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If you are looking to make the most of the recent summer weather, be sure to drop by MOTIVE Crime and Mystery Festival, presented by Kobo Plus, this weekend! The Toronto International Festival of Authors will be taking over Harbourfront Centre’s waterfront campus with free outdoor activities for mystery fans of all ages.

From thought-provoking discussions to riveting readings, there will be a lot going on Saturday and Sunday. Below is a rundown of the wonder and mystery to expect at the beautiful lakeside location.


Kobo Cabana Reading Lounge

Be sure to visit our friends at the Kobo Cabana Reading Lounge! The welcoming space will have a charging station, comfy couches and some delicious treats. It’s the perfect place to relax, get book recommendations and chat with other crime and mystery fans.

West Lawn – Saturday, June 4 at 11am – 7pm

West Lawn – Sunday, June 5 at 11am – 7pm

Pitch Perfect

Join writers Alan Brand, Bruce Madole, Scott McKinnon and Hope Thompson as they pitch book ideas to a panel of publishing industry experts. Pitching may sound like a stressful process, but it’s all in good fun. After their pitches, the judges will provide constructive, positive feedback on the writers’ ideas. The event will take place inside Harbourfront Centre. Tickets are free with registration.

Main Loft – Sunday, June 5 at 6:30pm

Critical Conversations: Ethics of Crime Writing

At the outdoor stage on Harbourfront’s west lawn, authors Marcie Rendon, Beverley McLachlin and Ryan Gattis will explore the nuances and ethical implications of how crime, criminals and police are represented in the genre. In conversation with Robert Rotenberg, they will discuss their writing choices, as well as their ongoing work to better the criminal justice system. The Critical Conversation series is presented in partnership with the Provocation Ideas Festival.

Outdoor Stage – Saturday, June 4 at 2pm

Meet Me in the Yard: Audio Installation

As you enter MOTIVE’s hub of outdoor activities, an interactive audio installation will you greet you. Take a snapshot of the QR codes to hear different experiences of incarceration. There are a total of five stories being shared, so be sure to explore the entire space. Presented by Trophy, in partnership with Provocation Ideas Festival.

North Orchard – Saturday, June 4 at 1–6pm

TIFA Kids & Family Fun

The TIFA Kids & Family tent will have fun for the whole family! There will be board games, colouring and other free activities to enjoy all weekend long.

Outdoor Tent – Saturday, June 4 at 11am – 7pm

Outdoor Tent – Sunday, June 5 at 11am – 7pm

Crime Writers of Canada Book Signings & Readings

The Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) is joining MOTIVE with free readings and book signings. See authors like James Arnett, Nate Hendley, O’Cinneide, Robert Rotenberg, Lynne Murphy, Dianne Scott and many more throughout the weekend as they read from their books on the outdoor stage. Afterward, head to the CWC tent to meet authors from all over Canada.

Check out their weekend lineup:

Book Signings at the Outdoor Tent – Saturday, June 4 at 11am – 7pm

Readings on the Outdoor Stage – Saturday, June 4 at 6pm

Book Signings at the Outdoor Tent – Sunday, June 5 at 11am – 7pm

Readings on the Outdoor Stage – Sunday, June 5 at 2pm

Toronto Crime Tours

Drop in to hear the true crime stories of Toronto’s past! Presented by Toronto Crime Tours, theirs are the only crime tours in Canada hosted by retired Detectives. Hear stories that are both fascinating and frightening like the Clowns vs. Firefighters Riot of 1855, the tragic case of the Shoeshine Boy and the notorious Boyd Gang. No walking or registration required.

Outdoor Tent – Saturday, June 4 at 1pm – 6 pm

Outdoor Tent – Sunday, June 5 at 1pm – 6 pm

Indigo Bookstore

While the books may not be free, browsing them sure is! Explore Indigo’s Bookstore in the Marilyn Brewer Community Space inside Harbourfront Centre all weekend. From cozy mysteries to chilling thrillers, true crime to police procedurals, the bookstore will be stocked with all the must reads in crime and mystery.

Marilyn Brewer Community Space – Friday, June 3 at 4–9:30pm

Marilyn Brewer Community Space – Saturday, June 4 at 10am – 9pm

Marilyn Brewer Community Space – Sunday, June 5 at 10am – 9pm

Ask the Expert

Two crime-writing experts will be on the outdoor MOTIVE stage to discuss the latest trends in the genre. On Saturday, New York Times journalist and crime fiction expert Sarah Weinman will be chatting about all things true crime. Then on Sunday, Globe & Mail crime fiction reviewer, Margaret Cannon, will be taking a look at the crime genre through a Canadian lens. Don’t miss these great conversations!

