Ann-Marie MacDonald is an author, actor and playwright. She was born in Baden Sölingen, in the former West Germany, where she lived her first years on Royal Canadian Air Force Station, 4-Wing. In the early sixties the family moved back to Canada, to RCAF Centralia where she started school. A few years before – and a few miles down the road – the Stephen Truscott case had begun to unfold; a national trauma which would inform MacDonald’s second novel, The Way the Crow Flies. The family moved several more times while Ann-Marie was growing up, but maintained close ties with their roots in Cape Breton Island, the setting for her first novel, Fall On Your Knees.
Ann-Marie attended Carleton University before moving to Montreal to train as an actor at the National Theatre School of Canada, graduating in 1980. The next move brought Ann-Marie to Toronto where she immersed herself in the vibrant alternative theatre scene, and simultaneously pursued a career in television and film. From the outset, her work was politically informed, funny, and highly narrative. Ann-Marie came of age during “second wave” feminism and post-Stonewall LGBT liberation struggles, and both reaped the benefits of, and contributed to, the energy that fuelled these movements. She acted in new Canadian plays such as Dreaming and Duelling (Young People’s Theatre), Generals Die in Bed (Theatre Passe Muraille) and St Sam and the Nukes (Blyth Festival). She also appeared in independent Canadian films including The Wars and Better Than Chocolate, earned a Genie nomination for her role in I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, and won a Gemini Award for Where the Spirit Lives.
Ann-Marie has co-created and performed original theatrical work such as This is For You, Anna; Nancy Prew: Clue in the Fast Lane; and The Attic, The Pearls, and Three Fine Girls. Her first solo-authored play, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) premiered at Nightwood Theatre and was honoured with the Chalmers Award, the Governor General’s Award, and the Canadian Authors’ Association Award. Her other produced dramatic work includes The Arab’s Mouth, the libretto for the chamber opera Nigredo Hotel, the book for the musical Anything that Moves (which garnered several Dora Awards, including Outstanding New Musical), and Belle Moral: A Natural History.
In 1996 Ann-Marie’s first novel, Fall on Your Knees, was published by Knopf Canada as part of their inaugural “New Face of Fiction”. A critically acclaimed international best seller, it was short-listed for the Giller Prize, and won the People’s Choice Award and the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year. In 2002 it became an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Fall on Your Knees has been translated into 19 languages.
Ann-Marie’s second novel, The Way the Crow Flies, was published in 2003. An international bestseller and finalist for the Giller Prize, it was also a Good Morning America Book Club pick. It has been translated into 13 languages.
For seven seasons Ann-Marie hosted the CBC documentary series Life and Times. Presently she is host and narrator of CBC’s Doc Zone. She recently co-created and performed in More Fine Girls (Theatre Columbus, Tarragon Theatre) and acted in celebrated productions of Cloud Nine (Mirvish Productions) and Top Girls (Soulpepper Theatre). Ann-Marie is currently at work on an adaptation of Hamlet for the Stratford Festival, with director Alisa Palmer and musician Torquil Campbell of the band, STARS.
Her new novel, Adult Onset, will be finished soon…
Ann-Marie is married to Alisa Palmer and lives in Toronto and Montreal with their two children and one dog.
Official biography and press photo: