Slade, Arthur G. 1967-
Slade, Arthur G. 1967-
(Arthur Gregory Slade)
PERSONAL: Born July 9, 1967, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada; son of Robert (a farmer) and Anne (a writer) Slade; married Brenda Baker (a singer and writer), August 16, 1997; children. Education: University of Saskatchewan, B.A. (with honors), 1989. Hobbies and other interests: Biking, t’ai chi, hockey.
ADDRESSES: Home—Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, novelist, and copywriter. Advertising copywriter in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1990-95. Has also worked variously as a hotel night auditor, a radio copywriter, and a census taker.
MEMBER: Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP), Writers Union of Canada, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
AWARDS, HONORS: Governor General’s Literacy Award for Children’s Literature, 2001, for Dust.
John Diefenbaker: An Appointment with Destiny, XYZ (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.
Dust, HarperCollins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Tribes, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Monsterology: The Fabulous Lives of the Creepy, the Revolting, and the Undead, illustrated by Derek Mah, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
Megiddo’s Shadow, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Villainology: Fabulous Lives of the Big, the Bad, and the Wicked, illustrated by Derek Mah, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.
“NORTHERN FRIGHTS SERIES; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Draugr, illustrated by Ljuba Levstek, Orca Books (Custer, WA), 1997.
The Haunting of Drang Island, Orca Books (Custer, WA), 1998.
The Loki Wolf, Orca Books (Custer, WA), 2000.
“ARTHUR SLADE’S CANADIAN CHILLS” SERIES; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts, Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 2002.
Ghost Hotel, Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 2005.
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers, Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 2007.
Author of the comic-book series “Hallowed Knight” and “Great Scott! Canada’s Greatest Scottish Superhero,” as well as the illustrated horror short-story collection Shades of Slade. Author of the blog Writing for Young Adults.
ADAPTATIONS: Slade’s stories have been recorded for the collection Up There There Are Only Birds: Stories from the Edge, released by Shea Publishing (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1994.
SIDELIGHTS: Arthur G. Slade began writing at quite a young age and finished his first novel when he was eighteen. He has averaged a novel every year since then, though not all have been published. As a child, he was a voracious reader of comic books and science fiction and fantasy novels. He also read every book on Norse mythology that he could find. Later, he studied Icelandic literature and Norse mythology in college. This laid the groundwork for his “Northern Frights” series of young adult novels, which are based on Norse myths. “I love putting a new twist on all the old stories that the Vikings used to tell by the firelight,” Slade once commented.
Slade took the title for his first book, Draugr, pronounced “draw-ger,” from Norse mythology and the old Icelandic name for those whose hate prevents them from resting after death. Three young Americans, visiting their grandfather in Manitoba, are caught in a frightening series of events that involve empty graves, strange disappearances, supernatural connections, and a touch of romance. John Wilson, writing in Quill & Quire, declared: “Draugr sits solidly in the preteen horror genre yet stands above much of its competition in writing and plot development.”
The Haunting of Drang Island, the sequel to Draugr, is based on the Icelandic legend of the Jormungand, a water-dwelling world-snake. Like Draugr, the story features undead creatures, both human and animal, and a heavy dose of suspense. Canadian teen Michael and his father travel to a remote island off the coast of British Columbia, where Michael’s father hopes to finish his book of Norse stories. However, the near-capsizing of the ferry they take to the island, a horrendous storm, and an ominous message written in blood on the outside of their tent—all in their first night on the island—interrupt his plans. For the reader unfamiliar with the relevant Norse myths, Michael’s father helpfully explains them to Michael and his friend Fiona throughout the book. “Michael’s father is perhaps a touch pedantic in his exposition of the relevant chunks of mythology… given the hair-raising situations” in which the characters keep finding themselves, Mary Thomas commented in a review for Canadian Materials, but she did not see any other way for Slade to convey this necessary background information. Thomas also did not find this pedantry to be a fatal flaw in the book; “Slade succeeded admirably in keeping this reader on the edge of her chair,” she said.
The Loki Wolf is the third book in the “Northern Frights” series. Angela Laxness starts to have nightmares about being devoured by a larger-than-life wolf. Her parents tell her that they are nothing but dreams, perhaps inspired by the Icelandic tales with which her grandfather has often regaled her. Indeed, there is a shape-shifting Loki Wolf, called an ulfmadr, in Norse mythology, and Angela and her grandfather will soon meet it on a family trip to his ancestral homeland. “Slade is certainly at his best in The Loki Wolf, creating a thoroughly gripping story that will entice readers” into the world of Norse mythology, noted Quill & Quire reviewer Jeffrey Canton.
Slade’s next book, Dust, is something of a departure from his previous works, drawing on Canadian folklore and the Bible rather than on Norse mythology. Set in the Dust Bowl of the Canadian prairie during the 1930s, this Governor-General’s Award-winning book is the story of a small, drought-plagued farming town and the mysterious man called Abram who appears there, promising to bring rain. The town’s children start disappearing as soon as he appears, but most of the townspeople are so distracted by the building of the rainmaking machine and the arrival of the promised rain that they do not wonder too much about these disappearances. In fact, it seems as if the only suspicious one is Robert, the older brother of the first child to disappear. Robert perseveres until he discovers Abram’s secret: the rain-making machine is powered by the ground-up souls of the vanished children. Some souls are also sold by Abrams to intergalactic customers. In the climax of the book, which “almost takes one’s breath away,” wrote Globe and Mail critic Susan Perren, Robert finds the bodies of the missing children, their butterfly-shaped souls stored separately in preparation for a sale. Aliens and natural forces feature in the battle between Robert and Abram, which Robert wins, restoring the children and returning life in this Saskatchewan town to normal. A Publishers Weekly critic predicted that “readers who like their science fiction on the dark, literary side will be hooked,” while School Library Journal contributor Bruce Anne Shook remarked that “this unusual, well-written story will definitely exercise readers’ imaginations.”
In 2002, Slade published Tribes, a book notable for its lack of supernatural elements. Instead, the tension arises from twelfth-grader Percy Montmount’s conflicts with high school culture and, the reader learns as the book progresses, with his own feelings. Percy is the son of an anthropologist, and to distance himself emotionally from the high school cliques that ostracize him, Percy studies them as if he were an anthropologist himself. Percy and his friend Elissa, another misfit, form the “Observer” tribe, commenting on and recording the antics of the Jock Tribe, the Lipstick/Hairspray Tribe, and other common high school groupings. He even records his own actions in a similarly detached tone. Yet slowly the reader begins to learn of the issues from which Percy is trying to run away, including the death of a friend and abandonment by his father. “Slade manages a wide range of weighty topics—Darwin, evolution, the Big Bang, death, suicide, and first love—with a light, humorous touch,” thought a Kirkus Reviews contributor. The author also “does an excellent job of drawing readers into Percy’s vision of the world, only to have this vision unravel as we, like him, come to a truer understanding,” Darren Crovitz wrote in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.
Sixteen-year-old Canadian Edward Bathe, the protagonist of Megiddo’s Shadow, faces personal tragedy and the devastation of his religious faith as he heads off to war in the Holy Land itself. After Edward’s older brother Hector is killed in World War I, Edward decides that it is his duty to enlist and fight. Leaving behind his frail and ailing father, Edward goes to war. For a time, he serves in England, using his farm-honed talents to train horses for the war effort. While in England, Edward also meets Emily, a young nurse with whom he establishes a tentative romance. After she is sent to France, the two continue to exchange letters. Edward is eventually sent to Palestine to fight against the Turks. The carnage he sees there, the brutal slaying of both men and horses, shatters his faith and devastates his ideas about the honor to be found in combat. The war also destroys his fragile relationship with Emily. When Edward finally returns home to Canada, he understands his father’s antiwar stance and grimly sustains his own hatred for the act and concept of war. Horn Book reviewer Sarah Ellis named Edward a “well-delineated character, and individual scenes and settings are crisply realized with lots of sensual detail and immediacy.” A Kirkus Reviews contributor observed that “rousing action and characters to care about yield a memorable tale.” School Library Journal critic Lisa Prolman concluded that Megiddo’s Shadow is a “powerful book that needs to be read.”
With Monsterology: The Fabulous Lives of the Creepy, the Revolting, and the Undead, Slade presents a lighthearted look at a subject of perpetual interest to inquisitive young readers. In humorous and detailed profiles of fifteen monsters, Slade provides descriptions, cultural background, and biographical information on monsters from literature, legend, and film. His subjects include the Grim Reaper, Sasquatch, Baba Yaga, Frankenstein’s Monster, Medusa, Dracula, the Golem, the Loch Ness Monster, and Quasimodo, as well as lesser-known monsters, such as Loba, Tera, and Zack. Slade includes tongue-in-cheek data such as the monster’s favorite movies, nicknames, fashion rating, and memories from high school. Interviews with each subject also reveal more about each monster’s background and approach to life. Slade presents his monsterfilled history with “lots of humor and just enough gross stuff to be appealing,” commented School Library Journal reviewer Michele Capozzella. Resource Links reviewer Maria Forte stated enthusiastically that “this book is sure to amaze young people who are not easily spooked!”
