The early days
I was born on October 15th, 1969, in St-Malachie, Quebec, a small village about an hour south of Quebec City. But soon after birth, doctors noticed that there was something wrong with my eyes. First of all, my left eye was misshapen. Fearing it might be tumorous, they removed it, and replaced it with a glass prosthesis. As for the right eye, the iris was underdeveloped, and they weren't sure if I would have much sight through it. And they were right: within a year, I was diagnosed with acute myopia.
But my parents were determined that I wouldn't be going to any 'special schools'. Indeed, they saw great potential in their son. (I think it was when, at age four, I made hot chocolate all by myself, without anyone ever teaching me.)
However, teachers were a little harder to convince. Indeed, I was refused access to kindergarten because the teacher didn't want to have to 'watch over me all the time'. So, I had to stay home, and learn my ABC's and 123's by watching 'Sesame Street'. And it worked: within a few months, I knew how to read and write.
Off to school
But when it came time to start Grade 1, the school insisted that I needed to do kindergarten (!) However, a friend of the family offered to teach me and a few other children, in a special English-language class. (The school itself was a French-language school.) I was taught by this teacher, a Mrs. Jordan for my first year, and then a Mrs. Quigley for the following four years. Unfortunately, due to the provincial French language bill, the class was then closed, and I was forced to do my Grade 6 in French.
I then went to Quebec High School, in Quebec City, but this period could be called my Heaven and Hell period. True, I did have fun times there, but I also suffered mental abuse at the hands of my Home Economics teacher; and the low self-esteem I'd acquired due to teachers in Grade school pitying me all the time made me the prime target of every type of bully the high school could breed. As well, the long drive, (often four hours to and from school every day), meant I couldn't socialize very much with other students at the school. So it was with somewhat of a relief that I graduated in 1986.
Then came CEGEP at the College Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, in St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, (a suburb west of Quebec City), where I started in Science; but soon realized this wasn't my field when I had to repeat every science class I took. As well, having a non-French name, I was made an outcast by some, but most of the other students found me 'interesting and brainy'.
A gift for writing
On April 30th, 1988, my father died after a short battle with cancer. And only a few months after his funeral, I discovered I had a great gift for writing. Indeed, one day, I woke up from a dream, and wanted to put it on paper. Which I did; and within a few months, my first short novel, 'The Legend of the Fox Lover', was finished. I found it so fun to write, I decided to launch myself into another.
Humanities with Mathematics
In September 1988, I tried to salvage all the courses I'd passed by doing a degree in Humanities with Mathematics. It worked, almost: I flunked Math 105. Nevertheless, I did get my degree in May 1989, and was happy to go on to University. (P.S. Ironically, when I took the course again, a year later, as an Adult Education class, I passed it with flying colours. Probable reason? Much smaller class, thus more individual time with teachers.)
In August 1989, I enrolled in Computer Science, (at a time when Windows was still in construction, and the Net was still a military secret), at Sherbrooke University, in Sherbrooke, Quebec. I discovered this wasn't my field, either, failing out before the year was through. And an attempt at a French Studies degree fared no better.
The making of a radical
In early 1990, I realized I was becoming a radical animal lover. Indeed, I had been interested in wild animals since grade school, but now the thought of wolves and foxes being killed just for fun, or just for someone to prance around like a peacock with its pelts on his or her back made me angry. But instead of joining one of those animal liberation groups, I decided to write a book about how someone could peacefully save animals. Thus, the first chapter of a 15-year on-and-off saga that was the creation of my first novel.
Back to university
In August 1991, just after returning to the university for a third stab at a degree, this one in History, I was hit by a car while trying to cross the street. Miraculously, I suffered only a wrenched knee and various cuts and bruises from my right ankle to my right shoulder. But the accident became somewhat of a sign that I was going to get this degree. (After all, my elder sister had been struggling in university, too, until she was run over by a motorcycle, and broke her leg. Three years later, she got her Medical degree.) And indeed, in April 1994, I graduated with a B.A. in History.
But what to do now? Qualified historians weren't much in demand in an agricultural and industrial region. However, I did find summer work in a small aviation museum in Ste-Marie-de-Beauce, Quebec. I worked there for two summers; but then, the museum went bankrupt and closed.
In August 1996, I tried for my Masters' Degree in History at Moncton University, in Moncton, New Brunswick. All for nought; due to differentiating opinions with one of my teachers, I was asked not to continue, and so went back home after two semesters.
After living off welfare for three years, I was finally hired by the Bellechasse regional government. But when I started my initial one-year contract, I was kind of surprised that I had no assignments (!) So I did my best, doing various small assignments, until I became quite good at finding projects. For example, I wrote an original historical report on a nearby crossroads hamlet called Abenakis, as well as mapped out the sites of all the roadside crosses in the region. However, when it came time to renew my contract, the boss refused, saying I had been hired just to make him look good, and that he had no intention of having a 'cripple' as an employee. (Some attitudes never change.)
That was the last straw! Knowing I was never going to be hired if I stayed in the Bellechasse region, (and hearing of a special hiring program for people with disabilities in Ottawa), I moved there, staying for 11 months at a hostel. Unfortunately, the program didn't come to anything; and so, for over a year, I did temporary contracts jobs in various government departments.
Writing, writing, writing
I had been writing my novel on-and-off for nearly ten years, when my eldest sister read part of it, and said it was good, and I should complete it as soon as possible, and get it published. I didn't need more encouragement, and set on it with a passion.
Canadian Council of the Blind
In April 2001, I was hired by Statistics Canada, to work on their Census crew. I was so good at my work, I kept getting re-hired on another contract as soon as the previous one expired. Unfortunately, the census work ended in February 2003, and over 100 loyal employees, including myself, were laid off.
But I wasn't out of work for very long. Indeed, through an organization called Line1000, I was put in contact with an advocacy group called the Canadian Council of the Blind; and in August 2003, I was hired. I worked there for five years as an administrative assistant; but due to a new direction for the organization, I found myself out of work, literally.
I then went through a really rough spot, fighting PTSD for nearly three years, while at the same time trying to find work again. True, I found a job as a buyer at the Fidelice pastry shop in April 2010, but the contract only lasted six months; and after that, I was out of work again. A year later, I was forced to go on welfare. But in January 2014, I started a yearlong welfare work program, working as an administrative assistant at the Gatineau archdiocese. In June 2015, I was given full-time hours. Unfortunately, due to lack of work, the contract was ended on Canada Day 2017.
To Save a Wolf!
In March 2004, the novel was completed; and after a thorough re-read, (which lasted another few months), it was finally ready for publishing. So I presented it to a publisher friend of mine. He absolutely liked it, and in August 2005, my first novel, 'To Save a Wolf!', under the pen name Ano Malay, (distortion of 'animal') was published.
In 2008, I put together a collection of short stories for children, called 'The Honourable Athletes' under my real name. In 2009, I finished a second book on the same subject, called 'More Honourable Athletes'. And the third book, 'Still More Honourable Athletes', was completed in early 2012, and should be released in time for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Meanwhile, I completed another book of biographies of visually impaired role models, called 'Fighting the Darkness', and a science fiction novel called 'Dr. Jeckyl's Foxes' that was published in August 2013. An editorial style book called Tales of Conscience was published in June 2016, followed by the final book of the Honourable Athletes trilogy, called Still More Honourabvle Athletes in August 2016.