All posts by Debra Martens

author, editor

Good Jokes, Bad Choices: Monica Heisey Review

Eleanor Proudfoot reviews Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey (HarperCollinsCanada, 2023) Really Good, Actually was… really good, actually!  While the title reflects the self deluding protestations of a woman whose […]

Poetry: Blaine Marchand

For work with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Blaine Marchand travelled extensively, on missions to fifteen African countries (his fiction, African Journey, is set in Zimbabwe, but he’s also […]

Collapse of a Country

Collapse of a Country: A Diplomat’s Memoir of South Sudan, by Nicholas Coghlan (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017) Reviewed by Douglas Scott Proudfoot My former colleague, Nick Coghlan, was in the […]

Stereograph View of a Hot Air Balloon - stereograph (MET, 1982.1182.307)

A Ballooning Story

Review of The Aerialists by Katie Munnik (The Borough Press, HarperCollins 2022). Reviewed by Debra Martens. The recent shooting down of four balloons in North American skies has made balloons […]

photo: D. Martens


Homesickness, by Colin Barrett. Penguin Random House UK, 2022, 215 pages. Reviewed by Jane Christmas The word homesickness automatically conjures the usual definition of longing for home, but pull apart […]

Last of the Tenth

The last of the tenth anniversary interviews is with me, Debra Martens, the founder and editor of Canadian Writers Abroad. This tongue-in-cheek interview hails back to an article I did […]


A Writer’s Christmas in Wales

A Writer’s Christmas in Wales by Katie Munnik “I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for […]

Kelly Kaur Goes to the Moon

Does the moon count as abroad? Okay, Kelly Kaur has not been to the moon, but one of her poems will be in a time capsule on the Nova Collection […]


Hogtown: Sampson Reviews City of Pigs

André Forget, In the City of Pigs (Dundurn Press, 2022)Reviewed by Mark Sampson In his earnest, episodic debut novel, In the City of Pigs, André Forget attempts to braid the […]

Naomi Guttman

In the 1970s, it was called the brain drain, but as early as 1890, when Wilfrid Laurier was Oppostion Leader, he spoke of “the cancer of emigration” to the United […]

Remembering Wanda

In life one never has to betray oneself by doing things one knows are wrong. Christoph Kohler, Wanda by Barbara Lambert (Fish Gotta Swim, 2021), p. 138. For this year’s […]

Ayelet Tsabari

Ayelet Tsabari answers three questions in the ongoing series for the tenth anniversary of Canadian Writers Abroad. Ayelet Tsabari was born in Israel to a large family of Yemeni descent. She […]

For the Love of Birds

Jane Christmas Reviews Woman, Watching (ECW 2022) by Merilyn Simonds Don’t be fooled by the cardinal and binoculars on the cover. This is more than a bird book. In fact, […]

Three Questions for Kate Pullinger

Kate Pullinger, novelist, professor, writer on the cutting edge of technology, has been living in the UK since the 1980s. Although she is a very busy woman, on her return […]

photo: Debra Martens

Mavis Gallant

So busy have I been with the tenth anniversary of Canadian Writers Abroad, I overlooked the centenary of Mavis Gallant’s birth. Thanks to Bill Richardson for bringing this to all […]

Bill Richardson Rounds Up Mavis Gallant

I liked listening to Bill Richardson on CBC years ago, and so my ears perked up when I heard him talking to Shelagh Rogers (The Next Chapter) in June, about […]

photo: D. Martens

Marius Kociejowski

I met Marius Kociejowski at his flat in London, UK, but learned about him from a journalist in Ottawa, Roberta Walker. That meeting evolved into the interview, Casting Himself on […]

Mark Sampson

Graduates who leave home to teach English as a Second Language abroad are not a rare species. What is rare is writing a book that enters into the controversial history […]