Ask the Expert: Sarah Weinman – Saturday, June 4 at 3:30pm

Ask the Expert: Margaret Cannon – Sunday, June 5 at 3:30pm


Want to see the full schedule? Check it out here.

Picture of the MOTIVE ad on the North Wall at Harbourfront Centre

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:

Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

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.

Opportunities are ripe for aspiring crime and mystery writers at MOTIVE Festival, presented by Kobo Plus. The newest literary celebration from the Toronto International Festival of Authors offers many ways to meet like-minded booklovers and learn from the world’s best authors.

From insightful conversations to hands-on classes, MOTIVE audiences can gain award-winning advice on how to take their next step in the publishing process. Here is a collection of activities worth considering to further your writing career.


Creative Writing Masterclasses

Doug Johnstone
Photo credit: Duncan McGlynn.

Sit down with acclaimed authors and industry experts for a MOTIVE Masterclass, where hands-on lessons dive into crafting compelling stories and perfecting the art of editing. Each leading their own class, Torontonian Marissa Stapley, Scottish author Doug Johnstone and UK publisher Karen Sullivan will share a facet of their expertise in an intimate 90-minute session in Harbourfront Centre’s Main Loft. Whether you sign up for all or just one, be sure to bring your questions about plotting, writing and publishing for these experts to tackle. All writing levels are welcome.

Get tickets:

Masterclass: Marissa Stapley on the Heart of Character Development (Friday, June 3 at 6pm ET)
Masterclass: Doug Johnstone on Killer Editing (Saturday, June 4 at 4pm ET)
Masterclass: Karen Sullivan on the Path to Published (Sunday, June 5 at 4pm ET)

Pictured: Doug Johnstone.

Ask the Experts

Sarah Weinman's headshot

Crime-writing experts Margaret Cannon and Sarah Weinman will take the MOTIVE stage to field your questions about writing tools and trends and Canadian reading recommendations. Don’t miss this chance to ask the experts your biting crime-genre queries at these free, outdoor presentations.

Events:

Ask the Expert: Sarah Weinman (Saturday, June 4 at 3:30pm ET)
Ask the Expert: Margaret Cannon (Sunday, June 5 at 3:30pm ET)

Pictured: Sarah Weinman.

Pitch Perfect

Carolyn Forde, the new IV Programme Committee Chair, headshot

Ever wonder what it’s like to pitch a book idea? TIFA and the Crime Writers of Canada invite you to be a fly on the wall to witness a live pitch session in action. Pitch Perfect is a showcase of writers pitching their ideas to a panel of judges. Be prepared to jot down some notes as the panel of publishing experts provide constructive feedback on their ideas. This event is free with registration.

Event:

Pitch Perfect (Sunday, June 5 at 6:30pm ET)

Pictured: Pitch Perfect judge Carolyn Forde, Partner, Senior Literary Agent and International Rights Director at Transatlantic Agency.

The Re-Reads

Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles book cover

What better way to become a great writer than to learn from the classics? TIFA’s Re-Read series is back for MOTIVE, featuring award-winning writers , Kurdo Baksi, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid taking a look at famous books and authors who have captivated readers for decades and made a substantial impact on the crime and mystery genre. From Agatha Christie to Stieg Larsson, you’ll learn how prolific authors broke the rules to make the genre their own.

Get tickets:

The Re-Read: Val McDermid on Agatha Christie (Saturday, June 4 at 1pm ET)
The Re-Read: Kurdo Baksi on Stieg Larsson (Saturday, June 4 at 1:30pm ET)
The Re-Read: Mark Billingham on Dashiell Hammett (Sunday, June 5 at 1pm ET)

 

Hear from Debut Authors

Ramona Emerson's headshot
Photo credit: Ungelbah Dávila-Shivers.

Debut authors were aspiring writers not too long ago, and are a great resource for learning about the publishing industry right now. Join debut authors Ramona Emerson, Wanda Morris and Nita Prose at MOTIVE to learn about their books and publishing process, and get advice on how to jump from aspiring to published.

Get tickets:

Secrets & Lies: Wanda Morris & Chris Pavone (Sunday, June 5 at 6:30pm ET)
The Maid: Nita Prose (Sunday, June 5 at 7pm ET)
Paranormal Plotlines: Ramona Emerson & Stuart Neville (Sunday, June 5 at 7:30pm ET)

Pictured: Ramona Emerson.

