Whether I write fiction for young people, theatrical plays, adult fiction, documentary film scripts, dialogue for children’s television shows or educational videos, I struggle to make issues come alive in a way that is true to the time and the people.
Mariner's Story is a series of books set in Toronto and Hamilton that explore the gritty life of crime, police, and people in crisis. The major character, a police detective named Mariner, is a man searching for his own identity and meaning. He was raised in poverty by a single mother and he is not much different than the rounders, addicts and criminals that he deals with as a police officer. The books describe the world of people trying to survive on the mean streets of our cities.
I describe the Bains Series of books, written for young audiences, as the “real history” of Canada. These are adventure stories featuring ordinary kids in the 1870s who work in logging camps, fishing outports, railways and farms, just like the children of this period.
My non-fiction books follow a similar theme. They describe people involved in community groups and unions. Often the books provide the background to the growth and development of cities and industries. These are not books about the rich and famous. They are about people building their communities or creating organizations that will improve their lives.
I am interested in people and how conflict around work, community and politics shapes their lives. My books, in fact, reflect my own life because, like millions of Canadians, I have struggled to shape and improve the communities where I have lived and the places where I have worked. Politics, issues and social policies are important.
Today I live on Toronto Island – A Magical Place – as I call it in one of my books. The Island lifestyle, of a close-knit community where people work to strengthen relationships and the quality of their lives, has influenced my work. People, work, community – these are the essential elements of my writing.
I devote myself to writing full-time. Family and friends are important. As well as a variety of community activities, I am active with The Writers’ Union of Canada.