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The second edition of the MOTIVE Crime & Mystery Festival is almost here, and with beautiful summer weather ahead, we know it’s going to be an excellent weekend to celebrate over 70 Canadian and international authors and their books!

With 60+ events and free activities taking place June 2–4 throughout Harbourfront Centre’s gorgeous lakeside campus, we’ve put together this ultimate guide with tips and tricks to make the most of it all.

Don’t forget your #MotiveTO pass

A MOTIVE Pass is your ticket to explore as much of the Festival as you wish… Come for a day or join for all three! You can choose the type and duration that suits you best.

A regular 1-day and 3-day pass gets you in the door for all Standard events, conversations and launches. You can also upgrade to a Premium 1-day or 3-day pass to get access to both Standard and Premium events. See all pass options here. Masterclasses are not included with passes.

Passes will be available for pick up once the Festival begins (June 2) at the MOTIVE Information Desk inside the Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay W, Toronto).

A limited number of single tickets for Premium events have also been released, here.

Questions? Call the Harbourfront Box Office at 416-973-4000 or email tickets@harbourfrontcentre.com.

Learn from the experts with creative writing masterclasses 

A hit with new writers and pros alike, our masterclasses give you a chance to learn from world-class authors in a small classroom setting. From character building to writing true crime stories, there are five classes taking place throughout the weekend featuring authors Melodie Campbell, Catherine Fogarty, Ryan Gattis, Johana Gustawsson and Paul E. Hardisty. Classes are $49 each. Browse them all, here.

Discounts for students & book clubs

If you are on a student budget, we’ve got a deal for you! With TIFA’s student and youth (aged 25 and under) discount, you can get MOTIVE regular and premium passes for less. Be sure to select either the TIFA Student or Youth option on our online box office, here.

Keep your book club conversation going with a trip to MOTIVE this weekend. From cosy mysteries to chilling thrillers, we have a great selection of books, authors and conversations for readers of all kinds. Book Clubs can save 25% on ticket prices when booking five or more passes, or tickets to the same event, by calling the Harbourfront Centre Box Office 416-973-4000 (choose option 1).

Free readings, book signings & more

Along with a variety of conversations and classes, Harbourfront Centre’s campus will be bustling with free readings, book signings and presentations on Saturday and Sunday. The west lawn will be packed with the Toronto Crime Tours team, Adam Bunch, and the Crime Writers of Canada and their stellar group of writers. The Stage in the Park and Harbourfront Centre’s West Bays will feature readings by authors including Paul E. Hardisty, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Amy Stuart, Marcie R. Rendon and more. Check out all the free events, here.

If you are looking to get a book signed by your favourite author, head to the Marilyn Brewer Community Space after the event for the book signing. There are a few exceptions: Newfoundland Noir with Perry Chafe (Lakeside Terrace); The Twist of a Knife with Anthony Horowitz (Harbourfront Centre Theatre); and Central Park West with James Comey (Harbourfront Centre Theatre).

Food at Harbourfront Centre

If you need an energy boost or a quick bite to eat between events, be sure to check out The Bays Café and Boxcar Social. The Bays Café, located in Harbourfront Centre’s west bays, will be open 12–7pm on Saturday and Sunday with non-alcoholic drinks and light food options available for purchase.

Boxcar Social’s Harbourfront location will be open with food and drinks for purchase:
Friday: 9am – midnight (closed 3–7pm for a private event)
Saturday: 9am – midnight
Sunday: 9am – 10pm

Books, books, books and more books

With over 70 authors joining us this year, we have quite the selection of books from our official booksellers Indigo and Rakuten Kobo that will be perfect for your TBR pile. If you prefer e-books and audiobooks, Kobo’s got you covered, and Indigo has all you need in paperback and hardcover. Browse the full MOTIVE 2023 Festival reading list, here.

Indigo’s pop-up bookstore will be in Harbourfront Centre’s shop, located on the north-east corner of the building. You’ll be able to explore the shop from 12pm to 10pm each day of the Festival.

Getting to and around Harbourfront Centre  

Plan your way to Harbourfront Centre before you leave, to avoid unnecessary troubles. You can find directions for getting here by train, TTC, car and foot, here.  

Plot twist! Please be advised that Harbourfront Centre’s main building is undergoing renovations. As a result, the travel distances between venues may be slightly longer than usual. The building still remains accessible through elevators and ramps, and portable restrooms have been added to the campus. Please plan accordingly, and know that volunteers will be on hand to assist with any questions. Like a well-written mystery, the building’s final reveal will be worth the wait – we promise!

Check out the Festival map (click image for larger size):

MOTIVE 2023 Map

Keep in touch!

Share your MOTIVE Festival experience with us! We want to see your pictures and hear your stories, so be sure to follow and tag us on social media:


Don’t forget to use #MotiveTO in your posts.

Have a question? See if it is answered on our FAQ page.

Browse the full schedule of MOTIVE events, readings and conversations, here.

