Dwyer, Michael J(oseph) 1953-

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DWYER, Michael J(oseph) 1953-

PERSONAL: Born April 3, 1953, in Botwood, Newfoundland, Canada; son of Leo (a master mariner) and Kathleen (Burke) Dwyer; married Beulah B. Freake, 1976; children: Mark, Michelle. Education: Attended Memorial University of Newfoundland. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Outdoor activities (hunting, fishing), karate (black belt).

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 855, Lewisporte, Newfoundland, Canada A0G 3A0. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Writer. Also works as truck driver; formerly worked as an official Canadian river guardian.

MEMBER: Newfoundland Karate Association.


Over the Side, Mickey: A Sealer's First-Hand Account of the Newfoundland Seal Hunt, Nimbus Publishing (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 1998.

Sea of Heartbreak: An Extraordinary Account of a Newfoundland Fishing Voyage, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Eastern Woods and Waters and Newfoundland Sportsman.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Gotta Run, a book about trucking.

SIDELIGHTS: Michael J. Dwyer told CA: "First of all, writing is not my career. It is more of a pastime. Primarily I make a living driving semi-trucks. I spend some of the in-between time writing.

"I first took writing seriously in 1985 when I was employed by the federal department of fisheries and oceans as a river guardian. My job included writing out information pertaining to poaching violations in which I was involved. This was turned over to Gilmore, the crown prosecutor, for prosecution. The crown prosecutor once said to me, 'Michael, you write out excellent information. Once I have read it, there is not a shadow of doubt in my mind as to what happened.' As fate should have it, five years later I had occasion to charge my fisheries boss with fisheries violations. When I confided in the crown prosecutor, he said, 'Michael, if you feel you are getting the [lousy] end of the stick, write things down. Journals are admissible as evidence in court. The faintest ink is brighter than the sharpest memory, and never put in writing what you don't want the whole world to read.' I took his advice seriously and, although I have received the [lousy] end of the stick to date, I have also accumulated 10,000 pages of my written words.

"I choose to write about what I am involved in. When I went sealing in 1998, my journal went along and I kept a day-to-day record. After the expedition was over and I was recovering from a serious case of cellulitis, I decided to write about the expedition for my own cleansing and peace of mind. When I put the last period onto the first draft, I felt cleansed and relieved, and lucky to be alive. Safety for the sealers was important to me, so to get the message out hopefully to improve safety conditions aboard sealing ships (that haven't changed much for the better since the 1800s), I decided to send the draft to a publisher. Of the three I contacted, Nimbus Publishing of Halifax thought it was a good story. I was thrilled, to say the least, and I am still grateful.

"In April, 1999, a film crew from Focus Television in Germany came to Newfoundland to interview me. I hired a boat for them, and they interviewed me while standing on a floating ice pan with the lighthouse on Surgeon's Cove Head, Exploits Island, beaming in the background. Jurgen, the producer, said that it was the most enjoyable assignment he ever undertook, and the awesome beauty of the grounded iceberg that we circled and filmed took his breath away. The twenty-minute film was shown on German television, but I never heard anything about it or viewed the documentary.

"My writing process involved my journals, both current and old. I find that just to write a little can focus my mind on the events about which I am writing. First, I blurt it all out without considering punctuation, paragraphs, or spelling. When that is on the computer screen, I walk away and think about it for a time. Then I correct the mistakes and add things that I have thought about or add things that I think about as I go along. Then I print it. It is that moment that I like because, regardless of what it is like, I have it in my hand and it's saved on my computer. I sit with a pencil and try to edit. Then I let it sit. A few days later I will compute the corrections and additions and start something else.

"I suggest to anyone, if he/she lives through any kind of interesting event, to write things down. If you have the nucleus of a good story, a good editor will see it. Together you can write a good story that will sell. A good editor is as important to a wanna-be writer as a producer is to a wanna-be movie star. You find good editors at publishing firms, and there are plenty of publishing firms, so don't give up. Even if it doesn't get off the ground, for sure your grandchildren will find it interesting. Maybe they will get it published for you."



Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), May 27, 2001, Bruce Erskine, review of Sea of Heartbreak: An Extraordinary Account of a Newfoundland Fishing Voyage.

Downhomer, July 1, 2001, John Crane, review of Sea of Heartbreak, p. 102.

New Brunswick Reader, June 23, 2001, Kate Rutherford, review of Sea of Heartbreak.

Pilot (Lewisporte, Newfoundland, Canada), November 18, 1998, Linda Skinner, review of Over the Side, Mickey: A Sealer's First-Hand Account of the Newfoundland Seal Hunt, p. 3.

Western Star, November 18, 1998, Pamela Gill, review of Over the Side, Mickey, p. 17.