Author Tags: Biography, Kidlit & Young Adult, Non-Fiction
Ainslie Kertland Manson was born on Hallowe'en, October 31, 1938 in Montreal. She spent the first half of her life in Hudson's Heights, Quebec and Montreal. There she attended McGill University and worked for a public relations company prior to her marriage in 1962. The lived in the United States for eight years. Manson took a three-year creative writing course in Connecticut, wrote for magazines and newspapers, had children and discovered her ability to write for children. She has spent the second half of her life mostly in B.C., currently residing in West Vancouver. [See biographical summary from her website, below.]
Manson's work is varied in terms of ages and genres. Written for young people, Alexander Mackenzie: From Canada by Land recounts the rigours of the first European to cross North America by land, from Atlantic to Pacific. She has also written about Simon Fraser. Leaving the Log House is a sensitive portrayal of a young girl who must come to Vancouver to receive a prosthetic leg, living with her aunt and uncle while she readjusts to new expectations and limitations. In reaching out to her brother for desperately needed friendship, she mostly succeeds in pushing him away.
Ainslie Manson’s thirteenth children’s book, A Giraffe Called Geranium (Red Diamond / Sandhill $19.95) was inspired by her trip to Uganda where her niece manages safari camps. Manson learned about poaching problems and the need to protect giraffes, prompting her to create a whimsical story about a giraffe that makes an inexplicable appearance in a West Coast garden. A girl named Susanna comforts and names the giraffe, but it’s homesick for the African savannah—so they set sail for Africa. Manson gave the story to West Vancouver artist Mary Baker as a 60th birthday present. 978-0-9937341-0-6
DATE OF BIRTH: October 31, 1938
PLACE OF BIRTH: Montreal, Quebec
ARRIVAL IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: 1970
A Giraffe Called Geranium (Red Diamond Books 2014). Illustrated by Mary Baker. $19.95 978-0-9937341-0-6
Roll On: Rick Hansen Wheels Around the World (Greystone, 2012) Illustrated by Ron Lightburn $19.95 978-1-55365-529-9
Boy in Motion: Rick Hansen's Story (Greystone, 2007) Illustrated by Renne Benoit
Leaving The Log House (fiction) (Orca, 2003)
Alexander Mackenzie, From Canada by Land (non-fiction) (Groundwood, 2003)
House Calls, The True Story of a Pioneer Doctor (non-fiction) (Groundwood, 2001)
Ballerinas Don't Wear Glasses (picture book) (Orca, 2000), Illustrated by Dean Griffiths.
Baboo, The Story of Sir John A's Daughter (historical picture book) (Groundwood, 1998), Illustrated by Bill Wand.
Just Like New (fiction, picture book) (Groundwood, 1995), Illustrated by Karen Reczuch.
A Dog Came, Toom (historical picture book) (Groundwood, 1992), Illustrated by Ann Blades.
Simon Fraser, (biography) (Grolier, 1991)
Alexander Mackenzie (biography) (Grolier, 1988)
Mr. McUmphie of Caulfeild Cove (fiction) (Queenston House, 1982)
Finalist: B.C. Book Prizes, The Sheila A. Egoff Award. 1993 for A DOG CAME, TOO.
Finalist: Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People. 1993 for A DOG CAME, TOO.
American Bookseller, "Pick of the Lists", A DOG CAME, TOO, l993.
Finalist: Tiny TORGI award, Canadian National Institute for the Blind. 1994 for A DOG CAME, TOO.
Finalist: Mr. Christie Award, JUST LIKE NEW, 1996
Winner: Amelia Francis Gibbon Award (CLA) for illustration JUST LIKE NEW 1996
The Five Owls Book of Merit (U.S.) JUST LIKE NEW, 1996.
OUR CHOICE selections, Canadian Children's Book Centre: A DOG CAME TOO, 1992;
JUST LIKE NEW, 1996; BABOO, 1998; BALLERINAS DON'T WEAR GLASSES, 2001.
Finalist: Mr. Christie Award, BALLERINAS DON'T WEAR GLASSES, 2000
Selected for BC 2000 Book Award: BALLERINAS DON'T WEAR GLASSES
Finalist: B.C. Book Prizes, The Sheila A. Egoff Award, BALLERINAS DON'T WEAR GLASSES, 2001
Finalist: 2002 Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award, HOUSE CALLS
Winner: 2002-2003 Chocolate Lily Book Award, Picture Book Category, BALLERINAS DON'T WEAR GLASSES
Finalist: 2004 Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2014] "Kidlit"
Website summary (2014)
Living half my life in the East, the other half in the West has definitely nurtured my strong interest in Canadian history. I love hiking and exploring Canada and I’m intrigued by tales of early explorers. My nonfiction books come from this fascination. (for example, A Dog Came, Too, and Alexander Mackenzie). But I also enjoy writing fiction and enjoy setting my stories on either side of the country. (for example, Just Like New in Quebec and Leaving The Log House in British Columbia).
