The making of a radical

I was raised in a one-room tarpaper shack on the outskirts of Montreal, Quebec. I recall watching my father shoot rats that lived under our front steps when I was a boy. Both my parents lived through the Great Depression, and neither of them had more than a seventh-grade education. When I was 12, my father died from a heart attack as a result of landmine shrapnel that had been floating around in his body since the days when he fought in World War II. His death forced my family to go on welfare. It was my first exposure to the degrading state known as poverty.

Five years later, I dropped out of school, left home, and joined the Canadian navy. By the time I parted ways with the navy at age 20, I had negative feelings towards war and the oppressive machismo military life.

I worked in factories by day and played guitar and composed songs by night. I also attended writing classes at university. During one of my annual moves I discovered the former tenants had left behind a stack of Ms. magazines and several lesbian love letters. This experience opened my eyes to the plight of women everywhere.

At age 35, I began studying full-time to earn a university BA in creative fiction writing and journalism. Later, I found myself unemployed for several years and saddled with repaying an enormous student loan. Eventually, I found work as a teacher, but my experiences shaped my thinking as a progressive on labor and debt issues.

These days I follow in my father’s footsteps, taking aim at the rats of this world with my written words.

Writing credentials

I recently completed a 400+-page historical novel about two early 18th-century women pirates. I have produced about 30-odd songs and musical compositions. One of my short stories earned honorable mention in the 2002 Metropolis Blue Short Story Competition; it was later anthologized in Telling Stories: New English Stories from Quebec (Véhicule Press). A satire I wrote on the repercussions of 9/11, “Letter to Osama bin Laden,” appeared in the January/February 2007 edition of Adbusters magazine. I am currently working on a novel about drug users and a double murder in a working class district in Montreal.