“A Day in the Life” with Calgary Novelist and Poet Dorothy Bentley

In the North, it is always a touching experience to encounter the northern lights. Dorothy Bentley has been a northerner for most of her adult life, and she shares many endearing qualities with the northern lights. Her life is full of colour as she dances across life moving from one task to another.

Dorothy was an enthusiastic educator. She would often lead writing or art workshops that taught her and other’s children the love of words and of art. As her children headed off to post-secondary education, she filled her time painting pictures with words.

She and her husband experienced firsthand the Fort McMurray wildfire of 2016. Dorothy used these experiences to write Escape from the Wildfire (2022). She has also experimented with different genres of writing until she found success with her children’s picture book Summer North Coming (2019).

Dorothy has served on several writing and artistic committees and boards. She loves the outdoors and gardening. Her glowing flower beds blowing in the wind are like experiencing the northern lights during the day. This northern lady loves colour and is constantly shifting and changing in how she uses and shares her artistic gifts. Even though Dorothy and her husband have now moved to southern Alberta, she keeps the colour and dancing of her northern talents active in the southern skies.

-Written by Denise White, long-time friend.

Dorothy Bentley
At the Library
Dorothy Bentley
Dorothy with her husband, Jeff, at Christmastime past
Dorothy’s home office
Hiking near Upper Kananaskis Lake with Jeff, and our sheltie, Clay
Out for a walk by the Sheep River in Okotoks
Soaking in the surroundings while imagining a poem
Dorothy Bentley
Yachats, Oregon, on a recent trip to the ocean
Dorothy Bentley
Vancouver Island cottage rental. My husband grew up on Vancouver Island and we’ve spent a lot of time there

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Which ’hood are you in?

I live in the country a few minutes SW of Calgary. I love it! I can zip into the city anytime, or enjoy my Foothills neighbourhood from DeWinton, Okotoks, Millarville, and Diamond Valley, to High River and back.

What do you do?

I left my day job for the free-wheeling lifestyle of a novelist and poet.

I used to be a late-night writer, but I’ve retrained myself to quietly slip out of bed anywhere between 6 and 8 AM. Yes, this is early for me since I’m a night owl. I do a few stretches, then brew bracing black British tea, and head for my writing chair. I’ll spend anywhere from one to eight hours there, depending on if I have a deadline, taking breaks to grind coffee beans, during which the dog acts like I’m murdering someone, make drip coffee, feed the meeee-ing cat, and pooch, and play fetch with the dog.

My partner gets up an hour or two later, cooks breakfast and plans dinner, sometimes asking me to find things or comment on the news. Then we head out for a long walk on a trail or in one of the towns near us, or we go kayaking or fishing. And I breathe, long and slow. When we return home, I plan our next getaway, read, work on presentations, or edit works-in-progress.

I’m more of a sprinter than a plodder when it comes to writing, as I prefer to write an entire first draft quickly, then take a few days or weeks off to reset and spend time with my kids and friends, before editing. I like to go to bed with my head full of my story, then wake up with additions and tweaks.

I love presenting at schools to young readers on any number of topics, and to writers at workshops and festivals. I’m thrilled to host talks with writers, like my upcoming in-conversation with Emily St. James Mandel, at the Writers’ Guild of Alberta (WGA) conference in Calgary, this June. Besides a little tutoring and monthly board meetings with the WGA, I’ll drop into area writers’ meetings.

Possessing more ideas than time, I’ve considered cloning myself; but then I realized the other me would be annoying to live with.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a new YA novel (I keep my new work a secret), editing another (still a secret), and imagining a third (brewing like kombucha), while I wait for feedback on a poetry collection, new picture book, and middle-grade novel, all of which I currently have circulating for consideration with publishers.

Where can we find your work?

Shelf Life Books, Owl’s Nest Books, and Yooneek Books all have copies of my children’s picture book and YA novel in the Calgary area. Audrey’s Books in Edmonton has copies of Summer North Coming, as does the Okotoks Art Gallery Gift Shop, and Heritage Park Gift Shop in Fort McMurray. They are also available online. You can find more information about my books and events on my website.

 

 

About Demian Vernieri 539 Articles
Demian is an Argentinian retired musician, avid gamer and editor for the Montréal Guardian, Toronto Guardian, Calgary Guardian and Vancouver Guardian websites.