Ann Love - Author
Born in Toronto in 1947, Ann Love graduated with a Masters in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1970.
A founder of Pollution Probe at the University of Toronto, she ran the education and information programs there until 1972. She and her husband David then moved to Yukon where they were among the founding members of the Carcross Community Education Center, an alternative, co-educational, residential high school open to students from across Canada as well as Yukon. The school, set between Whitehorse and the wilderness, ran a commercial ventures program to offset fees so that students graduated with high school diplomas or upgraded to trades (bakers, steam operators, forest technicians, reporters, etc.).
Ann and David's oldest child was born in Whitehorse. They moved back to Ontario in 1975 where two more children joined the family. Ann did editorial work for a medical journal, got her teaching degree (University of Toronto, 1990) and eventually became a teacher librarian with the York Region District School Board. Besides her writing, Ann is a botanical watercolor artist, a middling tennis player, a besotted grandmother and an avid naturalist.
Starting in the late 1980s, Ann teamed up with her sister Jane Drake and, together, they have published nearly 30 books. Their works mostly have an environmental focus based on their shared upbringing and travels, with a preference for the remoter parts of Canada.
I was born in Toronto, Ontario, in the Toronto General Hospital.
April Fool's Day (really!).
Where do you live now?
My husband and I live in the country at a place we call Meadowatch.
When did you start writing?
I have loved writing since I was a kid. Back then, I liked to write letters and vacation journals. My first book was published in 1989 in the U.S.
Where do you get your ideas?
I guess they start out as adventures --- often remembered adventures from childhood. I suddenly want to learn more about what I've experienced --- I do a lot of talking, reading and reflecting. Then the ideas start to come.
What is your favorite book?
I can't decide between the King Arthur stories and the Odyssey --- yes, I am a geek!
Do you have any pets?
Yes --- they run our life! Two dogs --- one elderly Lab named Darius and one bouncy, teenaged golden retriever named Tagish. And one cat named Alex --- a.k.a. Belly --- who is not slim.
What was your training or schooling?
I did a Bachelor of Arts and Masters in English Language and Literature, and then I took my Bachelors of Education.
How did you get involved with children's books?
My kids loved reading and so I started to write books for them. Jane and I teamed up when we were both young mothers. Together, we had tons of ideas and stories to tell.
Do you have any tips for young creators?
Read, read, read. And have lots of adventures.
What is the thing you like the most about creating kids' books?
Where do you work?
I have a messy “office” in my house --- piles of books, computer, boxes of papers ... Jane and I keep in touch daily by phone, fax and e-mail ...
How do you research or create your stories?
Jane and I brainstorm and talk about things that interest us all the time. We bounce ideas around with our husbands, kids and our parents. We both read widely --- all sorts of stuff that is peripheral to the subject we are working on --- and pass useful resources back and forth. I especially find magazines and journals helpful. When I'm feeling comfortable with the big picture, I go hunting on the Internet for specifics.
You co-write your books with your sister Jane. What's it like working with your sibling? Have you always collaborated like this? What kind of relationship did you two have when you were growing up?
Jane and I have a lot of fun working together. We are close friends as well as sisters. We shared a happy and active childhood. Our parents took us on many trips and excursions to unusual places to satisfy their interest in the natural world. On a camping trip to Banff, for instance, we took in the dump and the sewage lagoons to find wildlife --- bears and sandpipers. Our dad loves stories and our mum is a great storyteller --- so our adventures were always revisited and elaborated on.
What's your greatest childhood memory?
There are so many. I remember loving a family camping trip in Yosemite, California. At night, the park rangers organized a campfire on top of one of the domes. There was singing and storytelling and games. At the end of the evening they pushed the fire over a cliff. Everyone shouted out “The fire falls ...” as the coals fell hundreds of feet to the valley below. I remember how bright the stars were on that mountaintop when the fire was gone.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A medical doctor in a faraway place like Africa.
What is the weirdest or most interesting job you've ever had?
My husband and I helped start an alternative school in the Yukon --- the locals called it “the hippie school.”
Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
My favorite book to write --- so far --- has been The Kids Book of the Far North. I lived in the Yukon for a while and just loved the people and the land. As I wrote the book, I kept remembering and revisiting in my mind so many exciting adventures there. I had forgotten --- until I wrote the book --- the time we went to look at the caribou migration above the Arctic Circle. When the first caribou came into view they were on a ridge far to the north and they seemed to dance rather than trot toward us.