Book Signings

A fan getting their book signed at TIFA’s 2017 Festival.

Meet your favourite authors in person throughout the weekend at MOTIVE book signings, which take place after most ticketed events and at the Crime Writers of Canada tent. It’s an opportune time to interact one-on-one and ask that quick burning question. Be sure to check individual event pages for details on book signings.

Events:

Crime Writers of Canada Tent (Saturday and Sunday starting at 11am ET)
In-Person Events (June 3–5)


Looking for more? Browse the full MOTIVE schedule here.

Wanda Morris's headshot

From June 3 to 5, Toronto International Festival of Author’s inaugural MOTIVE Festival will take you on a worldwide crime and mystery tour as authors from around the globe gather at Harbourfront Centre. After two years of only virtual events, we are excited to celebrate the buzz of activity and wide variety of conversations, readings and special performances together again.

With storytellers from Germany, Iceland, Scotland and more, don’t miss this rare opportunity to see these incredible authors in person.


Mark Billingham (UK)

Mark Billingham's headshot
Photo credit: Steve Best.

Mark Billingham is an English writer known for his bestselling Inspector Thom Thorne novels, which Sky 1 adapted into a hit series. He has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Crime Novel of the Year. In his latest standalone thriller, Rabbit Hole, Billingham follows ex-cop and long-term patient Alice Armitage as she investigates a murder in her acute psychiatric ward. Will Alice be able unravel the mystery without succumbing to her lingering PTSD? Get the scoop on this latest novel as he sits down with Canadian bestselling author Linwood Barclay in person at MOTIVE.

Mark Billingham will participate in the following event:

Rabbit Hole: Mark Billingham with Linwood Barclay
Saturday, June 4 at 5pm ET, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers in Concert
Saturday, June 4 at 7:30pm ET, Concert Stage at Harbourfront Centre

The Re-Read: Mark Billingham on Dashiell Hammett
Sunday, June 5 at 1pm ET, Main Loft in Harbourfront Centre

Val McDermid (Scotland)

Val McDermid's headshot
Photo credit: KT Bruce.

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award and the CWA Golden Dagger Award, Scottish author Val McDermid has sold over 17 million books around the world. In her newest novel, 1979, McDermid introduces rookie reporter Allie Burns, who must navigate the newsroom boys’ club while investigating a terrorist plot close to home. Join Scotland’s Queen of Crime in person at MOTIVE for discussions about her writing, Agatha Christie and a special performance.

Val McDermid’s Festival appearance is generously supported by Scottish Books International.

Val McDermid will participate in the following events:

The Re-Read: Val McDermid on Agatha Christie
Saturday, June 4 at 1pm ET, Main Loft in Harbourfront Centre

Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers in Concert
Saturday, June 4 at 7:30pm ET, Concert Stage at Harbourfront Centre

1979: Val McDermid
Sunday, June 5 at 1pm ET, Brigantine Room in Harbourfront Centre

Adrian McKinty (Ireland / US)

Adrian McKinty's headshot
Photo credit: Leah Garrett.

Irish author Adrian McKinty has written over a dozen crime novels and is the winner of the Edgar Award, the International Thriller Writers Award and the Ned Kelly Award. In The Island, his latest novel and soon to be Hulu series, McKinty explores a family vacation gone horribly wrong. Separated from her new husband and surrounded by murderous locals, what will one woman do to keep her step-children safe?

Adrian McKinty will participate in the following event:

The Island: Adrian McKinty
Saturday, June 4 at 11:30am ET, Lakeside Terrace at Harbourfront Centre

Melanie Raabe (Germany)

Melanie Raabe's headshot
Photo credit: Marina Rosa Weigand.

Winner of the Stuttgart Crime Fiction Award, Melanie Raabe is a German author and journalist whose work has been published in over 20 countries. Her latest novel, The Shadow, spent 18 weeks on the Der Spiegel bestseller list. After a homeless woman prophesises the date when Norah Richter will kill a man “with good reason and of your own free will,” Norah must decide whether she should hate someone she has never met.

Melanie Raabe’s Festival appearance is generously supported by Goethe-Institut.

