William Herbert Deverell was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, on March 4, 1937. He worked for several years as a newspaper reporter and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with his law degree in 1963. Deverell practiced law for fifteen years, acting primarily as a defense lawyer in hundreds of cases, including murder trials. During that time he also represented some minor and major figures in the drug trade, and this experience is particularly evident in his novels.
After tiring of his work as a criminal lawyer, Deverell began writing fiction in the late 1970’s. He struggled with his first novel for several months but finally found his voice, and Needles was published in 1979. It was an immediate commercial and critical success. Needles won the fifty-thousand-dollar Seal First Novel Award in 1979 and the Book of the Year Award in 1981.
The financial and critical success of the novel consolidated Deverell’s career move. He began publishing novels regularly, about one every other year, and went from success to success. In the early 1990’s Deverell and his wife, Tekla, built a small cottage on Pender Island, off the coast of Vancouver, that served as a place for him to write. They also built a winter home in Costa Rica. The exotic locations and inhabitants of both Pender Island and Costa Rica have figured in Deverell’s later work, particularly in his preoccupation with the fragility and beauty of nature, and the...
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