Tell us about yourself first.
I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. My father was a lawyer
and came from a line of lawyers and magistrates going back to the first
settler in the region, a loyalist who came from
Albany, N.Y. during
American Revolution. After graduating with a B.A from McMaster
University, I lived in Europe working, teaching, studying (in Paris)
and writing. In Vienna
I met a lady who worked at the United Nations
and eventually went to New York and married her.
For many years I was
librarian at the New York Public Research Libraries. After
organizing the union for library workers, I became interested in
political economics and obtained a PhD from the New School for Social
Research. I maintained an interest in history which is why much of my
non-fiction and fiction is history-oriented. In 1992 I retired to
Simcoe, Ontario to write and publish.
When did you start writing?
I began writing short stories in Santa Eulalia, on the Balearic Island of Ibiza in 1954. The following year, I wrote my first novel in Bonasola,
Italy—a portion of which was published as the novella
"Caravetti" in Aspects of Love.
genres have you written?
written on modern art, political economics, library methodology, travel, biography,
detective novels, historical novels, contemporary novels, and a metaphysical novel.
Is Sarah’s Journey your first book?
It is about my 18th
Tell us about
Sarah’s journey. What is it about?
Sarah Lewis was
born a slave in Virginia
to her enslaved mother whose father was a white
slave and whose mother was a black slave. Sarah's father was her
owner, Colonel Brown. The novel shows the true nature of slavery,
Sarah's attempt to win her freedom legally, and finally her escape
with three small children to Upper
Canada in 1820, where slavery
began to be abolished
in 1793. Sarah meets a young Scot and has a son by
him. She becomes his housekeeper in the hamlet of Simcoe, near Lake
Erie. Her relations with the white and black communities, the impact
of the events in her life such as the Canadian Rebellions of 1837-38
on the communities, and the lives of her children carry the story
forward to the success
of her youngest son who becomes one of the
richest men in New York City and the final tragedy.
What inspired you to write this book?
I came across testimonials about Sarah and her family in a legal file
in the local archives and I was impressed by her courage and resourcefulness.
How long did it take you to write it?
I started researching in 2000,
the book in 2003, published it in 2004.
is the publisher of your book?
Davus Publishing of Simcoe, Ontario and Buffalo, N.Y.
Where is it on sale?
It is on sale at bookstores in Canada,
the Chapters chain.
So far only independent bookstores in the States
carry it. The novel is being considered for publication in Great
Tell us about your other books/work.
Several books took
years to research; for example I wrote about the first Canadian novelist, John Richardson,
one of the most colorful and talented men, about the
forgotten McKee Rankin and his roles as actor, manager, playwright, director, and teacher of actors to forge the American theater of the latter
half of the nineteenth century, about the invention of the automobile in the
1820s and its suppression by governments till the 1890s, about one of the great
abstract artists of the twentieth century and about a great museum curator
and explicator of modern
historical novel Chocolate for the Poor concerns a man on trial
for raping his daughter in Massachusetts
in 1805. My detective novel the
Jenny uses the biggest
theft of postage stamps in U.S. history
as subject. Through Paphlagonia with a Donkey is a journal of my trip through the mountainous wilds by the Black Sea in Turkey.
Beasley's Guide to Library Research shows researchers and students how to unlock the
secrets of big libraries (It was a best seller as How to Use a Research
Library when published by Oxford University Press). That Other God is about a
mystic poet, a bohemian painter, an Austrian bureaucrat, and a Turkish dervish
trying to bring humanity to the realization of the god of humanity, rather than
of the state and religion. And so on.
What are the major challenges that you have faced in your
Finding a big publisher who could promote my works.
Has the Internet helped you in your writing career? Recently it has
when researching for Sarah's Journey I was able to
find material on the Hunters' Lodges—which would have taken longer to
find in library sources.
do you advise new writers to do?
Keep writing regardless of discouragement—that is if you really like doing it. Most of the great works took many years to gain recognition—the famous example is
Melville's Moby Dick which sold only about 300 copies in his life time.