The Author

Cathy Ostlere “Written in a richly lyric and poetic style, but also with a gripping narrative, LOST: A MEMOIR might be seen as a long and beautiful poem about grief, memory and love. I read it with admiration and delight. Cathy Ostlere is a brave new talent on our literary scene.”

—SHARON BUTALA, author of The Perfection of the Morning

Cathy Ostlere

Cathy Ostlere was raised in Winnipeg, Canada. She and her three siblings grew up in an Air Force family moving between Manitoba and Ontario military bases. Her family eventually settled in Winnipeg, the home of her Ukrainian grandparents, where Cathy completed high school and a degree in English at the University of Manitoba.

In her mid-twenties, Cathy began a journey that would take her through sixteen countries in eighteen months. A chance encounter with a sailing crew allowed her to visit thirteen of the Greek islands and cruise the coastline of Turkey. A year later she continued traveling, going east to India, South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Upon her return to Canada she settled in Calgary where she’s been an at-home parent for three children as well as a freelance writer. At the age of 33, she took her first creative writing class.

Cathy Ostlere’s first book, LOST: A MEMOIR, began as poems and essays. With the assistance of Sharon Butala, Greg Hollingshead and Edna Alford at the Banff Centre, Roberta Rees at the University of Calgary, and Karen Connelly, of the Humber School of Writing, her essays developed into a memoir.

In 2009, LOST: A MEMOIR was shortlisted for the prestigious Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-fiction.

In 2010, she co-wrote with Dennis Garnhum, Artistic Director of Theatre Calgary, LOST: A MEMOIR, a 90-minute one-woman play performed in Calgary and currently touring Canada and the U.S.

Her first novel, KARMA, a verse novel aimed at mature young adults, was released by Penguin in Canada and the U.S. in March 2011. KARMA is a 2012 Canadian Library Honour book, a 2012 Booklist Editor’s Choice, a 2012 South Asia Book Award, Highly Commended Book, and is shortlisted for the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Award.

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Contact Cathy

  • EMAIL: author (at)


  • Cathy Ostlere writes fiction, cnf, dramas and screenplays. Her nonfiction essays have been shortlisted for National Magazine Awards, Western Magazine Awards, CBC Literary Awards, and Event and Prism creative nonfiction prizes. Her first book, Lost, was shortlisted for the 2009 Edna Staebler Creative Non-fiction Award. Cathy co-adapted Lost into a full-length play, Lost: A Memoir, finalist for the 2012 Governor General Literary Awards. Her novel-in-verse, Karma, has received many national distinctions including a 2012 Alberta Literary Award and a finalist for the 2012 City of Calgary’s W.O. Mitchell Award. Cathy is the current President of the Creative Nonfiction Collective (CNFC) Society.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” - William Wordsworth

KARMA in paperback

Karma - Cathy Ostlere

On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi is gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards. The murder sparks riots in Delhi and for three days Sikh families are targeted and killed in retribution for the Prime Minister’s death. It is into this chaos that fifteen-year-old Maya and her Sikh father arrive from their home in Canada. KARMA is the story of how a young woman, straddling two cultures and enduring personal loss, learns forgiveness, acceptance and love.


Lost - Cathy Ostlere

“LOST is a classic adventure story rendered in beautiful, sometimes haunting prose. But it is also a startling honest meditation on desire, family, and fulfillment. How does a man live an authentic life? And what happens when that life is lost?”

— KAREN CONNELLY, author of The Lizard Cage


Lost - Cathy Ostlere

“The innovative design — a mix of real and surreal — aids a story that is already powerful and deep in metaphor and message.”


Examining Risk vs. Routine