Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Writer-in-Residence Returning February with Kate Pullinger

Jeffrey was our December writer-in-residence. Our writer-in-residence for February is Kate Pullinger. In the meantime, please visit our Author Blogs page for the latest posts!

Jeffrey Round

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Jeffrey Round is an award-winning writer and director. His most recent novel is The Honey Locust. His first two books, A Cage of Bones and The P-town Murders, were listed on AfterElton's Top 100 Gay books. He has worked as a television producer and writer for Alliance Atlantis and CBC. Jeffrey directed the long-running stage production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap for three of its most critically acclaimed years. His short film, My Heart Belongs To Daddy, won awards for Best Director and Best Use of Music, among others. Vanished in Vallarta, his third instalment in the Bradford Fairfax Mystery Series, is scheduled for publication by Cormorant Books in spring of 2011.

Jeffrey's website is and his blog is A Writer’s Half-Life.

Please send your questions for Jeffrey to

Ten Questions with Jeffrey Round

Open Book: Toronto:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

Jeffrey Round:

My first publication, and first official piece of writing, was a poem titled "Raggedy Anne," which won Honourable Mention in my Grade Six class at Princess Anne Public School, Windsor Ontario. My first novel, A Cage of Bones, (not a mystery, despite its title, but a literary work about the European fashion industry) was published in the UK.


Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

The Honey Locust

By Jeffrey Round

Globe-trotting photojournalist Angela Thomas has spent all 32 years of her life dreaming of far-off places. Nothing that has happened to her thus far — the dysfunction of her family, the failure of her marriage — can convince her that ‘home’ is where she belongs. Though she won’t admit it, her job is as much an escape as it is a passion. Every foreign assignment is a chance to trade gnawing family conflicts in for situations that may kill her but won’t break her heart.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Death on the Danforth


Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 7:00pm


The Old Nick
123 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON
M4K 1N2


Dundurn Press presents "Death on the Danforth."

Join three of Canada's top crime writers for readings and conversations about their latest releases.

The evening will feature Jeffrey Round, author of the Bradford Fairfax Mystery series, Vicki Delany, author of Gold Fever and Gold Digger, and Rick Blechta, author of The Case of You.

Books will be available for sale and there will be giveaways throughout the night.


The Old Nick
123 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4K 1N2 43° 40' 34.5468" N, 79° 21' 27.9648" W

Degen, Kankesan, Meindl, Round and Sutherland at Brockton Writers Series


Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 6:30pm


St . Annes Church
270 Gladstone Ave
Toronto, ON
M6J 3L6


Brockton Writers Series presents Koom Kankesan, Maria Meindl, Jeffrey Round and Suzanne Sutherland. Readings from 7-8:30 p.m.

PWYC (suggested $3-$5). Q&A. Books available for sale. Everyone welcome. Got questions about grants? Join our writers' networking session, with special guest, John Degen, Literature Officer at the Ontario Arts Council, 6:30-7:00 p.m.


St . Annes Church
270 Gladstone Ave
Toronto, ON M6J 3L6 43° 38' 53.16" N, 79° 25' 6.6" W


In David Bergen’s Giller Prize-nominated The Matter With Morris, from HarperCollins, a man named Morris Schutt is having a hard time holding on to reality. At the heart of it lies the death of Morris’s son in Afghanistan. Morris can’t accept his son’s death, largely because he has trouble imagining the reality of war.


There is comfort in reading. Or there can be. Sometimes you just want to get lost in a book. Other times, it’s comforting to recognize similarities between yourself and the characters. I look for the similarities. It’s a thing I do, like eating comfort food. Cake, for instance.


It’s hard to know where the war between the genres started. Perhaps it was with Sophocles and Aristophanes. Sophocles, the great tragedian and author of Oedipus Rex, and Aristophanes, a sharp-tongued wit and author of political satires like The Wasps and The Frogs. Of course, Sophocles would tend to be a bit uppity, having written the first classic: “What? Guy wrote a play about frogs? That shit ain’t right!” (Similarly, one can imagine the impresarios of his day: “Listen, baby, this Oedipus dude is gonna put your name in lights. Have you thought about a sequel yet?”)


Kathleen Winter’s sumptuous, Giller-nominated Annabel, from House of Anansi, tackles the theme of hermaphroditism with gusto. Based on a true story, her book focuses on a child born in late-1960s Labrador, where the pressures of a male-oriented society conspired to make an inter-sex child male rather than female.


Non-writers are often curious about the creative process. “How can you spend all day writing?” they ask incredulously, as though it’s akin to sleeping on a bed of nails or standing naked in the rain for hours. Others want to know how I prepare for my day’s work. I tell them: by standing on my head.


