Growing up I led a double life – though that is not as exciting as it sounds. Rather, it was a fairly typical experience for a child of immigrants.
On one hand, I was a relatively unremarkable kid, growing up in suburban Toronto, attending the local schools, hanging out with friends, and plotting my grown-up life – whatever that was going to be.
On the other hand, I was the child of immigrants, from a country that did not exist anymore (Estonia), with a name no one could pronounce (it’s “Er-va”), and speaking a language with a plethora of weird vowels (õ,ö,ä,ü). I started going to Estonian school once a week when I was 6 years old, and as I grew up, I was immersed in cultural activities such as folk dance, choir, and Girl Guides (yup – all in Estonian).
I loved writing but was side-tracked for couple of decades to pursue a career in strategy, marketing, and business development. But the stories I heard from my immigrant parents about the history, people, and culture of Estonia stayed with me. I was inspired by those tales of stubbornness, ingenuity, and bravery, so a few years ago I began to write historical fiction about little-known events during World War II and the Cold War. My ability to read Estonian allowed me to access books and newspapers not available to most, and I love blending in folk culture, and details of daily life. Years of learning Estonian finally paid off!
I am a member of SCBWI and CANSCAIP.
Formal Bio (third person version)
As the daughter of immigrant parents, Urve grew up in Toronto hearing stories about the history and culture of Estonia. She led a double life for most of her childhood. She was a normal Canadian student during the day, and an Estonian at night and on weekends. Her “Canadian” friends didn’t understand why she had to go to Estonian school on Friday nights, or rhythmic gymnastics on the weekends. And where exactly was this tiny country that had been forgotten by the world for decades after the Soviets occupied it?
Urve didn’t realize that she wanted to be a writer so she attended the University of Toronto where she graduated with a B.Sc. (Physical Therapy). After practising physiotherapy for a few years, Urve went back to school and completed a Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.), followed a few years later by a graduate diploma in Health Administration. She worked collaboratively with multi-disciplinary teams to develop creative and pragmatic strategies to create successful business ventures and manage complex change, whether in start-ups or in corporations. She’s a strategic thinker and creative problem solver with over 25 years of leadership and management experience in both the public and private sectors in strategic planning, business development, sales and marketing, and financial feasibility analysis. Organizations include Fortune 500 company, hospitals, CCAC, home care, and start-ups.
Urve has always been inspired by little-known stories of ingenuity, bravery, and stubbornness, so a few years ago she started writing historical fiction for teens. Her first book, The Darkest Corner of the World, is based on true stories of the Estonian people and their struggle to survive during the Soviet and Nazi occupations during World War II.
She is a member of CANSCAIP, SCBWI, and The Writer’s Union