Melanie Raabe will participate in the following event:

Chiller Killers: Melanie Raabe & Max Seeck
Saturday, June 4 at 11:30am ET, Brigantine Room in Harbourfront Centre

Book & Brötchen with Melanie Raabe & Elizabeth Renzetti
Sunday, June 5 at 11:30am ET, Goethe-Institut Toronto 

Lilja Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)

Lilja Sigurðard's headshot

Lilja Sigurðardóttir is an award-winning Icelandic author, playwright and scriptwriter. The first novel in her bestselling Reykjavík Noir Trilogy, Snare, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, while the third, Cage, won Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Her latest thriller, Cold as Hell, follows Áróra as she returns home to find her estranged sister, who has gone missing in the midnight sun of the Icelandic summer.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir’s Festival appearance is generously supported by Icelandic Literature Centre.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir will participate in the following event:

Sisters in Search: Kellye Garrett & Lilja Sigurðardóttir
Saturday, June 4 at 2pm ET, Studio Theatre in Harbourfront Centre


Virtual Events

If you won’t be in Toronto for #MotiveTO, or you are, but are looking for some events to watch from home, you can also check out these international authors virtually at festivalofauthors.ca/motive.

Javier Cercas (Spain)

Javier Cercas's headshot
Photo credit: LM Palomares.

Javier Cercas is an internationally acclaimed Spanish novelist and columnist. Cercas’s books have been translated into over 30 languages, while Soldiers of Salamis has sold more than a million copies worldwide. In his latest novel, Even the Darkest Night, convict-turned-cop Melchor Marín must uncover the truth about a brutal double murder in the remote town of Terra Alta. Learn from this master storyteller from the comfort of home as Cercas discusses his elegantly constructed thriller.

Javier Cercas will participate in the following event:

Even the Darkest Night: Javier Cercas
Saturday, June 4 at 8pm ET, Virtual Event

Tica Morgan (Netherlands)

Tica Morgan's headshot
Photo credit: Duco de Vries.

Bestselling Dutch crime novelist Tica Morgan brings her experience as a police-investigator to her acclaimed Inspector Zoe Janssen thrillers. In the series’ upcoming fourth novel, Hell’s Gate, Inspector Janssen must investigate a new mystery on the small islands of southern Netherlands. Join Tica Morgan for this special event, presented by Kobo Plus, as she discusses her new book, fascination with the crime genre and experience being published in multiple languages.

Tica Morgan will participate in the following event:

Hell’s Gate: Tica Morgan
Friday, June 3 at 5pm ET, Virtual Event

Fuminori Nakamura (Japan)

Fuminori Nakamura's headshot

Fuminori Nakamura is a Japanese author best known for The Thief (2010), his critically acclaimed first novel to be translated into English. Winner of the prestigious Ōe Prize and David L. Goodis Award, Nakamura creates fascinating puzzle box narratives that feature tantalizing strangers and enigmatic acquaintances. “Turn this page, and give up your entire life,” he writes in his latest novel, My Annihilation, a disturbing dissection of what motivates a killer. Join the master of the literary noir virtually as he discusses this journey into the darkest corners of the human mind.

Fuminori Nakamura will participate in the following event:

My Annihilation: Fuminori Nakamura
Sunday, June 5 at 12:30pm ET, Virtual Event

Ilaria Tuti (Italy)

Ilaria Tuti's headshot

Ilaria Tuti is an Italian author and winner of the Gran Giallo Città di Cattolica literary prize for her short story The Pagan Child. Tuti’s novels evoke her love of nature and Italy’s rich history. In The Sleeping Nymph, her highly anticipated next instalment of the Teresa Battaglia series, Superintendent Battaglia must travel to one of Italy’s most untouched regions to investigate a decades-old murder.

Ilaria Tuti’s Festival appearance is generously supported by Istituto Italiano di Cultura.

Ilaria Tuti will participate in the following event:

The Sleeping Nymph: Ilaria Tuti
Saturday, June 4 at 10am ET, Virtual Event

Emma Viskic (Australia)

Emma Viskic's headshot

Critically acclaimed Australian author Emma Viaskic has won the Ned Kelly Award, five Davitt Awards and has twice been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger Award. Her books are published worldwide and are frequently listed among the best crime novels this decade. In Those Who Parish, the hotly anticipated conclusion to the Caleb Zelic series, Viskic places her Deaf protagonist on an isolated island community under threat from a sniper. Will Caleb find his drug addicted brother before the sniper does?

Emma Viskic will participate in the following event:

Those Who Parish: Emma Viskic
Sunday, June 5 at 8pm ET, Virtual Event


See the full list of #MotiveTO authors and events here.

