I was born in Nova Scotia and spent several years travelling around the world, working in France, England, Turkey, and India, ending up in Israel where I spent ten years working as an Editorial Assistant in a publishing company. I returned to Canada to raise my children, and have been teaching Creative Writing and Business Writing for the past seven years at Dalhousie University. I have mentored many future writers and guided them through every stage of writing, from the conception of an idea, through the creation of distinct characters and interesting plots, to revision.
While the themes of earlier books have revolved around racism and social issues like domestic violence, my current focus is the climate crisis. I think writers have a role to play in battling this crisis; we need to use our art to inspire people to imagine a different future. However, the fact that many climate fiction books are set in apocalyptic futures adds to the despair people are feeling. I think that climate fiction should make the crisis as sexy an opponent as Voldemarte, and focus on what the future will look like if we *do* act, rather than if we *don't*. This article, published online by the Climate Fiction Writers League, explains what I am urging other climate fiction writers to do:
I have also been facilitating a role-playing game in NS and England, which uses an interactive simulator developed by MIT and Climate Interactive. The game is supposed to increase people’s engagement with the climate crisis by 83%—and it puts the emphasis on hope and action, in the same way that I am trying to do with Reversing Time and my current manuscript, Noah’s Ark.
Reading and Refreshment Events. With so much competition for our time, I believe in earning the honour of people’s presence—by entertaining them. Due to the thought-provoking—and sometimes controversial—nature of my work, readings are always followed by lively discussion, and ideally some refreshments as well. For a taste of how I ‘entertain’, here is a recent reading of Reversing Time.
I would be happy to offer the following workshops:
- Two-hour group workshopping sessions that explore different techniques around short story writing fundamentals such as plot, character, setting, conflict, and theme. For example, a workshop might include a discussion on creating a flawed, lovable character—an essential skill, since every reader is flawed, yet wants to be loved. Then participants would be asked to incorporate what they have learned into a written piece. Finally, students would be encouraged to read their pieces aloud, receive feedback, and revise.
- Weekly classes focussing on the development of a short story or a novel. Whether you want to be a writer or a hockey player, developing a skill requires three things: practice, studying the experts, and incorporating feedback. A six- or eight- week class allows participants to study the work of established authors, give and receive feedback and engage in intensive revision. Ideally, this class would culminate in a public reading where participants could share their creations with the public.
- One-on-one mentoring sessions. These consultation sessions are geared to meet the individual needs of the participant, through a focus on their personal writing goals and challenges.
- The Climate Action Summit Game. I have been facilitating an online, role-playing game to various organizations, universities and schools in Canada, as well as to 75 schools in England. The game is conducted as a UN Climate Summit, where global stakeholders (the participants) use an interactive simulator to see the outcomes of their own decisions. It is a fun way to learn important information, and it puts the emphasis on hope and action—in the same way that I tried to do with Reversing Time. John Kerry said, “The En-Road simulator is quite simply a climate crisis game-changer for policymakers and people across the country.” I would love to offer the Climate Action Summit Game as a potentially useful resource to the people and students in the McMaster and Hamilton communities. Here is a link to a recent session I facilitated for politicians and students in Letchworth, England: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umhGhrQshV4
School visits usually start with a dramatic reading to whet the students' creative writing juices; then I will introduce a writing concept or skill for short story writing fundamentals such as plot, character, setting, conflict, and theme. Then participants would be asked to incorporate what they have learned into a written piece. There will definitely be time to share! Students will be encouraged to read their pieces aloud, receive feedback, and revise.