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Cheney, Glenn (Alan) 1951-

CHENEY, Glenn (Alan) 1951-

PERSONAL: Born September 6, 1951, in Melrose, MA; son of Theodore Albert Rees (a writer and educator) and Dorothy (Bates) Cheney; married Solange Aurora Cavalcante (an exporter), May 26, 1978; children: Ian Alan. Education: Fairfield University, B.A. (philosophy), 1974, post-graduate certificate (professional writing), 1982, M.A. (human communication), 1982; Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil, M.A. (English-language literature), 1990; Vermont College, M.F.A. (writing), 1991. Politics: Green Party. Avocational Interests: Philosophy, gardening, beer brewing, beekeeping, travel, photography.

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 284, Hanover, CT 06350. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Grey Advertising, Inc., New York, NY, public relations account executive, 1982-85; Cheney & Associates, Hanover, CT, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil, partner, 1985—. Institute for Children's Literature, Redding Ridge, CT, instructor, 1988-91; Norwalk Community College, Norwalk, CT, adjunct professor, 1988; Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT, adjunct professor, 1988-94; Albertus Magnus College, adjunct professor, 1989; Connecticut College, New London, CT, visiting instructor, 1994—; Three Rivers Technical-Community College, Norwich, CT, adjunct professor, 1997. Correspondent for Tax Notes and Accounting Today magazines; Federation of Industries of the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, North American liaison. Founder of Citizens' Regulatory Commission. Producer and co-host of public access cable TV programs Sprague Today and Sprague Today—Special Edition; Sprague Public Library, board member.

AWARDS, HONORS: Gold Medal co-recipient, International Radio Festival, 1991, for "Tuning in the U.S. A."; Books for the Teen Age citation, New York Public Library, 1994, for Drugs, Teens and Recovery: Seven Real-Life Stories, and 1997, for They Never Knew: The Victims of Nuclear Testing; Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers citation, American Library Association, 1996, for Teens with Physical Disabilities: Real Life Stories of Meeting the Challenges; Pushcart Prize XVII nomination, for story "Henney's Tubes"; Notable Trade Book citation, National Council for Social Studies, for Television in American Society.

WRITINGS:

El Salvador, Country in Crisis, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1982, second edition, 1990.

Television in American Society, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1983.

Mohandas Gandhi, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1983.

The Amazon, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1984.

Mineral Resources, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1984.

Revolution in Central America, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1984.

Responsibility, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1985.

The Mariana Scouts in the Valley of the Spirits, McGraw-Hill (São Paulo, Brazil), 1986.

The Mariana Scouts in Amazonia, McGraw-Hill (São Paulo, Brazil), 1987.

Drugs, Teens and Recovery: Seven Real-Life Stories, Enslow Publishers (Hillside, NJ), 1993.

Chernobyl: The Ongoing Story of the World's Deadliest Nuclear Disaster, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993.

Life in Caves (novel), Royal Fireworks Press (Unionville, NY), 1994.

Teens with Physical Disabilities: Real Life Stories of Meeting the Challenges, Enslow Publishers (Hillside, NJ), 1995.

Acts of Ineffable Love: Short Stories by Glenn Cheney, Shetucket Press (Hanover, CT), 1995.

Journey to Chernobyl: Encounters in a Radioactive Zone, Academy Chicago Publishers (Chicago, IL), 1995.

They Never Knew: The Victims of Nuclear Testing, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1996.

Nuclear Proliferation, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1999.

Also contributor of poems and short stories to periodicals, including Verve, Anathema Review, Bottomfish, and Maple Twig. Contributor of articles to business journals, including Accounting Today and Journal of Accountancy.

SIDELIGHTS: "I've been writing since I was a child," Glenn Cheney once commented. "I could not stop any more than I could stop thinking. In fact, writing has become my mode of thought. By a mysterious process I do not understand, language leads me to thoughts, conclusions, ideas, stories, and discoveries. It all starts with words. I write all kinds of things: long and short fiction, creative nonfiction, traditional journalism, essays, lots of letters to editors, the occasional poem. I wish these projects more often led to publication and a paycheck. I wish I had more time to focus on a worthwhile project that someone is willing to pay for.

