Biography

giselasherman


Age 6

Age 5

CHAPTER 1.  IN THE BEGINNING.

My parents had to flee East Germany, so I was born in the village of Feuchtwangen in West Germany. At age six I sailed to Canada on the Arosa Kulm, and moved to Hamilton, Ontario in time to learn English before school began in September, and to experience Hurricane Hazel. The next year we moved to the valley town of Dundas, Ontario. There, surrounded by fields, ravines, books and my mum’s stories, I developed a love for nature and literature.

grade-9

Grade 9

CHAPTER 2.  A WRITER STARTS.

I devoured books – read every novel the library van brought to our school each month. The first one I read by myself was Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery because my sister Barbara began reading me a chapter a night, but then she got too busy, so I finished it myself. We decided to each write our own mystery book, but I’d said everything I could think of halfway through chapter 2. A few years later I started a family newspaper, which lasted for 3 or 4 editions. In grade five, with encouragement from my teacher, Mrs. Hewer, I knew I wanted to become a writer. But I had no idea how. Writers then seemed as far away and as approachable, as the stars in the sky. I envy kids now who have school libraries and visits from real authors.

CHAPTER 3.  STILL STARTING…

I circled around writing, dabbling at poems and short stories while becoming a wife, mother, teacher for the Hamilton Board of Education, and an evening student at McMaster University. After leaving that marriage, I finally earned my Bachelor of Arts degree and became a teacher-librarian. In 1981 I remarried, and left teaching to raise my children, Becky, Jainna and Charlie. I took writing courses and began to write in earnest. I wrote and edited for The Apple (the newspaper for Hamilton teachers,) wrote articles for local papers, including The Globe and Mail, and wrote reviews and interviews for the Canadian Children’s Literature Journal. Three of my short stories won prizes in local newspapers.


At last a novel!

At last a published novel!

CHAPTER 4.  AT LAST – A NOVEL!

My friend, Sylvia McNicoll and I took a writing for children course with Paul Kropp. His critiquing, and wonderful blend of practicality and idealism, plus Sylvia’s drive, inspired me. I wanted to write a book. But the ghost story I began in Paul’s class wasn’t working and I was devastated. Then a boa constrictor slithering into a Hamilton toilet became three days of TV and newspaper news, and begged me to write a book about it. After 5 years of being submitted to publishers, There’s a Snake In The Toilet was accepted by Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster, New York.) It was a thrill when Rosie O’Donnell talked about it on her show. While submitting the snake story, I wrote an early chapter book, King Of The Class, which Scholastic published.Two years later they also published Grave Danger, that YA ghost novel I had started in Paul Kropp’s class and kept working on over the years. It has been translated into Swedish, Norwegian, German and Russian, and is currently being turned into a movie script.

Meeting readers at the Erin Mills Literary Festival

Meeting readers at the Erin Mills Literary Festival

Having fun at a school library visit

Having fun at a school library visit

CHAPTER 5.  LIFE AFTER PUBLICATION.

Getting published was my dream come true. Also, it opened several doors for me. I could do presentations and workshops in schools and libraries across Canada. Meeting my readers is great fun. They tell me about themselves, what they like to read, and what’s important to them. I qualified to join The Writers’ Union, and get the benefit of their backing, and subsidizing of my school and library visits. I became a full member CANSCAIP (The Society for Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers.) It’s a great place to learn about writing and publishing, and to meet fellow writers and artists. I served as secretary, then Vice-president, then President, and still work on the Packaging Your Imagination committee, planning our annual day of workshops for writers. I’m proud of the talented, supportive, interesting friends I have made there.During the time I was raising my children, I taught evening classes – first creative writing in general at Mohawk College, then Writing The Novel at McMaster University. I loved those classes and those students, and learned at least as much as they did in the teaching and critiquing.

CHAPTER 6.  ACTING.

When I discovered acting, I realized how much I’d always wanted to do it. My kids, my niece and I started as background actors. They soon had enough, but I loved it and wanted more. Gema Zamprogna advised me to go to her dad’s acting school at Theatre Aquarius (Hamilton). Being several years older than the other students, I was terrified, but they and our amazing teacher, Christopher Brauer, made me feel welcome. I learned so much there and in the other classes I’ve been lucky to attend.

I began with small acting roles in TV shows such as Blueprint for Disaster, and Forensic Factor, and some student films. Now as a member of ACTRA, I find the competition tough, but I keep working at it by taking more acting lessons, doing background acting, and attending Improv classes at The Staircase Theatre. Improv is a fabulous way to spend an evening – learning and laughing.

Acting is fun, scary, challenging, wonderful. I love bringing a character to life, and the excitement of being on set. In one way it’s the opposite of writing. I escape my office to mix with fascinating people. Acting and writing also have much in common. Both tell stories. Each requires knowing a character inside out – their motivation, their backstory. It’s a natural extension of doing book presentations.


Hiking in the High Tatras, Slovakia

Hiking in the High Tatras, Slovakia

CHAPTER 7.  OTHER INTERESTS.

My other activities include hiking – I’ve finished the first two sections (from Niagara Falls to Milton,) of the beautiful Bruce Trail. I love being in the woods, any time of year. My plan is to make it right up to the Bruce Peninsula. Who knows if I can actually finish it, but it’s fun trying. Whenever I get the chance, I love to travel. I’ve been lucky to visit interesting places such as Hong Kong, the Mediterranean, Europe, Panama, as well as much of North America.

Two years ago I was privileged to join Eric Walters and his family at the Creation of Hope Orphanage they support in Kenya, and left part of my heart there. I now help support Naomi Loko, my hard-working “daughter.”

Of course, reading good books remains my favorite way to relax, to think, feel, and learn.

CHAPTER 8.  WHAT’S AHEAD?

My newest book is a historical novel, The Farmerettes, published by Second Story Press. It’s about a group of teenage girls who live and work on a farm during the summer of 1943. The girls experience hard work, fun, romance, a mystery, heartbreak and friendship. I hope older teens and adults will enjoy reading about coming of age during World War II.I’m working on the edits for my next book, Magic.com, which hopefully will be published next year. Sam is thrilled to learn that his next door neighbor is a witch. Now he can get lots of magical treats and favors. But when nasty magic begins to happen all over town, Sam must find a way to end it before something truly evil happens. May I keep writing, acting and reading until I drop. I dream of landing bigger acting roles, and have many ideas for more books.

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