Artist Bios

Gary Barwin

Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, and multidisciplinary artist and the author of twenty-one books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His latest book is the poetry collection No TV for Woodpeckers (Wolsak & Wynn). His recent national bestselling novel Yiddish for Pirates (Random House Canada) was a finalist for both the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Arthur Black

Arthur Black is one of Canada’s best known humorists, and one of only two living writers to have won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times. A former host of the CBC radio program, Basic Black, and the author of a syndicated newspaper column, Black is now permanently transplanted to Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Claire Cameron

Claire Cameron’s just released third novel is The Last Neanderthal. Her second novel, The Bear, was a bestseller and nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. She lives in Toronto, and will be reading at this year’s Eden Mills Writers’ Festival.

George Elliott Clarke

George Elliott Clarke’s works include George & Rue, longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; Execution Poems, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry; and Whylah Falls, winner of the Archibald Lampman Award for poetry and a selection for CBC’s inaugural Canada Reads competition. In 2008, he was appointed to the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer. He recently served as Toronto’s Poet Laureate from 2012-2015, and currently serves as Parliamentary Poet Laureate, as well as the EJ Pratt Professor at the University of Toronto.

James Clarke

James Clarke is the author of almost twenty books of poetry and three memoirs, including Dreamworks, Forced Passage, How to Bribe a Judge, L’Arche Journal, A Mourner’s Kaddish, The Raggedy Parade, Silver Mercies, and The Way Everyone is Inside. He is a former Superior Court judge, and his judgments have been published extensively in legal journals. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Lorna Crozier

Lorna Crozier, an Officer of the Order of Canada, has been acknowledged for her contributions to Canadian literature, teaching and mentoring, with five honourary doctorates. Her books have received numerous national awards, including the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry. The Globe and Mail declared The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things among their Top 100 Books of the Year, and Amazon chose her memoir as one of the 100 books you should read in your lifetime. A Professor Emerita at the University of Victoria, she has performed for Queen Elizabeth II and has read her poetry on every continent except Antarctica. Her latest books are The Wrong Cat and The Wild in You, and she will be presenting at this year’s Writers’ Festival.

Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue was born in Dublin in 1969, and has resided in London, Ontario for almost two decades now. She is best known for her fiction, which includes The Wonder (Giller shortlist), Frog Music, Room (for the film of which she was nominated for an Oscar), The Sealed Letter, Life Mask, and Slammerkin. Her latest book is for children, The Lotterys Plus One. Emma will be at this year’s Writers’ Festival.

Wallace Edwards

Wallace Edwards was born in Ottawa, and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art. His paintings and illustrations are found in public and private collections, books, magazines, and on public display in Canada and the United States. Edwards’ clients include the Metro Toronto Zoo, the City of Toronto, the B.C. Ministry of the Environment, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, the Canadian Wildlife Federation, and various book and magazine publishers.

Terry Fallis

Terry Fallis is a two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and the 2013 CBA Libris Award – Author of the Year. He has penned five bestselling novels: his first, The Best Laid Plans, which won the Leacock Medal for Humour and CBC’s Canada Reads. The High Road was a Leacock Medal finalist. Up and Down won the 2013 Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award and was a finalist for the Leacock Medal. His fourth novel, No Relation, debuted on the Globe and Mail’s bestsellers list and won the 2015 Leacock Medal. His fifth, Poles Apart, was a Globe and Mail bestseller and finalist for the 2016 Leacock Medal. His latest novel, One Brother Shy, will be published this spring.

Sheree Fitch

Sheree Fitch is an educator, literary activist and author of poetry, picture books, nonfiction, plays, and novels for all ages. In 2000, she won the Vicky Metcalf Award for a body of work inspirational to Canadian Children. She lives in Nova Scotia on a hobby farm called Happy Doodle Do and this July, she and her husband Gilles are opening Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe Dreamery in nearby River John.

Douglas Gibson

Douglas Gibson spent his life as an Editor and Publisher. After heading Macmillan of Canada and McClelland & Stewart, he retired in 2008. At that point he switched from editing and publishing books to writing them. In 2011 he published (with ECW) his first book Stories About Storytellers: Publishing Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Pierre Trudeau, and Others. He then turned the book into a travelling stage show, which in 2015 produced a second book Across Canada by Story: A Coast-to-Coast Literary Adventure. The stage shows for the two books (featuring the superb author caricatures by Anthony Jenkins) now have produced more than 160 performances, from China to Newfoundland. Now, in 2017, his Sesquicentennial celebration of our finest Fiction writers — Canada’s Greatest Storytellers / Les Grands Raconteurs Canadiens 1867-2017 (also linked with Jenkins and his work) will be given across the country, including a special performance at Eden Mills on October 6, 2017.

Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton received the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Poetry for The Waking Comes Late. His fiction and poetry have won four gold National Magazine Awards and have appeared in such magazines and anthologies as The London Review of Books, Tin House, Best American Poetry, Brick, Zoetrope, Best English Stories, Poetry, and The Walrus. He is also a fiction reviewer for the New York Times Book Review. He’ll read from his latest novel The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep at this year’s Writers’ Festival.

Michael Helm

Michael Helm’s novels are After James, Cities of Refuge, In the Place of Last Things, and The Projectionist. All have been national or international prize finalists. He’s an editor at Brick magazine and the Coordinator of the Creative Writing program at York University. Michael will be presenting at this year’s Eden Mills Writers’ Festival.

Linda Hendry

Linda Hendry is an award-winning author/illustrator of more than 60 books for children. She has written picture books, craft books, and a YA novel; and was a monthly contributor to CHIRP magazine for 12 years. Lately, she has been cartooning, and painting in oils and acrylics. Her landscapes and quirky pet portraits have been featured in several exhibits and her work is in the permanent collection of the Wellington County Museum.

Maureen Jennings

Maureen Jennings has authored three series in the crime fiction genre. The first, set in Victorian Toronto, features the popular detective William Murdoch, the inspiration for CBC’s The Murdoch Mysteries, now into its eleventh season. Maureen has written for the show and is the creative consultant. Her second series features contemporary criminal profiler, Christine Morris. The third introduces Detective Inspector Tom Tyler. Set in rural England during WWII, the books were the inspiration for Bomb Girls, broadcast by Global Television. A new William Murdoch mystery, Let Darkness Bury The Dead will be released this year.

Plum Johnson

Plum Johnson is an award-winning author, visual artist and entrepreneur living in Toronto. Her first book, a memoir titled They Left Us Everything, was awarded the 2015 RBC Taylor Prize. A poetic meditation on aging, grief and filial responsibility, They Left Us Everything chronicles the year Plum and her three younger brothers spent decluttering, cleaning and eventually selling their lakefront childhood home in Oakville, ON, after their mother’s death.

Don Kilby

Don Kilby is a fine art painter living and working within the Blue Mountains township on the southern shore of Georgian Bay. His artwork, created in the style of painterly realism, reflects the local environment he lives in, celebrating the rich diversity of scenery and subjects found there. Don works and exhibits at his studio/gallery, ‘The Kilby Gallery’, located in the village of Clarksburg.

Thomas King

Thomas King is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter and photographer of Cherokee and Greek descent. His acclaimed, bestselling fiction includes Medicine River; Truth and Bright Water; One Good Story, That One; and A Short History of Indians in Canada. In addition to its many award distinctions, Green Grass, Running Water was named to Quill & Quire’s Best Canadian Fiction of the Century list. A member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of an award from the National Aboriginal Foundation, Thomas King is a professor of English at the University of Guelph, Ontario.

René Meshake

René Meshake is an Ojibwe elder, visual and performing artist, award winning author, storyteller, flute player, new media artist and a Recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. He works to fuse Ojibwe and English words into his stories, poetry and spoken word performances; Rene communicates his Ojibwe spiritual heritage to the contemporary world. He was born in the railway town of Nakina in Northwestern Ontario and was raised by his Okomissan grandmother. His education includes: Anishinaabe oral tradition, language, arts and culture. Rene has a diploma in Graphic Design from Sheridan College and a certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers. Rene’s body of artwork, stories and his flute improvisations create a strong, expressive, and entertaining presentation for an ever-increasing audience. He also has an active on-line and performing presence as a Funky-Elder.

Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore is the acclaimed author of February, which was long listed for the Man Booker Prize and selected as one of The New Yorker’s Best Books of the Year. Her novel Alligator was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Commonwealth Fiction Prize (Canada and the Caribbean). She is a three-time finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, most recently for her novel Caught, which was a national bestseller. Flannery, published by Groundwood Books, is her first young adult novel. Lisa has written for Elle and The Guardian, and her work has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Russian, German, Turkish and French. She teaches creative writing at Memorial University, and will be reading her work at this year’s Writers’ Festival.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the author and illustrator of Where Are My Books? (Simon & Schuster). Debbie’s illustrations appear in books by Michael Ian Black and Judy Blume, and she has worked on projects with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Random House. Upcoming books include Debbie’s second solo picture book, Sam & Eva (Simon & Schuster), Sea Monkey & Bob (Simon & Schuster, author Aaron Reynolds), Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in The Secret Ingredient (Random House, author Lauren McLaughlin), and Ruby Rose, Big Bravos (HarperCollins, author Rob Sanders). Debbie posts about reading, writing and illustrating children’s books at Twitter: @inkyelbows.

Ruth Ohi

Ruth Ohi is a Canadian author/illustrator of 19 picture books. Her latest are Scribble (Scholastic Canada) and Fox and Squirrel the Best Christmas Ever (Scholastic Canada).

