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Love Between the Lines

Dede Crane and Bill Gaston met on a day of silence at a Buddhist retreat.

“We were allowed functional conversation, and Dede asked if I had a cigarette,” Gaston says. “We were pretty much inseparable after that.”

Twenty-three years later, the two writers are still filling silence with words.  Though Crane and Gaston both have creative backgrounds, the married couple have different writing histories.

Crane, a ballet dancer by profession, was in her early forties when she was struck with the urge to write.  Home with her fourth child, she looked for a creative outlet.

“I read a book, Dalva by Jim Harrison, with three different points of view, all in first person,” Crane says. “The characters were interested in things like gourmet food, First Nations culture and the outdoors – wonderful and sensual things. I’ve never been a wordsmith, but I’ve always been an excellent day dreamer, and I thought, ‘how hard can that be?’”

Gaston has been an avid reader since he was young. As a youth, his heroes were hockey players and writers.

“I saw writing in my future, but far into the future. I fooled around with words in my 20s, and it wasn’t until my 30s that I committed to writing.”

Crane grew up in Washington, D.C., attended the Washington Academy of Ballet before dancing with four different dance companies in the US. While on the dance faculty at Naropa University, she completed three years toward a Psych degree.   She went on to teach dance in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, eventually becoming the art director at Dance Fredericton. 

Crane’s first book, Sympathy, was shortlisted for the Victoria Butler Book Prize and her first published story was shortlisted for the CBC Literary Award.

Gaston grew up in Winnipeg and lived in Toronto and North Vancouver. He received his B.A., M.A., and M.F.A. from the University of British Columbia. After spending 12 years at the University of New Brunswick, Gaston moved to University of Victoria in 1998.  He hasn’t looked back.

Author of 13 books, Gaston won a CBC Literary Award for Fiction in 1999 and in 2003 was awarded the inaugural Timothy Findley Award for a Canadian male writer in mid-career. Gaston’s most recent book, The Order of Good Cheer, was released in the summer of 2008.

And while the couple are rivals on the Best Sellers List, they are collaborators at home. As Gaston's first proof reader, Crane sees her husband's work before anyone else. Over the years, her editing skills have improved.

“Now the red pencil comes out right away,” Gaston jokes. “Line edits start the first sentence in.”

As a new writer, Crane appreciates Gaston’s help and expertise.

“Writing is such hard work and yet joyful at the same time,” Crane says.

Gaston agrees. “I can’t imagine not writing, it’s a weird mix of pleasure and pain, agony and joy.”

Living with two writers in the house might be similar to living with two Buddhists in the house.

“It’s delightful,” says Gaston. “We have yet another thing to share.”

Dede Crane and Bill Gaston are funded in part by the BC Arts Council, supporting artists and arts organizations in communities across BC.