Author Bios

EVA CROCKER

Eva Crocker has a Masters Degree in English Literature from Memorial University where she received the 2015 University Medal For Excellence in Graduate Studies as well as 2015 Department of English Award for Thesis Excellence. She is the Associate Editor and Chief Staff Writer at The Overcast, Newfoundland’s alternative newspaper. Her short story collection, Barrelling Forward (House of Anansi Press), was shortlisted for the 2015 NLCU Fresh Fish Award and included in the Toronto Star’s  “25 Books We Can’t Wait To Read”.  She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland with two big cats and a little dog.

CHERIE DIMALINE
(Georgian Bay Metis Community)

Cherie Dimaline is the author of the novels Red Rooms, The Girl Who Grew A Galaxy, and the collection of short stories titled A Gentle Habit. 

In addition to writing, Cherie has edited numerous publications including Spirit, FNH and Muskrat magazines. She was named the 2014 Emerging Artist of the Year – Ontario Premier’s Award, and was named the first Writer in Residence – Aboriginal Literature for the Toronto Public Library. Cherie also held the position of Writer in Residence for First Nations House at the University of Toronto. She sits on numerous literary and arts boards and councils and continues to advocate for Indigenous literature and writers globally, work which has taken her from the Banff, Alberta to Gujurat, India. 

Cherie currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she coordinates the annual Indigenous Writers’ Gathering and is building a national Indigenous literary organization. 

Her latest work, a dystopian YA novel 'The Marrow Thieves' was released by Cormorant Books in the spring of 2016.

MICHAEL ONDAATJE 

Michael Ondaatje s the author of five previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. The English Patient won the Booker Prize; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.

KYO MACLEAR

Kyo Maclear is a novelist, essayist and children's author. She was born in London, England and moved to Toronto at the age of four. Kyo holds an Honors B.A. in Fine Art and Art History and an M.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of Toronto, and is currently a doctoral student at York University, where she holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. She is the author of two acclaimed novels for adults, The Letter Opener and Stray Love, and numerous beloved books for children, including Julia, Child and The Good Little Book. Kyo lives in Toronto where she shares a home with two sons, two cats, a musician and a truckload of books.

MARNI JACKSON

Marni Jackson is a Toronto writer who has won numerous National Magazine Awards for her humour and social commentary. Her writing has appeared in publications that include Rolling Stone, the London Sunday Times, The Walrus, Maclean’s and Brick magazine, and her three nonfiction books have challenging conventional thinking on subjects that range from motherhood to the medical treatment of pain. 

Last fall she made her fictional debut with a novel-in-stories called “Don’t I Know You?”, published by Flatiron Books. This spring, she has collaborated as a writer on a Soulpepper Theatre concert show, “True Patriot Love”, which will have performances in New York city this July.

BRIAN D JOHNSON

Brian D. Johnson is a Canadian writer, filmmaker and cultural commentator. His is best known from his three decades as the longtime film critic and senior arts writer at Maclean’s magazine, where he remains a Contributing Editor. He is also past president of the Toronto Film Critics Association (2006-2017), and created the annual TFCA Awards Gala, with its $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award. He has worked professionally over the years as a journalist, author, musician—and, most recently, a filmmaker. In 2015 he produced and directed Al Purdy Was Here, a documentary feature about the legendary Canadian poet, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where was runner-up for the TIFF Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award. The film played theatrically in some 70 towns and cities, aired on the CBC Documentary channel, and is now available on iTunes Canada.

Born in England in 1949, and raised in Toronto, Brian D. Johnson majored in English at the University of Toronto, where he received a B.A., then took a year off to serve as Editor of The Varsity, the campus newspaper. In 1971 he spent a summer writing for the Toronto Telegram, just before the newspaper’s demise, then was hired as a staff reporter at The Gazette in Montreal (l971-74). He later became a freelance broadcaster and producer with CBC Radio (1975-76).

Returning to Toronto in 1976, Johnson wrote a weekly column for The Globe and Mail called “Hanging Out” (under the byline B. Derek Johnson, to avoid confusion with a namesake at the Globe). He then left journalism for several years to devote his career to music. As a percussionist with various rock and reggae bands, notably Limbo Springs and the Nukes, he spent several years recording and touring in Canada and the United States. In 1980 he composed and recorded soundtracks for two feature-length documentary films, Strip Tease and The Dream Never Dies. Highlights of his performing career included a Toronto concert at the Horseshoe Tavern, in which he served as percussionist in a reggae band backing the I-Threes, Bob Marley’s female harmony trio. (He continues to rehearse and perform with a Toronto rock band, Baltic Avenue.)

