young prospect

“I’m still patiently waiting to be noticed by a wandering, possibly lost, NHL scout.

Until then my only option is to write about my dreams.” – AJS

Bio

Arthur John Stewart was born a natural playmaking center within the recruitment zone of the Selkirk Fishermen Hockey Club in 1951. Unable to come to contract terms with the Fishermen, he moved with his family to Winnipeg and signed to play goal for the Winnipeg Pee-Wee All-Stars. While barnstorming through Northern Ontario with the Winnipeg squad, he had the good fortune to play before a full house in Parry Sound, Ontario just prior to another game in which a twelve-year-old Bobby Orr made his debut with the Parry Sound Bantam All-Star team. AJ graduated from St.Norbert Collegiate in Winnipeg and eventually signed on with Transport Canada as an air traffic controller. Living in Winnipeg, he was present at Portage and Main when Bobby Hull signed his famous one-million-dollar contract to play with the WHA Jets. It was around this time AJ became interested in writing. By skillfully combining many weekend and evening writing courses with copious amounts of actual writing, he eventually received some early encouragement from local newspapers—The Winnipeg Tribune, The Winnipeg Free Press and The Winnipeg Sun—in the form of actual pay for freelance submissions. Despite a busy family, a demanding job and multiple old-timer hockey commitments, AJ managed to scratch out a few legible lines which were able to see the light of day through other forms of media, including the stage of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and a CBC Radio Drama production.

Unfortunately, the pen was knocked right out of his hand when the Jets departed Winnipeg for Phoenix, Arizona. Several dark, unproductive years followed until he eventually took his natural playmaking ability to Victoria, BC. There, while toiling with the Victoria Writing Society Friday Afternooners, he conceived and wrote Odd Ball. And as they say in the VWS dressing room, “It takes one to know one, Buddy.”

How many years have you been writing professionally?

I got $75 for a newspaper article in the late 70s.

How do you want to introduce youself to your audience?

Surprised, in a pleasant way, to have a book in print.

How do you want your audience to see you?

As a stern, no nonsense proponent of writing/hockey fundamentals, with a strong focus on intelligent, overall story/team play. And although it’s not important to dominate the competition all the time, it is important to put your best work/game forward—and not leave it behind…in coffee shops/dressing rooms…scribbled on napkins/wrapped in angry socktape balls.

–What are the most significant ideas in your work that you hope will engage your audience?

Things can turn out pretty well in life—although not always as expected—when you open yourself to other ways of seeing the world. I’ve also tried to write a story that is equally relevant and enjoyable to both males and females. Was I successful? Only readers can decide that.

–What was your main motivation in writing a book in this genre?

Believe it or not, I didn’t consider genre at all when I wrote Odd Ball. I simply thought this was a good story. That’s how I always start out at least.

Some of the best books I’ve read as an adult were ones I discovered while reading to my children when they were young—Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, S.E. Hinton, Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, Jerry Spinelli, R.P. McIntyre. Read any of those to a 3 year old, a 13 year old, a 33 year old or a 63 year old and they’ll all be spellbound.

–What do you like about this genre?

I love having ended up in YA (young adult). Being involved in a school environment, even in this peripheral way, gave me a chance to experience something I’d forgotten, that is, what it is that a school does best. The dispirited teachers valiantly keeping their chins up, the old, battered texts rich with cryptic, doodled messages from the past, the kooky, painfully awkward best friends, the bully-infested corridors, even the sharp-cornered, industrial-shaped buildings themselves— don’t ask me how, but they all somehow manage to come together and completely convince those of us who pass through them, that literally anything we can imagine, is possible. Go figure.

What better atmosphere can there be for a writer?

–What do you hope your audience will discover if they read this book?

I hope readers will discover some pretty engaging and unique characters whose lives come together in an unexpected, but highly satisfying way.

 

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