A fomer high school teacher, literacy mentor, and university instructor, Don Aker fell into writing in 1988 after attending the Martha's Vineyard Summer Writing Workshops, where instructors encouraged participants to write with their students. Encouraged by winning the short fiction and nonfiction categories of the 1989 and 1990 WFNS Atlantic Writing Competitions as well as Canadian Living's 1990 National Literary Competition, Don went on to publish numerous stories and articles and has written 20 books.
Because he taught hundreds of teenagers during his teaching career, it isn't surprising that young adults are the focus of most of his work. What subjects does he choose to write about? "Things that bother me, that don't go away," he says. For example, Don wrote his first novel after a student shared with him that she was being physically abused by her father. Of Things Not Seen tells the story of sixteen-year-old Ben Corbett who, along with his mother, is physically abused by his domineering stepfather. Besides domestic violence, Don's novels have focused on peer pressure, bullying, youth crime, suicide, sexuality, teen gambling, and a variety of other social issues. However, he is quick to point out that the strongest stories are never about issues or events--"They're about how characters are affected by those issues and events."
Don holds a Master of Education from Acadia University and, besides working as an educator and writer, he has been a freelance reviewer and consultant for various educational publishers, including Nelson Education, Pembroke Publishers, and Pearson Education. He has written several books for classroom use, among them Hitting the Mark: Assessment Tools for Teachers (Pembroke, 1995) and a series of language arts texts for grades 8 to 11 (Nelson Education), and he has had articles and fiction published in The International Journal of Reading, Quill & Quire, Books in Canada, Canadian Living, The Toronto Star, Our Family Magazine, The Pottersfield Portfolio, Dandelion Magazine, The Chronicle Herald, and various anthologies.
The father of two daughters, Don lives with his wife on Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy.Publications
Delusion Road, HarperCollins, 2015
Brothers in Arms: The Siege of Louisbourg, Scholastic, 2015
Running on Empty, HarperCollins, 2012
The Fifth Rule, HarperCollins, 2011
Nelson Literacy 10, Nelson Education, 2011
In the Lighthouse, Scholastic, 2008
The Right Whale, Scholastic, 2008
The Space Between, HarperCollins, 2007
One on One, HarperCollins, 2005
The First Stone, HarperCollins, 2003
Stranger at Bay, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1997
Of Things Not Seen, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1995
Ontario Library Association's 2016 White Pine Honour Book Award for Delusion Road
Canadian Library Association's 2008 Honour Book Award for The Space Between
Canadian Authors Association's 2007 Lilla Stirling Award for One on One
Ontario Library Association's 2004 White Pine Award for The First Stone
2004 Ann Connor Brimer Award for The First Stone
The Toronto Star's 2002 Short Story Contest Runner-up Prize for "Everything Gets Dead"
1996 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Of Things Not Seen
Canadian Authors Association 1996 Lilla Stirling Award for Of Things Not Seen
Dandelion Magazine's 1991 Short Fiction Competition Third Prize for "Scars"
Canadian Living's 1990 National Literary Competition First Prize (short fiction category) for "The Test"
Atlantic Writing Competition's 1990 Non-Fiction First Prize for "V-Day: Anatomy of a Surgery"
Atlantic Writing Competition's 1989 Short Fiction First Prize for "The Invitation"