________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 7 . . . . November 27, 1998

cover Northern Dreamers: Interviews With Famous Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Writers.

Edo van Belkom.
Kingston, ON: Quarry Press, 1998.
255 pp., paper, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55082-206-3.

Subject Headings:
Authors, Canadian-20th century-Interviews.
Science fiction-Authorship.
Fantasy fiction-Authorship.
Horror tales-Authorship.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


VAN BELKOM: Have you read any R.L. Stine to see what all the fuss is about?

MONICA HUGHES: No, I haven't actually. I see them in the store - where they get you to sign books, you're usually right next to about 500 Stines and Pikes.

VAN BELKOM: He must be doing something well to have such a following.

HUGHES: Not necessarily well, but right. I'm sure he does a good job, but I gather that they are very one-dimensional, not a lot of character development and so on. What I hope is that kids will read them until they are saturated and bored, and then they'll go and read something else.

Van Belkom, himself an accomplished writer of science fiction, fantasy and horror, has interviewed 23 of what he characterizes as "among the best and brightest talents in the speculative writing fields today." Beyond the quality of their writing, what further links all of these "northern dreamers" is that they are writing in Canada, although, as van Belkom points out, "the vast majority were not born in Canada. Most, by strange twists of fate and eerie coincidence, arrived in Canada by choice." Of the 22 interviews [one was a joint interview of the husband and wife team of Spider and Jeanne Robinson], van Belkom explains that "10 were conducted in person, nine were done by e-mail, two were done over the phone, and one was done via Canada Post." While he challenges readers "to figure out which is which," the product is seamless and of uniformly high quality.

      Arranged alphabetically from Nancy Baker to Robert Charles Wilson, each entry, typically about 10 pages in length, begins with a full page black and white photo of the author. van Belkom then provides a one-page introduction to the author before beginning the interview which utilizes a question-and-answer format. These are "intelligent" interviews, and van Belkom has obviously both researched his subjects and thoughtfully read their works. Interviews do not follow a "recipe" format but are shaped around each author. Consequently, the 23 people emerge as distinct individuals. Some of those interviewed, such as Lesley Choyce and Monica Hughes, will be familiar names to those who work with YA's while others, like W.P. Kinsella, Guy Gavriel Kay, Charles de Lint and Spider & Jeanne Robinson, have authored "adult" works which are readily found in YA collections.

      One of the book's delights for those who do not regularly read in these genres will be the opportunity to meet "new" writers and their books. Northern Dreamers is definitely a title which should be in all libraries serving senior high students, and, since many middle school/junior high schoolers also move quickly into adult titles in these genres, the book should be considered at the lower level as well.

Highly recommended.

Since 1984, Dave Jenkinson has been interviewing Canadian authors and illustrators for children and young people for a variety of publications including Emergency Librarian, Resource Links, and now CM.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364