Melanie Raabe's headshot as the blog banner

We are pleased to announce several new appointments to the board of directors of the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA). As of January 11, 2022, TIFA welcomes Shagorika Easwar, Malcolm McLean, Nalini Stewart and Iris Tupholme to its board of directors. All will serve the board, chaired by Charles Baillie, for a three-year term. Easwar’s appointment is effective as of September 2021, and the appointments of McLean, Stewart and Tupholme begin this month.   

Shagorika Easwar headshotShagorika Easwar is a seasoned journalist with years of leadership roles in media in India and Dubai. Easwar is the co-founder and Editor of Desi News, which she launched a year after arriving in Canada in 1995. Twenty-five years later, Desi News is Canada’s premier South Asian print and online magazine with Canada-wide readership, and continues to resonate with the burgeoning community. In 2006, Easwar co-founded Grant’s Desi Achievers Awards in partnership with PMA Canada, a bi-annual event that honours high achievers in Canada’s South Asian communities. Easwar also serves as the Editor of CanadaBound Immigrant magazine, which she co-founded in 2009. The magazine caters to the informational needs of newcomers to Canada and draws its readers from over 50 countries. 

Malcolm McLean headshotAfter completing the International MBA program at Schulich with a specialty in Russia and Eastern Europe, Malcolm McLean worked for several years in Germany before returning to Canada to embark on a career in brand strategy in the world of advertising. After making contributions at some of Canada’s leading agencies, including BBDO, Cossette, Lowe Roche, TBWA, and Grey Canada, he joined Cundari to invigorate and innovate their strategic offering and was subsequently elevated to the position of President, CSO in March 2019. McLean has had the privilege to work with a variety of not-for-profit organizations including CBCF, the Salvation Army, Special Olympics, Moms Demand Action for Gun Control in America, Strong Minds Strong Kids (Psychology Foundation of Canada), and the Missing Children’s Society of Canada.   

Nalini Stewart headshotFor over thirty-five years, Nalini Stewart has held leadership roles on local, provincial, and national boards. She has been Chair of the Ontario Arts Council and the Writers’ Trust of Canada. She has been Acting Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts and President of the Canadian Club. She is a Founding member of the Ontario Arts Foundation, The Power Plant Art Gallery, the Asia Pacific Foundation, the Art Canada Institute and the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund. She is currently Chair of Necessary Angel Theatre and Friends of WWF Canada. She is an honorary governor of York University and the National Theatre School of Canada. Stewart received the Order of Ontario and the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship for “contribution to the arts, education and communication, and for efforts to promote diversity awareness and inclusion.” She has a lifetime achievement award from the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce.   

Iris Tupholme headshotIris Tupholme is SVP, Executive Publisher at HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Iris leads the Canadian publishing team and is proud to be the publisher of esteemed and award-winning authors including Lawrence Hill, Michelle Good, Tanya Talaga, Hilary Mantel, Emma Donoghue, Thomas King, Heather O’Neil, Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Rosemary Sullivan and Kenneth Oppel, among many others. Iris was born in Saskatchewan and lived in northern Ontario before moving to the Toronto area. She is a graduate of the University of Guelph, the University of Toronto, Ryerson College and the Rotman School of Business (MBA Essentials). Iris was chosen as the Editor of the Year in 2013 by Canadian Booksellers. She has been a Fellow in Sydney, Jerusalem and Scotland. Iris is the Founding Chair of the International Visitors (I.V.) Programme at TIFA, now in its 15th year.  

“We are delighted to welcome Shagorika, Malcolm Nalini and Iris to TIFA’s board of directors. They share our enthusiasm for literature and our desire to build upon TIFA’s rich history to ensure the organization’s success as we expand our offerings to the book-loving community this year, and onwards,” said Charles Baillie, TIFA board chair.   

“We are so pleased that Shagorika, Malcolm, Nalini and Iris are joining the TIFA Board. They bring a depth of knowledge, experience and expertise that will enable us to continue to successfully navigate these challenging times, and that enhance our abilities to realise our ambitions for 2022 and beyond, as we bring the best books, stories and ideas from around the world to audiences in Toronto,” said Roland Gulliver, TIFA Director. 

