Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Farzana Doctor

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Farzana Doctor is a Toronto-based author and the recipient of the Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Grant for an emerging gay Canadian author (2011). Her first novel, Stealing Nasreen, received critical acclaim and earned a devoted readership upon its release in 2007. She is currently touring her second book, Six Metres of Pavement (Dundurn 2011), which Publishers Weekly has praised as “...a paean to second chances.” In her spare time, she provides private practice consulting and psychotherapy services and is a co-curator of the Brockton Writers Series.

Please send your questions and comments for Farzana to
Her website is
Visit her blog at
Follow Farzana on Twitter: @farzanadoctor
Watch the trailer for Six Metres of Pavement:

Photo of Farzana by Asif Rehman.

Ten Questions, with Farzana Doctor

Open Book:

Tell us about your latest book, Six Metres of Pavement.

Farzana Doctor:

Six Metres of Pavement is a story about Ismail Boxwala, a middle-aged South Asian man who made the worst mistake of his life 20 years ago — he forgot his baby daughter in the back seat of his car one summer morning.

Six Metres of Pavement

By Farzana Doctor

From the publisher's website:

Ismail Boxwala made the worst mistake of his life one summer morning twenty years ago: he forgot his baby daughter in the back seat of his car. After his daughter's tragic death, he struggles to continue living. A divorce, years of heavy drinking, and sex with strangers only leave him more alone and isolated.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Wonderful Women Writers series, with Dr. Nora Gold, Farzana Doctor and Maria Meindl


Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 5:00pm


252 Bloor St. W.
Room 2-212
Toronto, ON
M5S 1V6


The Wonderful Women Writers series (at CWSE, OISE/U of T) is a new reading series designed to showcase some of Toronto's finest women writers and their feminist/women-centered fiction. It will be coordinated and hosted by Dr. Nora Gold, herself a prize-winning author and the Writer-in-Residence at the CWSE.

The Wonderful Women Writers series is delighted to invite you to our inaugural event, featuring:

Farzana Doctor is a novelist and psychotherapist whose most recent novel, Six Metres of Pavement, was named one of Now Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2011. It also won the Lambda Literary and was short-listed for the Toronto Book Award.


252 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON M5S 1V6 43° 40' 4.7568" N, 79° 23' 54.5532" W

The Rowers Pub Reading Series with Farzana Doctor, Stan Rogal and Barry Webster


Monday, April 1, 2013 - 7:30pm


The Victory Cafe (upstairs)
581 Markham St.
Toronto, ON
M6G 2L7


The Rowers Pub Reading Series presents a wonderful evening of poetry and prose featuring Farzana Doctor, Stan Rogal and Barry Webster.

For more information, click here.


The Victory Cafe (upstairs)
581 Markham St.
Toronto, ON M6G 2L7 43° 39' 49.7592" N, 79° 24' 42.7752" W

Lambda Award Nominee Readings


Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 7:00pm


562 Church St.
Toronto, ON
M4Y 2C6


Get loud and proud about the Toronto-area Lambda Award nominees for LGBT literature: Farzana Doctor, Kristyn Dunnion, JM Frey and Karleen Pendleton Jiménez! Come out to hear these amazing writers read and celebrate their nominations.

For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.


562 Church St.
Toronto, ON M4Y 2C6 43° 39' 57.7476" N, 79° 22' 52.3776" W

Canadian Bookshelf Interview: an adventure in Trinity-Bellwoods Park

I recently had the wonderful good luck to spend a late-summer afternoon with Julie Wilson, from Canadian Bookshelf.

Check out her interview with me:

There's also an audio link that we had to record a couple of times. We were in Trinity-Bellwoods Park, and we were "visited" by dogs and low-flying airplanes!

Last words: yet another numbered list

Well my month as Open Book: Toronto's Writer-In-Residence has come to a close. Here's what Iearned:

1. Numbered lists makes for lazy writing, but people love them.
Some of my most popular posts were numbered lists. For example, “10 Things I Wish I’d Known 10 years ago: Letter to my 30 year old self” got over 1050 hits. If I could find a way to write a novel as a numbered list, I’d do it.

