Born in Victoria in 1946, Donna Jonas Milner was raised in south Vancouver before moving to Rossland where she married and started a family. She also worked as a real estate agent for 25 years. Upon retirement, she decided to pursue her life-held ambition of becoming a dedicated writer. Her first novel, After River (HarperCollins, 2009), has subsequently been published in twelve countries and translated into eight languages.

Upon the publication of After River, Milner's husband, Tom, decided to build her a "writing room" on lakeside property in the Chilcotin that he'd owned since the 1970s. He envisioned a one-room cabin below his rustic old cabin. By the time construction had started, plans had evolved to build a year-round residence. She agreed to try it for a year, living off the grid. They sold their four-thousand-square-foot home and moved to an area without power lines where they had to rely on solar panels and gas-fired generator for electricity. Communication and internet access are only available via satellite. Eight years after that, she had released her fourth novel...

Her first novel, After River (HarperCollins 2008) is about a woman coming to terms with the disintegration of her family some 35 years after a young American draft resister named River crossed the border into Canada and changed their lives. Prejudice against the gentle River Jordan in a rural B.C. community mixes with the fear of homosexuality, leading to the rape of the teenage protagonist, 15-year-old Natalie Ward, daughter of the town's milkman. The novel was shortlisted for two awards and published in twelve countries.

Donna Milner's second novel The Promise of Rain is about a motherless daughter dealing with the after-effects of her father being captured as a prisoner-of-war in Hong Kong. "By the time I was six years old," writes the narrator Ethie, "I knew my father was not like other fathers."

Narrated by a former realtor, Donna Milner's highly credible Somewhere In-Between (Caitlin 2014) follows the efforts of a couple to purchase an idyllic but remote ranch in the Chilcotin. We gradually learn they are attempting to recover their marriage after a tragic family loss. Julie O'Dale tries to support her husband Ian's dream to escape from the big city in favour of the company of a team of draft horses, four cow ponies, and the range cattle. Trouble is, their six-hundred-acre ranch includes one very problematic, long-time tenant, Virgil Blue, who doggedly occupies an old trapper's cabin. This novel was slated to be published by McArthur & Co. before that Ontario firm went belly-up.

The protagonist of A Place Called Sorry (Caitlin 2015), Adeline Beale, grows up in the 1930s leading a sheltered life. Her grandfather Chauncey Beynon Beale believes his cattle ranch can supply Addie with everything she could want or need. Twelve miles away there's a little town called Sorry. Life is simple--but tragedy and secrets intervene. When her grandfather slips into blindness and dementia, Addie's life darkens, too. There's no such thing as a sheltered life when family secrets are allowed to fester.

BOOKS:

After River (HarperCollins 2008) $29.95 978-0-06-146299-3

The Promise of Rain (McArthur & Co. 2010) $24.95 978-1-55278-840-0

Somewhere In-Between (Caitlin 2014) $21.95 978-1-927575-38-3 / 1-927575-38-9

A Place Called Sorry (Caitlin 2015). $22.95 978-1-927575-94-9

[BCBW 2015]