Author Feature: Jeff Ross

Author Feature: Jeff Ross

Up North: Rob Maclean and his mom have moved to a small community in northern Ontario in order to be closer to Rob’s imprisoned brother, Adam. One night after a rowdy party, Rob and some friends end up in a van speeding through a First Nations reserve. The driver of the van has a deep hatred for Indigenous people, and he lobs rotten fruit at a group of young men gathered in front of a community center. The young men chase them down, and Rob’s friend Alan is injured and ends up in a coma. Now the police are pressuring Rob to identify their prime suspect. This is the second story featuring Rob and Adam Maclean after Coming Clean.


What planning and research did you do for you book?

I spoke with many First Nations peoples regarding the kind of racism they face, the preconceived notions they feel others have about them, and the ways in which they would like to be perceived (spoiler – like individuals with a shared cultural background).

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

This is a good one: “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” (Jonathan Franzen)

What’s in your to-be-read pile? What makes you want to read those books?

Release by Patrick Ness is at the top of the list. Patrick’s writing is always entertaining and thought provoking. It makes me want to pull back from the tendencies I have to be too elaborate.

Do you listen to audio books?

I listen to A LOT of audio books. I have a long commute to my work and have discovered that I get through a TON of books a year by listening to them on the drive. I often find the experience better than reading, depending on who the narrator is. Some voice actors really put a lot of effort into making their performance great. I believe that reading is reading, whether you sit quietly or listen. Either way, you’re learning how stories are told, hearing good sentence structure, and understanding how dialogue works.

What book do you think you learned the most from reading or admire most?

I just re-read all of S.E. Hinton’s works (The Outsiders, Rumblefish, etc.) Looking back I can see how a lot of my style came from these books. Not the sentence to sentence stuff, but the relationships between characters. I can really see her influence in Coming Clean and the sequel, Up North.

Up North



What’s your favorite movie that was adapted from a book or short story?

Jesus’ Son. This is my all time favorite collection of short stories and the movie did it justice.

Do you listen to music when you write? Why or why not? What do you listen to?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It totally depends on how focused I am and how focused I think I can be. If I have the focus necessary to write, I can and will listen to music. Normally something which goes with the characters and plot, etc. If I don’t have focus, I will put in noise cancelling headphones and try to find the focus necessary. It’s a balancing act.

Do you have a quote you like to live by?

“It’s only a bad day if you say it is” —Paytan McEwen

What’s your favorite city you’ve lived in!

That all depends on your age. I lived briefly in New York and I can say that was one of my favorite experiences. Also, in Wellington New Zealand where my wife is from. I’m currently in Ottawa and love it here. I believe wherever you live, you make the best of it, but always get out in the world and explore as many places as possible. Meeting people, living different lives, this is where good fiction comes from.

Up North is available now!

Jeff Ross

Jeff Ross is an award-winning author of several novels for young adults. He currently teaches scriptwriting and English at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario, where he lives with his wife and two sons. For more information, visit

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