TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth Oppel says: "I was born in 1967 in Port Alberni, a mill town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia but spent the bulk of my childhood in Victoria, B.C. and on the opposite coast, in Halifax, Nova Scotia...At around twelve I decided I wanted to be a writer (this came after deciding I wanted to be a scientist, and then an architect). I started out writing sci-fi epics (my Star Wars phase) then went on to swords and sorcery tales (my Dungeons and Dragons phase) and then, during the summer holiday when I was fourteen, started on a humorous story about a boy addicted to video games (written, of course, during my video game phase). It turned out to be quite a long story, really a short novel, and I rewrote it the next summer. We had a family friend who knew Roald Dahl - one of my favourite authors - and this friend offered to show Dahl my story. I was paralysed with excitement. I never heard back from Roald Dahl directly, but he read my story, and liked it enough to pass on to his own literary agent. I got a letter from them, saying they wanted to take me on, and try to sell my story. And they did.

Colin's Fantastic Video Adventure was published in 1985, in Britain and the U.S, and later in France. It was easily the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me -- and it gave me the confidence to think I could make writing my career.

I did my BA at the University of Toronto (a double major in cinema studies and English) and wrote my second children's novel The Live-Forever Machine in my final year, for a creative writing course. I married the year after graduation and spent the next three years in Oxford, where my wife was doing doctoral studies in Shakespeare. We then spent two years in Newfoundland where my wife had her first teaching job at Memorial University. After that we returned to Toronto where we now live with our two children.

I've now written 20 books for children and young adults, and one for adults. My latest book, AIRBORN, a fantasy adventure set in an imaginary past where giant airships ruled the skies, will be published in Canada, the United States and Britain in spring 2004."