I was born and reside in the city of Montreal, in the exotic province of Quebec, in the friendly country of Canada. Montreal is a nice place to live, especially if you can’t choose between profusely sweating and completely freezing. Because in a single calendar year, you can expect a lot of both.
I’ve done a lot of different jobs, from keeping the stage door of a haunted old Scottish theater to pushing laundry carts along dark tunnels under an insane asylum. My last job involved pretending to write thick manuals nobody really read for products few people ever used.
I now write for a variety of ages and audiences. Like most everyone, I like sunshine, puppy dogs, and long walks on the beach.
I have recently adopted a pseudonym, Paul E. Blackwell, for my upcoming young adult projects that are not suitable for all audiences. You can follow my alter-ego on twitter, @pauleblackwell, and on facebook.
That’s all anyone really needs to know about me. Unless there are any other questions.
Q: What’s with the name ‘Bracegirdle’? Did you make that up?
A: No, I did not. I wish I did. It is an Old English name and it means ‘belt-maker’, I believe. But as there are precious few Bracegirdles left on the planet, I would hazard a guess that as tradesmen we let more than a few pair of trousers fall down.
The first female actress in England was named Anne Bracegirdle; she is buried at Westminster Abbey in London. Bracegirdles also appear in the Lord of the Rings as a family of rich, snobby hobbits (according to Bilbo at least). Now I don’t know of any rich Bracegirdles but yes, we are snobby, snobby, snobby. And why not? As I can assure you, we are good-looking to the very last.
Interestingly, kids today seem to have no idea that a ‘girdle’ is in fact a piece of underwear once worn by women and William Shatner in order to look slim. As I explain to younger readers, this made my name very funny when I was growing up.
Q: Okay fine. But then what does the P.J. stand for?
A: Pah. Jama! No, no, no. It stands for ‘Paul James’. Actually, I do have another middle name as well – Thomas – but I thought I should probably quit initializing while I was ahead.
Hey, here’s a question I can’t answer: why is it that ‘Paul’ doesn’t sound like a very tough name, but ‘Paulie’ is among the scariest names ever given? “Look out, Paul is coming to beat you up!” Yeah, yeah. Not very frightening. “Yo, Paulie wants a word wit-choo…” QUICK! RUN AWAY!
Q: Whoa: what’s with the facial furniture?
A: If you are referring to the new chinstrap and mustache, I’m getting this question a lot lately but mostly from my wife. I call it ‘conquistador chic’. She calls it ‘missing a few spots’.
Q: Why do you write for children?
A. It’s been the experience of my lifetime that most adults have been trained to believe that life is about working and suffering, and as a result have an amazing capacity to suck the joy out of pretty much everything. Writing fiction for younger readers is not only seriously fun but it’s where some of the sharpest, most subversive material is being produced these days. Because for all the stick they get, the truth is that kids today are smarter and more sophisticated than ever. So I’m really honored to write for them.
That said, there are some pretty cool adults out there, and I look forward to writing a few books for them too. Soon.
Q: What is your least favorite animal?
A. Swans. Hands down. They are ungrateful snobs secretly bent on our destruction. I’m not saying we should actively go out and destroy them; I’m just wondering why we continue to build them safe little ponds and feed them bread, when all they want to do is break the bridges of our noses with a well-timed peck.
I say let them sink or swim in the real world, just like every other creature.