The board of directors for the Toronto International Festival of Authors is composed of Charles Baillie (President), Harriet Lewis (Vice President/Secretary), Cam di Prata (Treasurer), Gail Appel, Randy Boyagoda, Marah Braye, Shagorika Easwar, John Macfarlane, Malcolm McLean, Beth Nowers, Valerie Pringle, Nalini Stewart and Iris Tupholme. 

Board Member headshots - website banner

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

Jesse Wente on stage at Harbourfront Centre during #FestofAuthors21

During the 42nd edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors, over 300 Canadian and international authors and artists generously shared their stories and the inspiration behind them. We heard from many viewers about all the ways these conversations and performances inspired their own creative work. Local Toronto artist Kaz Ogino started sharing with us the drawings she created while listening to authors, poets and performers share their passion of storytelling.

 Explore Kaz’s drawings below, and read what inspired them, in her own words.


Alan Cumming Talks About His Baggage

Art by Kaz - Two line drawings with half faces, shadows and shapesArt by Kaz - Three line drawings with leaves and shapes.

These pieces were drawn during the reading by Alan. I move my pen in a continuous line to the sound and sense of the words I’m hearing. This stage I call ‘taking a line for a walk’. The finishing work is about image, often but not always, envisioned by the content piece read. Here I used two images: Alan’s portrait by Christian Hood including the colours of the tartan in the portrait, and the second images are falling leaves, from Alan’s earliest memory and maybe influenced too by the season happening outside my window 🍁🍂😊.


Toronto Poetry Slam

For drawings making up the word POET. This piece is from the TIFA & Toronto Poetry Slam event. My 22 drawings from this event suggested the alphabet and with a bounty of performance poetry events offered, I’ll have material for several versions and to keep my ‘line walking’ 😊

I am also a hobby numerologist. Each letter is represented with a number from 1 to 9. For example, S is 1, and I surprisingly found a home for the drawing of the poetry from slam poet Symbolik. These serendipitous connection are ramping up even higher through my enjoyment of the TIFA events.


The World of Upside Down, Inside Out Superheroes with Sophy Henn

A shadow drawing of a child reading a book. Surrounding the child is swirls and colour loops

Kid’s books are among my favorite genres, both for their perspectives and art. I think that the Pizazz series is right up there with Shel Silverstein for excellence of story, illustration and design. Sophy’s playful page layouts are so inspiring and seem to literally animate the story.

A famous Picasso quote, also echoed in different ways by many well known artists goes: “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”


Bonus: Toronto Festival of Authors 2021 (an English Madrigal poem)

A festival of authors on parade
11 days of brilliance to hear and inhale
Spell binding, head scratching and ideas to scale

Authors, performers, and teachers by trade
Wisdom, experience, and concepts unveiled
A festival of authors on parade
11 days of brilliance to hear and inhale

Readings, interviews and spoken word played
A cornucopia of talent on a large scale
And from the word smiths, a holiest of grails
A festival of authors on parade
11 days of brilliance to hear and inhale
Spell binding, head scratching and ideas to scale


Kaz Ogino headshotKaz Ogino is a Japanese-Canadian artist living in Toronto, Canada. See more of Kaz’s art at artbykaz.ca or on Instagram @artbykaz.ca.


While these events are no longer available to watch for free, you can still check out the events from the last three days of the Festival here.

A shadow drawing of a child reading a book. Surrounding the child is swirls and colour loops

The 42nd edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) is full of options. From over 300 authors and writers featured during the 11-day Festival, to a diverse selection of picture books, anthologies, nonfiction and novels to explore, there is a lot to watch, read and enjoy.

With the first two Festival days complete (but still available to watch!), we asked our friends at Rakuten Kobo, TIFA’s official Bookseller of ebooks and audiobooks, which authors they are most looking forward to checking out during #FestofAuthors21, and most importantly, why?


Lindsay Gray, Director of Brand & Product Marketing

The Death of Francis Bacon book coverWhich author are you most excited about?
Max Porter

Why?
Max’s books are full of depth, emotion and eerie magic—I’ve been both moved and haunted by Lanny and Grief is a Thing with Feathers. I had the privilege of seeing him do an original reading at Type Books in the Junction a few years back and would love to hear more. I can’t wait to read his latest.

What question would you ask the author?
What kind of music do you think pairs best with your books?

Max Porter will participate in the following events:

The Death of the Artist: Max Porter
Sunday, October 24 at 12pm ET

Can You Hear Me Now? Max Porter
Wednesday, October 27 at 12pm ET

Liz Hilborn, Director of Content Sales & Corporate Orders

Dearly by Margaret AtwoodWhich author are you most excited about?
Always Margaret Atwood.

