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An award-winning author, James has won the Shelia A. Egoff B.C. Children's Literature Award three times for Flood, Wish Me Luck and The Grave. In addition, Wish Me Luck was nominated for a Canadian Governor General's Award and The Grave and Torn Away were selected as American Library Association (ALA) Best Books for Young Adults.
James Heneghan on Facebook
My growing up was done in Liverpool, England, and in Ireland, where my parents came from, my father from Achill Island, County Mayo, and my mother from Ennis, County Clare.
I was a policeman in Liverpool for a couple of years but decided to leave England for Vancouver, British Columbia. After five years I became a Canadian citizen. For twelve years I worked as a fingerprint specialist with the Vancouver Police but got fed up staring at fingerprints and decided I would make a great teacher. So I got a wonderful job working with young people, teaching English in a Burnaby high school.
I started writing children’s stories with friend and teaching colleague Bruce McBay.
four grown-up children and four grandchildren.
You can email James Heneghan at: email@example.com
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By Kimberly Pauley
former Young Adult Books Guide for About.com, June 11, 2001
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming novel Flood?
This story is set in Canada, for a change, but still relies on things Irish. The boy comes from an Irish family, for example, and there are elements of fantasy in the activities of the Sheehogue (the Little People).
Do you prepare yourself differently when writing historical fiction (such as Wish Me Luck)?
Yes. I try to meld into the times. This usually means lots of research. For Wish Me Luck I relied heavily on Ralph Barkers superbly researched account of the sinking of the Benares. I read it and re-read it so many times! And made pages of notes. I was eventually able to imagine what it was like to be on that liner. I knew it as well as I knew my own house.
How did the idea for Blue come to you?
Scholastic Canada used to send out bulletins to their writers. I dont think they do that nowadays. Anyway, a bulletin mentioned that they would like to see a boy-dog story. I pondered, concluding that all the good boy-dog stories had already been done. But what about something entirely different? What about a blue dog? Nobodys ever seen a blue dog. So I wrote about a boy named Andy and his blue dog (I am using the name Andy again for Flood).
How did you become a writer for young adults after working as a policeman and a fingerprint specialist?
I left the police department and went into teaching where I met Bruce McBay. We decided to collaborate on a book together (Goodbye, Carleton High, Scholastic Canada). Thats how it all started.
Has living in Canada changed your writing at all?
Canada has changed my life in every important way. The population of Liverpool,
England, once a city of almost a million, has steadily declined since
the thirties. I left Liverpool in 1957 and consider it the best thing
I ever did. The second best thing was being accepted as a mature student
at Simon Fraser University (SFU) at the age of 38. SFU opened up my life
and changed the way I thought. The writing would never have happened without
SFU. I have much to thank my adopted country for.
your favorite book out of the ones you have written?
I think, though having a favourite book is rather like a parent admitting
to having a favourite child. The book is now out of print and I am thinking
of rewriting it, making it longer & deeper. My son is in Blue.
When he was a tot he rode the canister vacuum (sled-like runners) around
the house, making engine noises, and occasionally falling off onto the
carpet, moaning & groaning (pretending) and requiring emergency treatment
& services (ambulance or fire truck me with a bowl of cold
water - to bathe his head) until he felt he was well enough to continue.
Who was your favorite author growing up and who is your favorite author now?
it was Leslie Charteris Saint books and Richmal Comptons
William books. Now. Dunno. I read everyone. I like female novelists,
such as Bernice Rubens, Penelope Lively and A.S. Byatt in England. I am
enjoying Barbara Kingsolvers The Poisonwood Bible right now.
have any advice for teens interested in writing?
Yes. If you want to write then you must READ. Read everything you can get your hands on novels, biographies, non-fiction accounts, diaries (even Bridget Jones), plays, film scripts. This is how you learn the craft of writing. The brain surgeon said to a writer, I plan to write a good novel one day. The writer replied, Yes, and I plan to do some brain surgery, too.