2. Html code #@%! sucks.

The 10 Questions I Forgot to Ask Vivek Shraya While on the 401

I met Vivek Shraya years ago, but it wasn’t until we drove to a London Pride event this year that I learned more about him. In the forced intimacy that only a five-hour trip in a speeding vehicle can provide, Vivek and I discussed books, relationships, family, spirituality and life in Toronto. I was really impressed and curious about his ability to write, play music and make films.

Why I Love Visiting Book Clubs

I’ve visited a lot of book clubs. They’re all really different from one another. They meet in bookstores, libraries, living rooms, restaurants, university campuses and around lavish dinner tables with overflowing wine. Yesterday’s meeting was in the basement of a women’s shelter. I visit them in person or over Skype.

Group membership varies too: close friends, neighbours, co-workers, lesbian support group members, South Asian literary folk, or strangers who only see one another at their monthly get-togethers. They are almost always groups of women.

My 8 Rules for Touring

“Going on tour with your book?” friends ask soon after a novel’s release. I’m sure they imagine an all-expenses trip across Canada, complete with four-star hotels and handlers.

I usually offer too much whiney information about how I cobble together events, the majority of them close to home. How I mostly organize and pay for it all myself because gone are the days when publishers can afford such ventures. Sometimes I throw in enticing details about how I lug duffle bags of books with me, loading and loading them onto trains and buses.

Don’t get me wrong, touring has its wonderful moments. There are engaged readers, enthusiastic audiences, adventurous travel.

The line between self-promotion and being obnoxious

Just this past week, I received two e-mails with this apologetic introduction: “Sorry about the shameless self-promotion”. The senders then went on to announce a reading or new book.

The phrase, “shameless self-promotion” begs the question: is self-promotion shameful? And by extension, is promotion by others—publicists, friends, reviewers—somehow more valid or perhaps more tasteful?

As a therapist, I know that shame, at least for most of us, is a pretty damaging and useless emotion. It’s a skin-tight outfit we’re trained to wear early on in life, and by the time we’re adults, we forget it doesn’t even belong on our bodies. But I digress.

Celebrating a year of Black Coffee Poet: an interview with Jorge Antonio Vallejos

When Jorge Antonio Vallejos started his online magazine, Black Coffee Poet, just over a year ago, it immediately caught my eye. He covered stories, authors and issues that no one else seemed to be covering. I wanted others to know about this fantastic resource.

1.Wow, it’s been a year already. What was your inspiration for starting Black Coffee Poet?

I started Black Coffee Poet for two reasons:
A) I did not get into a MFA in Creative Writing Program that I applied to.

B) My readers of my column in university, The Condor’s View, wanted to see me continue my column or start something similar.

Do You Remember Your First Time?

Do you remember your first time at the Word on The Street Festival?

For me it was back in the mid-nineties. I was still new to Toronto, and when a friend suggested it, I didn’t know what to expect (really, a street festival devoted to reading?). Back then, WOTS took over a chunk of Queen Street, stopping traffic all day in the pursuit of everything bookish: magazines, novels, children’s books, poetry and on and on. It was a drizzly, cool day, but I was in nerd heaven.

The popular festival has grown since then, spreading across Queen’s Park. There are more tables, vendors, food options and stages each year. It’s always been a great place to listen to authors read, burn my tongue eating Murtabak and to pick up some new books.

Mentorship Matters: 7 questions for Elizabeth Ruth

I first met Elizabeth Ruth in 2005, a few weeks before her second novel, Smoke was to be released. At the time, I was an utterly frustrated aspiring writer, having received multiple rejection letters for my Stealing Nasreen manuscript. A friend in common suggested I speak with Elizabeth and introduced us.

It was the first time I’d ever been invited into a real writer’s home and I recall being both nervous and shy. Elizabeth was a gracious host and offered straightforward advice on getting published. She candidly shared her experiences of a world I so desperately wanted to enter.