Stevenson in Nigeria

I made an impromptu trip to Nanaimo, British Columbia, but thanks to Covid fears, didn’t meet up with any local authors (you’ll recall that Robert Hilles lives there part of […]

photo: Anthea Maria Poole

The Return

Five years into Canadian Writers Abroad, I found Demetra Angelis Foustanellas, who was in Greece at the time. Her first novel, Secrets in a Jewellery Box, was reviewed by Sonia […]


Is there anything that says freedom better than a bicycle ride in summer? Imagine losing that freedom, and what can replace it. Below Carolyn Gammon shares her poem, “The Little […]

Writing Migration

I wasn’t expecting to find a link between Theresa Kishkan’s thoughts on Ukraine and Merilyn Simonds’ ornithologist, Louise de Kiriline Lawrence, but there is one: Russia. Read on to see […]

Ivankivtsi Dust

The fall of Mariupol coincides with this article from Theresa Kishkan, whose new book, Blue Portugal and Other Essays (University of Alberta Press, 2022), has an essay about her time […]

South Sudan

The Child Soldiers of Africa’s Red Army

Carol Berger is both an anthropologist and a writer, and she brings these skills together in her examination of the “lost boys,” in her book, The Child Soldiers of Africa’s Red […]

Learning to Listen in Mexico

Astute readers of Canadian Writers Abroad may have noticed that Wayne Grady’s name is twined with Merilyn Simonds‘s. Indeed, they are together in their personal lives as well as their […]

Merilyn Simonds

Readers of Canadian Writers Abroad met Merilyn Simonds through Mexico, in her article, Reading Abroad, which was swiftly followed by a review of her novel, Refuge. In addition to living […]

Darlene Foster in Spain

In our ongoing tenth anniversary series, Darlene Foster answers three questions. Foster is the author of the Amanda Ross travel adventures series for children. (The cover of Amanda in Holland […]

Eliza Reid’s Extraordinary Women

Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid (Simon and Schuster 2022, hardcover, 288 pages)Reviewed by Isabel Huggan I suspect that many readers, after finishing Eliza Reid’s engaging and accomplished study […]

photo: E. Proudfoot

Spring Equinox

Apologies to those looking for a poem. Canadian Writers Abroad did not receive the publisher’s permission in time to post a poem on March 20. Meanwhile, spring flowers from Scotland. […]

photo: Carolyn Gammon

Surrendering to Gammon

Carolyn Gammon is no stranger to Canadian Writers Abroad, having been profiled by Gabriella Goliger (From Fredericton to Berlin) and having shared her poetry with us (“Fault Line“). Thirty years […]

Coming Up For Air

Sarah Leipciger’s first novel, The Mountain Can Wait (Tinder Press, 2015) was at the time, in London, compared to another novel set in the same part of British Columbia, Freya […]


Magie Dominic, Eight Years Later

In the autumn of 2014, Canadian Writers Abroad posted an interview with Magie Dominic, who has since kept us up to date with her activities in the worlds of writing […]

Isabel Huggan

I first encountered Isabel Huggan at a writing week in Kingston, Ontario, and met her again some weeks later in Gigiri, Nairobi, whereupon this generous woman kindly invited me into […]

Jane Christmas

Jane Christmas is a regular at Canadian Writers Abroad, which is a great thing, because I love her sense of humour. We’ve met in person, in London, but I don’t […]

Ten Years!

In the fall of 2011, our small family moved to London, England for a few years. There I set up office in a small dark room in a beautiful flat […]

photo: D. Martens

The Longer War

A Gradual Ruin by Robert Hilles (Doubleday 2004), reviewed by Debra Martens When the Second World War ended in 1945, serving soldiers got to go home and live happily ever […]

photo: D. Martens
five pointed flower

Ring the Bells

Review of Ring by André Alexis

Photo: Rain Hilles

Poems for a Summer’s Day

Each season, Canadian Writers Abroad likes to feature a poet. Today we have two prose poems from Robert Hilles, who with his wife Rain, divides his time between Nanaimo, BC […]