Carol Wakefield is an artist-writer, who is grateful that she no longer needs to write by flashlight underneath the covers at night. The computer won’t fit.

She lives in Richmond Hill with her husband, son and a collection of furry friends.



and other moments in time


When I was four, I remember illustrating a book that my six year old brother had written. The book was called, appropriately, “Cat”, because that’s what it was about. As I recall, the only reason my brother was actually involved in this venture was because he, being in Grade One, could print, whereas I had not yet completely mastered this obviously difficult task, even though I could spell. But I had the black crayon, so it was a no brainer that the cat would be black. Even then, I realised that artistic integrity was hugely dependent upon who was stubborn enough to make their point listened to.

The book was well received by all who read it. This, of course, was mainly our parents, who had to say something nice. Predictably, my brother got high praise for writing “Cat”, and I, who had always shown a flair for drawing, was shuffled off lightly, since this was, after all, what they expected from me.

Having my artistic masterpiece disregarded in such a cavalier way distressed me so much that I took the book and ripped it up. The next book, I sulked, would be all mine. Written and illustrated by me. And thus a life long desire was born.

As I grew older, I can remember being torn between drawing and writing. Both of these activities could be accomplished between voracious bouts of reading – I read every single book in my elementary school library by the end of grade two. I then moved on to the public library bookmobile, a unique weekly service provided prior to there actually being a permanent library constructed. I remember sitting patiently on the edge of the sidewalk with my bag jam packed full of last week’s selection of books, waiting for the arrival of the large bus that housed a treasure trove of new reading material.

I would read before school, after school, after dinner and usually, despite dire warnings not to, long after I should have been asleep. That’s where the flashlight came in handy. So proficient did I become at this particular subterfuge, that I then took it to new heights. I would also write under the covers, scribbling out my very own book, covering page after page until I ran out of ideas, or fell asleep.

This paid off all the way through school, where I consistently received wonderful marks for my writing, as well as my art. I was always terribly shy and found social relationships extremely difficult, especially when it came to high school where being part of a crowd is de rigueur. One of my most uncomfortable moments came in grade ten when, to my horror, my English teacher gave me a mark of 100 on our first term composition exam (that was the good news) and then proceeded to read it aloud to the class (that was the bad news). If I could have melted into the Formica desktop I would have. This did not improve my standing in the social echelons of high school, but it did make me stick out as that weird kid who got better marks than anyone else. In high school, this is not always how you want to be remembered.

After escaping from high school with my creativity intact and my foot firmly stuck at the bottom of the popularity scale, I decided that taking a course in Radio and Television Arts would be the way for me to go. I had already dabbled in writing skits and half hour television scripts (which I then, in blind ignorance, and with idealistic enthusiasm, mailed off to the producers in Hollywood, who kindly said, thanks, but no thanks, thereby dashing my hopes of becoming rich and famous and being interviewed by Johnny Carson. How I expected to deal with this opportunity should it become an actuality was beyond me, since I was still quite shy and would no doubt clam up with stage fright anyway).

When I married in 1969, my husband Jeff was a struggling cartoonist trying to get his comic strip, “Bubblegummers”, syndicated, no mean feat. I knew all about struggle. My childhood had prepared me well. Holding the damn blankets up so I could write with the other hand is no easy task.

I became a co-writer for “Bubblegummers” and we set our sights on its laudable promise, confident that we could overcome the incredible roadblocks of achieving syndication. In our minds we were already spending our soon-to-be wealth and envisioning our future abode, an estate we called, for no apparent reason, “Frog’s Leap”.

At the same time, I was doing freelance illustration for magazines and newspapers (Toronto Star, Toronto Life) and selling fine art work to major corporations such as The Grey Coach Bus Line, MacDonald’s Canada and MacDonald’s Germany.

By 1972 we achieved step one. “Bubblegummers” became syndicated, first in Canada and later (in the early 1980’s) in the United States. It had also caught the eye of the Bata Shoe Organization who was looking to acquire a licensed brand for their children’s footwear line. “Bubblegummers” was also featured in a 1976 Bi-centennial celebration of Comic Strips at the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y.

I had not given up my desire to write. Indeed, I had been writing short stories for several years and when I finally submitted one to Miss Chatelaine Magazine in 1977, it was accepted and published forthwith. Not exactly the Tonight Show, but I wasn’t complaining.

Meanwhile, the newspaper publishing industry was taking a hit. Many papers were folding, leaving no clients for much of the syndicated columns and other features, and “Bubblegummers” was also a casualty. The Bata Shoe Organization acquired the rights to the name and characters, and we continued on under contract, providing artwork and, in my case, writing scripts and stories for various related books and commercials. Many of these were produced for individual Bata companies, Bata Zimbabwe, Bata Kenya, Bata Singapore and Bata South America.

In 1981 I was a winner in the Toronto Star Short Story contest with, “The Dawning of Joanna”, in which the heroine enters a short story contest with her eyes on the stars, hoping to grasp the brass ring, and in the process become rich and famous and, as luck would have it, interviewed by Johnny Carson. Sound familiar?

By the late 1980’s, I was doing illustrations for Scholastic Canada (“Princesses Don’t Wear Jeans”, “Dragons Don’t Read Books” and cover art for other authors). I was also involved in many fine art exhibitions, as well as travelling to Europe to get new inspiration for my paintings. This would see me through most of the 1990’s. In 1998, I illustrated two books for Mondo Publishing in New York, before we launched our latest endeavour, Cyrus Wakefield Incorporated, a company providing historically themed products to museums across North America.

By 2007, intrigued by a concept that had been rattling around in my head for several years, I sat down at the computer and, with many exclamations of exasperation aimed at this newfangled, contrary contraption, (and fortunately rescued in the nick of time by my teenage son, lest I do something dire such as heave the bloody thing out the window) I wrote the first Catt Russell book. Then I wrote a second. And started a third, which I am halfway through writing.

This was fun!

To this day I may not be terribly computer literate but my computer and I have an uneasy truce: it doesn’t crash and eat my work and I don’t yell and call it bad names. So far, it seems to be working. And it sure beats the heck out of writing under the covers.


Site content (c) 2008 Carol Wakefield. This site is property of Cyrus Wakefield Incorporated, so keep your grubby little mitts off it. For further information Carol can be contacted at: 32-40 Castle Rock Drive, Richmond Hill, ON L4C5H5, Canada. (This is the address to which you can send enormous globs of money.) She can also be contacted by email at, or by phone at 905-884-9060. Please don't call about the used mattress; we told you it had squirrels in it when you bought it.