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Al Pittman

Al Pittman was born in St. Leonard’s, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in 1940. At a young age, Pittman left Placentia Bay to move to Corner Brook. Pittman stayed in Corner Brook throughout his childhood and teenage years. Later he would head out to pursue further education at Salem Teacher’s College, and at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick. With his teaching degree, Pittman taught across Newfoundland, as well as in Quebec, before settling into a long-term position in the English Department at Memorial University – St. John’s campus, then Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook. In 1966, Pittman published his first book of poems, ­The Elusive Resurrection, and in 1973, Pittman, with Dick Buehler, Pat Byrne, Tom Dawe and Clyde Rose, began Breakwater Books – a publishing house that focuses on publishing books with authors from or content about Newfoundland and Labrador. From 1999 until his death in 2001, Pittman was a writer-in-residence at Grenfell College.

Anne Louise MacDonald

Anne Louise MacDonald lives outside of Antigonish, Nova Scotia at Hug a Horse Farm with her husband and two horses. She is an teacher of natural horse and hoof care, and is currently working part time as managing the Animal and Plant Care Facility at Saint Francis Xavier University. She is an author of children's and young adult literature, as well as non-fiction books. Anne Louise has presented writing workshops for children and adults including the River John Festival Read by the Sea Festival, as well as the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Public Library.

Due to technical difficulties, the video interview with Anne Louise is unavailable. However, a fairly complete audio recording of her interview has been transcribed, and you can read the transcript of the interview [pdf] here.

Budge Wilson

Budge Wilson was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and educated at Dalhousie University (B.A., Philosophy & Psychology; Diploma in Education; Phys. Ed. Certificate). Wilson has had an eclectic career: she taught English and art at the Halifax Ladies’ College (now Armbrae Academy), worked as a photographer and commercial artist, and was a fitness instructor for over 21 years (Dalhousie University, 2006). Wilson began writing full time in 1978, and published her first book The Best Worst Christmas Present Ever in 1984. Since then, Wilson has published 34 books, many articles, and her work has appeared in over 90 anthologies. Wilson has won over 15 awards during her literary career, including the Municipality of Halifax Mayor’s Award for Cultural Achievement in Literature in 2003. In 2004, Wilson was made a Member of the Order of Canada; and in 2010, she received an Honourary Degree (LLD) from Dalhousie University.

Budge Wilson's series of stand-alone novels featuring the recurring character of Lorinda (Thirteen Never Changes, 1989; Lorinda's Diary, 1991) sits in a middle age-range between Wilson's picture and chapter books and her older adolescent young adult collections like The Leaving: Stories (1990), and Fractures: Family Stories (2002). Wilson demonstrates an evolving sensibility for the complexity of issues that follow children into young adulthood; as Lorinda matures with each novel, for example, so too do the themes and issues Wilson writes about. Although these middle range young adult adolescent novels end in tidy resolution, the narrators in Wilson's older adolescent young adult books often reflect back on their youth from a place of acceptance over issues that remain unresolved. Wilson's strength as a writer lies in both her thematic consistency (i.e., addressing perennial issues of inner conflict and identity) and her adaptability to her audience (i.e., presenting her thematic consistency to both children and young adults). These strengths are best executed in her recent prequel to L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (1908). Before Green Gables (2008) follows Anne from birth to her fateful train ride to Avonlea. Wilson's ability to create young characters that persevere through personal adversity is successfully tested in this 2008 prequel.  Most of her YA novels and short story collections are "crossover" books, read by both teens and adults.

The following interview was conducted on January 28, 2011. For a transcript of the interview go here.

David Weale

David Weale grew up in Greenmount, PEI after he and his family moved there when he was a young boy. In his youth, Weale was fascinated by PEI’s oral traditions and folklore, and he made a career out of his interest by participating in the musical and storytelling traditions of the island. Weale started teaching at the University of Prince Edward Island in 1975, and was a professor of provincial and Canadian history. He retired from teaching in 2006, but he continues to tell stories at festivals and community gatherings around the island.