If you can’t join us in person at Harbourfront Centre, be sure to check out the free, digital events, here.

The inaugural MOTIVE Festival, from the Toronto International Festival of Authors, is almost here! Featuring nearly 100 authors from Canada and around the globe, over 40 in-person events, and a variety of free outdoor events all weekend long, MOTIVE offers a lot to see and do.

No need to sleuth for clues on how to make the most of MOTIVE, because we’ve put together your ultimate guide to making the most of your June 3–5 weekend.

Get tickets early

While it may be tempting to wait until the last minute to get tickets, we recommend getting them before it’s too late! Be sure to browse the schedule and book your tickets in advance to guarantee your spot to meet the incredible authors joining us for readings, conversations and book signings.

Explore an entire event series

Along with single interviews and readings, MOTIVE offers several series of events that bring world-class authors and experts together to discuss fascinating themes that can’t be unpacked in just one session. Four events explore the politics and societal effects of real-life crime and mysteries under the banner name, Critical Conversations. Several Masterclasses demonstrate key facets of crime writing, while The Re-Read series explores genre classics through the eyes of contemporary crime writers. Learn from the best and get a new perspective on topics all in one weekend. Browse events here.

See it all with the All-Access Pass

Can’t decide what to see at MOTIVE, or want to spend all weekend with us? Get yourself an All-Access Pass! These passes grant you one admission to nearly all MOTIVE events (Masterclasses excepted). Once you book a pass, you can then register for all the events you wish to see at no extra charge by following the instructions in the confirmation email.

Take advantage of the student and youth discount

Attending events can be hard on a student budget, but with TIFA’s student and youth (aged 25 and under) discount, you can get tickets to a regular MOTIVE event for only $12.50. While it doesn’t apply to Masterclasses, there are over 40 in-person events where you can save money and still get to see your favourite authors.

Invite your book club and save

Bring your book buddies to the waterfront, listen to fascinating conversations and enjoy the outdoor ambiance of a waterfront festival. From cozy mysteries to chilling thrillers, there are plenty of events to suit a variety of reading preferences. Book Clubs can save 25% on ticket prices when booking five or more tickets to the same event, by calling the Harbourfront Centre Box Office 416-973-4000 (choose option 1).

Plan your way to Harbourfront Centre  

Plan your way to Harbourfront Centre before you leave, to avoid unnecessary troubles. You can find directions for getting here by train, TTC, car and foot here.  

If you are travelling to MOTIVE from Toronto Pearson International Airport, take advantage of TIFA’s UP Express discount. Use the code Motive22 on www.upexpress.com to get 25% off the adult rate.  

COVID-19 safety

After two years of virtual events and changing rules about COVID-19 safety, it’s understandable that you may have questions about safety protocol for MOTIVE. Following Ontario provincial health guidelines, as of May 2, Harbourfront Centre has lifted its mandatory masks and vaccination policy for visitors, but strongly recommends visitors continue to wear masks while on campus and inside venues. A mandatory vaccination policy for Harbourfront Centre and TIFA employees, as well as volunteers, continues to be in effect. Hand sanitization stations are available throughout the campus. For more information about health and safety at Harbourfront Centre, please visit: HarbourfrontCentre.com/safety

Check your email for your tickets

Once you have purchased tickets to see your favourite authors, keep a watchful eye on your email. All tickets will be sent via email. You will need your e-ticket to access the event. If you don’t see it in your inbox, be sure to check your spam or junk folder.

If you have any questions about tickets, reach out to Harbourfront Centre’s box office at 416-973-4000 or tickets@harbourfrontcentre.com.

Enjoy free activities all weekend

Harbourfront Centre’s campus will be buzzing with activity on June 4 and 5 with readings, book signings, activities and scavenger hunts. Everyone is welcome to scope out the fun at the TIFA Kids tents, Crime Writers of Canada meet and greets, Kobo Cabana Reading Lounge, Toronto Crime Tours stories and more! Don’t forget to stop by Indigo’s Festival bookstore to browse the collection of thrilling reads.

Join the conversation

Ask a question, take a picture or share your Festival experience with us on social media! Follow @FestofAuthors on:


Don’t forget to use #MotiveTO in your posts.

Buy the books

TIFA’s official booksellers are ready to get books into your hands! Whether it’s an ebook, audiobook, hardcover or paperback, Kobo and Indigo have everything you need to be well-read. Browse Kobo’s online catalogue at any time here, and be sure to drop by the Marilyn Brewer Community Space inside Harbourfront Centre to get your hardcopies at the Indigo Bookstore.

Have a question? See if it is answered on our FAQ page or email us at support@festivalofauthors.ca.

Browse the full schedule of MOTIVE events, readings and conversations here.

If you can’t join us in person at Harbourfront Centre, be sure to check out the 14 free, digital events available until June 8 here.

