When the Sergeant Came Marching Home
Don Lemna
Holiday House Inc.

I am extremely old. This is because I was born way back in the middle of the “dirty thirties” (1936). My father was an American and my mother was Canadian, and I grew up on the Canadian prairies. I was not a very good student in school when I started out, but I worked at it and I improved over the years. I liked school—except when I got beat up. I always loved books and libraries, and they have been a constant joy for me all my life.

After high school I went to military college and then university and I became an electrical engineer. After a career in the Canadian Armed forces—during which I spent three years attached to the American Air Force—my wife and I, along with our two sons, restored an old house in the country and moved into it. We grew some of our own food, and got most of the rest from our farming friends. It was a rather good life.

We met a lot of interesting people out there in the country, and we saw lots of funny things going on. One day I wrote a story about a funny incident that happened down the road, and it was published in a magazine. They actually paid me for it too! I thought that was a bit of all right, so I wrote some more stories and I sold them too.
After several years in the country, we wanted a change, so we moved back to the city. I then became interested in drama and for several years I wrote plays and worked in amateur theatre. That was fun too, but my plays didn’t quite make it to the big time. I also wrote a short novel for kids, entitled “Bubsy”. It was eventually published, and I made a little money from it. Bubsy was based on some of my own experiences as a kid, so it was easy to write.

One day, a few years ago, some American editors became interested in my old country short stories and they suggested I write some novels based on them. I finally got around to doing it, and the first of these novels was published in 2008. I called it “When the Sergeant Came Marching Home”.

A few years ago, I became very interested in learning how to write traditional poetry—I mean the kind that has rhyme and rhythm. After I’d learned the basics, I decided to try to write a chapter book story in the form of a long poem with four lines in each stanza. I’m still working on it, when I have a spare moment, but my main project right now is a new novel for young adult readers.

I have many interests—gardening, music, science, art, technology, history, philosophy…you name it. Of course I still read all the time too, but I would say one of my chief interests now is people. People are quite fascinating. You never know what they’re going to do next. And what a variety there is! I’m constantly amazed by what they are like, and what they do. That’s really my chief interest—outside of my family and friends.

My family consists of my wife, two sons, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren (three boys and two girls, all with driver’s licenses).