Saturday, March 7, 2009

Saturday Mystery Author

You may have seen this picture over on kc dyer's blog:

He may appear in scholarly disguise here, but I can tell you that writing is pretty important to this man.

In fact, he has writing in his blood.

This man is the son of a writer. He is married to a writer. And, as an avid follower on his blog of all the things his daughters get up to, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the father of a couple of would-be writers, too!

This is music to my ears, since I am the star of my own epic story. And since this guy and I both hail from the same city -- a city that turned 175 years old yesterday, I am dying to interview him.

Let's start with the unmasking....

And here he is! Mr. James Bow, author of a whole pile of books for young people. My favourites are the Unwritten Books: THE UNWRITTEN GIRL, FATHOM FIVE and THE YOUNG CITY. He is the son of writer Patricia Bow, and is married to writer Erin Bow. Erin and James have two beautiful daughters, Vivian and Eleanor.

Pay close attention, and you'll learn how you can win a copy of THE YOUNG CITY. But first...

Darby Christopher: Welcome James!

James Bow: Hello, Darby!

DC: The city you and I both love turned 175 years old yesterday. My story, A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW is all about how different people came to live in Canada. Can you tell me where were you born?

JB: I was born, I believe, at Women's College Hospital in downtown Toronto. I spent the next nineteen years of my life right downtown, which is why I didn't learn to drive until I was 23. Back then, I didn't need a driver's license to get where I wanted to go.

DC: But since then, you've left Toronto. Where do you live now?

JB: Since 1991, I've lived in Kitchener, Ontario. I moved here to attend the University of Waterloo, and I've stayed ever since.

DC: Well, that's not too far away, anyway! When you were a kid growing up in Toronto, do you remember any special stories about your family that you can tell me?

JB: There is the tale of my paternal grandfather (my father's father). He was born in 1900 and was sent to Canada by his parents in 1910 -- at a time when China was in revolution -- to live with an "uncle" in Montreal. At the time, his parents would have to have paid a $500 head tax in order to get him into the country, and from what we know, he never saw his parents again.

My grandfather is the reason why I can make some claim to being a third generation Chinese Canadian, even though I am three quarters European. He's the reason why my father and myself grew up just north of Chinatown in Toronto, why I have a Chinese name, and why I've given Chinese names to my two daughters.

DC: Whoa -- that is so cool. I can't believe people were charged a tax to come into Canada. Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty. It's my dream to skateboard down Yonge Street, which some claim is the longest street in the world. Can you ride a skateboard?

JB: No. Next question?

DC: That's okay -- I'll forgive you. Not everyone is as talented as I am on a board. But besides writing books, do you have a secret skill or talent you’d like to share?

JB: I'm told that I'm freakishly good at navigating. I love looking at maps, and playing around with Google Maps, and can usually find my way around a place after looking at a map for a while -- certainly after making the trip once.

DC: Sheesh. I sure could have used your skills one time when I ended up in the far North! So, if you had a chance to walk through a window into the past, where would you go?

JB: It depends on where the other end is. There are places I'd like to see and experience, and there are places I'd rather just read about. I would like to see how my home town developed, ride the streetcars before they went away; take part in the golden age of railroading. But for the most part, I'm happy where I am here, exploring the past through normal research.

DC: If you did go, is there anyone special you’d like to meet?

JB: I would not say no to shaking the hands of famous people like the President of the United States, the Prime Minister or the Governor General. But the people I'd really like to meet and share a meal with are all authors. And I'm getting to meet these people now.

I do wish that I'd had a chance to meet with Madeleine L'Engle before she died, to tell her how much of an influence she had on my work.

DC: Oh, I really agree! A WRINKLE IN TIME is one of my favourite books. After you get to know me a little, I guess the reason why is kinda obvious. Can you tell me a bit about your latest project?

JB: I'm currently working on a novel entitled "The Night Girl", which is about a young woman who finds work as a secretary for an employment agency finding work for goblins and trolls. I'm currently rewriting the story to get it into the best shape to submit. You can learn more about the story and my other projects at

DC: That sounds awesome. I can't wait until it comes out! Listen, when my Gramps throws a little spare change my way, I’m personally pretty fond of red licorice. What’s your favourite treat?

JB: Good coffee. You might think that price doesn't make a difference, but it does. Our favourite brand is the Kicking Horse Pass organic coffee. It tastes much better than other flavours of coffee.

DC: Ha! I read about this kid named Darrell Connor once. She was a big coffee drinker, but maybe it was because she lives in Vancouver. I've heard they are all a little weird out there. I think I'll stick to licorice, myself. James, if I want to learn more about you or your books on-line, where can I go check you out?

JB: My official books website is, which covers me, all of my books, and my upcoming projects. The official website for my Unwritten Books series can be found at

DC: Great! Well, thanks so much for stopping by today, James!

And if you'd like to win a copy of James Bow's latest novel THE YOUNG CITY, and see what the city was like back in 1884, just leave a comment and the book could be yours!



  1. Hehe, me too, I love all the author interviews. Also am a fan of the ridiculous "masks" that these authors' pictures don. A graduation cap? Silly Darby, silly.

  2. I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was in grade 6. Haha, that time I was too young to appreciate such literacy. I'm unsure if I will change my opinion of it if I read it now.

  3. that story of your grandfather is incredible. and that graduation cap was a good look!

  4. It's good to stumble across James in other places.... I'm not ready to stumble across him in other times yet!

  5. I've heard of The Young City and it sounds so good!!!

    I liked the story about your grandfather!