Bio

Gilbert Cross was a  professor of English at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti. Michigan, USA.  During that time he taught many writing and literature courses, including creative and expository writing, Shakespeare and drama.

Helping to start an internationally respected master’s program in children’s literature, was a real thrill.  I specialized in folklore and the history of  juvenile fiction.    I published several articles on theatre history and spoken at many conferences.  I was co-editor of World Folktales:  A Scribner Resource Anthology with Atelia Clarkson, and Drury Lane Journal with Alfred L. Nelson.  I wrote a book on Victorian domestic melodrama, Next Week:  East Lynne, which won the Barnard Hewitt Award for outstanding contribution to theatre history.

I was born in Worsley, near Manchester, England.  By the time I was old enough for high school, the family had moved to High Wycombe (don’t you just love these English names–so different from Moose Jaw and Bugtussle) where I attended Sir William Borlase Grammar School, near Marlow, and Godalming Grammar in Surrey, before enrolling at Manchester University.  I received a BA in general studies (English and Ancient History).   The following year, 1960-61, I enrolled at the University of London and received a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education.  After a year teaching in a public school, I emigrated to the United States.  While teaching in Jefferson County, Kentucky and the University of Louisville, I gained an MA in English  (1965).  I then married and began teaching at Eastern Michigan University, enrolling at the university of Michigan, where, in due time, I received a PhD. in English language and literature.

While at EMU, as it is always known, I wrote a trilogy of espionage novels under the pseudonym, Jon Winters.  I didn’t think people be thrilled to find a professor writing such works–in fact, the thought that a professor English could write anything interesting seemed to impress my colleagues.  They were published by Avon Books, where he was privileged to meet Walter Meade, Editor and Publisher, who was everything authors dream of  and his talented editorial assistant, Ms. DeVries.   The books, now available on Amazon, were The Drakov Memoranda, The Catenary Exchange and Berlin Fugue.

The first of my five children’s book, A Hanging at Tyburn, is largely set near his birthplace in Worsley.  As a teacher of children’s literature, I felt it safe to use my own name.

With Alfred L. Nelson, I was a contributing editor to the Adelphi Calendar, a theatre project lasting some twenty years, during which time I became the General Editor after Al Nelson’s death.  Some of us in academia feel the need to do something no one else is crazy enough to undertake.  The calendar, in all its ten thousand web pages, records everything that happened at the Adelphi Theatre, London, from 1807-1901.  It was supposed to be one of many theatre calendars, but as of this writing, there are no others.  The calendar is at www.umass.edu/AdelphiTheatreCalendar/(ignore the previous version hosted at Eastern Michigan University).

I have now returned to children’s books, my first love.  However, the many changes in publishing made me decide to self–publish.  This approach was longed frowned upon–the term “vanity press” implied the book was not  accepted by a “real”  publisher and was simply printed at the author’s expense.  While there is some truth in the criticism of self-publishing (still found in some quarters), the face of  commercial publishing has changed.  Some say these changes  rival those caused by the introduction of movable type.  I would not go that far, but the thought of having my work depend on the needs of commercial publishers is not a happy one.  (I say nothing of the indignity of receiving a photo-copied “polite” rejection slip.)   Furthermore, commercial publishers are following the death spiral of bookstores (I used to live next door to Tom Borders).  Houghten Mifflin Harcourt Publishing sought bankruptcy protection on May 21, 2012 because they owed three billion dollars!  Those guys published Mark Twain and J. R. R. Tolkein, for heaven’s sake.

I won’t say publishing with CreateSpace was easy, but my friend Ted Seward did all the technical stuff (as he always does), and I just wrote the text.  I have no idea how well the book will do, but at least it is out there.  The Kindle version will be available on July 1, 2010.

I am a firm believer in the value of reading and in not pandering to the lowest common denominator.  A book should be something passed down in families and read more than once.

Ironically, fantasy is the genre I like most of all, but I had never written one.  Dragon’s Fire is thus something of an experiment.  It is a stand alone work, but if reaction is positive, I will write the two sequels.  It was, to quote the most famous and richest author of all time “always conceived of as one book.”

When I am not writing, I’m an eager model railroader.  I lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife Peggy, and CoCo, the cat.  My two sons, John and Robert, now grown, provided me with material for novels.

My favorite children’s book is Wind in the Willows, which was read to me in primary school by Miss Berry.  I used to assign it whenever possible.  It would be my favorite book if it weren’t for Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.  So I divide them (unfairly) into children and adult books.

Just so you know, I love Harry Potter and his books.  I wish I’d written them!