I was born and raised in Montreal, but I have called Toronto home for many years. This is where I have made my career and raised my family.
My first job in journalism was at Quill & Quire in the early 1970s. It was a much smaller magazine back then—I think there were three of us on the editorial side, so we all did a bit of everything. Mostly, though, I wrote news articles and profiles and assigned and edited the book review section. Looking back, it was good training for a journalist.
From Q & Q, I moved to Books in Canada as managing editor and from there to the precarious life of a freelance magazine writer. There were many more magazines back then including weekly newspaper supplements so it was possible to make a living by pounding away on a typewriter.
I wrote for Saturday Night, Toronto Life, Report on Business, Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Weekend, The Canadian, Elle Canada and lots of other places, including The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star. Over the years, I have written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, including reviews, profiles, columns, investigative pieces, public policy proposals, obituaries and memoir essays.
With interests ranging from the arts to politics, healthcare and social issues, I have written extensively about a wide variety of topics including books, writers and cultural institutions. Among my prizes, I was lucky enough to win an Atkinson Fellowship in public policy from the Toronto Star to spend a year researching race and gender in the workplace. Some of my profiles have won National Magazine Awards; I was a finalist for a National Newspaper award and my books have appeared on bestseller lists and been shortlisted for major awards.
I’ve taught journalism and writing courses at Ryerson, the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto and the University of Victoria where I was the Harvey Southam Fellow in Creative Non-Fiction in 2010. My books include, Working the Dead Beat, The First Man in My Life, Card Tricks, Where Were You and Rupert Brooke in Canada.
In 1998 I took a full time job at The Globe and Mail. For the next 16 years I wrote editorials, cultural analysis, literary profiles, news features and obituaries. People laughed and called me the grim reaper or the angel of death when I started writing obituaries but I loved trying to condense an entire life onto a newspaper page and learning new subject areas from politics to science. Curiosity drives all journalists and I loved discovering fascinating details about strangers, people who were a mystery to me until I began researching their lives and writing them up, usually under crushing deadlines.
Two years ago, I changed positions at the Globe and Mail from full-time journalist to features writer and columnist for the Long Goodbye so that I could research and write A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices. This book, which was published by HarperCollins Canada in April, 2016, is a social history of the right to die movement in Canada and around the world.