Ilze Berzins

Photo of Ilze, Happy, and Honey

Ilze Berzins on Midsummer’s Eve in Saulkrasti, Latvia 1996. Beside her is Happy, who has just given birth to her puppy, Honey. This event, as well as her life in Latvia, is depicted in her first novel, Happy Girl.

Photo of Ilze

At present, my life revolves around my home, my animals, my garden, my few friends, my artwork and my writing. My background lies in the visual arts. I have an MA in Art Education from Concordia University in Montreal. For many years, I taught teachers how to teach, always mindful of the maxim: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach teachers. Those who can’t teach teachers, write books.

In the eighties I founded an art school for children called The New Art Space in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was a great success and gave me much joy for many years.

Photo of young students standing in front of our Tree of Life mural

These are some of my young students standing in front of our Tree of Life mural.

Then came my big adventure – a return to my native Latvia. I write about this in my novel Happy Girl. This was followed by a move to Ottawa, where I now live a quiet life in my pretty cottage-style home with its shambolic garden and various animals – Koi, crows, cats and dog, all depicted in my most recent novel Kolka.

artwork for the front-cover of the book 'Happy Girl'

artwork for the back-cover of the book 'Happy Girl'

This is the front and back cover for the first edition of Happy Girl. I soon heard that people wanted colour so in the next edition came colour.

cover art for the book 'Death in the Glebe' 1st edition

This is the cover of the first edition of Death in the Glebe. It's a coloured drawing of the apartment building I lived in on Bank Street and where most of the action takes place.

cover art for the book 'Death in the Glebe' 2nd edition

This is a more colourful cover which I created for the second edition of Death in the Glebe.

cover art for the book 'Tear in God's Eye'

Cover drawing for a Tear in God's Eye.I was happy with this and kept the same design in the second edition.

cover art for the book 'Collage'

Produced in 1988 this cover is a stencil cut.

For me, art is serious play. When I’m working, my play of words and images becomes a medium by which to communicate something unique and authentic about myself and about my place in the universe. Everything I write comes from a very personal experience-almost always from a traumatic and painful event in my life.

I can sum up why I write in a very few words: It’s only when I write that the madness stops.