WITS grades 7-9

Don Aker

BIOGRAPHY

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 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.

Jean Mills

Jean Mills has a background in teaching (college Communications/Writing; Grade 6 Language Arts) and professional writing and editing. Her first two novels, Wild Dog Summer and The Legacy, were part of the Nelson Canada novel study program for middle school Language Arts. Her most recent book is Larkin on the Shore (Red Deer Press, October 2019) set in Nova Scotia and telling the story of a troubled teen who is reluctantly spending her summer at her grandmother’s house in a small town on the Northumberland Strait. School Library Journal says: “Beautifully written, with vivid imagery of the Nova Scotia shore, this is a truly moving story of finding oneself after trauma.” Her previous YA novel, Skating Over Thin Ice (Red Deer Press, 2018) was nominated for the Ontario Library Association 2019 Forest of Reading Red Maple Fiction award. The novel was also named to the USBBY 2019 Outstanding International Books List. Her upcoming YA novel, The Legend, will be published in 2021. Jean can lead workshops in creative writing, general writing skills, as well as offer presentations (in person or virtually) about her books, the writing life and the publishing process. She divides her time between Guelph, Ontario, and Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

Jo Treggiari

Jo Treggiari was born in London, England, and raised in Canada. She spent many years in Oakland, California and New York, where she trained as a boxer, wrote for a punk magazine, and owned a gangster rap/indie rock record label. Her novel Ashes, Ashes, a YA post-apocalyptic adventure published by Scholastic Press, was a multiple award nominee and bestseller. Her acclaimed novella Love You Like Suicide, appeared in the Fierce Ink Press anthology Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL and as a limited edition of the long-running zine Cometbus. Her most recent YA novels are Blood Will Out, a psych-thriller, published by Penguin Teen (2018), and a second thriller, The Grey Sisters, (Penguin Teen 2019) which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary award and was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis award.

David Huebert

A Halifax-born writer and educator, David Huebert’s work has won the CBC Short Story Prize, The Walrus Poetry Prize, and has received two honourable mentions from the National Magazine Awards. David’s fiction debut, Peninsula Sinking, won the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (fiction), was shortlisted for the Alistair MacLeod Short Fiction Prize, and was runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. His poetry debut, We Are No Longer The Smart Kids In Class, appeared in 2015. David’s poems and stories have been published in magazines such as The Walrus, The New Quarterly, and Canadian Notes & Queries. His chapbook, Full Mondegreens (with Andy Verboom) won the Frog Hollow Chapbook contest in 2016. In 2018, David completed his PhD at Western University, where his research focused on human-animal love in American literature. In fall 2020, he will publish his second book of poems, Humanimus, with Palimpsest. David lives in K’jipuktuk (Halifax) where he teaches and writes.

Emma FitzGerald

Emma FitzGerald was born in Southern Africa to Irish parents and grew up in Vancouver. She has studied both art and architecture, and is the author of Hand Drawn Halifax. She lives and draws in North End Halifax.

Andre Fenton

Andre Fenton is an award-winning spoken word artist & filmmaker who has represented Halifax at 7 national poetry slams across Canada. He is currently on the board of directors of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and a member at large on the board of Spoken Word Canada. He is an author of two books. Ode to Teen Angst and his new YA novel, Worthy of Love which was published by Formac. He is based in the Halifax area.

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