Biographer, Novelist, Playwright, Journalist, Screenwriter
Shane was born in a place that doesn’t exist … the city of Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada (find it on a map, if you can). It was a fitting, fictional beginning. One of four brothers, he grew up in Kapuskasing, Ontario, then earned a Bachelor’s degree (Honours) in English and History from Trent University, and a Master’s degree in Literature from the University of Toronto, where one of his teachers was the inimitable Robertson Davies.
Shane also worked as a labourer for Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company, a wilderness bush sprayer for Ontario Hydro, and a box mover for a university bookstore.
But ever since childhood, his mind was on other things: on extraordinary people and events, on personalities who made legends of their lives, on what motivated them, and what made others accept supporting roles. He set out to write about such individuals, some real, some invented, and others so eccentric that they seemed to be a combination of both. High-wire walkers, sumo wrestlers, fanatical hymn writers, the world’s most dangerous man, and literature’s most famous detective, made appearances in his work, placed in theatrical backgrounds: at circuses, murder investigations, behind enemy lines, and in unusual historical moments. The Great Farini, Dylan Maples, William Fairbairn, Jay Cochrane, and “The Boy Sherlock Holmes” have performed in Shane’s novels, plays, articles, and documentaries. He has often said that, in a sense, all of his work is biographical.
Because he writes about unusual subjects, his research methods have, at times, been out of the ordinary too. He has learned the arts of tight-rope walking, silent killing, trapeze flying, and sumo eating, all in the service of his art.
Shane and his wife, journalist Sophie Kneisel, live with their three children on a small farm near Cobourg, Ontario, where he continues to search for and imagine larger-than life characters. In his spare time he enjoys playing hockey, reading, and walking the wire, pretending that he is the hero in each story.