Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Introducing Ray Conlogue

Ray was born in Toronto, Ontario, where he spent an excellent childhood. At the time, Toronto was much smaller than it is now. From his home, he could walk with his friends into the countryside and visit abandoned barns, which they believed were populated by witches.

Ray's mother was a widow who worked full-time as a nurse. He and his brother, Michael, did not have many children's books in the house, but he remembers a little picture book called Bongo the Circus Bear. Bongo escaped from the circus train, which pleased Ray. Later on, he found a copy of Treasure Island at the back of a bookshelf. But mostly, he and his friends read comic books, especially Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. When Ray ran out of these, he sometimes looked at the books his father had left behind. One of them was Rabelais's Gargantua, a satirical book full of rude jokes, which he had trouble understanding since it was written 500 years ago. But he would laugh loudly to impress his mother with his precocious intelligence.

He began writing at the age of 11 after teaching himself to touch type on an old Underwood typewriter. Ray's first novel was a science fiction story, which a publisher rejected. His mother said his luck would have been better if he had told them he was 12. But he gave up on publishers after that, and kept his second novel, The Martian Revolt, at home.

Writing fiction daunted Ray. So there followed an interval of about 40 years. During most of it, he was a theater critic and arts journalist, though the dream of writing fiction never left him.
At college, he was much inspired by Shakespeare, and wrote an entire play in iambic pentameter. This was good, even though the play was bad, because every writer needs models. Why not imitate the best?

Later on, he wrote short stories in a contemporary style and even showed one of them to a well-known novelist, who told Ray to give up. What would Ray's advice be to an aspiring author? Do not be discouraged by rejection. Even if the person who rejects your work is correct, there is one sure cure for the problem: keep writing and never give up.

Ray has lived all of his life in Toronto, except for six months in Oran, Algeria (where he taught English), and seven years in Montreal (where he learned French). Ray and his wife have three children, Jonathan, and twins Clare and Christopher.

Messing around with tools has been a preoccupying hobby for Ray. He also enjoys canoe tripping. When he was younger, he liked to travel rough into remote places and find out how the world works. His plan is to continue writing fiction for both adults and children.

Ray is the author of Shen and the Treasure Fleet.


Patricia Bennett Wilson said...

The advice “Keep writing and never give up’ is correct. If writing is in your blood, it is there for a reason. Run with it. My blind grandmother ran with her musical talent, and I went with my writing talent. What a team!

Steve O'Keefe said...


I recently finished reading Helen Keller's autobiography and she serves as a reminder of the value of patience and persistence in making yourself understood. Thanks for contributing.

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