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Barbara Sibbald

Novelist | Short Story Writer | Journalist

I make my living as a medical editor, but find my life in writing fiction.

Following an itinerant childhood (fuel for fiction) as an air force “brat,” and a brief foray into the (dubious) joys of country life (think of Eva Gabor in Green Acres), I’ve spent most of my adult life building my personal community in Ottawa, Ontario where I’ve raised my son and met a whole crop of great friends.

I’m gainfully employed as a medical editor four days a week, but in the wee hours of the morning, every Friday and sporadically on the weekend (life’s busy) you’ll find me delving into totally unscientific territory of fiction writing. I have recently completed my second novel: The Book of Love: Guidance in Affairs of the Heart. My first novel, Regarding Wanda (Bunkhouse Press, 2006), was short-listed for the Ottawa Book award in 2007. I attended The Banff Centre, Writer’s Studio for six weeks in 1998.

Novels

Three women, seven men and one very wise self-help book merge in a compelling romp through the minefield of romantic love. In this unusual mélange of fiction and self-help, three thirty-something friends grapple with the vagaries of love: the sordid single’s scene, a cheating spouse and a lacklustre marriage.

Sibbald is a solid writer, and very sure of her mount here. The Book of Love romps across the finish line a winner.

Bruce Ward, Ottawa Citizen

A frank and engaging novel that is a joyous tribute to the gal pals who help get you through the libidinal roller coasters of modern urban life.

Gabriella Goliger, author of Girl Unwrapped

Can one come-of-age at thirty? Small-town journalist Wanda Stewart discovers she has a degenerative eye condition and begins losing sight in one eye as she grapples with a faltering marriage and the looming death of her domineering father. Wanda’s experiences as a rootless Canadian air force brat and nosy journalist unfold with humour, relentless self-scrutiny and compulsive list-making.

In Regarding Wanda, Barbara Sibbald shows readers that the blinkered life is no life at all. That she does so in high style, with redeeming wit in service to a compassionate vision, is testimony both to her remarkable talent and the health of contemporary Canadian fiction.

Professor Gerald Lynch, Author of Exotic Dancers.

Short Stories

Waiting

Hot, stale air shoots into Lauren’s face. After whirring madly all day, the heater in her rust-pocked Toyota is now stuck on full-blast. She bangs the dash, fiddles with the levers, and finally opens the window a crack. An icy gust swirls into the car, enveloping her face as she squints at the modest bungalow across the street. A few moments ago, the driveway was bare, pure black edged with neat curbs of snow. Now the asphalt is white. The wind twirls; snow twists through the air, disappearing upward.

Glancing in the rear-view mirror, she barely makes out the two other cars, the two other reporters. They are all waiting for Josef Donajski to get home, but she’s the only one who knows him. He’s a founding member of the 30-year-old Madawan Horticultural Society. She’s written notices for The Madawan Post about his seminars on exotic-bulb sources and cutting propagation. Until recently, he was just this old man with a foreign accent.

The kitchen chronicles

THE KITCHEN

Fiona steps into the kitchen and even after fifteen years with Luc, she is struck by his profile: the strong nose, that prominent chin, surge of dark curls — is that my partner? she wonders. Then she shakes her head and spreads a swath of paint chips in front of him.
— What colour do you think for the kitchen? she asks.
He looks up from reading the Globe and Mail, his Saturday morning routine. Normally he doesn’t mind being interrupted, but after moving yesterday, he’s not quite himself. Or maybe he’s too much himself, feeling his forty-three years, muscles aching from schlepping furniture and boxes and head aching from too many trivial but pressing details: find screws for bed frame. Buy padlock for garden shed. Return key to landlord.

Journalism