The HSW Literary Agency



Mary Lou Dickinson

Mary Lou Dickinson grew up in northern Quebec and has lived for many years in Toronto, where she worked as a crisis counsellor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University and a Master in Library Science from the University of Toronto. Her fiction has been published in the University of Windsor Review, Descant, Waves, Grain, Northern Journey, Impulse, Writ and broadcast on CBC Radio. Her writing was also included in the anthology, We Who Can Fly: Poems, Essays and Memories in Honour of Adele Wiseman. Mary Lou published a book of short stories, One Day it Happens, in 2007, and her first novel, Ile D’Or, in 2010.

Works on Offer:

Would I Lie to You?
Inanna Publications, Fall 2014

After ten years of marriage, Sue and Jerry would say they know everything about each other. But each harbours a significant secret.

When Jerry becomes ill and it’s apparent he’s dying, Sue visits a psychic, Hans, who tells her there is someone like a son in her life. She dismisses this, but at Jerry’s funeral his son turns up—a son Sue didn’t know existed.  At first Sue feels betrayed by Jerry, but gradually she accepts her own complicity. And regrets never telling him, or anyone else, about the baby girl she gave up for adoption when she herself was only sixteen.

Encouraged by Hans and a relative of Jerry’s, Sue starts looking for her daughter and relying more on Hans, who is struggling with troubles of his own…

Manuscript available
Rights: World, excluding Canada

Ile D’Or

Inanna Publications, 2010

Shortly after the first referendum on Quebec separation, four people who knew each other as children encounter one another in the town where they grew up. Bourlamaque began as a frontier gold mining camp in the northern Quebec bush. It is attached to Ile d’Or, the commercial centre, which by 1982 is still a bustling place despite concerns about the gold running out.

The four protagonists – Michelle, Libby, Nick and Lucien – are some thirty years out of high school, and now in their forties, when they meet again. The four of them either converge on Ile d’Or, or still live there, and play out in a few days a drama that none could have foreseen. A local boy attaches himself to Nick and is a connection to the town that Ile d’Or has become. The boy, Marcel, is a reminder of how bleak existence is for some of the locals, although he inspires hope by his very spunkiness and determination.

The story begins with Michelle standing by her father’s grave in the Catholic cemetery. Her mother, a Protestant, is buried across the highway – thus the divide between families, and between French and English, in small town Quebec. Michelle is startled to be greeted by Nick, who has returned from years lived elsewhere. As they talk, the past begins to unfold. The Flamingo, a club opened by Michelle’s father – reputedly on money made from high-grade gold stolen from the mines – sits in the background as a largely symbolic point of contention between the owners and workers of the mine.

Ile d’Or seems at times to be a town of ghosts, though many people still live there long after the mine’s heyday. And perhaps with a new discovery of gold the town is on the verge of a revival. The novelis about gold and greed and renewal and hope. It’s also about language and politics. And about four people who are marked by coming from this town, who are transformed by their unexpected encounters with each other there in midlife.

Manuscript available
Rights: World, e
xcluding Canada

Praise for Ile D’Or:

“With a storytelling style that skillfully combines the fragility of the human condition with the rock-hard reality of life in a northern mining town, Dickinson threads together the lives not only of miners and their bosses, but also the larger social fabric of a Quebec mining town on the heels of the province’s failed 1980 independence referendum…. Dickinson’s writing style is slow and deliberate. Like the best writers this country produces, nobody rushes Munro, Ondaatje or Gowdy and nobody is going to rush Mary Lou Dickinson. Fortunately, she doesn’t write like any of them (okay, maybe a little like Munro), but something like Bonnie Burnard. Both dig deep into the subject of partnerships, relationships, memory (not nostalgia) and ordinary lives. It’s not risking much to state that when the Scotiabank Giller Prize list is announced, Ile d’Or won’t be on it. Then again, Ile d’Or doesn’t require a shiny gold decal on its cover to indicate that this book is a winner.”

-- The Globe & Mail