As with many things in his life, Beethoven struggled with the words he set to music. Still, it didn’t stop him from composing dozens of songs, numerous choral works, masses and one opera, as well as making original arrangements for folksongs. Friedrich Schiller was one of Beethoven’s favourite writers, yet he considered Schiller “difficult” to compose for. The composer, he felt, must “lift himself far above” the poet.


I recently learned that my poem, The One In The Mirror, is being featured on the website Q Review. I’d be grateful if you would give them some traffic. (See the link below.)

The poem was written in the early days of an affair with someone who broke my heart more thoroughly than I thought possible. So thoroughly, in fact, that afterward I refused to say his name, referring to him only as The Love Whose Name I Do Not Speak.


My dog always knows what’s going on in the neighbourhood much sooner than I do. Earlier this week, he insisted on a late night walk in so-far-below-zero weather that it doesn’t even have a number. Emergency! his eyes shrieked at me. Get to the door now! When he’s in this mood, I seldom wait to find out if he means it, because generally he does. So out we went, all bundled up, only to find a diminutive figure dressed entirely in black, clutching a rake and smiling up at us from the front walk.


Recently I was made an ambassador. Not of a country, but of a cause. That cause is the revival of the voice of a writer who died of AIDS almost twenty years ago. A great many important artistic voices were extinguished by AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, before drug cocktails stemmed the tide somewhat. Many of these were writers already in their prime; others had barely begun their journey.


Menace is the prevailing tone in Alexander MacLeod’s Giller Prize-nominated collection of stories, Light Lifting, from Biblioasis. This is fiction that sets your teeth on edge. The fear is palpable as you read about head lice, newborns with mysterious ailments, riding a bicycle kamikaze-style through deep snow to deliver prescriptions for a local pharmacy and even—worst of all for me—jumping off the roof of an abandoned building into the Detroit River for kicks. At night. Heights? No, thank you.


After the runaway success of his fourth novel, The Hours, a post-modern rendering of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway set partially in New York, Michael Cunningham was in a bind. Pressure was strong to produce something just as original and powerful, a feat many considered impossible. Yet, in a way, he met the challenge with Specimen Days, a cross between a Victorian ghost story, a contemporary thriller and speculative fiction, this time set almost entirely in New York. Nobody could say it wasn’t original or memorable.


When I was four I decided I was a writer. Not that I would be a writer, but that I already was one in some atavistic way. I assumed, naturally, that I would also one day acquire all the characteristics of a successful writer. It didn’t matter that at that point in my training I could not wield a pencil in any useful way. (Crayons were another matter, and I was good at that.) Nor could I spell, not yet having learned the alphabet. These were mere logistical problems, however, and I felt the solutions would come in time.


As many of us know, a bill to “modernize” the Copyright Act, is being considered in the House of Commons. It will affect our rights as creators of original work and needs to be looked at carefully. At present, groups like the Writers’ Union of Canada are concerned that the bill as it stands will jeopardize those rights by legalizing or eroding protection from unfair copying practices.

What can you do? First, educate yourself if you feel you don’t know as much as you should. (I didn’t.) Here’s a link outlining the perceived flaws in the bill as it currently reads: http://www.copyrightgetitright....


The first thing you notice about Johanna Skibsrud’s author photo is how young she appears. That’s no surprise, really, because she is young. At thirty, she’s the youngest winner of the Giller Prize. One of the first things you might notice on reading her prize-winning debut novel, The Sentimentalists, is how mature the authorial voice sounds. It comes across as rich and dreamy and well lived-in. Skibsrud’s relative youth, combined with her experienced-sounding prose, makes for an interesting and enviable dichotomy.


A good deal of art has been banned on political (and while we’re at it, let’s include religious) grounds, but few works have been banned simply for being great. Recently, however, a renowned music critic suggested banning musical masterpieces lest they become hackneyed and lose their aesthetic appeal.


How far would you travel for inspiration? I ask because I would go to the ends of the earth and I might need a companion one day.

In recent years I have travelled to Chiapas, Mexico, home of the Zapatista Liberation Army. I drove 2000 km over a ten-day period to research a single chapter in The Honey Locust, my novel about a Canadian war journalist. I went there to learn what it means to travel in rebel territory with a formidable army presence stationed everywhere. Needless to say, I found out. The bullet holes in the highway signs are real. Don’t drive at night if you go, is all I’ll say here.

On another trip, I found inspiration in post-Katrina New Orleans, where I was awed by the destruction as much as by the strength of human perseverance. As of this writing, approximately 78% of the former population has returned home, some five years after the hurricane. That tells you how much the native N’Orleaners love their city. It's their inspiration and it will take a lot more than nature to drive them out again.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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