THOMPSON, Margaret

Author Tags: Fiction, Kidlit & Young Adult, Local History, Travel

Born and raised in England, Margaret Thompson immigrated to Canada with her family in 1967. She taught English in Merritt, Sechelt and Fort St. James, where she lived for 20 years, prior to settling in Victoria. She has three grown children and has spent most of her working life teaching English at the high school and college levels until her retirement in 1996. Drawing upon her long association with the Friends of Fort St. James Historic Park Society, she re-created the rough and perilous life of the fort during the 1820s for her first book, Squaring the Round: The Early Days of Fort St. James, a combination of prose and poetry. In her children's book, Eyewitness, a young orphan named Peter witnesses a murder which threatens the tenuous balance between the Hudson Bay Company’s main northern outpost and the Carrier people. Thompson has contributed to numerous anthologies and literary publications; and her submission "On Life and Livestock" received top honours in the Creative Non-Fiction category for Event magazine's annual contest (Vol.27, Number 3) in 1998. A member of the Federation of BC Writers for more than 10 years, she became its President in 2003. During her presidency she published her fifth book, a new collection of personal essays about her European travels and spiritual explorations in Canada and abroad, Knocking on the Moonlit Door. It was followed a collection of personal memories of her encounters with birds and other animals beyond the two-legged variety, Adrift on the Ark: Our Connection to the Natural World.

Margaret Thompson's first novel for adults, The Cuckoo's Child (Brindle & Glass $19.95), is about middle-aged Livvy Alvarsson who has lost a son. In trying to save her brother, she discovers her own identity is false. The Cuckoo’s Child follows Livvy on her travels to the U.K. to uncover her actual heritage.

CITY/TOWN: Victoria, BC

DATE OF BIRTH: November 5, 1940

PLACE OF BIRTH: Surbiton, England



AWARDS: BC 2000 Book Award


Squaring the Round: The Early Days of Fort St. James (Self-published 1992)
Hide and Seek (Caitlin 1996)
Eyewitness (Ronsdale 2000) -- children's title
Fox Winter (Hodgepog Books 2003) -- children's title
Knocking on the Moonlit Door (NeWest 2004).
Adrift on the Ark: Our Connection to the Natural World (Brindle & Glass 2009)
The Cuckoo's Child (Brindle & Glass 2014) $19.95 9781927366295

[BCBW 2014] "Local History" "Travel" "Kidlit"

Hide and Seek (Caitlin $14.95)

The characters in Margaret Thompson's debut collection of short fiction Hide and Seek (Caitlin $14.95) search for solace and try to make sense of the events that affect them. In “Guerilla,” Matthew is stunned by the news that he has AIDS. With his girlfriend Sylvia away for the weekend, Matthew mopes about his apartment in a funk. He recalls the terrible motorcycle accident that led to a blood transfusion given during the “life saving” operation in his late teens. It took 18 units of blood to pull him back to life. And that same blood that saved him will now probably be responsible for ending his life. “And I was grateful, so grateful,” Matthew grimly recalls. “The gods must have laughed themselves sick.”

In “Momento Mori” five-year-old Sky Dreamweaver goes missing on the Sunshine Coast in the winter of 1970 during the hippie heydays. Ironically Sky's parents had moved away from the big city in order to leave their front doors unlocked and feel that their children were safe. Initially everyone assumes a scruffy looking stranger driving a grey pickup could be the abductor. But after several days of searching, shadows of old depressions under the fresh snow are discovered. The narrator and Sky's father, Ethan, look at the faint tracks which go down a slope and out into the middle of a pond, hoping that they were made by a fox or a dog. “They were so vague that I almost convinced myself they were not there,” recounts the narrator, “but for another shadow, in the centre, more substantial, sunken, as if the surface of the pond was thinner at that point.” Young Sky's body is later pulled from the bottom of a pond. And Ethan carries her small limp form to his wife as onlookers watch the eerie scene.

Later Ethan is seen filling a gerrycan with gasoline. His house is set on fire and all that is recovered is a charcoaled lump that investigators believe was once a human being. “They thought the remains were possibly male, but they couldn't be absolutely positive. Like so many human ends, it dangles, still, inconclusively; of the two who could resolve the mystery, one has retreated into the anonymity of elements, and the other apparently stepped off the edge of the world that night, and somewhere out there perhaps, nameless and shadowy, still runs and runs from harm.”

[BCBW 1997]

Adrift on the Ark: Our Connection to the Natural World
Review by Elizabeth Rhett Woods

from Writers' Choice Reviews (2011)
This small, charming and disturbing book is divided into twenty chapters, each centred around one or more animals encountered by the author in various countries—England, Canada, Greece—and ranging from peacocks to foxes, from beavers to goats, from a huge domestic pig to a skinny feral cat, and beyond—and the larger settings in which they occur.
For example, in “Phobia”, Thompson opens with a description of a huge tarantula spider sitting on her hand, relates how as a child she was frightened by a spider, an experience which entrenched a deep, if acknowledgedly irrational, fear of them. Over the years, however, partly through watching a spider spin a web, partly through a television show, Thompson gradually overcame her fear until now she can bear to hold the incredibly light, if fearsome-looking, but gentle tarantula on her outstretched palm. Along the way she discusses the almost universal human reactions of fear and disgust to certain animals, especially spiders and snakes, with a brief overview along the way of spiders in various mythologies—Arachne (Greek), Anansi (African), and Spider Woman (Navajo).
It’s a very honest book. In “Animal Behaviour”, Thompson describes her battle with a team of beavers whose dam-building was flooding her property. Her campaign succeeds when human reinforcements arrive, and kill all the beaver. Each species, as Thompson wryly observes, acts true to their nature. And though she regrets the death of the beavers, and feels somewhat ‘tainted’ by her action, and the fact that she can no longer ‘claim to be an animal lover without blushing’, she admits that, given the same circumstances, she would probably do the same thing again.
While in places lamenting not only the loss of countryside and the freedom of children to roam unsupervised therein, but also the environmental challenges and species loss occurring around the world, her tone is poignant, rather than hectoring. This is a book that can be read right through, or placed beside one’s bed to be dipped into a bit at a time, and reflected upon, while savouring the elegant line drawings which introduce each chapter.

Elizabeth Woods' imminent novel is an inventive fantasy -- Coyote: A Tale of Unexpected Consequences – about a robot coyote who longs to be free.

Posted by Writers' Choice Reviews
Choice Reviews