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Shelley A. Leedahl

Shelley A. Leedahl

Photo: Cat Gagnon

Shelley A. Leedahl is a prolific multi-genre writer in Ladysmith, BC. Her most recent books are The Moon Watched It All (children's illustrated, Illustrator Aino Anto, Red Deer Press); I Wasn't Always Like This (essays, Signature Editons. Winnipeg); Listen, Honey (short stories, DC Books, Montreal); Wretched Beast (poetry, BuschekBooks, Ottawa); and The House of the Easily Amused (poetry, Oolichan Books, Lantzville, BC). In 2022, Regina publisher Radiant Press will release Go (poetry).

In 2020 Leedahl was the recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts' Digital Originals grant, which faciliated the creation and professional production of her literary podcast "Something Like Love". Leedahl's work has frequently been anthologized in books ranging from Great Canadian Murder and Mystery Stories (Quarry Press) to The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English, Tenth Anniversary Edition (Tightrope Books). More recently her works appears in Apart: A Year of Pandemic Poetry and Prose (Saskatchewan Writers Guild, 2021) and We Are One: Poems From the Pandemic (Bayeux Arts, 2020).

She has regularly led creative writing workshops and enjoyed Writer-in-Residency positions with the Quebec Writers Federation, the Writers Guild of Alberta, the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, and Sage Hill (Youth Writing Camps in Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, SK). She also works as an editor, manuscript evaluator, book reviewer (for SK Books), and freelancer, and often presents in schools, libraries, and universities.

Leedahl's most lauded titles are The Bone Talker and Orchestra of the Lost Steps. The Bone Talker earned the 2001 Rocky Mountain Book Award, Alberta; Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year, 2001, Children's Literature, (United States); Saskatchewan Book Award Nominations in the Book of the Year and Children's Literature categories; a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice, Starred Selection; the Alberta Book Illustration of the Year Award; Alberta Trade Title of the Year Nomination; CLA Children’s Book of the Year Nomination' and Canadian Booksellers Association Illustrator of the Year Award Nomination. Orchestra of the Lost Steps was recognized with three Saskatchewan Book Award Nominations in 2004: Book of the Year, Saskatoon Book Award, Fiction Award, and the Award for Publishing. It was a winner in the John V. Hicks Manuscript Awards.

Other Awards and Nominations: The Moon Watched It All won the Gold Medal in the "Picture Book - All Ages" category, 2019 Moonbeam Awards, Michigan, US. Wretched Beast was shortlisted for the 2012 Relit Award.Talking Down The Northern Lights was shortlisted for the 2001 Saskatchewan Book Awards in the Poetry and Saskatoon Book Award categories, and was a John Hicks Manuscript Competition finalist in 2000. Leedahl has been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Award for Poetry; Arc Magazine's "Poem of the Year," and received numerous Saskatchewan Writers' Guild Literary Awards in three genres. 

Leedahl was employed as a radio advertising copywriter for several years. In 2019 she added "lyricist" to her curriculum vitae: she's collaborated on music for the Vancouver/San Francisco-based indie band Maltavar.

She has been the recipient of a number of national and international Fellowships. In 2009 she was a Fellow at Fundacion Valparaiso, in Mojacar, Almeria, Spain. In 2006 she was awarded both the Wallace Stegner Grant for the Arts (Eastend, SK) and a Fellowship to attend the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences in Georgia (US). In 2004 she was a Fellow at the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers (Scotland), and in 2002/2003 she was one of five Canadian writers selected for the Canada-Mexico Writing/Photography Exchange in Mérida (Mexico) and Banff.

Other career highlights include participation in the Labrador Creative Writing Festival and having her children's book, The Bone Talker selected for a White Ravens designation and publication in Braille. 

Aside from writing, Leedahl enjoys running; hiking; kayaking; road cycling; building community; and playing piano, guitar and singing.

British Columbia


Go. 2022, Radiant Press
The Moon Watched It All. 2019 , Red Deer Press
I Wasn’t Always Like This . 2014, Signature Editions
Listen, Honey. 2012, DC Books
Wretched Beast. 2011, BsuchekBooks
Riding Planet Earth (Juvenile Novel). 1997 and onward, Roussan Publishers Inc., Thistledown Press, Phoenix Books (multiple reprints)
The House of the Easily Amused. 2008, Oolichan Books
The Bone Talker. 1999, 2005, Red Deer Press and Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Orchestra of the Lost Steps. 2004, Thistledown Press
Talking Down The Northern Lights. 2001, 2002, Thistledown Press
Tell Me Everything. 2000, Coteau Books
Sky Kickers. 1994, Thistledown Press
A Few Words For January. 1990, 1997, Thistledown Press
Eligible for National Public Readings Program:


Presentation Description

Available for public readings across Canada and school presentations.

The illustrated children's book The Moon Watched It All (Red Deer Press, 2019) is best suited for grades 3-4 students. The presentation includes original music, which the students can sing along with. The story is a poetic and timeless tale about finding one's way in the sometimes difficult world, the gift of friendship, and overcoming loneliness. 

With kindergarten to grade 4 students, Leedahl presents a mini-drama using her illustrated book The Bone Talker. All students are involved, and one adult volunteer is needed to dress up in the "Grandmother Bones" costume and sit in a rocking chair beside Leedahl. Maximum group for this 30 minute presentation is 50.

Leedahl's lively one-hour presentation from her popular novel Riding Planet Earth is specifically for grades 6-8 students. Two classes maximum, and students must have the first 4 chapters of the novel read before Leedahl's visit.This novel is taught in several Canadian schools and remains popular with students and teachers alike. The presentation includes the sharing of the secrets behind the story, how the first draft of the book was written in collaboration with a grade 6\7 classroom in Saskatoon, a discussion of how Leedahl came to be a writer, and a Q and A period. This realistic story concerns a 12 year old boy, Ringo, who moves from Gibsons, BC to Saskatoon, SK, and deals with an unusual family, a dangerous school bully, and a first girlfriend while adjusting to his new home.

For high school students and adult audiences, Leedahl presents multi-genre readings with ample time for discussion, questions, and book signings. Poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction may be presented.

NOTE: for all school presentations, teachers are asked to send a note home with students prior to the author visit re: the availability of students receiving their own signed copy of the book. 

Presentation Length:
30 min or 1 hour
mini-drama, poetry, fiction
Workshop Description:

Leedahl has been delivering readings and workshops for writers of all ages and experience since the 1980s. She's been highly active in schools from Goose Bay to Victoria.

Workshops in poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction are available for up to 12 participants per group. 

Please e-mail to discuss.