Why?
I always show up for Peggy because of my wonderful English teacher, Ms. Carleton. She was obsessed (rightfully) with the works of Ms. Atwood and talked openly about her dreams of meeting her. She assigned Alias Grace as our group novel, and I loved it so much I wrote pages and pages (and pages) of analysis. I shared that analysis with a friend who was struggling in the class. That friendship we created ended up turning into a beautiful marriage. I probably owe a lot in my life to both of those women.

What question would you ask the author?
I’d probably ask her if a woman named Ms. Carleton has tracked her down yet!

Margaret Atwood will participate in the following event:

Bryan Doerries in Conversation with Margaret Atwood
Thursday, October 28 at 6:30pm ET

Deandra Lalonde, Content Sales Lead for North America

The Spectacular book coverWhich author are you most excited about?
Zoe Whittall

Why?
The Best Kind of People is one of those books that immediately landed on my “favourites” shelf as soon as I finished reading it, and I will find myself thinking about Holding Still For As Long As Possible just about any time an ambulance passes by (which, in Toronto, is frequently). Both novels have stuck with me long after finishing them, and I can’t wait to read The Spectacular soon.

What question would you ask the author?
Writing books and writing for television obviously pose different sets of challenges and rewards, do you enjoy one over the other or do you like getting a break from each when you move on to the next project?

Zoe Whittall will participate in the following event:

Breaking Free: Polly Samson & Zoe Whittall
Sunday, October 24 at 1:30pm ET

Nathan Maharaj, Director of Content Marketing

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad book coverWhich author are you most excited about?
Omar El Akkad

Why?
He’s got such an interesting approach—American War was science fiction just far enough into the future that we can imagine living through it. What Strange Paradise is closer to our world now, but still sits just off-centre. I feel like he’s got a great sense of being able to step just outside the frame of now to get a better look.

What question would you ask the author?
I want to know if he thinks he’s a better novelist or journalist. Since he’s such a gifted writer, I’d love to hear him speak to where he thinks he lacks skill, and what he thinks he’s especially good at. Really, I don’t have a question to ask; but I’d love to just have a conversation. (Speaking of Omar El Akkad in conversation, here he is on Kobo in Conversation, which I now produce, back in 2019.)

Omar El Akkad will participate in the following event:

Humber Masterclass: What a Powerful Sentence Looks Like with Omar El Akkad
Sunday, October 24 at 4pm ET

Finding Humanity in Crisis: Rabih Alemeddine & Omar El Akkad
Tuesday, October 26 at 5:30pm ET

Tracy Nesdoly, VP communications

Cloud Cuckoo Land book coverWhich author are you most excited about?
Anthony Doerr, hands down.

Why?
All the Light We Cannot See is one of my favourite books of all time. It manages a magical alchemy of being utterly charming while at the same time depicting the horror of a horrible war. I also learned something about how terrifying it might have been to be a German child during the Second World War, something I’d never really thought about before.

What question would you ask of the author?
Oh, I don’t think I could ask anything, I’d be tongue-tied!

Anthony Doerr will participate in the following event:

Cloud Cuckoo Land: Anthony Doerr with Randy Boyagoda
Monday, October 25 at 7pm ET

Michael Tamblyn, CEO

Book Covers of Douglas Coupland's Binge and Anne Carson's Trojan WomenWhich author are you most excited about?
I’m going to stretch and try for two: Douglas Coupland & Anne Carson

Why?
One of my first jobs in bookselling was organizing an author reading for Douglas Coupland at an independent bookstore when he was touring with Microserfs. He showed up and announced that instead of doing a reading, he wanted to show a film he had produced that was mostly about bodybuilding. The audience was half-confounded/half-entertained, but I was just relieved that we found a 16mm film projector on 2 hours notice. That was when it first became clear that Doug isn’t “just” an author; he is pushing and pulling on ideas and picking whichever medium is best suited to that exploration.

Anne Carson is a poet whose work I have loved since her very first book, Short Talks. She was already a luminary professor in Ancient Greek and then emerging as a poet of astonishing clarity. Autobiography of Red and so many others followed. A new collection of poems by Carson is always a stop-everything moment for me.

What question would you want to ask them?
Coupland: What part of the future are you wishing you could be alive to see?
Carson: When speaking with a Greek god, are there rules to which one should always adhere?

