Biography

Professional Biography

Rachna Gilmore is a Governor General’s Award-winning author of numerous critically acclaimed, best-selling children’s books with multiple honours and awards. Her publications include picture books, early readers, middle-grade and young adult fiction, as well as adult fiction.

Rachna’s children’s novels include the recently released That Boy Red, a rollicking and poignant middle-grade novel following the escapades of an eleven-year-old boy living in Prince Edward Island during the Depression; The Trouble With Dilly (Resource Links Years Best Fiction Grades 3-6); The Sower of Tales, a fantasy novel (National Chapter IODE Violet Downey Book Award; nominated for the 2006 Red Maple Award and Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award), the YA novel A Group of One, (Jane Addams Award Honor Book; recommended by the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age List; Bank Street College of Education's Best Books of the Year), as well as others. Picture book titles include the Governor General’s Award winning A Screaming Kind of Day, the well-known Gita trilogy, as well as the recently released The Flute and Catching Time, and others.

Rachna’s books are sold internationally with translations in French, Danish, German, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, Bengali, Chinese as well as several other languages. A skilled and experienced presenter, Rachna has given innumerable readings and workshops in schools, libraries and conferences across the country as well as internationally.

Born in India, Rachna has lived in London, England and Prince Edward Island. She now lives in Ottawa where she continues to plark (play, work, lark) at dreaming up weird and wonder-filled tales.

More About Me

Want to know how to pronounce my name? Here's an: Author Pronunciation Guide.

I was born in New Delhi (now called Dilli), India, in 1953, and lived in Bombay until I was fourteen, when my family moved to London, England. As a child, I read avidly and as I was lucky enough to live across the road from a library, I was well supplied with books.

Some of my favourite books were Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. One day, after reading these books for the umpteenth time, I was struck with the idea that maybe I, too, could write, as Jo did, and as Anne also occasionally did. It seemed like a wonderful idea. It felt right. It would be such fun. But on the other hand, I loved reading so much, that I thought maybe it was taking the easy way out, and that I should do something serious and real and become a doctor, like my mother. And hey, smart girls were encouraged to study the sciences, so that’s what I did.

In England, when the time came to apply to university, I knew Medicine was not right for me, but being already set in the path of the sciences, I stumbled into a biology degree. I had a lot of fun in university and despite that, graduated with an honours degree from King’s College, University of London. But what kind of work could I do? The thought of rushing into a PhD in some area of biology, as most of my friends were, was unbearable.

So, after graduating, I travelled, and came to Canada. I got married and settled in Prince Edward Island, where I obtained a B.Ed from the University of Prince Edward Island. I worked at a mundane job, but fed my creative energies by setting up a pottery studio and occasionally scribbling down stories and ideas as they came to me, always thinking that one day, I would become a writer.

Meanwhile, I had two wonderful children, and I delighted in reading to them. Again and again, I hoped and dreamed about writing seriously, but other than fantasize and scribble down the odd idea, I didn’t do much about it, until I turned thirty. Then, one day, while walking on the beach, a conversation with my husband helped me to realize that the reason I kept putting off writing was because at some level, I was afraid I wouldn’t succeed. That was a real jolt – I realized, too, that I didn’t want to wake up one morning and find myself eighty years old, and still just dreaming about being a writer, and wishing and wishing that I had started years ago.

So, I took a leap of faith, and ignoring the negative little critic whispering in my ear, which, I suspect all writers have, I started to write regularly and to submit for publication.

And I’ve never looked back. My Mother is Weird was published in 1988 and since then there have been over a dozen children’s books, as well a collection of adult short stories published.

In 1990, my family moved to Ottawa, where we still live. I have finally figured out that making a career out of writing is definitely not taking the easy way out – it requires dedication, concentration and sustained effort to succeed at it, as it does to succeed at anything, so I’m better off doing something I love, because it is easier, and more joyful to put in the necessary effort and time. I also know that I am doing something real, and something that matters, especially when I get letters from kids and adults who enjoy my books. A lot of people say that if they win a million dollars, they’ll quit their jobs. Not me. No way. I am lucky enough to love what I do, to really plark at it. Plark is a term I’ve coined that I think best conveys the process of writing for me – a mixture of play, work and lark.

Currently, I’m plarking on more fantasy novels. I love the way these books stretch me and allow me to explore intangibles. Writing is very much a process of exploration for me. I like to write about what intrigues me, about what I don’t know, so I can grow and stretch and dream and wonder. Often, my books don’t provide answers, so much as help pose more questions, which is really part of the lifelong process of living and learning.

So what will I write next? Who knows. I have several ideas and characters simmering, dancing, and occasionally leaping out at me...and I guess I’ll have to go with the ones that are most insistent, the ones that grab hold of my imagination and heart, and refuse to let go.