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New writer-in-residence eager to mentor aspiring writers at U of T Scarborough

Zoe Whittall brings a wealth of experience to her role as writer-in-residence at U of T Scarborough. (Photo by Vivek Shraya)

Zoe Whittall has pretty much done it all as a writer. In addition to writing novels, short stories, and poetry, she’s worked as a journalist and also writes for television.

The Toronto-based, award-winning author can now add writer-in-residence to her impressive resume. 

“I’m really looking forward to meeting students and reading their work,” says Whittall, who will be the English Department’s fourth writer in-residence since the program’s inception in 2013. “Mentorship is so important because writing is a very solitary vocation and artistic practice, one that is necessarily filled with rejection at every turn.”

She counts the mentorship she received as a young writer from Marnie Woodrow as an important source of wisdom in guiding her early career.

“Having someone read your work and give feedback is invaluable, at every stage, but particularly at the emerging stage,” she adds.

And Whittall brings with her a fount of knowledge for aspiring writers. In addition to publishing four novels, three collections of poetry and several short stories, her writing has also appeared in The Walrus, The Believer, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Fashion Magazine, Now Magazine and Xtra, among others. She’s worked as a writer and editor on season 14 of Degrassi, as a story editor for Schitt’s Creek, and a writer on the Baroness Von Sketch Show. She’s also currently developing an original sitcom with CTV. 

Her most recent novel, The Best Kind of People, explores the emotional journey the family of a man accused of raping a young girl must endure. She was inspired to write the story after listening to a radio program about the stigma wives and relatives face when a man is accused of these types of crimes. The novel made the short list for the Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious prize for fiction.

“The theme was a bit of a departure, and the narrative style was definitely a departure from my previous novels. The whole thing felt like an experiment and I’m glad it worked out,” she says of the novel published this past fall. 

Her 2007 novel Bottle Rocket Hearts won the Writer’s Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie grant and was selected as one of CBC’s Canada Reads Top 10 Most Important Books of the Decade, while also being named a Best Book of the Year by the Globe & Mail. 

As writer in residence Whittall will be available throughout the winter term to visit classes, run workshops, hold office hours, and provide one-on-one manuscript consultations with student writers. 

To learn more about the writer in residence program at UTSC, or to explore how Zoe Whittall might contribute to your class or event this term, please contact Andrew Westoll at awestoll@utsc.utoronto.ca 

 

 




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