Sharon Stewart was born in Kamloops, British Columbia, in the shadow of World War II. During her childhood, the breathtaking beauty of the British Columbia landscape informed her earliest attempts at writing, particularly nature poetry. Her earliest memories were of the beach at Gonzales Bay where she spent every moment pottering about on the sand. When her father returned from the war in Europe, the family moved to Vancouver and later to the Fraser Valley and then to the Okanagan Valley. To this day, Sharon has trouble deciding which she loves best: sea or mountains?
Sharon’s innermost literary fantasies were early stoked by her victory in her junior high school’s short story competition. However, she was soon sucked into the whirlwind of study and work. Her first high school job was in the West Vancouver Memorial Library and she was one of the first students in attendance when Simon Fraser University opened in 1965. She began her university studies in English and Modern Languages, but by third year, she had fallen completely in love with history. She found, however, that the more she got into academic writing, the less creative writing she did.
In 1969 she won a Commonwealth Scholarship to do graduate work at University College of the University of London, England. After marriage and a move to Toronto, she also did graduate work at the University of Toronto where she completed a Master’s degree in French history, her Ph.D course work and became a teaching assistant. Midway through her thesis and the promise of publication in a scholarly journal, she realized she was no longer interested in strictly academic writing and research. She left the university sphere to become a Social Sciences editor at Gage Publishing.
A second marriage to Roderick Stewart, biographer of Norman Bethune, gave her the opportunity to live and work in China’s far north, the city of Harbin, formerly in Manchuria. Adapting to life in a severe climate with no central heating, she learned to live with two layers of thermal underwear while pedalling to her work as a teacher of English to Chinese teachers. She and her husband wrote a series of articles on China which were published in newspapers across Canada in 1983-84. After the year in China, Sharon returned to editorial work at Ginn and Co. and is now a senior project editor in Language Arts at Prentice Hall Ginn where her job is to research, compile and write content for Language Arts anthologies. Many of her poems and articles have appeared in Ginn and Prentice Hall anthologies.
Sharon’s employment as an editor re-ignited her passion for writing and her long-dormant ambition to write for young people. Napoleon Publishing’s The Minstrel Boy (1997) was Sharon’s first published piece of young adult fiction, although it is in fact her second novel. The first, The Dark Tower, was published by Scholastic Canada in 1998 and her third, Spider’s Web, by Red Deer College Press, also in 1998.
Aside from writing, Sharon’s interests include reading (of course!), playing the piano, gardening and training squirrels to come when she whistles.