“I write about bold women, artists, and adventurers. I believe that outsiders deepen our understanding of the past. I am interested in then for what it tells us about now. I love my characters best when they become difficult, but still try to honour their everyday, human bonds.“
Katherine’s novels, short stories and anthologies of travel writing have been published around the English-speaking world and in translation since 1979. Evocative, timely fiction has alternated with historical novels about artists and others who were ahead of their time. She is renowned for her exceptional research and evocative settings, whether they be in Japan, off the coast of Atlantic Canada, in wartime London, Georgian Bay or the Rocky Mountains.
Her most recent novel is The Three Sisters Bar & Hotel. Her previous novel, The Ghost Brush, about the daughter of the Japanese printmaker Hokusai, was published in Japan and worldwide. An earlier novel, Creation, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She has won the Toronto Book Award and Canada’s Findley-Engel Award for a mid-career writer (1997). In 2018, she was honored for Excellence in the Arts by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. In 2019, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
Active in her profession, and always committed to raising the voices of marginalized women, Katherine has been President of PEN Canada and Chair of The Writers’ Trust. She co-founded the national schools writing program Writers in Electronic Residence and more recently founded, directed, and is Board Chair of The Shoe Project, a writing and public speaking workshop for immigrant and refugee women.
Katherine was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and attended The University of Alberta and York University. She has two adult children, Robin and Emily, and two grandchildren. With her partner Nick Rundall, a retired publisher, she divides her time between Toronto and Canmore, Alberta, in the Rocky Mountains. Her upcoming novel again features Katsushika Oei, a woman artist of the floating world, who rises from her unknown grave to discover what happened to her art during the Meiji era.