A-R International: Alison Acheson

Alison Acheson
Authors-Readers International

Alison Acheson has published eleven books, ranging from picturebooks to short fiction and memoir for adults, historical fiction and young adult. She lives on the East Side of Vancouver in a little house with a woodstove, and has taught in the writing program at University of British Columbia for a very long time.

I live, teach, and write in Vancouver, British Columbia. I grew up with three brothers in the nearby Delta ‘burb, and have lived with three sons. I suspect this is why quite a number of my stories are written through the eyes and minds of boys.

My life has been filled with turns. An academic might say it’s been “recursive.” A kid would say I’ve been going around in circles. But it’s—so far—been an interesting path. The one thing that has been consistent throughout is my need to write. That’s what distinguishes a writer from other folks: the need to put words on paper. Because really, that’s all it is: just words on paper.

Deceptively simple.


I met Alison Acheson in person for the first, and only, time when we both attended a conference in Banff, Alberta. Alison was in need of a ride back to Calgary where she was catching the bus to return home to Vancouver, and I was driving back home to Calgary when the conference ended, so … we spent a most enjoyable hour or so talking about books, and writing, and authors, and publishers – all that good stuff book people always connect through! I have been following Alison’s writing and publishing over the years, and we were connected on Facebook, but it wasn’t until I saw an announcement about a children’s picture book she had written the text for that I sat up and took closer notice. That book was A Little House in a Big Place, and it was this beautiful cover that grabbed my attention!

First I borrowed a copy from the library, just to have a look, but by the time I’d driven back to my trailer (about 15 minutes from the library to my door!) I knew I had to buy this book for my own personal library! Whenever I look at it, I’m reminded of my years driving across the Canadian prairies, sometimes at night, when I was a sales rep. As I said in my review of the book: A truly great book, and one that will possibly appeal to adults even more than children. Beautifully illustrated, but the story line was also excellent at evoking what it’s like to be a small child in a big place, and how people themselves make contact to bring each other closer together. While I grew up in a big Canadian city and not on the prairies, I did criss-cross those prairies by car for work later in life and I always wondered about those lonely little houses with the lights in the windows. the people who lived in them, and what they were doing. A quiet book, but one that offers a slice of life that most will never have the opportunity to experience in this now too-crowded and noisy world.

This children’s book is definitely a keeper! (And it was published by Kids Can, one of the publishers I used to represent!) Now I plan to go back through and read the other books Alison has written and published, and I also want to read the most recent book she published in Sept. 2019, a memoir of caregiving …


Dance Me To The End
Ten Months and Ten Days With ALS

A profoundly honest and intensely personal story of a woman who cares for her husband after the devastating terminal diagnosis of ALS.

When middle-aged Marty—husband, dad, musician, golfer—is diagnosed with ALS, he and his spouse, Alison, feel cracked open and numb. From that first irrevocable day until Marty’s death ten
months and ten days later, the weeks and months have the family keeping time with unpredictable and overwhelming rhythms. To find her feet, and to bring her body, mind, and soul in harmony, Alison began to keep a journal.

Etching out a jumble of old and new memories and conflicting emotions, Alison chronicled the difficult realities of caregiving for her spouse while processing her experiences with grief and joy and anger and laughter and intimacy. The starkness of caring for a loved one wrestling with a neurological, degenerative, terminal disease in contrast to the sustaining guidance, shifting roles, and enduring love of family, friends, and community characterizes the mesmerizing and nuanced chords of Dance Me to the End.

Dance Me to the End is for people whose lives have been touched by any kind of illness and grief, and are looking for a book that effectively mirrors the experience in all its heartbreaking confusion and pain.

For more information about Alison Acheson, her writing, books, and teaching, please see her two websties: The main site and the other dedicated to her books for children.

2 responses

  1. I have known Alison for quite some time as we belong to the same children’s writers group (CWILL) in Vancouver. She is a wonderful person and an awesome writer. I gave her book, A LIttle House in a Big Place, as a gift but really should have my own copy. Pleased to see Alison featured here.

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