Page is the author of seven novels, including The Story of My Face (2002), nominated for the Orange Prize, and Alphabet (Can. 2005), which was short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, and The Find (2010), a finalist for the 2011 ReLit Award. Her second story collection, Paradise & Elsewhere, came out with Biblioasis in spring 2014; Alphabet is scheduled for its first US release in fall 2014. Two further story collections are forthcoming in 2015 and 2016. British born, Page is also a Canadian citizen and has lived in Canada since 2001.
Complex characters and compelling narrative are Page’s trademarks, as is suspense, both psychological and existential. “One of the most compelling, unsettling novels I’ve read in ages,“ Sarah Waters wrote in the Independent on Sunday, choosing The Story of My Face as one of her Books of the Year, “which should appeal to fans of classy thrillers and literary fiction alike.”
And early novel, Frankie Styne & the Silver Man, shows her playing with a suspense narrative for the first time, and sets up some of the questions about the nature of identity which have continued to animate her work: What makes a person who s/he is? How much change is possible? This novel’s unexpected ending signals a transition from the starker work that preceded it. “I read on, captivated and creeped-out,” novelist Caroline Adderson writes of Frankie Styne, “but this being Kathy Page, I always trusted I was heading away from a nightmare, towards a happier place.”
Page’s work often turns on life-changing choices that confront her characters: to know or not to know about the future, whether or not to tell the truth about the past, whether or not to trust someone with a secret. She is fascinated by the nature of fiction/story-telling and by why we need stories, as well as by the nature of the relationship between reader and writer.
Page has written that her father’s passion for books, her mother’s habit of exaggeration, and “the general craziness of the household” were probably all behind her compulsion to write. As a child, she loved everything school had to offer: writing, science, art. She studied English Literature at university and graduated in 1979. Although she had won writing competition as a child (a bizarre children’s cruise around the Adriatic, a bus trip around Europe), it was only after university, and very gradually, that Page began to write seriously, supporting herself by means of temporary jobs and then training as a carpenter and joiner. Her first novel, Back in the First Person, was published in 1986, followed by another the year after. At this point she decided to enroll for the MA in Creative Writing at UEA. During the MA, and for some years after, Page found herself juggling writing and teaching. She taught fiction writing and literature courses for universities in the UK, Finland, and Estonia. She held long-term writer’s residencies in many schools and a variety of other institutions and communities, including a fishing village and a category B men’s prison. Two more books were published.
In 2001, after a break from writing novels, Page and her family decided to try out life on Salt Spring Island. It was as she sorted through papers to pack or jettison that she rediscovered an abandoned novel based on her prison residency and decided to resurrect it. In doing so, she set herself many challenges, not the least of them being research at a distance of several thousand miles. On the other hand, she writes “one of the benefits of the rather impetuous move has been a writing office in the woods, not just a room of my own but a whole building with a view – and a solar panel, too.”
Page teaches part-time at Vancouver Island University.
Short Story Collections:
“The Pike’s Heart”, The Traveller (1992)
“The Family Inside”, Prison Writing, Vol 1, No. 1 (1992)
“Successs?”, Panurge 15 (1996)
“The Butterfly”, Humane Prisons and How to Run Them (2007)
“Five Times”, Great Expectations
“In the Flesh”, (2012) personal essays about the body, co-edited with Lynne Van Luven
For further information see Kathy’s website at http://www.kathypage.info/.