The word doctor is in


Natasha Deen begins term as library's first writer in residence

For all of those wannabe wordsmiths and hotshot writers, the St. Albert Public Library is about to launch a new service in the person of Natasha Deen, the library’s new regional writer in residence.

She’s ready to offer words of wisdom to future novelists and diarists alike.

“Any kind of writer is going to be fine with me,” she said, pledging to help with the mechanics and business of writing, creating the right environment and attitude for writing, and other important facets of being a successful writer.

“Writing is empowerment,” she said during a coffee shop interview, later adding, “I’ve been lucky because all of my friends and family have supported me but I’ve met writers who their friends look at them and say, ‘Why can’t you get a real job?’ or ‘This writing thing will never work out.’ “

Clearly she knows about the emotional support that is so important to writers both young and old, but she’s also able to offer tips about character development, plot, pacing, genre and, for those who are ready to take the big plunge, words of advice on getting into the publishing game.

“The writing industry is changing so quickly, I think, especially when you’re first starting out. It can feel like the ground isn’t very steady. It’s just such a nice thing to be able to touch base with someone and just get that second opinion or get someone who’s not quite as close to the story to look at it objectively, and really to be a form of support and a cheerleader.”

The author of True Grime, Feuding Hearts, What Happens in Vegas, and Sneakers, Sandals, & Stilettoes: Fairy tales for the Well-Heeled Princess is sharpening her pencils and prepping her listening skills to help guide writers of all stripes. She knows the ins and outs to pen those perfect words and get them published.

In addition to writing fiction, she has worked for government agencies and non-profit groups dedicated to helping functionally illiterate adults and differently-abled people, according to her brief biography in the St. Albert Public Library’s January newsletter.

She has also worked as a writing instructor with the Young Alberta Book Society, Edmonton Public Library, Metro Continuing Education, WordsWorth Writing Camp, the Writers Guild of Alberta and YouthWrite. As she embarks on her residency in St. Albert, she will also be visiting area schools to talk to students about writing.

Deen knows all about the blood, sweat and tears that go into writing. The genial and affable writer can talk about rejection letters as easily and reassuringly as she talks about breaking the rules of convention for the sake of style.

“To just have someone who’s there with you in the trenches and to be able to say ‘hold my hand, we’ll get through this together,’ I think that’s really important for writers.”

Even though she has only been writing for seven years, she has already gained much acclaim. Her novel, Ethan’s Chase, was nominated for a 2008 CAPA Award for excellence in romance. What Happens in Vegas won the 2012 International Digital Book Award.

While she takes frantic phone calls from frazzled writers, she will also be hard at work on her next novel, a murder mystery set in Edmonton in the 1970s.

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To help facilitate open discussions with prospective paperback writers, Deen will be holding office hours from January through April, the end of her term as regional writer in residence.

She will be ready, willing and able to discuss your writing project starting Thursday, Jan. 3 from noon to 5 p.m. Deen will hold the same hours on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Jan. 6, she will be in her office from 1 to 5 p.m.

For a full schedule, please visit

To learn more about the writer, please visit

Deen and Omar Mouallem are the two current co-regional writers in residence at the Edmonton Public Library. After Deen’s term in St. Albert finishes in April, she goes on to the Strathcona County Library and the Fort Saskatchewan Public Library. They both get a summer break in July and August before holding office hours again in the fall.

Mouallem is a National Magazine Awards nominated writer who has contributed to various publications including the Globe and Mail, enRoute, Eighteen Bridges, South China Morning Post and He is also known by his stage name, AOK (Assault of Knowledge).

January Program Schedule
With regional writer in residence Natasha Deen

Monday, Jan. 14 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
DIY Publishing: Deen discusses traditional and non-traditional methods of getting your book published.

Sunday, Jan. 20 from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Nurturing the Creative Spirit
Deen presents a viewing of viewing of Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert’s TEDtalk on creativity, followed by a group discussion.

Thursday, Jan. 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Tell Me a Story
Deen discusses the ins and outs of story structure, genre and finding and following that ever elusive formula.

Thursday, Jan. 31 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
And Then the Craziest Thing Happened!
Plot and proper outlining are the subjects of this discussion.

All workshops held in Forsyth Hall.

Attendance is free but please pre-register by calling 780-459-1682 or stop by the information desk on the second floor of the library.

Stay tuned to the library’s website at for future workshops and office hours.


About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.