Graham wrote his first novel, a World War II adventure story with a humorous slant, titled Don’t Budge, in 1980. The manuscript was submitted to the Alberta Search for a Novelist contest, and tied for first place against approximately fifty submissions. Doubleday Canada displayed interest and Graham met with two editors, who asked for a partial revision of the manuscript. After holding the novel for approximately a year and a half, Doubleday returned the manuscript with a letter explaining that it had been “bumped” by an author called Donald Jack. The episode was a ‘learning experience’, the principal one being a comment by one of the editors, a charming lady named Susan Dunlop. When offering words of encouragement, Susan said, “Graham, we would publish this tomorrow if you were someone!”
Somewhat discouraged, Graham hardly wrote at all over the next twenty years, and got on with his mid-life crisis: this involved politics, tough business investments and rejoining the Canadian Army Reserve at age forty five. To be blunt, he gave up on the publishing industry. However, he did submit a story to CBC radio that was selected for broadcast, won a humour award from the Edmonton Journal, and a prize for poetry.
At fifty five, Graham retired from the Army Reserve and with more time on his hands, decided to get serious about writing. In 2006 he published a middle grade fantasy novel titled Jessica Jones and the Gates of Penseron, which was evaluated, professionally edited, and kid-tested on a grade seven class in the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, where it was very well received. The book revolves around the changing world of Penseron, where mind matters more than matter, and time is merely a destination. The central character is a little person, Jessica Jones, who is lured to Penseron with her unwilling brother Jake, in order to solve---among other problems---the sudden disappearance of her ancient, first century look-alike. The book won the Edmonton BookAdz best novel of 2006 award.
In early 2007 Graham published Eboracum, The Village, a novel based on the founding of the English City of York (Eboracum) by the Romans in AD 71. This novel won the Premier Book Awards best historic novel of 2007/8. A second edition was updated on completion of the final book in the Eboracum Trilogy in 2010, and it was re-copyrighted at that time.
In December, 2008, Eboracum, The Fortress, was published. This was the second of the Eboracum trilogy, and won the Premier Book Awards best historic novel of 2008/9. As with The Village, in 2010 it was updated on publication of the final book in the trilogy, Eboracum, Carved in Stone.
The Eboracum trilogy spans the thirty five year period from the expulsion of the Celtic villagers inhabiting the York site, to the building of the fortress in stone. The story is told through the eyes of three generations of Roman and Celtic families whose fate, over this period, grew indelibly intertwined. As an historic novel it is unique, in that there are no evil villains or extremely daring heroes. The characters are people such ourselves with all our strengths and failures, sometimes tragic and sometimes darkly humorous, and always with a practical realism that evolves when people are forced into situations that are often beyond their control. The three books have been extremely well received, often surprisingly so. When Graham finished the first novel in the series, he thought it would be a male read. The female readership has been equally overwhelming. Perhaps it is because the women in the novels often have their blades honed a tad sharper than their men...
Rome wasn’t built in a day and it has taken me several months to complete volume IV of the second Eboracum series. We move forward three hundred years to AD 388, which is another way of saying that there’s No Turning Back, which is the name of the book. While the first Eboracum trilogy takes place during the founding of Eboracum, No Turning Back is set at a time when Rome began the process of abandoning Britain; or, to phrase it another way, for Eboracum it was the “Beginning of the End” of Roman rule (my second title choice). Order No Turning Back and get your historical action and adventure fix at: https://pagemasterpublishing.ca/shop/graham-clews/eboracum-no-turning-back/ or at any other of the usual outlets.
My characters in No Turning Back have kept me going… and as before, this will likely prove to be another trilogy. Volume V, as yet to be named, is coming out in 2018 or early 2019. In this book Rome’s armies, now having been mostly withdrawn for a decade and a half, now return with an expeditionary force under the command of General Stilicho. He is charged with countering the ever increasing incursions from the North, Hibernia and the Saxons.
Most of the characters found in No Turning Back were featured in Book V, along with a fair spattering of new individuals, some of whom don’t even know they as yet exist. Those from Book IV have reached a certain maturity as they age, as have their children, who must face their own problems as they become adults in a turbulent time. Just as with every volume in the Eboracum series, this will be a separate book in itself.
As for other writerly “goings on,” I’m scribing the odd frustrated letter on the dreadful political state of the country. I’ve also lapsed into writing poetry for occasional relief (but you gotta be in the mood).
Born in York, England, in 1942, Graham emigrated to Canada in 1956 with his family and met his wife Marie in high school. They were married in 1963 and have three children.
Graham articled in Edmonton with one of the root firms of KPMG, and obtained the professional designation of Chartered Accountant in 1966. His professional career spanned more than forty years. During the first four years he worked in industry, employed by corporations rather than a public accounting office. He held financial management positions in the chemical industry in Edmonton and Montreal (Chemcell Limited), and the aviation and plastics industry (Northwest Industries Ltd.). A desire to live in the country moved Graham and Marie to Westlock in 1971, and he returned to public accounting. In January of 2009, he retired as senior partner of the firm Clews, Shoemaker, Viney and Friesen.
Graham and Marie also operated a farm in the Westlock area, small by Alberta standards: a cow/calf operation with about sixty cows. Over the years, he has also operated a home manufacturing plant, building log homes in some of the remotest parts of Alberta, and served as co-chairman of a publicly traded gold company (after a bitter proxy fight). He served seventeen years with the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve, retiring as a captain on reaching the age of fifty-five. Graham has been quite active in the community, serving on the Ski Board, the Library Board, the Drama Society, the Scholarship Board, the Cultural Arts Board, and as a cub master in the Boy Scouts of Canada. He has also served as president of the local Provincial Progressive Conservative Association, the Army Cadet League of Alberta (also on the national board of governors), and the Rotary Club of Westlock. Memberships past and/or present include the Rotary Club, the Edmonton Branch of the Winston Churchill Society, Westlock Independence Network (for the disabled), and Mensa Canada.