Niagara Falls Writer's Festival

since 2018

Author Biographies

Kathy Dobson

Memoir Writing:                              Victoria Branch                                                 11.30 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.

An award winning journalist and author, Kathy Dobson has a B.A. from the University of Waterloo, two certificates in social work, and a M.A. in Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University. A Vanier Scholar, she is currently pursuing a PhD at Carleton University in the School of Journalism and Communication.

As a journalist, Kathy’s work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, and more. While working for the CBC, in addition to news stories, she also produced documentaries for CBC Radio, including one with hockey legend Bobby Orr. Click here to read and listen to some of her work.

Kathy’s first book, With a Closed Fist: Growing up in Canada’s toughest neighbourhood, was released November 1st, 2011. A “gutsy, no-holds-barred, coming-of-age story,” With a Closed Fist chronicles Kathy and her sisters growing up in the 1960s and 70s in Point St. Charles, a slum of Montréal that was then considered the toughest neighbourhood in Canada. Click here for more about With a Closed Fist.

Her current research is examining the construction, circulation, and reinforcement of particular cultural narratives concerning poverty issues and those living in poverty. Public understandings of issues can affect actions and policies surrounding those issues. With her research, Kathy hopes to examine the ways different narratives are created and circulated about poverty issues, and how these narratives impact self-conceptions of those living in poverty and among the public in general.




Charlotte King

Building A Platform:                      Victoria Branch                                                  1.30 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.

President of the Canadian Authors Association Niagara Branch




Rusty Blackwood

Building A Platform:                      Victoria Branch                                                  1.30 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.

Top ranking romantic fiction author Rusty Blackwood believes the flair for fantasy is anything the mind wishes it to be, and she is a master at this. Within her expressive mind is found an endless array of romance, passion, textures and colors to sweep the reader to exotic, faraway places where anything is possible, proving that her words really do leave you breathless.

Canadian born Blackwood, who chose her plume de nom by combining both the colour of her russet hair with her estranged husbands’ great, great, Scottish grandmother’s maiden name, grew up on her paternal grandfather’s farm in southwestern Ontario, Canada where she developed her love of writing while still in grade school, entering numerous competitions and writing exhibitions throughout her area, and attributes her love of writing to her late father James, and to the late Gladys Carroll, her elementary teacher. Although unprofessionally trained in the field, Rusty has always had an affinity for the written word, a gift to express it, and has demonstrated this talent many times since becoming a serious writer in 2001.

Miss Blackwood is a bronze medalist winner in the 2006 Annual International Library of Poetry, sponsored through, for her 2005 poem, Desire.


Taylor Peebles

Building A Platform:                      Victoria Branch                                                  1.30 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.

Taylor Peebles
Is a poet who is under a romance towards opening
the doors of perception.
A beatnik with words of rhyme
A lover of the unveiling of death
With a love for the human experience
Let us all enjoy being Broken yet Beautiful!!


Mercedes Killeen

Building A Platform:                      Victoria Branch                                                  1.30 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.

mercedes killeen is a Toronto-based writer and student. Her poetry can be found in places such as Half a Grapefruit Magazine and the Hart House Review website. Her chapbook, tulips (Grey Borders Books, 2016), is held at the University of Toronto Libraries. She is also an Hon. B.A. Candidate at the University of Toronto.

Mercedes is currently accepting submissions to the upcoming Grey Borders book Daddy: a cultural anthology.


Darrell Epp


All You Need To Know About Writing A Poem, Getting Published and Much More                 McBain Community Centre         11.30 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.

Darrell Epp’s poetry has appeared in dozens of magazines including Maisonneuve, Poetry Ireland, Sub-Terrain, and The Saranac Review. His previous poetry collection include Imaginary Maps (Signature Editions, 2009) and After Hours (Mosaic Press, 2016). Darrell lives in Hamilton, Ontario.


Rhiannon Barry 

Crafting Your Own Blackout Poetry:                             McBain Community Centre               1.30 p.m. – 3.00 p.m.

Rhiannon Barry is a visual artist born on August 10th, 1982 in St. Catharines Ontario. She is a therapeutic art instructor in training, currently pursuing additional professional credentials.

Rhiannon spent a large majority of her childhood and teen years on the North Shore of Lake Superior and travels North periodically still, rejuvenating her creativity. She lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where she creates whimsical acrylic paintings. She favours dream-like nature and water scenes, drawing from the northern scenery of her youth.

Utilizing an assortment of artistic mediums including glass, wool, clay, metals, and a multitude of finds, her creations also include a variety of upcycling arts and crafts projects.

Rhiannon also teaches beginner social paint lessons to groups of all ages and skill levels. For specific requests, group and individual artistic programs are created to act as a catalyst for healing to those who may be suffering from stress-related symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

When Rhiannon isn’t busy creating and teaching art, she enjoys her position as a Community Engagement Coordinator for a not-for-profit organization in St. Catharines, Ontario. Join her Facebook Group: Art By Rhiannon Barry

Visit Rhiannon’s website:



F. J. Doucett

Open Readers Workshop:                                Stamford Branch                               11.30 a.m. –1.00 p.m.