In addition to his fiction and light nonfiction, Slade has written a serious biography. John Diefenbaker: An Appointment with Destiny chronicles the life of former Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker. Slade begins with Diefenbaker’s childhood and traces his formative years as a child and young adult, his entry into politics, his election as prime minister, and his accomplishments during his political career. Slade discusses the difficult road into politics that Diefenbaker faced, and how he ran for office at many different levels before finally being elected to a federal position in 1940. Slade offers a balanced account that covers successes as well as failures of Diefenbaker’s era. Slade also includes additional background information that places Diefenbaker’s time in context with the history of the rest of the world. Slade’s biography is “well written and comprehensive without being too heavy in political terminology,” noted Resource Links reviewer Victoria Pennell. “It presents a chronological picture of one of Canada’s great leaders without bias.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 1999, John Peters, review of The Haunting of Drang Island, p. 1415; October 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Tribes, p. 402; December 15, 2006, Holly Koelling, review of Megiddo’s Shadow, p. 43.
Books in Canada, September-October, 2001, review of Dust, pp. 33-34; September, 2002, Gillian Chan, review of Tribes, pp. 44-45; October, 2002, interview with Arthur G. Slade, pp. 41-42.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, October 1, 2006, Elizabeth Bush, review of Megiddo’s Shadow, p. 95.
Canadian Book Review Annual, January 1, 2001, review of John Diefenbaker: An Appointment with Destiny, p. 547; January 1, 2002, review of Return of the Grudstone Ghosts, p. 517; January 1, 2004, Deborah Dowson, review of Ghost Hotel, p. 524; January 1, 2005, Lisa Arsenault, review of Monsterology: Fabulous Lives of the Creepy, the Revolting, and the Undead, p. 523.
Canadian Children’s Literature, annual, 2000, review of Haunting of Drang Island, p. 119; fall, 2001, review of Dust, pp. 80-81.
Canadian Literature, summer-autumn, 1999, Gernot R.Wieland, review of Draugr, pp. 173-175.
Canadian Materials, November 14, 1997, Mary Thomas, review of Draugr.
CM Magazine, January 3, 2003, review of Return of the Grudstone Ghosts.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), August 25, 2001, Susan Perren, “Forward into Our Past,” review of Dust.
Horn Book, March-April, 2003, Barbara Scotto, review of Dust, pp. 217-219; November-December, 2006, Sarah Ellis, review of Megiddo’s Shadow, p. 727.
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, April, 2003, Darren Crovitz, review of Tribes, pp. 602-605.
Kidsworld, September, 2001, review of Dust, p. 36.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of Tribes, p. 963; April 1, 2003, review of Dust, p. 540; October 1, 2006, review of Megiddo’s Shadow, p. 1025.
Kliatt, September, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Tribes, p. 13; September, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Megiddo’s Shadow, p. 18.
National Post, September 1, 2001, Elizabeth MacCullum, “To Dust Kidnapped Children’s Souls Shall Be Ground.”
Prairie Fire, autumn, 1998, review of Draugr, p. 155.
Publishers Weekly, September 23, 2002, review of Tribes, p. 74; March 31, 2003, review of Dust, p. 68.
Quill & Quire, January, 1998, John Wilson, review of Draugr, p. 38; June, 2000, Jeffrey Canton, review of The Loki Wolf, pp. 53-54; August, 2001, Sarah Ellis, review of Dust, p. 30.
Resource Links, February, 1998, review of Draugr, p. 119; February, 1999, review of The Haunting of Drang Island, pp. 27-28; June, 2001, Victoria Pen-nell, review of John Diefenbaker p. 30; April, 2002, K.V. Johansen, review of Dust, pp. 41-42; February, 2003, Linda Irvine, review of Return of the Grudstone Ghosts, pp. 18-19; February, 2003, Nadine d’Entremont, review of Tribes, pp. 44-45; February, 2006, Maria Forte, review of Monsterology, p. 28.
SaskBusiness, December 1, 2001, profile of Arthur Slade, p. 6.
School Library Journal, October, 1998, Jinder Johal, review of Draugr, pp. 146-147; August, 1999, Linda Greengrass, review of The Haunting of Drang Island, p. 164; October, 2002, Todd Morning, review of Tribes, pp. 170-171; March, 2003, Bruce Anne Shook, review of Dust, p. 240; February 1, 2006, Michele Capozzella, review of Monsterology, p. 137; December, 2006, Lisa Prolman, review of Megiddo’s Shadow, p. 155.
Star Phoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), July 28, 2001, Beverly Brenna, “Depression-Era Story Attracts Older Readers.”
Today’s Parent, March, 2003, review of Tribes, p. 26.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February 1, 2006, Heather Pittman, review of Monsterology, p. 514.
Arthur Slade Home Page,http://www.arthurslade.com (August 10, 2007).
Arthur Slade MySpace page,http://www.myspace.com/arthurslade (August 10, 2007).
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (August 10, 2007), J.A. Kaszuba Locke, review of Megiddo’s Shadow.*