Ishita Tiwary

Assistant Professor, Cinema
Canada Research Chair, Media and Migration, Cinema

I am very much devoted to teaching Creative Writing, fiction. My particular emphasis is twofold: in fully developing the ways and means for the individual’s creativity to come to the fore and in accordance with the writer’s own instincts and proclivities, and to develop the writer’s ability to critique the work of others with an eye to craft and achievement on the page. Developing that acuity in the workshop aids the writer over the long term with his or her own work. To my mind, the Creative Writing workshop substitutes for the meticulous work of editors that is not available in our time as it was in previous generations. In so doing, the writer extends not only his or her ability to write fiction, but also to appreciate the depth, range and vitality of literature.

In 2014, my tenth novel appeared, The River Burns. Very much a character-driven tale, the book examines how individual transgression can rupture a society, and how difficult and imperfect, yet still possible, redemption becomes in the aftermath of harmful and tragic events. The book appeared under my own name, which is to say that I also write under a pseudonym.

The novel is my seventh that comes under the rubric of “literary novel”, and in a sense stiches the previous books together. Three of the previous novels are decidedly urban and contemporary, while three are of the wilderness, both in their obvious settings but also in the internal roads being travelled. The River Burns is neither of the wilderness nor urban, but rather both, being set in a contemporary small town in Quebec where many of the characters work in the woods as loggers.

My pseudonymous novels, under the name John Farrow, examine our society through the portal of the crime novel. The most recent, for instance, River City, apart from murder-solving, covers 450 years of Montreal history—1,000 pages in its paperback edition—and is currently being developed as a mini-series for television. The first two, City of Ice and Ice Lake, were published in 24 countries. Three more or forthcoming. Two are finished and will be published in 2015 (July) and 2016, and the third is nearing completion and will be published in 2017. The three constitute a trilogy and will be published by the prestigious Thomas Dunne Books imprint of St. Martin’s Press in New York.

I have had four plays produced in six different venues. One was seen by more than 22,000 people in its run in French at Place des Arts in Montreal, while another enjoyed a highly successful run Off-Broadway. As well, one of my novels, The Timekeeper, has appeared as a feature film. I’ve worked on others as a story editor.

Teaching activities


Novels (original editions only)

High Water Chants, Macmillan, 1977
Onyx John, McClelland & Stewart, 1985
The Kinkajou, Macmillan, 1989
The True Life Adventures of Sparrow Drinkwater, HarperCollins, 1993
The Fire Line, HarperCollins, 1995
The Timekeeper, HarperCollins, 1996
City of Ice, HarperCollins, 1999 (as John Farrow)
Ice Lake, HarperCollins, 2001 (as John Farrow)
River City, HarperCollins, 2011 (as John Farrow)
The River Burns, Simon & Schuster, 2014

Novels (forthcoming as John Farrow)

The Storm Murders, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, 2015
Seven Days Work, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, 2016
The Talisman Quarry, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, 2017

Drama (produced)

Long, Long, Short, Long
Beach House, Burnt Sienna
Barnacle Wood
Zarathustra Said Some Things, No?

Feature film

The Timekeeper (2008)

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