During the 42nd Toronto International Festival of Authors, writers of all genres of literature spoke about their experiences with the writing process. From first novels to exploring new topics, advice and experiences were shared that would benefit many aspiring writers. Whether you are taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November, or you simply enjoy learning more about a writer’s experience, here are six personal stories transcribed from Festival events, below.

Mateo Askaripour, author of Black Buck

Mateo Askaripour headshotBlack Buck was my third manuscript. I had written two manuscripts, one partially while I was still in the world of startups and sales. Writing for me at that time, back in 2016, became an outlet, and then I turned from writing essays and articles to writing fiction. And I found that, beyond an outlet, it was a very specific form of salvation. So, I tried my hand at writing a novel. I did. No one wanted it. And then at that point, I wasn’t even working at that company anymore, but I didn’t want to feed into this ‘starving artist’ cliché, you know. So, I was consulting with tech startups to make money, helping them build and maintain sales teams. I’d learned a little bit more about writing with the assistance of a book called Plot & Structure and just a lot of trial-and-error. I wrote a second book, which I thought was going to get me in, get me an agent. Nah, no one wanted that one as well. And then I said, you know what, I’m going to write the book that I want, in the way that I want, for the people I want it to resonate with, and that was Black Buck that I began in January 2018, and it worked out.”

Transcribed from: A New Way Forward: Mateo Askaripour & Natasha Brown (October 27)
Photo credit: Andrew FifthGod Askaripour.

S. Bear Bergman, author of Special Topics in Being A Human

S. Bear Bergman headshot“I would say that I have a bit of a tendency toward constant self-improvement, which is a mixed bag for a writer. Sometimes it’s very hard for me to decide ‘okay, this is done now’ and send it in. There’s a writer named Anne Lamott and she wrote a great book about writing called Bird by Bird and in it she talks about how, you know, finishing a draft is a little bit like putting an octopus to bed. At a certain point, you just have to get like most of the tentacles under the covers and then that’s it. You turn out the light and called it a happy day.”

Transcribed from: Special Topics in Being a Human: S. Bear Bergman (October 23)
Illustration credit: Saul Freedman-Lawson.

Tziporah Cohen, author of No Vacancy

Tziporah Cohen Headshot“I can tell you that my biggest challenge was believing that I could do it. I mean, I think I was my own worst enemy in the process. I had never seen myself as a novel writer. I came to writing to write picture books. I started my MFA to write picture books. And even when encouraged to write a novel, I kept saying I don’t write novels, and so I think that was the biggest hurdle for me, was just having the confidence to overcome that hesitancy. And of course, the next biggest challenge, which I’m sure everybody can relate to, is then finding the time and plugging through ’cause it’s hard.”

Transcribed from: The Jean Little First-Novel Award Shortlist (October 27)

Michelle Good, author of Five Little Indians

Michelle Good headshot“I think one of the most important things is ‘don’t use too many words’, you know, and I know it sounds simplistic, but know what your story is before you start. Know what your story is, and that doesn’t mean you need to know everything that’s going to turn, but know the heart of your story and then stay true to the heart of your story and, you know, don’t get lost in the weeds. Be true to your story and that applies to developing your characters too.”

Transcribed from: 2021 Evergreen Award™ Winner Michelle Good in Conversation (October 22)

Shari Lapena, author of Not a Happy Family

Shari Lapena headshot“I think it’s really good to write in secret. If that works for you. It worked for me. I think that everybody, I think a lot of creative people tend to censor themselves too much, and I think if you’re worried about pleasing other people or pleasing someone that knows that you’re writing that can put a lot of pressure on you. . . I don’t really believe in writer’s block, I just think it’s perfectionism getting in the way. So, I think what you should do is forget about perfectionism, forget about people knowing what you’re doing. If you are worried about people judging you, just don’t tell anyone what you’re doing so you can free up your creative impulse. And, you know, don’t worry about it being any good. You really have to get through a bunch of crap before you get the good stuff. And I think if you start writing, you’ll soon find that you start to find your own voice.”

Transcribed from: Kobo in Conversation with Shari Lapena (October 25)

Jesse Wente, author of Unreconciled

Jesse Wente headshot“It took me a while to figure it out. I had never written a book before, obviously. It was a new medium for me. I start the book with the first moment where life of an Indigenous person came up against the myth of Indigenous people in Canada, but really for me, the decision to write the book came at a time I sort of figured it out, or that’s not quite correct, because I haven’t figured that much out. You know, I’ve been asked to write a book several times before, and I always said no. I didn’t know what I would write about, what I had to say. You know, I was doing radio, it felt like I had the space to say whatever I wanted to already. I think it sort of took realizing, coming to a point in that journey of understanding my place in this world, my place within my community, how those two things are both connected, but also at times, at odds. It took that long to get comfortable, to give me the material to write a book. I never thought I would write a book about myself. I always imagine I would write about something else.”

Transcribed from: Unreconciled: Jesse Wente (October 25)
Photo credit: Red Works