"But I can't complain. This is a great profession, a noble craft, a sacred art. It satisfies my curiosity. It leaves me independent. I work at home or wherever I happen to be. I like to think that the product of my effort leaves the world a little better than it used to be. My profession also gives me license to pursue any studies or travels that pique my interest. For the sake of a solid career, I suppose I should have pursued a Ph.D. As a writer, however, I wanted an education that was wide rather than deep. I've ended up with a B.A. in philosophy, an M.A. in communication, an M.A. in English (from a university in Brazil), and an M.F.A. in writing.

"I've done quite a bit of traveling, usually on a budget that required me to sleep outdoors or beg for space in someone's house. In 1974, I hitch-hiked to Brazil. In 1977, I traveled around northern Africa. In 1978, I moved to Brazil and got married. In 1980, I moved back to the States, but by 1985, I was ready to live on a banana farm in Brazil, so off I went. I came back in 1987. Since then, I've been to Russia and Ukraine, El Salvador, Amazonia, and Europe."

Several of Cheney's books reflect his well-traveled background, with titles on peoples and events in El Salvador, Central America, and the Amazon. El Salvador, Country in Crisis deals with the civil war that gripped that nation and the conditions that contributed to the bloodshed. Booklist critic Sally Estes described El Salvador as a "solid" introduction to the crisis in that land. In a School Library Journal review, Isabel Schon found that "the value of this book lies in its perceptive analysis of the many issues which prevail in El Salvador today." Voice of Youth Advocates reviewer Sherry Hoy noted that the revised edition was "aesthetically improved," with new typeface and photos, adding that the book "succinctly explains all the fuss about El Salvador."

Revolution in Central America focuses not only on El Salvador, but neighboring Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala, as well. It is "an objective, concise, and readable description of the many serious issues involving the people" within Central America, according to Schon in School Library Journal. Karen Stang Hanley, writing in Booklist, praised the book's "timely and well-rounded survey of the turmoil that characterizes most of Central America."

Maintaining focus on that region is Cheney's The Amazon, which is about the ecosystem and its human inhabitants. In his review for School Library Journal, William G. Piekarski deemed the book "worthwhile," and Booklist reviewer Denise M. Wilms called it "thorough." Wilms added, "Readers learn why the rain forest is important, not only to the Amazon region but to all the world . . . and that the area's future lies in careful, ecologically sound management."

Cheney continued, "My career as a writer began just as I finished graduate studies in human communication with a concentration in professional writing. Through a contact at a publishing house, I started writing books for young adults. Over the next decade, I'd write a dozen of them. Some I wrote after a hard and unsatisfying day at a public relations agency. Sometimes I worked on two or three books at a time.

"The book that satisfied me most was Journey to Chernobyl: Encounters in a Radioactive Zone. I did the research during a very intense and challenging month in Russia and Ukraine during the very weeks when the Soviet Union fell apart. I arrived in Kiev with the name of one contact, but for the first few days I couldn't find her. Yet within hours of my arrival I was talking with people who had witnessed the Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath. I ended up writing not only the young adult book I'd been asked to write but also an odd travelogue. Unlike any other book about Chernobyl, it looked at how the disaster affected people. The story alternated between horrific human drama and a humorous account of myself stumbling around the shambles of the Evil Empire."

The young adult book Cheney had been asked to write was Chernobyl: The Ongoing Story of the World's Deadliest Nuclear Disaster. A Booklist review by Chris Sherman called Chernobyl "a truly frightening book . . . of the worst man-made disaster of all time." Regarding Journey to Chernobyl, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote, "In this brief, informal report, this self-appointed investigator describes his travel adventures (with an expired visa) and his encounters with officials and victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe." The reviewer added that Cheney's "poignant account humanizes the events of April 26, 1986, at Chernobyl."

"Journey is a good example of a new genre known as creative nonfiction or literary journalism," Cheney once said. "It uses the devices of fiction—characters, tension, scenes, voice, drama, plot—to portray the real world. The product is nonfiction that grips the reader, generates emotion and shows a truth beyond the reach of traditional journalism. Until my father wrote a book about this new genre (Writing Creative Nonfiction, Theodore A. Rees Cheney, Ten-Speed Press), I always assumed that the novel was the genre of great art. As it turns out, the novel may be close to passe."

Indeed, Cheney's nonfiction efforts have proven most successful for him, starting with a Notable Trade Book citation from the National Council for Social Studies for Television in American Society, a look at the current problems of and future potential for television. Ruth Horowitz, writing for School Library Journal, praised the book's "straightforward and . . . lively style." Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, said Television raises "some thought-provoking issues and will serve as a good jumping-off point for discussion."