Since resuming his journalism career in 1982, Johnson wrote features for magazines including Saturday Night, Toronto Life, Chatelaine and Rolling Stone. He has won three National Magazine Awards—for politics, travel and arts & entertainment. Employed as a Senior Writer with Maclean’s from 1985-2005, he served as the magazine’s film critic did wide-ranging  arts reportage, writing major profiles of celebrities including Leonard Cohen, Mick Jagger, Madonnna, Michael J. Fox, Donald Sutherland, Jack Nicholson, Jodie Foster and Justin Bieber, to name a few . He is also a frequent guest on radio and television. He  co-hosted CBC Newsworld’s On the Arts for three seasons.

Johnson’s book of poetry, Marzipan Lies (1974), was the first work published by the Porcupine’s Quill. He is also the author of three non-fiction books:  Railway Country: Across Canada by Train (1985),  The XV Olympic Winter Games:The Official Commemorative Book (1988) and an independent history of the Toronto International Film Festival titled Brave Films, Wild Nights: 25 Years of Festival Fever (2000).  In 1994, he published a novel, Volcano Days.

Johnson has been shooting and editing amateur video since 2003. In 2006 the Toronto International Film Festival premiered his first professional film, a seven-minute short titled Tell Me Everything, which was made with the assistance of Bravo!FACT. It’s a poetic montage of hands at work, featuring a dance sequences by Andrea Nann and a score by John Gzowski, with original music contributed by Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas. In 2007, Johnson also made his screen acting debut, opposite Bruce McDonald, in a Bravo!FACT short titled Debut, directed by Mark Adam. In 2010, Johnson produced and directed his second Bravo!FACT short, Yesno, which stars conjurer David Ben in a mix of live action and animation. Yesno is based on a book of poetry by Dennis Lee and features the voices of Lee, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Karen Solie and d’bi young.

Following the success of his documentary feature debut, Al Purdy Was Here, Johnson is now developing new film projects and continuing to write for various publications, including Maclean’s and Zoomer.

Johnson retains the “D” in his byline, which was added in the late 1970s to avoid confusion with a former Globe and Mail namesake who, at last report, was managing a teenage brothel in the Philippines called Brown Sugar.

FALEN JOHNSON

Falen is Mohawk and Tuscarora (Bear Clan) from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is a writer, producer, dramaturge and actor currently living in Toronto. Her first play Salt Baby has been staged with Native Earth Performing Arts, Planet IndigenUS, The Next Stage Festival, Live Five,  The Globe Theatre and has toured across the country. She has worked as a performer, producer, creator, and administrator.  She is a former artistic artist for Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble, and Native Earth Performing Arts as well as the former coordinator for the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance. She is a graduate of George Brown Theatre School and the former playwright in residence at Native Earth Performing Arts and Blyth Festival Theatre. She was nominated by playwright and poet Daniel David Moses as the 2015 recipient of the OAC Emerging Aboriginal Artist Award. Her second play Two Indians was recently debuted at The SummerWorks Performance Festival. This summer, her new work co-written by Jessica Carmichael titled Ipperwash will debut at the the Blyth Festival Theatre.

SCOTT McKOWEN

Scott McKowen is an illustrator, art director, and graphic designer. He was born in raised in Michigan, and his studio is in Stratford, Ontario. He designs posters for theaters and other performing arts companies across North America, and he creates illustration for books and magazines. He is known for his drawings on scratchboard, a process in which he uses a knife blade to carve white lines onto a black board. It is somewhat similar to engraving or woodcutting, in the sense that images are formed by carving white lines. In the last stages, color is often added to the illustrations.

MERILYN SIMONDS

Merilyn Simonds is the author of 17 books, including The Convict Lover, a Governor General’s Award finalist; and most recently The Paradise Project, flash-fiction stories developed simultaneously as an ebook and a book-arts edition, hand-printed on an antique press. That experience is the subject of her latest work, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels, and the Lasting Impression of Books She writes a biweekly books column and teaches creative writing, mentoring emerging writers across the continent.