Allan Stratton

Allan Stratton was born in Stratford, Ontario. Before he was two, he and his mother went to live with his grandparents, first on a farm, and later in the town of Kincardine. While his mother taught history, Allan listened to fairy tales and classical music on a child’s record player. These records sparked his imagination, and a lifelong passion for reading and writing. At the age of five, he was organizing his friends in plays, performed for their parents in the backyard. In grade six, his class produced a fifteen-minute play he’d written about Henry Hudson. By grade eight, he was reading a book every couple of days, with a taste that ranged from comics to Shakespeare.

Allan’s first novel, The Phoenix Lottery (Riverbank Press), won a Stephen Leacock Award of Merit and was nominated for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor, and the TORGI Award (C.N.I.B’s Talking Book Award). A play version of The Phoenix Lottery opened to acclaim at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario, in 2001. Allan’s first work for teens was Leslie’s Journal (2001), a powerful, suspenseful and fast-paced story of a girl finding inner strength and determination. Leslie’s Journal (revised 2008) was named to the American Library Association’s “Best Books for Young Adults” list; Teacher Librarian Magazine, placed it on their “The Best, Notable and Recommended List”; it placed second for the White Pine Award and was listed as a “Gems of 2000” by Canadian Bookseller Magazine.

Chanda’s Secrets (2004) takes readers into the whirlwind of the African HIV/AIDS pandemic. Stephen Lewis, UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa says of the book, “Chanda’s Secrets is a novel with the lilt of Africa in its language and the urgency of adolescent struggle in every paragraph.”

Chanda’s Secrets has been published around the world and has won dozens of international awards and citations, including the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Honor Book and the Children’s Africana Best Book Award for the Older Reader. It was recently made into a feature film, Life Above All, which won the prestigious François Chalais prize at the Cannes International Film Festival. It is South Africa’s official selection for the 2011 Best Foreign Film Oscar, and is being released in North America by Sony Pictures Classics.

Chanda’s Wars (2008) won the Canadian Library Association’s Best Young Adult Book Award, was a finalist for the White Pine Award, and was a selection of the Junior Library Guild, USA. Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (ret.) wrote of the novel: “A story of heartbreak, courage and hope. Chanda’s story reaches to the heart of the terrifying truth about child soldiers in a way that all of us, young and old alike, can understand... Chanda's wars are everybody’s wars.”

Allan’s newest novel, Borderline (2010), is about a Muslim teen whose father is accused of being part of an international terrorist cell. It has already been published abroad and was nominated for several awards.

One of the greatest inspirations in Allan's life is his mom, whom he describes as “amazing.” Despite being a single mom in the 1950s, she excelled at her career and encouraged her son to follow his dreams. Every year from age five she took him to see Shakespeare at the Stratford Festival. Allan was fortunate to see Twelfth Night in the original tent theater! Poet and playwright James Reaney is another inspiration. He cast Allan in the original production of his play, Listen to the Wind, when Allan was in grade nine. He published Allan’s first play, The Rusting Heart, written in grade twelve, in his literary journal Alphabet; it was produced on CBC radio when Allan was eighteen.

Allan has an M.A. from the Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama, University of Toronto. He is the past Head of Drama at the Etobicoke School of the Arts and a former member of New York’s Actors’ Studio. Other life experiences include attending exorcisms in Botswana, undergoing Santerian purification rituals in Cuba, sleeping between box cars behind the former Iron Curtain, and working in soup kitchens in Manhattan. Allan is published in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Australia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Italy, China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea, and distributed in dozens of other parts of the world including India, South Africa and the Philippines. He lives in Toronto with his partner, four cats and any number of fish. He enjoys snorkeling, weight lifting, cross-training, and traveling.

Annick Press books
by Allan Stratton