Drugs, Teens, and Recovery: Real Life Stories of Trying to Stay Clean—a collection of first-person accounts of drug addiction and the problems it creates—netted Cheney a Books for the Teen Age citation from the New York Public Library. "Even the most jaded of readers," wrote Voice of Youth Advocates reviewer Connie Allerton, ". . . will be sobered by the self-destruction, self-loathing, and utter waste of young lives in these personal accounts."

The American Library Association named Teens with Physical Disabilities: Real Life Stories of Meeting the Challenges a Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. The book deals with specific teens and their day-to-day concerns. Booklist reviewer Mary Harris Veeder called the book a "gritty, tough collection of stories." Writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, Dorie Freebury said that "this commendable book will appeal to both boys and girls and is a tremendously valuable source of information for learning about the experiences of teens with physical disabilities."

Cheney's They Never Knew: The Victims of Nuclear Testing followed Teens with Physical Disabilities. They Never Knew is "a disturbing look at the effect of nuclear test fallout, particularly in the western United States," said Shannon VanHemert in School Library Journal, adding that it is "an important book on a neglected subject." Booklist reviewer Debbie Carlton wrote, "Cheney's straightforward presentation, attention to research (he makes good use of available records), and extensive footnotes give his book credibility." For They Never Knew, Cheney received his second Books for the Teen Age citation from the New York Public Library.

Despite his success with nonfiction, Cheney concedes he is interested in writing fiction. "I'm working on a novel," he once mentioned. "I'm also tinkering with a history of the Pilgrims. I'm also working on my biweekly article about the exciting world of accounting. Yesterday, I wrote a letter to a newspaper editor, and today, if I get time, I'll write another. I don't know if I'll take out my poem about my bees—I'm a beekeeper—and work on it, but I might. In the next few weeks I have to update a manuscript of a book about nuclear proliferation. I also owe a few people some letters.

"Such is my life as a writer. It's good."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July, 1982, Sally Estes, review of El Salvador, Country in Crisis, p. 1432; June 1, 1983, p. 1266; November 15, 1983, Ilene Cooper, review of Television in American Society, p. 494; May 15, 1984, Karen Stang Hanley, review of Revolution in Central America, p. 1341; December 15, 1984, Denise M. Wilms, review of The Amazon, p. 587; April 15, 1985, pp. 1188-1189; February 15, 1986, pp. 864-865; January 15, 1994, Chris Sherman, review of Chernobyl: The Ongoing Story of the World's Deadliest Nuclear Disaster, p. 908; August, 1995, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Teens with Physical Disabilities: Real Life Stories of Meeting the Challenges, p. 1937; January 1, 1997, Debbie Carlton, review of They Never Knew: The Victims of Nuclear Testing, pp. 832-833.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 1983, p. 205.

Horn Book Guide, fall, 1999, Jackie C. Horne, review of Nuclear Proliferation, p. 317.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1993, p. 857.

Publishers Weekly, September 11, 1995, review of Journey to Chernobyl: Encounters in a Radioactive Zone, p. 70.

School Library Journal, August, 1982, Isabel Schon, review of El Salvador, Country in Crisis, p. 124; December, 1983, Ruth Horowitz, review of Television in American Society, p. 72; August, 1984, p. 82; December, 1984, William G. Piekarski, review of The Amazon, p. 79; December, 1985, Isabel Schon, review of Revolution in Central America, pp. 36-37; December, 1985, p. 87; February, 1986, p. 82; November, 1993, p. 129; March, 1994, p. 240; August, 1995, pp. 159-160; April, 1997, Shannon VanHemert, review of They Never Knew: The Victims of Nuclear Testing, p. 146.

Science Books and Films, January-February, 1994, p. 12; March, 1997, p. 37.

Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1990, Sherry Hoy, review of El Salvador, Country in Crisis, p. 172; December, 1993, Connie Allerton, review of Drugs, Teens, and Recovery: Real Life Stories of Trying to Stay Clean, p. 318; August, 1995, Dorie Freebury, review of Teens with Physical Disabilities: Real Life Stories of Meeting the Challenges, pp. 179-180.

ONLINE

The Cheney Sampler,http://www.99main.com/~cheney/ (October 18, 2001).

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