Heather Robertson is opinionated.  “Very opinionated,” she agrees cheerfully as she sits cross-legged on a fabric-covered futon on the second floor of her Toronto home. Even in the course of a casual discussion she will comment, “I noticed Daniel Ortega has called Reagan the greatest fascist since Hitler.  I would certainly agree with that.” Her opinions as a journalist have been valued, she believes, because “the press represents the public’s eyes and ears and conscience.” Her conscience tells her that emperors and politicians wear the scantiest of wardrobes.  “You [as a member of the press] are engaged in a kind of warfare with the politicians, because the politicians usually want to pull the wool over people’s eyes.”

It may also be her opinions that have given value to her fiction writing.  At 44, Robertson has become, in Canadian terms, a successful fiction writer. Her first novel, Willie: a Romance (Lorimer) won the Books in Canada Award and the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award when it was published in 1983.  She deliberately chose the consummate politician William Lyon Mackenzie King as its subject because of her obsessive–and opinionated–interest in politics.  It suits her role as a “switch-hitter,” as she calls writers who are both journalists and novelists.  “There are not many switch-hitters in this country,” she says.  “I think a lot of journalists are intimidated about writing fiction.  And a lot of fiction writers can’t write journalism, although a lot of them try.” The second volume in her trilogy on King, Lily: a Rhapsody in Red, is to be published this fall. (for more of this 2,000-word piece, write to Barbara.)