Dennis Foon was born and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He always enjoyed reading, and as a young child he loved the Dr. Seuss books. As he grew older, Dennis became a fan of writers such as Charles Dickens and J.D. Salinger. He always wanted to be a writer himself, and in junior high Dennis worked on the school newspaper. He had his own advice column, “Dear Dennis,” for which he wrote both the questions and the answers.
Dennis received an honors bachelor of arts in religious studies and creative writing from the University of Michigan’s Residential College in Ann Arbor. In 1973, Dennis moved to Canada to attend the University of British Columbia. He graduated with a master of fine arts, playwriting (creative writing and theater).
His career in theater began in university. Up to this point Dennis had been writing fiction, but a friend named Patrick McCord, a.k.a. Tires, made Dennis an offer he couldn’t refuse: if Dennis would write a play, his friend would produce it. Dennis took up the challenge—and never looked back. He now has over twenty plays to his name. Dennis’s body of plays (including New Canadian Kid, Mirror Game, and Rick: The Rick Hansen Story) continues to be produced internationally in numerous languages. Included among his many awards are the British Theatre Award, two Chalmers awards, the Jesse Richardson Career Achievement Award, and the International Arts for Young Audiences Award.
In 1975, Dennis co-founded Vancouver’s acclaimed Green Thumb Theatre for Young People, and he went on to be the artistic director for twelve years. Previous jobs included being the primary dishwasher and potato peeler at Olympic Pizza, guiding canoe trips in Lake Superior Provincial Park, and driving a half-ton pickup for an auto crusher company.
In addition to his many plays, Dennis has written extensively for television and film, including the award-winning movies Little Criminals, Terry (the acclaimed CTV drama about Terry Fox), A Shine of Rainbows, and Life, Above All, his adaptation of Allan Stratton’s Chanda’s Secrets, which was shortlisted for an Oscar.
Dennis’s first book for young adults was Double or Nothing (2001), later followed by Skud, a White Pine nominee published with Groundwood Books. A revised, updated edition of Double or Nothing was published in 2011.
His award-winning Longlight Trilogy, which began with The Dirt Eaters in 2003, took readers into a future where the world had been laid waste by war. Freewalker, the heart-pounding second book, was written in 2004 and The Keeper’s Shadow (2006)brought to a dramatic conclusion this powerful chronicle of how untold destruction can result from accommodating evil and the violence it spawns.
Dennis lives in Vancouver, B.C., with his family.