About Me

Hi there! My name is Lena Coakley and I’m a young adult author living in Toronto.  I’ve written one novel so far, Witchlanders, which was called “one stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews and won a 2012 SCBWI Crystal Kite award for the Americas.  I’m also the author of two children’s picture books and the former administrative director of CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers.

Still reading? Okay, here’s a bit more:


Yes, that’s me.

I was born in the small coastal town of Milford, Connecticut to a kindergarten teacher and a drama professor.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t raise me for long, so I was shuttled back and forth between relatives until I landed with a bump on the doorstep of a grandmother so eccentric and larger-than-life, I’m pretty sure she was created by Mr. Dickens.  She was called “Mard,” and she had many opinions, all of them correct.  I should also add that she loved me, something I took for granted at the time, but which, it turns out, makes a lot of difference.

I went to Garden City High School on Long Island where I read novels and was a lazy student.  Creative Writing was the only class I ever failed. After that, I went to Sarah Lawrence College, where I studied drama—but since I was so introverted that I didn’t much like being looked at, and so dreamy that I was never “in the moment,” but in some much better, invented moment of my own, I was a pretty bad actress.  I moved my focus to creative writing (in spite of High School) and was marginally better at it.


I married a Canadian and moved to Toronto, Canada, and I’m still there.  Right now I’m working on a book called Worlds of Ink and Shadow about the young Brontë siblings.  Read more about it here.

STILL reading? Here are 5 things people might not know about me:

1) My name is pronounced LAY-NA, not LEE-NA.

2) When I was little, I wanted to be either a trapeze artist or a jewel thief.  (Because my favorite movie was To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant.)

3) My favorite movie now is probably Blade Runner, Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz.  I know, everybody says those, but I can’t help it. Oh, or maybe Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  Love that one too.

3) I am both a US and a Canadian citizen.

4) Witchlanders was not my first book.  I published two children’s picture books with Orca Book Publishers that are now, sadly, OP.

5) I don’t write alone!  I would not have been published without my fabulous writing group: Kathy Stinson, Hadley Dyer and Paula Wing.  (No, we don’t have a cute name for ourselves.  I’ve tried to suggest them, but they always roll their eyes at me.)

Looking for a professional bio? Use this:

Lena Coakley’s first novel, Witchlanders, was called “one stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews and won the SCBWI Crystal Kite award for the Americas.  It is a 2013 MYRCA nominee and a 2013 OLA White Pine honouree.  Lena is also the author of two children’s picture books and the former administrative director of CANSCAIP. Learn more about her at www.lenacoakley.com

If you would like a headshot of me, feel free to use the one above or this one.  A photo-credit is included in the top left-hand corner, but if you are shrinking the photo to a small size where the credit would not be legible, please use the following credit: Emma-Lee Photography.