James Heneghan is one of British Columbia's most quietly successful authors.

A three-time recipient of the Sheila A. Egoff Prize for children's literature in B.C., he's an Anglo/Irish Canadian, born in Liverpool on October 7, 1930, who came to Vancouver from Liverpool in 1957 and worked for 12 years as a Fingerprint & Photography Technician in the Vancouver Police Crime Laboratory. He taught English in Burnaby high schools for 20 years and has been writing books for young people for 20 years. Many of his books have appeared on the American Library Association's lists of Best Books for Young Adults, the New York Library lists of Best Books, the Junior Library Guild list and the VOYA Top Shelf Pick list. Wish Me Luck was nominated for a Governor General's Award.

Heneghan has increasingly moved towards serious subjects for young adults. In Torn Away, for example, forcibly deported Declan Doyle is delivered to the Vancouver Airport in handcuffs, a young Catholic who is filled with rage against Protestants in his native Belfast after a car bomb has killed his mother and sister. His Uncle Matthew has agreed to look after Declan in Vancouver, but he only wants to get back to Ireland and fight against the 'Prods'. Agreeing to try life on the West Coast for a four-month trial basis, he learns there is more to courage than fisticuffs. Similarly, in Promises to Come, Nguyen Thi Kim is a 16-year-old Boat Person from Vietnam who lies about her age in order to be adopted by Becky's well-to-do West Vancouver parents. "I did a lot of research," says Heneghan. "As far as I know, it's the first book that deals with the Boat People and their experiences through the eyes of Vietnamese children." The heroine 'Kim' has flashbacks to a Saigon orphanage, the island of Koh Kra and the Songkhla refugee camp as she undergoes the painful and sometimes overwhelming process of assimilation. She recounts to a psychiatrist the deaths of her family and companions, beatings and gang rape. Similarly, in Wish Me Luck, a story based upon the sinking of a passenger liner called the City of Benares by a German U-boat in World War II, twelve-year-old Jamie Monaghan is sent to Canada to escape the air raids in Liverpool. In Heneghan's most acclaimed novel, The Grave, 13-year-old Tom Mullen, who was abandoned in a shopping mall as a baby, has been shuffled from one foster home to the next in Liverpool until rumours of a mass grave on his school grounds plunge him inexplicably into the alternate world of Ireland in 1847 during the potato famine. In his time travels, he's accepted into the home of the Monaghans who provide him with the richness of family togetherness during a time of extreme privation. Set in Belfast, Northern Island in 1999, one year after the Good Friday peace accord, Safe House (Orca 2006) is a realistic thriller about a boy named Liam who is forced to take refuge in a police safe house after his parents are brutally murdered. Betrayed and forced to flee, he must remain out of the reach of the people who are supposed to be protecting him. In Bank Job (Orca 2009), Nell and two boys in her foster home rob banks to raise money to pay for expensive renovations to their caring foster home. The story was inspired by a newspaper story of three teens in Vancouver who robbed seven banks.


Fit to Kill (Raven Books/Orca 2011) 978-1-55469-907-0 $9.95

Bank Job (Orca 2009), co-written with Norma Charles

Payback (Groundwood, 2007)

Safe House (Orca, 2006)

Nannycatch Chronicles (Tradewind Books, 2005). Co-written with Bruce McBay.

Hit Squad (Orca, 2003)

Waiting for Sarah, (with Bruce McBay) (Orca, 2003)

Flood (Groundwood / Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002). Winner Sheila A. Egoff Award; Junior Library Guild selection; NY Library Best Books List 2001; Nominated Geoffrey Bilson Award; Nominated Arthur Ellis Award.

The Grave (Groundwood, 2000 / Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000 / Corgi, 2002 / de Fontein, The Netherlands, 2003) $12.95 ISBN 0-88899-414-1. Selected as a 2002 American Library Association (ALA) Best Book for Young Adults, winner of the 2001 Sheila A. Egoff B.C. Book Prize for Children's Literature and the 2000 Mr. Christie's Book Award Silver Seal. A New York Library Pick for the Best Books List of 2000, a Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) Top Shelf Pick 2001 and one of their selections for the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror 2000, and a Junior Library Guild Pick. Nominated for the Keystone State (Pennsylvania) Reading Association 2001-2002 Young Adult Book Award, the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award for 2002, the 2001 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile Crime Fiction, and the 2001 Canadian Geoffrey Bilson Historical Fiction for Young People Award.

Promises to Come (Overlea House, 1988; Also available from 'Kits House Publishing' / James Heneghan as of 1998) $8.95 ISBN 0-9684300-0-7.

Wish Me Luck (Farrar Straus & Giroux, New York, 1997) ISBN 0-374-38453-3, price U.S $16. Bantam/Laurel Leaf paperback edition, 1998, ISBN 0-440-22764-X, price $5.99 CAN. Winner Sheila A. Egoff Award; nominated Governor General's Award; nominated Red Cedar Award; nominated Manitoba Young Readers Award. Publ. Germany, England, France.

Torn Away (Viking, New York, 1994, ISBN 0-670-85180-9. Price U.S $15
Puffin paperback, 1996, ISBN 0-14-036646-6, $6.99 CAN) (Awards: Winner Arthur Ellis Award; nominated Sheila A. Egoff Award. ALA list of Best Books for YA. Also published in Germany, 1996.)

Blue, Scholastic Canada, 1992. ISBN 0-590-74044-X. Price $4.99. Andy and his mother move from the city to work at Kirriemuir Farm and their lives change in ways they never expected.

Goodbye, Carleton High, by B. J. Bond (James Heneghan with Bruce McBay) Scholastic Canada, 1983, ISBN 0-590-71124 5. Price $4.99. Albert "Falko" Falkenheimer figures he's the biggest loser at Carleton High because everyone calls him "Retard."

Puffin Rock, (with Bruce McBay) Book Society, Canada, 1980. ISBN 0-7725 5070-0. Price $4.99. Lundigan Puffin must find a way to save his colony from Scavington and his greedy seagulls.


The Case of the Blue Raccoon, 1996, Scholastic Canada. ISBN 0-590-24934-7. Price $4.99. The O'Brien Detective Agency expose a pest control scam.

The Mystery of the Gold Ring, Scholastic Canada, 1995. ISBN 0-590-24623-2. Price $4.99. Three sleuths solve a crime in Athens, Greece.

The Trail of the Chocolate Thief, Scholastic Canada, 1993. ISBN 0-590-74514-X. Price $4.99. Child detectives nab a toy thief in False Creek, Vancouver.

The Case of the Marmalade Cat, Scholastic Canada, 1992. ISBN 0-590-73824-0. Price $4.99. Miss Parsnip's cat is missing and she must find it before midnight on Halloween.

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2011] "Kidlit"