Member Profile

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Frank O'Keeffe

Photo: Mike Grant 2012

Frank was born in Dublin, Ireland, and began his writing career there while in fourth grade. One day Frank’s regular teacher was ill, and his class was combined with another. In order to keep this large group of students quiet, the teacher offered a prize of sixpence for the student who could write the best story. Frank wrote a story about a plane carrying racehorses that crashed in the South American jungle. He won the sixpence prize, earning his first income as a writer.

Shortly after leaving school, Frank emigrated to Calgary, Canada. After working in both B.C. and Alberta for several years as an insurance broker and partner, Frank gave up his career in insurance to attend the University of Calgary, where he obtained a Bachelor of Education degree and started a teaching career, moving to Edson, Alberta. There he was a part-time librarian at A.H. Dakin Elementary School and also taught second and third graders He took up writing again when he found that his class was expected to put on a performance at the annual Christmas concert, and his original scripts got some rave reviews from both parents and the local newspaper. He also became the editor of the Teachers' Association Newsletter for a few years and wrote a humorous column for a year for the local weekly newspaper.

He next moved to Pine Grove Elementary School in Edson and taught fourth graders. While working there he met fellow teacher Martyn Godfrey, who liked the pieces Frank wrote in the teachers' newsletter. Martyn had just had his second young-adult/children's novel published and encouraged Frank to try writing a novel for young people. Frank came up with the idea for "Guppy Love", and Martyn encouraged him to write it. Frank completed the book in three months and "Guppy Love" became his first published novel. His many successful children/young adult novels are all based to some extent on personal experience, including events that happened on his Edson farm, his two son's involvement in minor hockey (his wife became the manager of a midget level hockey team), and the closing of a local school.

Because he was travelling across Canada so much to do readings and writing workshops in schools and libraries, Frank took a leave of absence from teaching, and never went back. He continued writing, and he and his wife moved to a home in Peachland in the Okanagan Valley.

Recently they returned to live in Calgary. Frank is a member of the Writers' Union of Canada and The Alexandra Writers' Centre of Calgary. He frequently takes part in the open mike opportunity at Owl's Nest Book Store in Calgary to do readings of his poems.

E-mail: c/o Writers' Union of Canada
Phone number:
c/o Writers' Union of Canada

Publications

Nancy Nylen, Ordinary Farm Girl, Explorer Extraordinaire. Vancouver: Beach Holme, 1994.
Weekend at the Ritz. Vancouver: Beach Holme, 1993.
It's Only a Game. Victoria: Beach Holme, 1992.
There's A Cow in My Swimming Pool. with Martyn Godfrey. Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1991.
School Stinks. Toronto: General Publishing, 1991.
Guppy Love, or, The Day The Fish Tank Exploded. Kids Can Press, Toronto, 1986
Harry Flammable. Dundurn Press Limited, Toronto, 2013
If It Rains Again Tomorrow, Can We Go Home?. Victoria: Beach Holme, 1996

Awards

Shortlisted, R. Ross Annett Award for Children's Literature for Nancy Nylen, Ordinary Farm Girl, Explorer Extraordinaire, 1995.
Eligible for National Public Readings Program :
Yes

WITS

Presentation Length:
60 min.
Genre:
Fiction
Grades:
4-8
Audience size:
150
Northern OAC WITS:
No
Two sessions:
$200
Four sessions:
$300
Two sessions:
$100
Four sessions:
$150
GST:
GST not applicable