Born in Bill Quay, near Gateshead in the north of England and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador, Winter began her career as a script writer for Sesame Street before becoming a columnist for The Telegram in St. John’s. Her debut short story collection, boYs, was published in 2007 and won that year’s Winterset Award and Metcalf-Rooke Award.
Her novel Annabel was published in 2010, and won the Thomas Head Raddall Award. It was a shortlisted nominee for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the 2010 Governor General’s Awards. It held the distinction of being the only novel to make the short list of all three awards in 2010. In 2011 it was shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction. In 2014 it was chosen for the Canada Reads competition, where it was championed by actress Sarah Gadon.
A second book of short stories, The Freedom in American Songs, was released in 2014, as was her first non-fiction book, Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage. Boundless was shortlisted for the 2014 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the 2015 Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction.
She lives in Montreal with her Québécois husband and their daughter. She is also the sister of novelist Michael Winter.