Heather O'Neill

Heather O’Neill is a novelist, poet, short-story writer, screenwriter and essayist. Her work, which includes Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, and Daydreams of Angels, has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction and, twice, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and has won CBC Canada Reads, the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and the Danuta Gleed award. Originally from Montreal, O’Neill lives there today with her daughter. She will be reading at this year’s Writers’ Festival.

Leon Rooke

Leon Rooke, along with his late wife Connie, founded the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival in 1989. Leon is an energetic, prolific storyteller who has been critically acclaimed at home and internationally. His writing, characterized by inventive language, experimental form and characters with distinctive voices, has won numerous awards and honours including the Canada-Australia Literary Prize (1981), the Governor General’s Award for English Language Fiction for Shakespeare´s Dog (1985), and the North Carolina Award for Literature (1990). Leon will make an appearance at this year’s festival.

Cheryl Ruddock

Cheryl Ruddock is a painter from Guelph, ON, whose practice for twenty-eight years has explored and pushed the boundaries of colour in two dimensions. Her work utilizes recurring symbols—such as clothing, boat forms, and botanicals—and these stand in her paintings on the border of abstraction, coming in and out of focus as half-images or ghosts of images. This is a balancing act that blurs and questions background/foreground relationships and creates a sense of both material and experiential depth of perception. Ruddock works in oil on canvas and gouache on handmade paper. She also works with master printer Stu Oxley at the Riverside Press to create monoprints. She is represented by Renaan Isaacs Contemporary Art, Guelph, ON. Her paintings belong to numerous private and corporate collections in Canada and the United States. They belong to the following public collections: Art Gallery of Hamilton; The Canada Council Art Bank; Glenhyrst, the Art Gallery of Brant; Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery; Macdonald Stewart Art Centre; and the University of Waterloo Art Gallery. Among the corporate collections to acquire her work are OMERS Canada and The Royal Bank of Canada.

Jesse Ruddock

Born in Guelph, Jesse Ruddock grew up playing boys’ hockey across southern Ontario and went to Harvard on scholarship to play goal. After racking up concussions, Jesse had to quit the ice, took to studying poetry, did a Master’s at U of T, then returned home to play in some bands and make albums. From thirteen to twenty-three, she apprenticed in summer with a carpenter on a remote lake in northern Ontario. She built cabins and docks. At night she fished for pickerel. Her writing and photographs have appeared in the, BOMB Magazine, Music & Literature, and Vice. Now based in New York, Jesse will be reading at the 2017 Eden Mills Writers’ Festival from Shot-Blue, her first novel.

Nicholas Ruddock

Nicholas Ruddock’s first novel, The Parabolist (Doubleday) was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award and for the Arthur Ellis Award in 2010. How Loveta Got Her Baby (25 stories) was published by Breakwater Books in 2014. His work has appeared in the Journey Prize Anthology and has been filmed by the Canadian Film Centre. Most recently, he has been shortlisted for the prestigious Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize. Night Ambulance, his second novel, was published by Breakwater this spring. He lives in Guelph, and will be presenting at this year’s Writers’ Festival.

Mary Swan

Mary Swan is a graduate of York University and the University of Guelph, and worked for many years in the U of G library. She is the author of The Deep, winner of the O. Henry award; Emma’s Hands; The Boys in the Trees, finalist for the Giller Prize & The Amazon First Novel Award; and most recently My Ghosts. Mary lives in Guelph.

Claire Tacon

Claire Tacon’s first novel, In the Field, was the winner of the 2010 Metcalf-Rooke award. Her fiction has been short-listed for the Bronwen Wallace Award, the CBC Literary Awards and the Playboy College Fiction Contest, and has appeared in journals and anthologies such as The New Quarterly, sub-TERRAIN and Best Canadian Short Stories. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and is a past fiction editor of PRISM international.

Andrea Wayne von Konigslow

Andrea Wayne von Konigslow is the author and illustrator of much loved children’s favorites including Toilet Tales, That’s My Baby?, Would You Love Me, Emily’s Eighteen Aunts and the Bing and Chutney series. Her books have been translated into dozens of languages and sold around the world. She has also sold cartoons to The National Lampoon and Wall Street Journal. Andrea lives in Toronto.

Janet Wilson

Janet Wilson is an author and illustrator of over fifty books for young people. Many have won major awards in Canada and internationally. She is also an inspirational speaker. Inspired by Gandhian philosophy, “To reach Peace we must begin with the children,” her last six non-fiction books tell true stories of children from Canada and around the world who are activists for peace, and environmental, indigenous, and social justice. To view Janet’s landscapes, portraits, and still life, please visit

Alissa York

Alissa York’s internationally acclaimed novels include Mercy, Effigy (shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), Fauna, and most recently, The Naturalist. Stories from her short fiction collection, Any Given Power, have won the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award; her essays and articles have appeared in The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, Brick magazine and elsewhere. York has lived all over Canada and now makes her home in Toronto.

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