John Wilson was born in 1951 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He did his early growing up on the Island of Skye and in Paisley, near Glasgow. From 1969 to 1974, he attended the University of St. Andrews where he took an Honours B.Sc.. in Geology and never played golf once. His parents had lived most of their lives in the India of the British Raj and John grew up with an expectation that he too would seek his fortune overseas. There not being an empire left to absorb the restless, he took a position with the Geological Survey of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). In his two years there, he mapped rocks, dodged land mines and watched the country sink ever deeper into civil war. Shortly before he was due to be called into the army, John retreated back to Britain on his way to the safety of Canada. He settled on Calgary where geology was booming and the only danger was freezing to death in January. In 1979, he moved to Edmonton to take up a post with the Alberta Geological Survey.
In 1986, John realized he wasn't travelling enough, so he sold his sports car, took a year's leave of absence and travelled around the world. Part of this journey involved a visit to India in search of the remnants of the life his parents had talked so wistfully about. He found little other than decaying headstones, overgrown bungalows and an extraordinary railway system which his father had helped to build. Unexpectedly, he also developed a love for the culture and history of that difficult and chaotic land and gained some small understanding of the sense of loss his parents had expressed so often when he was growing up.
Spoiled by the possibilities he had seen, John had trouble fitting back into the routine of government work. In 1988 he sold a feature article to the Globe and Mail. This fueled a smouldering mid-life crisis and he took up freelance writing full-time. With some success, John mined the experiences of his travels for articles, journalism and photo essays. He even began to express himself poetically and, with a young family, began writing children's stories. After two years, he realized with almost biblical suddenness that it wasn't necessary to starve as a writer in Edmonton, he could just as easily starve as a writer on the West Coast.
So John moved to Nanaimo and then Lantzville on Vancouver Island where he currently lives with an understanding wife, three delightful children, and an ever-changing selection of tolerant rodents. He does little freelancing now other than book reviews for Quill and Quire, spending his time and energies on creating historical fictions for children and adults and crafting biographies of people who interest him. He teaches when he can and considers himself a Renaissance man in the sense that he probably earns enough money to have lived comfortably in sixteenth century Florence.
John Wilson has written the Weet trilogy, Discovering the Arctic: The Story of John Rae and Righting Wrongs: The Story of Norman Bethune for Napoleon. Both biographies were nominated for the Norma Fleck award for children's nonfiction. His next book in the Stories of Canada series, Desperate Glory: The Story of WW I, was published by Napoleon in the spring of 2008, and was followed by a sequel, Bitter Ashes: The Story of WW II in the fall of 2009.