Rick Book Biography

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The only son and eldest of the three children of Don and Lorraine Book, Rick Book was born on June 29, 1949, in Loreburn, Saskatchewan. He was raised on the family wheat farm which was some nine miles southwest of Loreburn, then a community of about five hundred people. Following high school, Book attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon where, in 1970, he completed a bachelor of arts with majors in English and history. During his second year at the university, Book involved himself in student radio, an experience which led to his becoming a part-time disc jockey at a commercial radio station, CKOM. Following another year of study at the University of Regina, he returned briefly to employment with CKOM before being offered a job by Canada's national radio and television network, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which was opening a news bureau in Saskatoon. Book's career with CBC spanned some ten years which included stints in Saskatoon, in Edmonton, Alberta, and in Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario. Working principally in television with some radio, Book covered various news beats, including the provincial legislature when he was in Toronto.

Over the years, Book has reinvented himself a number of times career-wise. The first time occurred in 1981 when he decided to leave the CBC to freelance. Initially, his freelancing activities included writing speeches for a government minister, authoring magazine pieces, and writing documentary film scripts, including part of a series on renewable energy for TV-Ontario.

The father of two, Book found the freelance pace both hectic and not conducive to a strong family life. At the suggestion of his wife, who had a brother-in-law in the advertising industry, Book put together a portfolio and was hired by an agency. After a decade in advertising, Book responded to a producer's suggestion that, because he had an "interesting voice," he make a demo tape. When he finally did so, Book got work almost immediately, and, since then, he has largely made his living as a voice actor, narrating commercials and documentaries.

Necking with Louise was not Book's first published title. In 1993, a small Canadian publisher produced The Lonely Seagull, a picture book which had grown out of a story Book originally created as a bedtime tale for his children. Although the picture book was not a commercial success, Book decided then to take up writing as a hobby. He registered in a children's writing course taught by author Barbara Greenwood at Ryerson Polytechnic University, and, by the end of the program, he had written a novel and a couple of stories. Book sent his writings to a local publishing house, Boardwalk Books, where the publisher, Peter Carver, characterized the novel as "deeply flawed." However, Carver, who had enjoyed one of the stories which had dealt with Book's grandfather's barn, invited Book to join the writing workshop he was conducting through Toronto's George Brown College.

After accepting Carver's invitation, Book initially attempted to write more picture books before undertaking the YA stories which became Necking with Louise. Though none of his picture book stories appeared as a separate book, two were published in anthologies by Prentice Hall Ginn. In talking with Dave Jenkinson about Necking with Louise, Book admitted that, when he started writing the stories that ultimately constituted Necking with Louise, he had no idea that there was going to be a collection because he never saw the individual stories as parts of a whole.

Necking with Louise received the Alberta Book of the Year Award, and one of the stories, "Sun Dogs," was given national recognition in the form of the Vicky Metcalf Short Story Award.