About the Author

About the Author

Photograph by Danielle Rabbat

Isobel Raven has been writing since retiring from teaching in Ontario and British Columbia.

She first published The Future of Fonics, a book about spelling reform whose premise she no longer espouses. She is much prouder of her second effort, a collection of short stories called A Flower for Allie.

With this novel, OUT OF THE ROONS, she is leaping into an adventure.


Isobel Raven is a native of Alice Munro ‘s territory. A place where people ask, “Who do you think you are?” if anyone dares to be “other”. Where “blowing your own horn” is regarded as the height of inappropriate behaviour, especially for a woman. But also a place where, long ago, a lazy teacher let her go through the text-books at her own speed and spend her spare time reading from a surprisingly varied collection of books in her rural school library.

Stints of teaching separated years at Western University, London Ontario, and the University of British Columbia studying philosophy, psychology, and education.

There were memorable summers: trying to understand inner city Chicago kids at Pleasant Valley Farm Camp; working as an “untrained attendant” in Dartmouth Mental Hospital; cook and assistant coordinator in an SCM work camp in Toronto; dining room organizer at Five Oaks, Paris, Ontario; maid of all work (except baby care) for a sister with an infant and two small children.

Kevin Raven gave Isobel her name, a home, and family of her own. He died in 1999. Having a daughter with special needs means continuing love and care and enjoyment of her singular self and those of her friends.

Commitment to the work of Royal York Road United Church has a certain priority.

Molly and Tommy round out the life of this author. They and the house plants demand daily care and respond in the way only these creatures can.

Tommy behind Molly
Balcony flowers, 2018, a little more lush than the 2019 crop

Interview with ISOBEL RAVEN

Q You look pretty old in your photo. How old are you anyway?
A I was 84 my last birthday.

Q Wow! That’s old. What do you think of the digital age?
A It’s frightening. And frustrating. Still, although my IBM Selectric was a wonder in its time, it didn’t have Spell-Check or Find and Replace. These two features have enabled me to correct a thousand errors and have allowed me to change my mind almost as many times.

Q Let’s get down to business. Where were you born?
A In my parents’ farm home in Grey Township, Huron County. Ontario. Canada.

Q That must have been in the horse-and-buggy era.
A No, no. We were well out of the horse-and-buggy age. We always had a car. An unreliable, used one, until Dad bought a 1953 Dodge. Brand new.

Q Big event, eh! So where did you get your education? I understand you have an M.A.
A Well, I received the Ontario Curriculum as laid out in the little grey book. All the subjects for Grades One to Six in one thin, grey book. It was still in use when I started to teach in 1954.

Alice Munro had just graduated from Wingham District High School when I got there. Her name still wafted about the halls. You can recognize that old school as the setting for one of her stories. A couple of teachers made out in the stockroom beside the lab. I remember it (the lab) well.

Q We aren’t getting anywhere here. So you were a teacher. How long?
A Much too long. I wasn’t great at it and had to work very hard. Never got over being scared that the kids would get out of hand. I supposed that it was like that for everyone, and just slogged away. Should have studied archeology and anthropology. Didn’t know they existed. In the fifties, a girl’s career choices were teacher, nurse, secretary.

Q We’re running out of time. What made you turn to writing?
A A spectacular failure in a Grade 2-3 in the early 90’s. I was still trying to teach because we needed the money. Had lots of paper qualifications that gave me a top salary, but I was still scared, and the kids gave me good reason. Retired. Got out my old typewriter and began to have the time of my life.

Q So you should have been a writer all your life?
A Absolutely not. I needed all the struggle and failure to get it into my stupid head that getting good marks, which I’d always been able to do, was really not the rock upon which to build my life.

Q So sorry we’ve run out of time. You must have had many adventures and experiences to back up the writing of a book like “Out of the Roons”. Thank you very much, Isobel Raven.
A Well, not so much. But thank you very much, too.