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Writer to watch

Writer to watch: Bonnie Dunlop

GG-winner Dianne Warren wrote a winter tale for us. She also recommended Bonnie Dunlop as a writer to watch. Read what Bonnie has to say about what inspires her to write.

"What I like about Bonnie Dunlop's writing is that she juxtaposes a sense of nostalgia or comfort with some disturbance in a character or situation. This results in an edginess that is not quite surreal but definitely causes readers to see something they weren't expecting. Her stories reflect her love of the prairie and the people she knows, but they are neither sentimental nor disparaging. They exist in that literary land in between."

- Dianne Warren

On the outside, looking in 
by Bonnie Dunlop

I write because I read.

I write because, apparently, I have always been a little odd.

I write because I think of the perfect reply several hours too late.My characters, however, can revisit their failures; they can be bold and brave.  

I don't write with an outline, so as my characters evolve, they begin to direct the action. Sometimes I feel like a fond parent, watching the antics of a beloved child. Sometimes I am puzzled by my character's actions and occasionally, they make me laugh aloud. It is the uncertainty of what will happen next that drives my writing.

I write because I listen. I overheard the opening line from Carnival Glass, one of my short stories:  "If your turds float, it's a good thing.  Means you're gettin' adequate fibre." When the phrase was spoken, I thought 'there goes our genteel coffee talk and what a great first line.' Eventually, I imagined an eccentric old cowboy relocating to small town Saskatchewan to escape oil and gas activity adjacent to his Alberta ranch. His made-up life began with "If your turds float . . ." 

I am an observer. A part of me is always on the outside, looking in. 

Rarely, I have tapped into a larger consciousness and a story will come to me in its entirety, as if dictated. If I hadn't been doing the work of writing, I would never have received such gifts. It is interesting to note that gift stories don't require the usual amount of editing and re-writing. 

I write because I wanted to document my family history. However, I was unable to merely record and began asking 'what if?'  I altered personalities, added or subtracted happenings and outcomes at will. I quickly discovered that fiction was my forte.

I write because when I am gone from this world, I want my grandchildren and their children to read my stories and wonder.

The thing I hate about writing is when I am not.  


Bonnie Dunlop started writing to capture the stories of her family. The storytellers were quickly disappearing and so she began. Although Swift Current, Saskatchewan has been her home for twenty years, she is rooted deeply in the soil of her family farm. Her story collections Carnival Glass and The Beauty Box are published by Thistledown Press..

Photo credit / Bonnie Dunlop: Sharpshooter Photography
Photo credit / Dianne Warren: Don Hall

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