It all began in 1993 when Eric was teaching a Grade 5 class. His students were reluctant readers and writers and Eric began to write to encourage them to become more involved in literature. His first novel, Stand Your Ground, was created for this class. It is set in the school where Eric was teaching, Vista Heights Public School, and some of the features of the community of Streetsville and many of the names of his students were incorporated into the story.
Since his first novel Eric has exploded on the children’s and young adult scene. Over the following years he has published over 80 more novels and picture books with more than ten scheduled for the coming years.
These novels have been enthusiastically received by children and young adults and critically acclaimed by teachers, reviewers and parents. Eric’s novels have won more than 100 awards including eleven separate children’s choice awards. He is the only three time winner of both the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch and Red Maple Awards – in which over 250,000 students participate and vote the winner. In November 2013 he received the prestigious Children’s Africana Book Award – Best Book for young children – for his book The Matatu. This American award was presented to Eric in a ceremony at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
Eric’s novels are now available in places as far award as New Zealand, Australia, India and Nepal and have been translated into more than a dozen languages including French, German, Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese.
Eric has presented to more than 1,500,000 students across North America and internationally in Japan and Germany. His presentations blend drama, storytelling, audience participation and interaction. He presents to students from K – Grade 12 as well as adult groups and keynote speeches.
Eric was born in Toronto in 1957 which makes him ‘real old’. Eric says ‘just because I have to grow old doesn’t mean I have to grow up.’ In his many roles as parent, teacher, social worker, sports coach and writer he has been in constant contact with children and young adults. He draws from these experiences to help capture the realistic actions, thoughts, interactions, stresses, conflicts and tensions that fuel his characters.
Eric tries to write every day. When he has a story he starts with research. ‘The most important thing anybody ever told me about writing was to write what you know and the only way to get to know things is to do your homework and research before you write,’ Eric says. This could involve reading books, watching a documentary, interviewing experts, or trying to experience the things that the characters are going through. This has included rock climbing or riding white water (for STARS), spending time in a wheelchair (Rebound), playing with and walking tigers (Tiger by the Tail), hanging around a tough biker bar (Diamonds in the Rough), standing out in his backyard in a blizzard in a t-shirt and shorts to experience freezing to death (Trapped in Ice), walking across the Maasai Mara (Alexandria of Africa), hiking across the Sahara Desert (Just Deserts), climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (Between Heaven and Earth), and walking across Kenya (Walking Home).
Once the writing begins the story is always playing around in his head. He takes any opportunity, even if it’s a few minutes between presentations, lost in a desert, or on a break in climbing a mountain, to write.
Prior to entering teaching and writing Eric was a social worker – B.A.(Hons) specialized major in psychology, B.S.W., M.S.W. He worked in a variety of settings including child welfare, private practice, a mental health treatment centre, and for eighteen years part time in an emergency department while teaching. He stopped teaching in 2006 and working in the E.R. in 2009.
In June 2013 Eric became ‘Dr. Walters’ when he was granted the honorary degree of Literarum Doctorem by Wilfred Laurier University. He gave the address to graduating B.Ed., B.A. students in the spring convocation.
Dr. Michael Lee-Chin, Chancellor, Dr. Eric Walters, and Dr. Max Blouw, President
Eric, along with his wife Anita, and Ruth and Henry Kyatha, are the co-founders of The Creation of Hope (www.creationofhope.com) which provides for over 400 orphans and disadvantaged children throughout the Mbooni District of Kenya. 100% of money donated by schools goes directly to serve and through the website these schools are shown – school by school, dollar by dollar, item by item – how their donations are spent.
He is the father of three (Christina – born 1985, Nicholas – born 1988, and Julia – born 1992) and he and his wife live in Mississauga with their two dogs – Lola and Winnie the Poodle. In his free time – well he doesn’t have free time – he walks, hikes, and plans his next adventure. He spends time each summer in Kenya at his orphanage.