Short Pieces


Cleaning Up After My Brother’s Fatal Overdose

New York Times, November 2019

The last mark my brother made on the world was a bloodstain on a bathroom floor. He died of a fentanyl overdose, nearly one year ago. He was 35 years old.

His body was found in a rented room in the basement of a run-down house in Vancouver, where fatal opioid overdoses are now so prevalent they have reduced the overall life expectancy.


Mothers and Monsters

Salon, November 2019

About a month after my first novel, a domestic thriller titled “Rapid Falls” came out, my neighbor stopped me on the street.

“I just finished your book,” she said.

“That’s great,” I replied, hoping for a positive review.

Instead, suspicion flickered in her eyes as she regarded me. In the lengthening silence, I began to feel odd and possibly dangerous. Finally, she spoke.

In an independent, Australian film, a single mother (Essie Davis) and her troubled young son (Noah Wiseman) are terrorized by a mysterious character from a children's book called Mister Babadook.

The Danger of the Uninvited

Mystery and Suspense Magazine, Nov 2020

In the hands of the best writers, an unexpected knock on the door is far more sinister than a knife. And in this strange year, it’s been unnerving to find that the scariest part of real life is that there are no knocks at all.

My door has remained closed to protect my family from the worst of the world—an invisible virus, treacherous authorities, and a burning climate. As a result, fictional knocks in classic noir and contemporary horror provided me with a strange and unexpected relief.


When You Write Your Worst Fears

Crime Reads, November 2019

Two weeks before my first novel was released, I had plans. Big ones. I was set to host four book launches and had pre-written dozens of enthusiastic posts on social media. Late at night, I furtively typed my own name into search engines hoping that early reviews had miraculously appeared. I was so eager to be an actual author that I changed the name of my wireless network to the title of my book. Fourteen months had passed since I had signed my deal. I was ready for it to be real.

Then, six days before the publication date, my brother died.


Gecko Guidance

Globe and Mail, July 2020

Like most people, we have been isolated at home for months. On the weekends, my husband is here but for the most part, it’s me, my four-year-old son, my seven-year-old daughter and a tiny lizard.

About five weeks after our physical distancing began, I noticed the scales on our leopard gecko were growing dusty. It worried me. We inherited the creature from my brother who died at the end of 2018 and I have been dreading the moment when the lizard too will die. I know it will be difficult. So I watch it carefully.


TikTok at 40

Scary Mommy, May 2020

My relationship with TikTok started as research about how a 16-year-old character in my next novel would spread information. I downloaded the app two days before the world went into lockdown.

I liked TikTok right away because a lot of TikTok is lip-synching. I went to elementary school in a small town in the 1980s. Airbands were a school wide past-time. We had regular competitions. In fourth grade, my twin sister and I placed third for our take on “Manic Monday” by The Bangles. This was a big deal.