When Andrew Wagner-Chazalon was studying English in university, he was asked the same question every English student is asked: do you intend to become a writer?
“I always said no way,” Andrew laughs. “It just seemed so stereotypical. And then I got hired to write press releases for the University of Guelph. I worked with an amazing mentor, and before I knew it, I had a career.”
He has spent more than 30 years as a professional writer and editor, 20 of those in Muskoka. He has spent most of his career working in newspapers and magazines, with occasional forays into radio journalism, theatrical publicity, and online publishing. He is currently the editor and CEO of Dockside Publishing, overseeing a team that produces more than 15 magazines a year.
Over the years, Andrew has written four books, contributed to three others, and edited a handful more. Most of his work is non-fiction, often dealing with various aspects of life in Muskoka. “This is an amazing place, partly because the history here was so condensed,” he says. In most other parts of Ontario there was a slow progression of arrivals: the First Nations were here, then came trappers and explorers, then loggers, then farmers, and finally tourists. “In Muskoka a lot of that happened all at once, with everyone jumbling in all at the same time. That created a lot of very interesting stories.”
His most recent book, Frontlines, was a departure from the world of non-fiction. It is a young adult novel he started while on sabbatical in Australia. “I wanted to use that time to create something unlike anything I’d done before.I’d not written fiction in a long time, so I dived into it.” There are other books planned in the Frontlines series, but for now they exist only as sketches and outlines, awaiting the next chunk of time.
“When we started building our house, I promised my wife I wouldn’t start another book until the house was finished,” he says. “It’s been six years… and it’s nearly done!”
Will the next installment of Frontlines be the next book? He says it’s hard to be sure. “After six years, I have a long list of writing projects I’m itching to start — sketches and scenes from a couple of plays, short stories, a graphic novel, online projects, and of course a few non-fiction books. It’s going to be hard to decide!”
Andrew has graciously provided excerpts of his works for all to enjoy in our Wonderful Wordsmiths‘ section.
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