Douglas Coupland will participate in the following event:

Bingeworthy Reading: Douglas Coupland
Saturday, October 30 at 6:30pm ET

Anne Carson will participate in the following event:

The Trojan Women: Rosanna Bruno & Anne Carson
Saturday, October 30 at 5pm ET

Michael Tamblyn will participate in the following event:

Kobo in Conversation with Shari Lapena
Monday, October 25 at 2:30pm ET


You can get your own digital copy of these books and other #FestofAuthors21 titles from Kobo here. Browse the full schedule of events here.

Banner with a selection of TIFA Festival book titles mentioned in the blog.

The 42nd edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors is almost here! If you have browsed the 200+ events with Canadian and international authors, artists and performers, but aren’t sure how to make the most of it, you have come to the right place.

Here are some tips and tricks to make your virtual visit at the Festival a fantastic one:

1) Register, register, register

Once you have created a TIFA account, it’s time to register for as many Festival events as you would like! Whether it’s attending the first event of the day, the last one, or each one in between, be sure to add the events to your personal itinerary by clicking the yellow ‘Sign up/in to register for this event’ button on each page. Unless it’s a Humber Masterclass or an event taking place on Zoom, you can enjoy the reading, conversation or performance for 72 hours after it launches, so don’t worry about any overlapping events.

2) Share the news

Once you’ve signed up for events, share the news with friends and family! Whether it’s your favourite author or a panel discussion on a shared interest, let them know so they can join in on the conversation. If you share the news on social media, be sure to follow and tag us using:

Facebook, Instagram & Twitter: @FestofAuthors
Hashtag: #FestofAuthors21 and #TIFAKids

3) Keep an eye on your email

Once you have signed up an event, TIFA will provide all updates and reminders to you via email. Be sure to add us to your safe senders list (enews@festivalofauthors.ca and support@festivalofauthors.ca) to avoid missing important information about your events. If you haven’t received anything, be sure to check your spam folder.

Your event reminder emails will provide a direct link to your TIFA Account page, where you select the day’s events from your personal itinerary. If an event will be taking place on Zoom or another platform, we will indicate this on the event page, and email you the direct link prior to the event.

4) Tune in live or watch on your own time

With most of the events being available to watch for 72 hours, you can tune in at the scheduled time or enjoy at your convenience. No matter how you watch, be sure to log in and access the event through your personal itinerary in your TIFA Account.

Humber Masterclasses and events taking place on Zoom will only be available to watch live, so be sure to check the event description for those details.

5) Have some family fun

With over 30 TIFA Kids events taking place from October 21–31, you can settle in together and enjoy readings, activities and conversations with the creators of today’s leading books for young people. There are events for all ages that explore stories of love, quests, friendship and family. You can browse #TIFAkids events here.

6) Learn from the pros

Humber Masterclasses are back this year, and whether you are a new writer or just looking to pick up new techniques from world-class authors, there are sessions every day of the Festival for you to check out. Pick your favourite or attend all 11 classes with instructors like recent #ScotiabankGillerPrize shortlisted authors Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill. Classes are $56 to join. Browse the classes here.

7) Tune in daily for recurring mini-series

In addition to exciting author talks and interviews each day, there are also daily performances, Can You Hear Me Now? commission readings and Critical Conversations. Authors, artists and performers will be sharing their talents each day, and then each night, hear from the experts in a wide range of fields as they discuss important social and political events during the Critical Conversation series.

8) Experience a new language

During the Festival this year, 14 events will take place in languages other than English. Tune in to experience storytelling in Bengali, French, Greek, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil and more. English captions will also be provided.

9) Explore special offers

Support local businesses with special offers from Raven Rising, The Green Jar, The Westin Harbour Castle Toronto and UofT Bookstore. The promotional offers will be available from October 19–31, 2021, here.

10) Buy the books

Whether you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or a physical copy for reading, TIFA has you covered. Our official Booksellers are UofT Bookstore and Rakuten Kobo, so you can read the Festival titles however you wish. You can purchase the books directly from each event page, or feel free to browse UofT Bookstore and Kobo online.

UofT Bookstore is offering 15% off all TIFA Festival titles and free shipping on domestic orders of over C$100.

Need more guidance?

Visit the Festival FAQ page here or email our customer support team at support@festivalofauthors.ca.

Check out the full schedule of #FestofAuthors21 events here.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on stage at Harbourfront Centre. There is a big screen lit behind her with TIFA logos and red and blue lights shining down. She is joined on stage by her band members.