The Next Chapter

Dianne Warren on why small towns are "made for writers"

The acclaimed novelist discusses the power of the Prairies and her new novel, Liberty Street.
GG Award-winning author Dianne Warren says she loves the dynamics in small towns, because everyone knows each others' secrets. (HarperCollins Publishers)

Saskatchewan's Dianne Warren won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction for her 2010 novel Cool Water, a book about a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of town. Her new book, Liberty Street, is about another small Prairie town and the prodigal daughter who grew up there. Dianne Warren told The Next Chapter about why small towns in Saskatchewan hold such power for her.


I do like to write about small towns. I didn't grow up in a very small town, though. Saskatchewan is, I guess, a province of small towns. My grandparents were farmers so I was very familiar with their small town. But not every town in Saskatchewan is the same. The small town in Cool Water is quite a different town from the one in Liberty Street, which is further north, so more an area of mixed farming and logging, and more of a subsistence kind of life than in the south, where you see the big farms and ranches.


I think small towns are really interesting because they're such an obvious microcosm. Small towns are places where everybody knows everything, but they don't necessarily let on what they know. So you get this interesting interaction between people, where they speak politely as though they don't know what's going on in your life, but you know that they do. They're made for writers, I think.

Dianne Warren's comments have been edited and condensed.