BERNICE FRIESEN was born in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, and grew up on her grandparents’ Henry and Sarah Friesen’s homestead. The life of her great-grandfather’s family has been written in The Mulberry Tree by Victor Carl Friesen and his mother Anna Friesen (Sarah’s sister).
Bernice Friesen trained as a printmaker at the University of Saskatchewan, obtaining a B.F.A in visual art and a B.Ed. in 1990. She took creative writing courses with Elizabeth Brewster, Guy Vanderhaegue and Tim Lilburn, and in 1998 attended the Banff Writing Studio. She has been a waitress, art studio lab assistant, odd-bod temp at Lloyds of London, England, singing telegram girl, and art gallery educator. She has taught Sage Hill Writing Experience for teens, “Fiction Free-Fall,” and a workshop called “Hey Baby…” on how to seduce the reader into reading the whole story. Her fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and visual art have been published in anthologies and magazines in Canada and Europe.
The title story of her first book, The Seasons are Horses (1995), won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Best Young Adult Short Story in Canada. Her book of poetry – Sex, Death and Naked Men – came out in 1998 and her first novel, The Book of Beasts, in 2007. It won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction in 2007, was rated in the top five first fictions in the Toronto Globe and Mail, and was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers Trust of Canada Fiction Prize. It was published in French translation in 2011, under the title Le Bestiaire des Anges.
She has lived in England and New Zealand, and now lives on Hornby Island and Comox, B.C., with her husband and two children. She has served as fiction editor of Rhubarb Magazine for three years, and has recently been named executive editor. She currently runs an exhibition blog at her website, http://www.bernicefriesen.com/ showing pieces of her visual art in tandem with written intellectual adventures.