Don Aker


A former 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 more than 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 in Bedford.


  • Scars and Other Stories, Pottersfield Press, 2017
  • 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”

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at