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Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1949, Merilyn Simonds spent her childhood in Brazil and was educated at the University of Western Ontario. She has worked as a freelance writer, a magazine editor for Harrowsmith and This Country Canada and, since 1991, has devoted herself to full-time writing. She has published ten books and scores of magazine articles on subjects ranging from the environment to soap-making, from art to war, including the book accompaniment to the controversial CBC television documentary The Valour and the Horror. She has taught several literary non-fiction courses and has been a regular on CBC Radio's Basic Black.
With the release of The Convict Lover, published by Macfarlane, Walter & Ross in 1996, Simonds became nationally known as a literary writer. The Convict Lover was nominated for the Governor Generals Literary Award for Nonfiction and was chosen as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 1996 by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire Magazine, Elm Street Magazine and Macleans. It was translated into Chinese, Japanese, and German, and in 1997, was adapted for the stage by the Kingston Summer Theatre Festival, premiering at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto in the fall of 1998. Also in 1996, from September to December, Simonds served as the Writer in Residence at Green College, University of British Columbia.
The Lion in the Room Next Door, Simondss collection of linked, autobiographical stories, was published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart in 1999 and became a national bestseller. The following year, it was published by Bloomsbury in England, by G.P. Putnams Sons in the United States and by btb in Germany.
The Holding is Simonds's first novel. Published by McClelland & Stewart in the spring of 2004, it was on the Canadian Booksellers' Association bestseller list for five months. In the fall of 2005 it was published in the United States, where it was selected a New York Times "Editor's Choice." The novel was released in Germany in 2007.
Simonds has edited two anthologies: Gardens: A Literary Companion (2008) and Night: A Literary Companion (2009). In 2010 a travel memoir, jointly authored with Wayne Grady, called Breakfast at the Exit Cafe: Travels through America was published. A selection of flash fictions from her work-in-progress The Paradise Project was recently featured in the Journal of the Americas special issue on contemporary Canadian writing.
Simonds lives with writer Wayne Grady on a small acreage north of Kingston. She has two sons by an earlier marriage Karl, a musician, and Erik, a visual artist whose painting is on the cover of the original Canadian edition of The Lion in the Room Next Door.
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