|Born||22 November 1962|
|Alma mater||Leeds University, Sussex University|
|Occupation||Co-founder of Eight Step Recovery and Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery|
|Known for||Author and public speaker|
Since the publication of the book by Windhorse Publications in 2013, it has been the recipient of a Best USA Book Award 2014 and Best International Book Award 2015 in the self-motivational and self-help category. Eight Step Meetings now take place in the UK, USA, Canada, India and Finland. Mason-John also is the co-creator of Mindfulness Based Addiction Recovery (MBAR), which was inspired by Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression book by John D. Teasdale, Mark Williams, and Zindal Seagal. She is the author of eight books and works as a public speaker in Mindfulness for Addiction and Emotional Well Being and is a trainer in anti-bullying and conflict resolution. She is also the chairperson of Triratna Vancouver Buddhist Centre. Her Buddhist name is Vimalasara, which means "she whose essence is stainless and pure". She used to be a freelance feature writer for The Voice newspaper and was also a performer and spoken-word poet using the stage name "Queenie". Black British by birth, she has now become a Canadian.
Born in Cambridge, England, Mason-John spent her childhood "in care" — in foster homes and childcare facilities, including the Barnardo's Orphanages in Britain with the exception of a short time spent living with her mother in her early teens. She dropped out before receiving her undergraduate degree in the 1980s, but has continued to pursue post-graduate education and training into the present. Since the early 1990s, she has worked as a writer, performing artist and lecturer. She received a teaching certificate from South Bank University, and currently conducts seminars in anger management and conflict resolution.
After 18 months of studying philosophy and politics at Leeds University during the 1980s, Mason-John studied post-graduate journalism, earned an MFA in creative writing and diploma in theatrical performance at Sussex University and The Desmond Jones School. By 2003, her interest in counseling and her ordination into the Western Buddhist Order led her into writing and performing, and on training herself and others in anger management and conflict resolution. In December 2007, Mason-John was named Honorary Doctor of Letters by The University of East London. Mason John continues to write, work as a self-awareness trainer; she performs and lectures internationally.
Publication, broadcasting, and academic work
Mason-John's work has appeared in UK and international journalistic and scholarly publications such as The Guardian, The Voice, Curve Magazine, The Morning Star, Pink Paper, Girl Friend Magazine and Wasafiri. She has also contributed to Half the Earth: Women's Experience of Travel Worldwide (second edition, Pandora Rough Guide, 1990), Frauen Zimmerim Haus Europa (Papyrosa, 1991), Assaults on Convention (Cassell, 1995), Words from Word Up Café (Centerprise Publications, 1993), and Tell Tales (Tell Tales/Flipped Eye Publications, 2005).
Mason-John was the editor of Feminist Arts News from 1992 to 1997. Additionally, she was the artistic director of the London Mardi Gras from 1997 to 2000, and spent four years as the director of the Pride Arts Festival. Her television credits include freelance work for the BBC, Channel 4 and Vis International TV; she has also been featured on British radio broadcasts for the BBC World Service and the regional programmes Midweek, Woman's Hour and The Shelagh Rogers Show Next Chapter on CBC Radio.
In addition to her work in broadcasting and journalism, Mason-John embarked on a career in theatre, having studied at the Desmond Jones School of Mime and Physical Theatre, she began performing and writing for the stage by 1998. Focusing on one-woman plays, she developed a body of work including Sin Dykes, Brown Girl in the Ring, The Adventures of Snow Black and Rose Red and You Got Me among other plays.
Her first novel Borrowed Body (2005), which was later relaunched as The Banana Kid (2007), received the Mind Book of the Year Award. Since, Mason-John has authored six books including her spiritual non-fiction Detox Your Heart (2006), which is slated for revision in 2017.
The Great Black North
In 2012, Mason-John alongside spoken-word artist Kevan Anthony Cameron co-edited the anthology The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry, published by Frontenac House, featuring more than 90 poets. The Great Black North was one of the first complete poetry collections of contemporary Black Canadian poets. Notable poets in the anthology include George Elliot Clarke, M. Nourbese Philip, Wayde Compton, Sylvia Hamilton, Olive Senior, Fredrick Ward and d'bi Young. The anthology is unique in the way it categorizes "page" and "stage" poetry, as a means to honour both the written and oral traditions of poets from the African Diaspora.