10 things I wish I’d known 10 years ago: a letter to my 30 year old writer self

Dear 30 Year-Old Farzana,

1. You’ve got to get connected, girl! I know you feel intimidated at literary events because you think you don’t fit in. Put on a nice dress, a smile, and have a glass of Merlot. No, wait. I think you're supposed to wear skinny jeans. Buy skinny jeans.

2. Talk to people at those stuffy events! They might be just as insecure as you. Volunteer. Step up to the open mic. Be a part of the community.

3. Rejection is a badge of honour. Really. Submit your work. Submit it again. Know that your work matters. You can cry into your Merlot later.

4. Critical feedback is a good thing, even if you take it too personally. Stop taking it personally. Show your work to your friends at least. No, your girlfriend and writing coach don’t count.

Grant Writing: Lottario Logic and Dos and Don'ts

I hate writing grant applications. I especially dislike the non-electronic versions (kudos to the Canada Council for eliminating the need for postage and 11 copies of everything). And when you’re unsuccessful it can be worse than receiving yet another publisher’s rejection letter.

The Ontario Arts Council’s Writers’ Reserve season is the worst for me. Using Lottario logic, I apply to all the assessors, hoping to get lucky. During a sweaty three-week period, I open my mailbox with bated breath, both hoping for, and dreading, a self-addressed envelope. Before tearing one open, I hold it up to the light, say a prayer, and squint to read the publisher’s scribbles.

Writers' Groups: on playing nice and riding the changes

Have you ever been part of a writers’ group? I’ve participated in a variety of workshops, courses and closed writing circles. When they function well, they offer opportunities to network, give and receive feedback on works in progress, and to talk about the industry. They can renew confidence and provide a shelter from the publishing world’s storms. On the other hand, writers groups’ can be dysfunctional, poorly run or have the wrong mix of people.

The Care And Feeding of My Inner Critic

Now that my writing retreat is over, I’m back to my day-to-day writing routine, which competes with my day job and a half dozen other distractions and responsibilities. Sometimes I get in a good hour. Other days, it’s an entire morning, or a beautiful, uninterrupted afternoon.

For years, I’ve obsessed over finding the optimal balance between writing and other paid work. I’ve been convinced that one day I’ll settle into a perfect routine. I’ve daydreamed about it, discussed it over lunch with my friends, made special notes in my day-timer in green highlighter. What I’ve come to understand is that a successful writing life has little to do with time management.

On Fans, Pronouns, and Stories that Win Hearts: An Interview with Elisha Lim

I first met Elisha Lim years ago at a Ladyfest event, where I was invited to read. For those of you who’ve never attended the feminist arts festival, it’s kind of like a giant love-in. Its organizers, including Elisha, made me, a new author at the time, feel like a star. Elisha is known for this kind of generosity, and a spectacular talent for writing and illustration.

What I learned on my summer writing retreat

I've just completed an eight-day summer writing retreat. Most writers I know love retreats for getting big chunks of work done, but few of us can manage to get away from day jobs and other responsibilities, or afford the cost of leaving town. I normally write a little each day, and the few retreats I’ve taken have been incredibly productive.

After winning the Dayne Ogilvie grant in June (thank you, Writers’ Trust of Canada!), I made a commitment to take one week off each season to just write. So, at the end of August, I closed my psychotherapy office, limited my activism (during the War Show, no less!), and hired a dog walker.

Community and Creativity

I live in a west-end neighbourhood called Brockton Village, which realtors used to describe as “up and coming” and now (dubiously) label “trendy”. Over the eight years I’ve resided here, I’ve come to love this ‘hood. Its streets inspired my second novel , Six Metres of Pavement. I know people here, helped to start the local residents’ listserv, and two years ago, along with poet and café owner Melanie Janisse, began the Brockton Writers Series.

Although I’ve organized many events in the past, this is the first time I’ve curated a monthly reading series. Each month brings new talent, challenges, and changes.

On becoming a Blogwala

WordPress tells me I’ve been blogging since February 2007. I started because I was supposed to; with my first novel being released later that year, I needed to build my digital “platform”, now a standard requirement for authors. For the same reasons, I needed a Facebook profile and had to start tweeting. What began as self-promotional chores turned into regular parts of my writing life.


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.