Profile: James Bow & Erin Bow

by Helen KubiwSeptember 2017

It would be fair to say that both James Bow and Erin Bow came to writing circuitously. Toronto-born James Bow made his way to Kitchener to study at the University of Waterloo, training as an urban planner. Though his employment has included everything from database manager to web designer, it was his love of writing that finally had him diving into publishing. Many will recognize James’ name from his young adult fiction, particularly his recent Icarus Down (Scholastic Canada, 2016), a cautionary speculative fiction tale of environmental destruction, colonization, genocide and cultural discrimination. The Unwritten Books series from Dundurn–The Unwritten Girl (2006), Fathom Five (2007) and The Young City (2009)–also delves into another world, the Land of Fiction, where protagonists Rosemary and Peter and a weird little shapeshifter named Puck must venture to help Rosemary’s brother. But James Bow’s fiction is but a fraction of the books he’s written for young people which includes over 35 non-fiction titles.

Erin Bow, born Erin Noteboom in Des Moines, Iowa and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, proudly tells readers that she is a physicist turned poet turned young adult novelist. Her path from studying particle physics, including a stint at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, took a sharp turn with a foray into poetry and book writing, with a permanent stop in Canada, where she met and married James Bow. Except for a memoir which she claims no one read, Erin Bow has been impressing all with her two books of poetry–winning a CBC Literary Prize–and four books of young adult fiction. Her first fantasy novel, Plain Kate (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010) is steeped in curses and suspicion, and it won the 2011 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Sorrow’s Knot (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013), her second book of speculative fiction, won the 2014 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy. The Scorpion Rules (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015) and The Swan Riders (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016) make up her most recent science fiction duology, the first book earning Erin Bow the Canadian Library Association’s YA Book of the Year and a second Monica Hughes Award.

Helen Kubiw blogs at CanLitforLittleCanadians.blogspot.ca