Gwen Molnar's Career as a Writer
It is perhaps as a writer of children's poetry and teen action-thrillers that Gwen has made her biggest impact.
Gwen did not set out to be a creator of children's literature — that role was seemingly thrust upon her! She delights in telling the story of how her writing career began, right out of the blue.
One day, in October 1983, Gwen was standing at an intersection near her home and, completely unbidden, poems, fully formed, sprang into her consciousness, right there, as she stood on the sidewalk. Encouraged for years by the University of Alberta's Alison White, she began contributing to children's magazines and anthologies, published collections of her work, and received widespread recognition, and several awards, as a new voice in children's literature.
She began her writing career where every writer dreams of ending up — at the top. Scholastic Books, among the most prestigious and well known publishers of children's books, launched her writing career by snapping up her very first submitted manuscript, I Said to Sam, and published it in 1987. The book remained in print for years, was published in several formats, and sold 70,000 copies in North America and abroad.
The floodgates were now firmly open. Other works followed, each furthering Gwen's reputation, and her audience. Children's magazines, including Buzz, Chickadee, Chirp, and Quarry (1985), published her poems, as did the anthology Window of Dreams (1986).
Her poems are whimsical, charming, and engaging, and seem to be part of her DNA. With no preparation, Gwen can recite the contents of poems she has already written, or published, as well as reams of others' poems memorized in her childhood and beyond, to the astonishment and delight of her listeners.
Other media took notice of this new voice. Gwen's work has been read on the CBC (the Peter Gzowski show), The New Adventures of Mother Goose, 1995, on the Shari Lewis Show, and animated on Fred Penner's Place. She herself has read her own light verse on radio station CJSR's Poetry Sessions.
In addition to writing poems, Gwen created notable chapter books: Summer with Sebastian (1997), Sebastian's Promise (1999), Sebastian's Collection Connection (2001), and No Presents Please (2001).
Her next step was perhaps the boldest to date. Hate Cell, a Casey Templeton Mystery (2009), launched her into the world of teen thrillers, and was followed by its sequel, Old Bones (2014), both published by Dundurn Press.
Gwen's initial venture into the realm of self-publishing occurred in the autumn of 2012, when she brought out Just Because; a Collection of Light Verse and Nonsense Just Because We All Need a Smile Once in a While.
Just Because marked the first appearance of the Dempster + Craig imprint. Several more titles followed in short order, and are discussed below. (Special kudos await the readers of this website who can identify the origin of the name Dempster + Craig Books. Put on your thinking caps; sharpen your pencils; rush out to buy a copy of At Home in Old Strathcona; read it carefully; send Gwen the answer!)
Gwen has also written mysteries for an adult readership. The first, Bogeyman, finished in 1993, involves a murder set in an Edmonton golf course. It was followed in 1995 by Pillowed and Hushed, about a murder committed in an Edmonton hospital. Both manuscripts remain unpublished. (Full marks to the readers of this website who can identify the work of Canadian literature that gave Gwen the title Pillowed and Hushed.)
Another teen mystery, Code Breaker, set in rural Alberta, also remains unpublished.
Just as she had embraced digital technology to create visual art, in 2016 Gwen ventured into the medium of eBooks to publish five more of her children's and teen stories: Blown Away, Catherine's Lighthouse, Decima and the Penny Black, Jack Pine Jungle, and Water Rats. All manuscripts were prepared for publication by Dempster + Craig Books, Edmonton, and are available on both the Apple iTunes and Amazon Kindle platforms.
eBook Plot Summaries
Gwen Molnar, Published Works
Highlights of Gwen's publishing history.
I Said to Sam, illus. Carlos Freire (Toronto et al., Scholastic-TAB, 1987).
Animal Rap and Far-Out Fables, illus. JeffWiebe (Victoria, Beach Holme Publishing Limited, 1996).
Summer with Sebastian, illus. Kendra McCleskey (Edmonton, Hodgepog Books, 1997).
Sebastian's Promise, illus. Kendra McCleskey (Edmonton, Hodgepog Books, 1999).
No Presents Please, illus. Dan Clark (Montreal, Roussan Publishers, Inc., 2000).
Sebastian's Collection Connection, illus. Mia Hansen (Vancouver, Hodgepog Books, 2001).
Hate Cell, a Casey Templeton Mystery (Toronto, Dundurn Press, 2009).
Just Because; a Collection of Light Verse and Nonsense Just Because We All Need a Smile Once in a While; title page: Just Because; Light Verse and Nonsense, Something for All, from Four to One-Hundred and Four (Edmonton, Dempster + Craig Books, 2012).
Hazel's Rainbow Ride, illus. Barbara Hartmann (Edmonton, Dempster + Craig Books, 2013).
At Home in Old Strathcona, by Gwen Molnar (Edmonton, Dempster + Craig Books, 2014).
Old Bones; a Casey Templeton Mystery (Toronto, Dundurn, 2014).
2016, five eBooks, available on the Apple and Amazon platforms:
Blown Away (Edmonton, Dempster + Craig Books, 2016).
Catherine's Lighthouse (Edmonton, Dempster + Craig Books, 2016).
Decima and the Penny Black (Edmonton, Dempster + Craig Books, 2016).
Jack Pine Jungle (Edmonton, Dempster + Craig Books, 2016).
Water Rats (Edmonton, Dempster + Craig Books, 2016).
The Window of Dreams; New Canadian Writing for Children, ed. Mary Alice Downie, Elizabeth Greene, and M. A. Thompson (Toronto, Methuen Publications, 1986).
The New Adventures of Mother Goose; Gentle Rhymes for Happy Times, comp. Bruce Lansky (Deephaven, MN, Meadowbrook Press, 1993).
"The People of the Deer Remembered," Edwards, Wynne, and Dianne Linden, Running Barefoot; Women Write the Land (Edmonton, Rowan Books, 2001), pp.20—21.
Animals on Parade; Favourite Rhymes from Chirp Magazine (Toronto, Owlkids Publishing, 2006).
Let's Join In (Scholastic-TAB Publications Ltd., 2010).
Gwen's contributions to periodicals include: Buzz Magazine, March 1986; Chickadee Magazine, Jan. 1990; Museline, League of Canadian Poets, Spring 1997; Quarry Magazine, Special Issue: New Writing for and About Children, Winter 1985.
Finding Gwen's Books
To purchase Gwen's printed books, try Audreys Books, Edmonton, 780-423-3487; Chapters Indigo Strathcona, on Whyte Avenue, 780-435-1290; Alhambra Books (for At Home in Old Strathcona), 780-439-4195; Ibon Antiques (for At Home in Old Strathcona), 780-757-6777; TIX on the Square, 780-420-6510; and the online vendor Belgravia Books & Treasures, firstname.lastname@example.org.