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You Don't Know Spitt

To Stand and Fight Together - The Dundurn Group

This book began one day about 20 years ago when I was strolling through a tiny little park in Toronto and I noticed a crumbling old monument dedicated to the soldiers who fought for the Canadian/British side during the War of 1812. As a former soldier and lifelong lover of history, I instantly recognized almost all the names on the plaque. But at the very bottom, almost hidden in the grass, was a unit called The Coloured Corps of Upper Canada. I was completely baffled - I had never heard of these guys. The next time I was in the Toronto Reference Library, I tried looking them up but I found very little information. (this was before there was GOOGLE and internet). Bit by bit, mostly with the wonderful help of many librarians, I slowly began assembling a picture of this most remarkable unit.

The Coloured Corps of Upper Canada was a unit comprised of ex-slaves from the thirteen rebellious American Colonies. My book starts with Richard Pierpoint, a young African teenager who was brought to North America as a slave and yet he managed to become a soldier, a pioneer and a hero in Upper Canada. The Coloured Corps is a remarkable story that will interest anyone who is interested in Canadian history, Black history, or the War of 1812. This book contains many sidebars that explain interesting facts about the era Richard Pierpoint lived in. For example, it was Queen Elizabeth the First who started Britain's slave trade. Penny Lane, the Liverpool street made famous by the Beatles song, was named after one of the most notorious slave dealers in Great Britain.

The Day of the Flying Fox - The Dundurn Group

I met Charley Fox at the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto. Charley is a soft-spoken man who has led a remarkable life. He flew a Spitfire fighter plane during World War Two and had many exciting adventures. He specialized in ground attack - the most dangerous type of combat flying because most of his targets were very well defended by dozens of anti-aircraft guns. Charley was responsible for the destruction of many enemy targets but it was only five decades after the war ended that historians concluded that Charley was also responsible for putting Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel out of the war by shooting up Rommel's staff car a few weeks after D-Day. This book describes the events of that fateful day but it also describes Charley's many other adventures. Included are stories of how he was almost arrested for stopping for coffee on an American airfield while the US was still neutral, how he was knocked out of the sky by a collision with a Hurricane fighter and how he was trained to shoot accurately by Buzz Beurling, Canada's top fighter ace.

Faster Than Wind - The Dundurn Group

I'm pleased to announce that my first fiction novel for young adults is coming out this December. It is a story set in turn-of-the-20th Century Toronto about how a group of young teens participated in one of the most thrilling and dangerous sports of the era - Ice Boat racing. Until the invention of the airplane, ice boats were the fastest vehicles in the world capable of speeds of more than 120 kilometers per hour.

My story is about Bertie McCross, a young newspaper boy who is chased and nearly beaten up by a gang brutal street kids but he finds protection by signing on with Tommy McDonnell, a young ice boat captain, his first mate Milwaukee Ed and his friends Isobel and Kwei. Together, they hope to win the Toronto Ice Boat Racing Pennant first they need to recruit a few more teens crazy enough to climb aboard a pile of lumber that moves faster than a speeding express train.




Other Books

Rain Tonight - Tundra Books

My first book, Rain Tonight: A Tale of Hurricane Hazel is a non-fiction book based on my birthday. I was born in the middle of Hurricane Hazel. The wind blew at 100 kph and 350 million tons of water fell on Toronto area and yet my dad always blamed me for keeping him up late that night. As a result of my dramatic birthday, all my life people have been telling stories of what they were doing during that awful storm. My book, Rain Tonight, is just one of those stories. It is about the Doucette family who lived in a house right next to the Humber River. Until the night of the hurricane, they thought living by a river was a wonderful thing. But on that night they awoke to find their house completely surrounded by rushing water that was rising by the minute. In a matter of minutes, the Doucettes were sitting stranded on their own roof, watching the rushing water sweep away their neighbours' homes one by one. I do not want to spoil the story by telling what happened so I will just say that the book is now in its second printing and that it was nominated for three awards, the Silver Birch (Ontario), the Red Cedar (British Columbia) and the Rocky Mountain (Alberta).

Guyness and Teasing - http://www.formac.ca/

Besides my Hurricane Hazel book, I also wrote two books for the Deal with It series from James Lorimer, Limited. These books were fun to write because they are written in a humorous comic book style and they deal with two subjects I know lots about - being a guy and what it is like to tease and get teased. Guyness was a challenge to write because we are living in a changing world where traditional expectations of what it means to be a guy are changing. Teasing was also a challenge to write because humour is a very hard thing to define - what makes one person laugh can often make other people mad. How do you know if you are being a true joker or just a jerk?