Deanna Kawatski


Deanna Barnhardt Kawatski is the author of best-selling memoir, Wilderness Mother (Lyons & Burford, New York)and Clara and Me, (Whitecap Books)a BC Book Prize nominee, plus the novel, Stalking the Wild Heart (Gracesprings Collective), a travel memoir called Burning Man, Slaying Dragon, the children’s book, Samira, the Singing Salmon and Big Trees Saved (Shuswap Press). Most recently she has released Magda’s Odyssey, a YA novel, and also narrated an audio book version in collaboration with CKVS, Voice of the Shuswap.  She lives in the North Shuswap where her roots reach back over one hundred years. Deanna attended UBC and then travelled extensively in her twenties, spending three years living in Europe. She returned home regularly to plant trees. She wrote her first novel in Paris in 1974 and it caught the interest of George Ryga, who became her mentor. In 1975 she met W.O. Mitchell on a flight back to Canada and attended his workshops at the Banff School of Fine Arts later in the year.

 In 1978 Deanna worked as a forestry lookout attendant in the remote reaches of Northwestern BC, where she met her hermit husband. For the next thirteen years she led the life of a pioneering mother in the wilderness. At the same time she wrote feature articles for many magazines including Mother Earth News (to which she became a contributing editor) Harrowsmith, Canadian Gardening, Country Journal, and Outdoor Canada.

Her life became the subject of two CBC television documentaries and she was interviewed by Vicki Gabereau and many others. Besides Bird, Bubble and Stream, a volume of poetry (Fiddlehead Press), Deanna’s poetry and short stories have appeared in many publications, including North Coast Collected (Caitlin Press), Imagining British Columbia (Anvil Press) and Slice Me Some Truth, an anthology of creative nonfiction (Wolsak and Wynn).

Wilderness Mother and Clara and Me were both Book-of-the-Month Club selections. Deanna is a popular workshop presenter and has given over one hundred public readings including at the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival. She worked as a writer-in-resident at the Ryga Centre in 2002 and has been a Director of the Shuswap Writers’ Festival since its inception. Deanna is featured on the first-ever Literary Map of BC. Visit her website at

Professional Affiliations:

  • The Writers’ Union of Canada
  • Federation of BC Writers
  • Shuswap Association of Writers
  • Gracesprings Collective