I am a Canadian journalist, author and playwright. I am fascinated with the intersection of science, art and society. My second book, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis, was an international best seller that won the U.S.-based Grantham Prize for excellence in environmental journalism in 2010. With help, I turned it into a one-woman play in 2014 and I’ve been performing it ever since in Canada and other countries. It’s an odd creature: A non-fiction play performed by a non-actor. Go figure. It was nominated for a Dora award in Toronto for outstanding Indie play.
I’m in the throes of making my most recent book Malignant Metaphor: Confronting Cancer Myths: A Memoir into a play. I’m playwright-in-residence at The Theatre Centre while I do that. And I’ve just finished writing the first draft of my fifth book, provisionally called The Spinning Magnet, about the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s set to be published by Dutton in 2018. Stay tuned for details.
Being a journalist, I also write freelance magazine and newspaper articles and occasionally make radio documentaries for CBC. I have done work for the New York Times science section, CBC’s Quirks & Quarks, National Geographic, The Guardian, GQ India, The United Church Observer and Canadian Geographic Magazine.
I love to give talks, as long as they are conversations with an audience. Some of the topics: Climate change, Ocean change, Cancer, John Franklin’s expedition, Evolution, Charles Darwin, Neonic pesticides, the Earth’s magnetic field
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My first degree is in Latin literature and English literature from Trinity College at the University of Toronto. My second, a bachelor of applied arts in journalism, is from Ryerson University in Toronto. I have an honorary Doctor of Sacred Letters from Trinity College, U of Toronto and an honorary Doctor of Laws from the U of Regina.
I started my career as a journalist at Canada’s The Financial Post where I covered the real estate market, the Robert Campeau and Reichmann business interests, and the Canadian banking industry. I won two awards for my coverage of the collapse of the Campeau empire.
After three years at The Post, I moved to Canada’s National Newspaper, The Globe and Mail, to write about social trends and statistics. Eventually, I became the national Calgary correspondent for The Globe and then, back in Toronto after six years, a feature writer on earth sciences. I won four major national and international awards during my stint the.
I left daily journalism in 2004 after 17 years to focus on writing popular science books and magazine articles and, eventually, plays.
I won the 2008 Atkinson Fellowship in Journalism, a $100,000 prize, to conduct a new course of study on the intersection of neuroscience and education. And in 2010, won the U.S.-based Grantham Prize for my second book, Sea Sick, worth US$75,000. The Grantham Prize is awarded to journalists for their coverage of broadly significant environmental issues. Read the press release here. In 2013, Alanna completed a writing residency in Marfa, Texas, a gift of the Lannan Foundation, where she did most of the writing of her book Malignant Metaphor: Confronting Cancer Myths: A Memoir. That book won the $10,000 Lane Anderson Award for best Canadian science book written for adults in 2015.