her career wandered into marketing and this worked out a little better as she found a creative outlet in designing newsletters and invitations, writing copy, and planning elaborate client events. But the desire to write novels never wavered and when she discovered British mysteries, the writing bug couldn’t be denied any longer.
So… she took a few writing and editing courses and joined a supportive writing group. She wrote some short stories and soon met with success, having her efforts published in Storyteller Magazine and two of the Ladies Killing Circle anthologies. Twice her stories were short-listed for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story. One story won the Bloody Words Conference’s Boney Pete Award. Another she adapted into a radio play which went on to win Imagination Theater’s inaugural Phil Harper Award for Best Radio Script and was produced and broadcast across the U.S. and parts of Canada. And while she was doing all that she started to envision a mystery series set on the Canadian Homefront during WWII and based on the rich history of her adopted town of Bowmanville, Ontario. After holding off until she felt she could do proper justice to both the time and the place, she wrote a manuscript entitled Body and Soul (originally titled Sins Revisited) which went on to win the Crime Writers of Canada’s Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel.
Other little known facts about Coleen:
- She owns copies of 750 Jack Benny radio shows and knows almost every show by heart.
- She writes about early 20th century Ontario but is also a Scottish history enthusiast.
- Her dream job would to have been a radio actress during the Golden Age…or maybe the sound technician (think creaky doors, rattling chains, dead bodies falling over).