In elementary school I was desperately shy and spent a lot of time worrying that I was going to be asked a question – so I often didn’t pay as much attention as I should have. On one of my early report cards, the teacher wrote, “We know Ainslie could do better, if she spent less time dreaming.” (She was right!)
I was happiest in the summer time, when I could be outdoors. I rode ponies and horses whenever possible. I liked to sail and swim and I rode my bike everywhere.
I was a skinny little kid with long pigtails and big glasses (a little like Allison in my story Ballerinas Don’t Wear Glasses).
I loved books, but because I grew up just after World War II, books were scarce and so I didn’t have many. (A little like Sally in my story, Just Like New.)
My university education was somewhat spasmodic. I definitely have no Masters degree or PHD. But I do have a kind, supportive husband who encouraged me to carry on with my writing.
Through the years and between jobs and before I found my true genre, I indulged myself in English and Creative Writing courses at McGill, The University of Connecticut, Simon Fraser University and U.B.C. I even worked my way through a three year creative writing diploma by correspondence.
I only came to the realization that I wanted to write for children after trying several other types of writing and after my three sons were born. But with three little boys racing around in all directions finding writing time wasn’t always easy. It’s now 32 years since my first book was published. I’m about to publish my thirteenth. I wish it was twice that many… so I’m working on that!
I wrote my first book, “Mr. McUmphie of Caulfeild Cove” when our third son entered kindergarten. And that same year, I began a six year stint with Vancouver’s morning newspaper, “The Province”. In those days “The Province” had an education page that was used in schools by Grade Five Social Studies classes. I was a freelancer, and worked at home. It was great fun and I’d found a niche for the two subjects I liked best: Creative Writing and History. I wrote several different series for them, close to one hundred pages in six years. Most of the pages were history connected, and a few became the seeds of ideas for future books.
When our three sons left home I expected my life would change. I would become calm, serene and wonderfully organized. But somehow that didn’t happen. We still live in a state of comfortable confusion with books and papers everywhere. And now, once again, we often have children in the house. We have two grandchildren. (Boys, of course – first brothers, then three sons and now two grandsons!) Connor is eleven and Rowan is eight. They are a wonderful, never ending source of book ideas… but I’m still waiting to be calm, serene and well organized so I can catch up with all those book ideas!
Six years ago David and I made a big move. We sold our family home in Caulfeild, West Vancouver and moved to an island! Bowen Island is just a twenty minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, so we’re close enough to keep in touch. But it’s a million miles away from city living and we’ve never looked back.
Since my hard-working doctor husband is now retired, we’re also able to spend a lot of our time, summer and winter, in the log cabin that we built thirty years ago in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, not far from Bridge Lake. The cabin is our second home.
In both these places I now do my writing in a loft. In the Cariboo it’s the loft of a barn. I look out at a small, quiet lake, grazing horses, and lots of wildlife. On Bowen Island my loft is the whole upstairs of our little house and I’ve had to purposely put my desk in a position where I’m not facing the ocean. I’m easily distracted by ferries and tug boats and eagles and herons!
Yes, I still stare out the window and dream a lot, just like I did when I was a little girl. But when I find myself wasting too much time, I remember a saying by Goethe: “Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute! What you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Only engage, and then — the mind grows heated. BEGIN, and then the work will be completed.”
What do I do when I’m not writing? I love to quilt (though grandson Rowan wonders if I will EVER finish his quilt), I love long walks with Janna and and cross country ski in the Cariboo, mucking about with horses though I don’t ride much anymore. I like to canoe in the Cariboo, kayak on the ocean and swim in both places.
And I read, read, read. I usually have several books on the go at the same time. I belong to three book clubs at the moment! One is in my old neighbourhood. It has a crazy, glorious name: The Ambleside and Tiddley Cove Literary Society and it’s been active for forty years. Another is here on Bowen Island — new books and new friends, it’s great. The third book club is a little different. It’s a picture book book club! It’s made up of eight friends who are all picture book writers and/or illustrators. I couldn’t do without these close friends. We debate, commiserate, inspire and encourage.
When will I retire? Never! How could I, I’m having too much fun with my writing and I’ve many ideas wanting to turn themselves into books. Write on!