A Brief Introduction
I live near Perth Ontario, Canada. We moved to Eastern Ontario from Toronto in 1988; we being my wife, Amanda Lewis, and our three children: Alexander (Xan), Magdalene (Maddy), and Lewis. The kids have grown up and moved away to Toronto, London, England, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Amanda’s still around, although she’s in Ottawa a lot, where she is Artistic Director at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.
We live on 76 acres of rough and tumble land. It’s a landscape that has figured prominently in my writing over the last twenty years. I designed the house we live in, finally putting to use three years of architectural training received at the University of Waterloo back in the late sixties and early seventies. That was before the school decided that maybe it would be better if I didn’t design anything that people were actually going to enter…
I left Waterloo and joined a rock band in Toronto. To find out more about my days with Boogie Dick, check out the autobiographical sketch for some of the painful details.
I decided to return to Waterloo to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. I joined another band, there, Alabaster. We were primarily a cover band, doing songs by the Beatles, Cream, Neil Young, The Band, Credence Clearwater, Elton John, James Taylor, to name a few. We also did some original tunes, which got me writing, though it was still only a pastime.
Amanda and I took off for Europe in 1976 and when we returned I started up my own graphic design firm with Michael Solomon. In 1978, I decided to go back to school to do an MFA at York. The summer that I graduated from York I was so bored with school that I wrote my first novel, Odd’s End. It was just something to do – like going on a summer holiday when you don’t have any money. Odd’s End won the Seal First Novel Award. There was a $50,000 prize. I decided that this writing thing might be fun.
I met Amanda the summer I graduated from Waterloo. It was 1974 and my art school mentor, Virgil Burnett, asked if I would look after his beautiful old, house in Stratford for the summer. There was a beautiful, young woman he had asked to look after his horse. I fell in love with her. (Not the horse, the girl). Amanda was working at her grandmother’s bookstore by day and at the Avon Theatre by night. At the end of the summer we couldn’t imagine being apart, so we moved to Toronto, where she was entering her second year at York University in the theatre program.
I found a job as a book designer with PMA Books. It was my first brush with publishing but on the other side of the table, you might say. Carol Martin and the folks at PMA Books were great. I liked living in a world of books and book talk. Canadian literature was on fire. It was an exciting time. It was also my first full-time job. And my last. I worked there a whole year and a half. Pretty good, eh?