Deirdre Kessler

Deirdre Kessler is a poet and a children’s book author. Kessler also writes non-fiction for adults and children. She has taught creative writing, composition, and children’s literature at the University of Prince Edward Island. Kessler’s has travelled most of Canada and the United States, as well as Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy. Kessler's work has been influenced by her time on PEI as well as the island of Tasmania, where she was the writer in residence in 2007. Kessler has also worked as a writer and broadcaster for CBC Radio and Television. She reported on the arts and also worked as the host of the program, “The Story Show” for children. Kessler has facilitated writing workshops and is a strong advocate for writing, reading, and the arts.

Gerry O'Brien

Gerry O'Brien was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. After high school, O'Brien traveled to Africa, and later returned to his native province to obtain a degree from York University. Shortly after university he became a teacher, and after teaching for a few years in Ontario, O'Brien and his wife moved to Argyle Shore, Prince Edward Island. In recent years he and his wife have moved back to Ontario to be near family. O'Brien works as a substitute teacher and spends lots of time writing. O'Brien began his writing career out of his love of reading funny stories to his students. He started out by writing a one-act play, and after asking his students for suggestions, Bubba Begonia was born.

Janet McNaughton

Janet McNaughton was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1953. In 1979, McNaughton moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland to study at Memorial University, where she completed her M.A. and her PhD in folklore. During this time, McNaughton also married and had a baby. After the birth of her baby, McNaughton began writing reviews of children’s books. With the successful reception of her reviews, McNaughton was asked to become an executive of the Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland. It was at this time McNaughton began her professional writing career, feeling that as an executive of the Writer’s Alliance she should attempt to write novels. McNaughton currently lives in St. John's.

Joan Clark

Joan Clark was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and spent a few years there before moving to Sydney Mines, and later Sussex, New Brunswick. Clark was a student at both Acadia University and the University of Alberta. She lived in Alberta for about twenty years before moving back east to St. John's, Newfoundland. Clark has taught in schools, though not extensively, as she is a full-time author of fiction for adults and children. Clark is also one of the co-founders of the literary magazine Dandelion.

K.V. Johansen

K.V. Johansen was born Krista Johansen in Kingston, Ontario in 1968. She holds a BA in English and History from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, an MA in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto, and another MA in English Literature from the University of Hamilton. Johansen has also lived in St.Andrews, New Brunswick, and Berlin, Germany. She currently resides in Sackville, New Brunswick, with her dog, Pippin, the title character of her Pippin picture book series.

Johansen has been inventing stories from an early age. She told stories to her younger siblings and wrote her first book at the age of eleven. Her favourite book is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which she rereads every year. She enjoys growing exotic trees and has an arboretum in her backyard. Johansen’s other interests include ancient and Medieval history, dead languages, natural history, and the history of children’s fantasy literature. She is also a fan of anime and manga. Johansen belongs to the Writers’ Union of Canada, The Tolkien Society, and the Early English Text Society.

Kevin Major

Kevin Major was born on September 12, 1949, and grew up in Stephenville, Newfoundland. After graduating from high school, Major set off to Memorial University to study pre-med. Although he was accepted into medical school, Major chose instead to journey across the world. Upon his return to his native province, Major pursued a career in education. Early in his teaching career, Major became frustrated with the lack of written material on the culture of his own province and decided to take on the challenge of writing his own material. Beginning first with poetry, followed by short-stories, Major soon quit his teaching job to focus completely on writing. In 1978, Major's first novel was published and his life was changed. Hold Fast is often viewed as the first breakout Atlantic Canadian Children’s novel, and in fact, Sea Stacks selected 1978 as the research starting point for this project in honour of the novel. Major currently lives in St. John’s Newfoundland with his wife and children.

Photo credit: Victoria Wells


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