Born November 15, 1956, in Orillia, Ontario, Canada; married Frank McEnaney (a writer); children: Risa Lian McEnaney. Education: McMaster University, B.Sc., 1981. Hobbies and other interests: Running, downhill skiing, films.
Writer. Worked variously as a secretary, factory worker, and banquet server. Fairfield School, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, volunteer.
International Board on Books for Young People, Canadian Children's Book Centre, World Wildlife Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Zoocheck, Nature Canada.
Red Maple Award shortlist, and Governor General's Award shortlist, both 1993, both for Bryna Means Courage.
NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM MITZI DALE
'Round the Bend, Groundwood (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1991.
The Sky's the Limit, Groundwood (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.
On My Own, Groundwood (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1991.
Bryna Means Courage, Groundwood (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.
What's Tuesday?, Groundwood (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.
First Time Around (play), produced in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), 1983.
The Christmas Giving Stopped (play), produced in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), 1984.
Ned Myers: A Life before the Mast (play), produced in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada), 1984.
(With husband, Frank McEnaney) The Careerfree Life (nonfiction), Mosaic Press, 1986.
Luminosity (fiction), Random House (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998 Vintage (New York, NY), 1999.
Sea Change, Mosaic Press (Durham, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
Contributor of monthly column to Mosaic (arts magazine).
'Round the Bend was adapted for the stage by Alan Davis, and produced in British Columbia, Canada, 1993.
Work in Progress
It Happened like This …, a young-adult novel based on Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, for Nimbus Publishing.
Gillian is a Canadian writer who publishes her young-adult novels under the pseudonym Mitzi Dale. Discussing her career, she told SATA: "Writing young-adult novels was a very happy accident for me. My partner,
Frank, and I had just put an offer on our first house together—a little red school house in the country—and my life savings amounted to 5,000 dollars. His contribution would be nine times that, so when I saw a teeny tiny ad in an arts magazine about ‘an international children's fiction contest’ and that the award was 10,000 dollars, I wrote off for details. Groundwood Books, in Toronto, was asking for a minimum of 120 pages of contemporary fiction for nine to twelve year olds. The deadline was about one month away. I set myself the goal of six pages per day and after three weeks had (do the math) 126 pages. I sent the manuscript off and one day received a call telling me that, while I hadn't won, Groundwood wanted to publish my novel, Loony Tune Kid. Two years and a title change later, 'Round the Bend was published. Of the five young-adult novels published so far that is still the most successful, at least in worldly terms.
"With 'Round the Bend I was motivated by money, but with the subsequent books it was usually an image or some dialogue that wouldn't leave my head until I put it on paper. I'm still pretty rigid about the number of pages I do a day, though—five. If I do my five pages in one hour then I'm ‘free’ for the rest of the day but if it takes four hours, so be it.
"All this is not to say that I rigidly avoid drawing upon my so-called Real Life. In The Sky's the Limit the main character, Kim, wants to be a stand-up comic. She joins Hamilton Theatresports. I, too, was a part of Hamilton Theatresports (founded by Frank) and I even, briefly, thought of getting into stand-up. (What was I thinking?) Kim, however, was braver than me (all my characters are braver than me) and in the sequel, [On My Own,] moved to Toronto to pursue her dream. There's actually a third ‘Kim’ book wherein the character grows up quite a bit and realizes what is important to her. I've yet to find a publisher for this one and I must get working on it. I've always thought of the trilogy as an Oreo cookie: two parts dark with a light centre (On My Own), and it's unsatisfying to have the cookie incomplete.
"On the whole, though, writing these young-adult novels is satisfying. Very satisfying indeed."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Atlantic Provinces Book Review, November, 1988, review of 'Round the Bend, p. 10.
Booklist, March 15, 1992, review of 'Round the Bend, p. 1366.
Books for Young People, December, 1988, review of 'Round the Bend, pp. 9-10.
Canadian Review of Materials, May, 1991, review of The Sky's the Limit, p. 176; September, 1992, review of On My Own, p. 212; September, 1993, review of Bryna Means Courage, p. 153.
Emergency Librarian, September, 1992, review of On My Own, p. 36; November, 1992, review of Bryna Means Courage, p. 65; November, 1993, review of Bryna Means Courage, p. 57.
Horn Book, January-February, 1989, Sarah Ellis, review of 'Round the Bend, p. 101; September-October, 1991, Martha V. Parravano, review of 'Round the Bend, p. 603.
Quill & Quire, December, 1990, review of The Sky's the Limit, p. 19; November, 1991, review of On My Own, p. 25; March, 1993, review of Bryna Means Courage, p. 56; March, 1997, review of What's Tuesday?, pp. 79-80; October, 1998, review of Luminosity, p. 36.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 1991, review of 'Round the Bend, p. 58.
School Librarian, November, 1990, review of 'Round the Bend, p. 157.
School Library Journal, June, 1991, Libby K. White, review of 'Round the Bend, p. 122; July, 2001, Elizabeth Fernandez, review of The Sky's the Limit, p. 102.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1991, review of 'Round the Bend, p. 169.