Ian Thomas Shaw was born and raised in Vancouver, attended UBC and earned graduate degrees from McGill and Concordia Universities in Montreal. He worked for more than thirty years as a diplomat and as an international development worker, in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.He lives in Aylmer, Quebec (just outside of Ottawa).

Shaw also writes under the penname "Con C" (owl in Vietnamese - a nickname given him by a Vietnamese friend). His first novel Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls was self-published under his own imprint, Deux Voiliers Publishing, in 2011. It was inspired by two Canadian friends who had suffered deep personal traumas after the Communist victories in Cambodia and South Vietnam in 1975. One friend spent three years on a collective farm under the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge and then eight years in a refugee camp in Thailand before finally being resettled in British Columbia. The other was imprisoned in Saigon at the age of three with her mother and sister while her father was sent to a re-education camp. After a harrowing boat journey in 1978, the family reached Pulau Bidong refugee camp in Malaysia and were later resettled in Quebec City. While rooted in historical fact, Shaw's novel is fictional. In it, he portrays the resilience of human beings in the face of unbearable tragedies.

Shaw's second novel was initially going to be called Photos and Lost Memories. This love story, set against the Lebanese Civil War and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was retitled Quill of the Dove (Guernica 2019). Here is the publisher's promotional summary:

Quill of the Dove is a blend of literary fiction and a political thriller. Framed by contemporary events in the Middle East, the novel covers two distinct time periods: 2007 mainly in Europe, the Palestinian Territories and Israel and Lebanon from 1975 to 1982.

"The opening chapter takes place in Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus. French journalist Marc.Taragon is at the apex of his career, and Nicosia is his home base for covering the Middle East. A tenacious idealist, Taragon has spent the last thirty years attempting to bring to readers the truths about the wars and political intrigues of the region. He is unsparing in his criticism of extremists and has earned many enemies.
Taragon agrees to be interviewed by a young Canadian journalist, Marie Boivin, not knowing that Marie has a hidden agenda: to discover through Taragon the truth about her childhood.

"Before Marie finds the answers she seeks, she is enmeshed in Taragon's plan to broker peace negotiations between Jonathan Bronstein, a left-wing Israeli politician, and Abdullah Akkawi, a dissident Palestinian leader. In the isolated Greek village of Arkassa on the island of Karpathos,Taragon succeeds in persuading Akkawi and Bronstein to agree to an ambitious peace plan. The action then moves quickly through Europe and the Middle East as Taragon and his associates try to stay one step ahead of deadly opponents of their initiative."

Shaw is also the founder of the Prose in the Park Literary Festival and the Ottawa Review of Books


Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls (Deux Voiliers Publishing, 2011)

Quill of the Dove (Guernica 2019) 978-1-771833783

[BCBW 2019]