FJ Doucet was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and has since lived in Europe, the Middle East, and in far northern Canada. Her poetry has been published in a number of online and print sources, including Grey Borders magazine, Hamilton Arts and LettersAscent Aspirations Publications, and The Lyric, as well as The Banister anthology. She is a member of the Ontario Poetry Society and The Wild Nellies women's creative collective in Durham Region. 



Nancy Taber

Open Readers Workshop:                                Stamford Branch                               11.30 a.m. –1.00 p.m.

Dr. Nancy Taber is a Professor at Brock University. She is a retired Canadian military member who served as a Sea King helicopter air navigator. She has published her academic research, which explores the intersection of war, gender, and learning, in multiple books, book chapters, journal articles, and conference proceedings. Nancy is working on a collection of short stories that immerse the reader in diverse tales about strong and complicated women who have been touched by war: a gift shop worker in the Imperial War Museum who timeslips with the building in which the museum is housed, returning to when it was the Bethlam (Bedlam) hospital in the 1800s; a journalist who plans a heist to steal her grandmother’s journal from the Bletchley Park code-breaking museum; and, a nursing sister who survived her service at Ypres in World War I only to have the dead follow her home to Canada, resulting in her visit to the future site of the In Flanders Fields museum in an effort to put them to rest. A forthcoming book chapter about fiction as research dissemination has excerpts from three stories in this collection. Nancy is also working on a historical fiction novel about Acadian women affected by the military in three time periods: the present, 1864, and 1759. Each of these projects examines themes of war, family, belonging, and the ways in which the past interacts with the present. Nancy is a professional member of the Canadian Authors Association.


Sharon Frayne

Open Readers Workshop:                                Stamford Branch                               11.30 a.m. –1.00 p.m.

Sharon Frayne holds a double Honours B.A. in Visual Art and English, a Bachelor of Education with specialists in English and Visual Art and a Master of Education in Curriculum Writing. She taught high school Art and English and was an Administrator with the Halton District School Board. She is an author and an artist.

In 2019, her short stories and poems were winners in the Eden Mills Writers Festival, the South Simcoe Arts Festival, the Northern Ontario Writer’s Workshop, and in the Banister Poetry Contest. She’s successfully competed in the Muskoka Novel Marathon. She’s a frequent winner of the NOTL Rising Spirits Writing competition. She’s regularly published in local papers and online with Commuterlit. Her personal essay, ‘Stepping into a Lifetime’ was the USA national winner in the Stage of Life competition.

She’s a member of the NOTL Writer’s Circle, and the Niagara branch of the Canadian Author’s Association. She’s the past Editor of the CAA annual Anthology and has appeared as a guest speaker at numerous festivals. She was once featured in a televised production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ with the CBC.

Her debut novel, set in the once mighty Niagara Courthouse and Jail is the historical fiction book, ‘Caught Between the Walls’. When she’s not capturing ideas in print, she captures images in paint. She lives in Niagara with her husband and faithful yellow lab.

For more information, go to




Karen Gansel

Open Readers Workshop:                                Stamford Branch                               11.30 a.m. –1.00 p.m.

Karen Gansel is a long-time member of the Canadian Authors Association in Niagara. She was President for many years and lead the branch through many challenges and transitions. She chaired the board CAA Branch Support and Development Committee and the Program Committee. Currently, she is one of two Regional Directors for Ontario for the Canadian Authors Association. Karen’s first novel, Differences Between Us, is a psychological suspense that is available on and A short story, Canal of Destiny, was published on the Quick Brown Fox blog in 2010. She is in the process of submitting her second and third novels to agents and editors.


MA|DE (Jade Wallace and Mark Laliberte)

How To Write Collaboratively:                           Stamford Branch                            1.30 p.m. – 3.00 p.m.

MA|DE is a collective gesture, a unity of two voices fused into a poetic third. It is the name given to the joint authorship of Toronto-based creators Mark Laliberte and Jade Wallace, artists whose active solo practices differ quite radically from one another. MA|DE’s collaborative writing formalizes a process that began as an extended conversation between two people newly discovering one another. Over a number of months, the pair messaged, texted, emailed, telephoned, conversed in person, left links on social media for the other to find, and mailed letters; their long, exploratory conversations opened up a language-space all their own …

MA|DE is currently working on their first full-length collection of collaborative poetry.


Keith Inman

Featured Author at An Afternoon Gathering At The Third Space Café:                    4.00 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.

Declared the “people’s poet”, Keith Inman has been writing since his twenties and has become an award-winning poet. Prizes he has won include those from Cranberry Tree (2007), The Bannister (2004), and Freefall (2004). His poetry has been featured in various literary publications such as Thistledown, Event, New Quarterly, CV2, PRECIPICe and robmclennansblogspot. Beyond writing, Inman has been involved in other literary pursuits like judging literary contests and editing. He has received ‘Reserve’ and ‘Progress’ grant-badges from the OAC, and one from Sigillate Press, for being one of three poets in the book ‘Hanging on a Nail,’(2009). Inman is a member of the Canadian Authors Association, the League of Canadian Poets and the Ontario Poets Society. His newest book of poetry SEAsia was released by Black Moss Press in October 2017.