Leaving Fletchville
René Schmidt
Orca Book Publishers

Hello I am René Schmidt. I have a wife and two sons and am a retired teacher. Years ago, I taught kids who hated to read. To make things interesting I wrote stories using their names as the heroes or victims. Sometimes I would ask these kids to help write the endings. If they refused (sensing a trick) I would conclude the stories with their ‘favorite teacher’, Mr. Schmidt, swindling them out of money, taking credit for something they did, or besting them in a game of snooker. It was all in good fun... sometimes. Before long they would insist on finishing the stories themselves.
My first class of eight students, a behavioral class, helped proof-read and edit Canadian Disasters, my first published book which came out in 1985. I promised these boys if they stopped hitting each other and helped me proof-read I would credit their names in the book. When it got published their names would be printed 15 000 times. They helped and the book sold very well. In fact, after several re-prints, their names got printed a total of 76 000 times!

I continued to use that trick on students with the next two versions of that book. (Disaster! Scholastic Canada, 1999, 2000), Canadian Disasters (Scholastic 2006), and my fiction novel, Leaving Fletchville (Orca Book Publishers, 2008). Students in my classes researched, commented and proof-read the stories and got to see how a very ordinary teacher could get a book published.

As a kid I yearned to travel and experience exciting things so after high school I worked in a mine in Northern Manitoba, in Holland as a construction worker, as a truck driver and taxi driver in Toronto, and as an officer trainee on a bulk freighter in the Great Lakes. I enjoyed touring by bicycle and motorcycle in Europe, Mexico, USA and Canada. Many of these experiences are hidden in my books.

Eventually I went to University. My professors in the Creative Writing department at York U. were themselves authors who encouraged me and helped improve my writing. During my teaching years most of my writing energy was spent creating lessons, history notes and nasty mean-spirited tests. I did write two family articles for Canadian Living Magazine because my wife dared me to.

Leaving Fletchville is a story I’d like everyone to read. Situations like this could be happening right in your own school without you knowing it. I hope you like it.

The Forest of Reading program is magnificent and promotes the many excellent books available to students of all ages. I am honoured to be nominated for the Red Maple award, especially because like forests and red maples are my favorite.

Sometimes I do book signing or visit schools. Follow my blog if you want to come say hello or email me at (Hello to all my former students! Keep in touch and let me know how you are.) If you need more facts for homework or a research assignment, my page on the Writer’s Union of Canada website has details.

René Schmidt