The author of the literary thriller Tell Anna She’s Safe and the memoir Tumblehome: One Woman’s Canoeing Adventures in the Divine Near Wilderness, Brenda Missen was born in Toronto, Canada. Knowing she wanted to be a writer from the age of ten, she went off to university to read novels for four years. She graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree and Specialist Certificate in English Language and Literature. She now had the background she wanted to pursue a literary career, but with graduation came a reality check: how to make a living? After a few years working as a typist (and then “word processor operator” in the early days of computers), she discovered the field of freelance editing.
Brenda has had her own writing and editing (now mostly factchecking and proofreading) business for nearly three decades. She got her start with Toronto publishers such as Doubleday Canada, Summerhill Press, and McClelland & Stewart. After moving to Chelsea, Quebec, her main clients became departments of the Canadian federal government. Since 1999, she has lived on the Madawaska River in the wilderness heart of eastern Ontario, where she maintains her clients through e-mail and divides her time between her communications business and her own writing.
After years of trying to write short stories and discovering they are definitely not her forte, Brenda managed to get two published (see Uncollected Works). Much more within her comfort zone is the essay genre: she has contributed personal essays and profiles to the Canadian Wildlife Federation magazine Canadian Wildlife, the paddling magazine Canoeroots, the Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association magazine, Kanawa, and her local newspapers, Barry’s Bay This Week and The Valley Gazette.
Tell Anna She’s Safe (Inanna Publications and Education, 2011) is her first published novel. The novel is based on the true story of her friend and colleague Louise Ellis, who disappeared from her home in Ottawa in 1995.
Tumblehome: One Woman’s Canoeing Adventures in the Divine Near Wilderness is her first work of narrative nonfiction. Part memoir, part travel adventure, part spiritual autobiography and large part ode to the Earth, Tumblehome traces an emotional and spiritual journey within the framework of a series of solo canoe trips Brenda undertook in Ontario’s Algonquin Park over half a dozen summers. She is now at work on a memoir called Blue Threads Loosened: The Untangling of a Sisters’ Story – which chronicles her fraught relationship with her sister, Kathryn, and the healing that took place between them after Kathryn’s sudden death in 2014.
A keen canoeist, hiker, swimmer, and cross-country skier, Brenda spends as much time as possible outdoors. For 13 wonderful years this was in the company of her beloved canine companion, Maddy. Now adjusting to Life Beyond Maddy, Brenda can still be found writing the old fashioned way, with fountain pen and paper, on a dock or rocky shore, or even, when inspiration can’t wait for solid ground, in a canoe.
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