- 1992–97: Editor of Feminist Arts News
- 1992: Black Art and Culture on the Mainland of Europe: France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Spain (editor), Arts Council of England
- 1993: Lesbians Talk: Making Black Waves (co-author with Ann Khambatta) Scarlet Press, ISBN 9781857270075
- 1993: Words from the Women's Cafe: Lesbian Poetry from Word Up (contributor; eds Bernadette Halpin and Dorothea Smartt), Centerprise Publications, ISBN 978-0903738767
- 1994: Talking Black: Lesbians of African and Asian Descent Speak Out Anthology (editor), Cassell, ISBN 0304329657
- 1995: Assaults on Convention (contributor), Cassell, ISBN 978-0304328833
- 1999: Brown Girl in the Ring: Plays, Prose and Poems, Get A Grip
- 2005: Borrowed Body, Serpent's Tail, ISBN 1852428910
- 2005: Tell Tales (contributor), Tell Tales/Flipped Eye Publication, ISBN 1905233027
- 2006: Detox Your Heart, Windhorse Publications, ISBN 9781899579655
- 2007: Black British Aesthetic, edited by Victoria Arana – contributor, ISBN 978-1443806015
- 2008: Broken Voices Ex Untouchable Women Speak Out, ISBN 978-8183860734
- 2012: The Great Black North - Contemporary African Canadian Poetry (edited with Kevan Anthony Cameron), ISBN 978-1897181836
- 2013: New edition of Borrowed Body, Demeter Press Canada, ISBN 978-1927335369
- 2014: Eight Step Recovery - Using The Buddha's Teachings to Overcome Addiction - co author, ISBN 978-1909314023
- 2017: New revised expanded edition of Detox Your Heart - Meditations for Emotional Trauma, ISBN 9781614293873
Prizes and awards
- 2015 The Best International Book Award (for Eight Step Recovery)
- 2014 The Best USA Book Award (for Eight Step Recovery)
- 2014 The Robert Kroetsch Poetry Award (for The Great Black North)
- 2014 Alberta's Book Awards Best Educational Book (for The Great Black North)
- 2007 Honorary Doctorate for Life time Achievements - Doctor of Letters
- 2007 Black LGBT Community Award
- 2006/7 Grant For The Arts – Arts Council England
- 2006 Winner Mind Book of The Year Award (for Borrowed Body)
- 2005 Young Minds Book Award (shortlist) (for Borrowed Body)
- 2001 Winner of the Black, Asian and Chinese Shoreline/Cultureword First Chapter Award
- 2000 Windrush Achievement Award Arts and Community Pioneer
- "Mason-John; Valerie | BPA". www.blackplaysarchive.org.uk. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- "Valerie Mason-John (Vimalasara) Books - Windhorse Publications". Windhorse Publications. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- "The 14th Annual Best Book Awards". www.usabooknews.com. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- "International Book Awards - Honoring Excellence in Independent & Mainstream Publishing". www.internationalbookawards.com. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- "Dharma Seed - Valerie Mason-John (Vimalasara)'s Dharma Talks at Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley". imsb.dharmaseed.org. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- "Order Members | Triratna Buddhist Community Vancouver". Triratna Buddhist Community Vancouver. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- "Valerie Mason-John - Literature". literature.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- Emma, Parker. "'Odd Girl Out': An Interview with Valerie Mason-John, aka Queenie" (PDF). University of Leicester.
- "Valerie Mason-John". www.encyclopediaofafroeuropeanstudies.eu. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- BBC. "BBC - Radio 4 - Woman's Hour -Valerie Mason-John". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- "80 years of Q&Q: talking with The Great Black North editors Valerie Mason-John and Kevan Anthony Cameron". Quill and Quire. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Jinje, Safa. "Great Black North". Historica Canada Blog. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "The Great Black North – Briarpatch Magazine". briarpatchmagazine.com. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Official website
- Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha's Teachings to Overcome Addictions
- Let's Talk About Bullying
- Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction, a Dharma Talk for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. April 2016.
- "Valerie Mason-John inspires graduates - awarded Honorary Doctorate of the University of East London", University of East London, 2006.
- "Hoping With Compassion". Interview by Biswadip Mitra, Insight, 28 February 2008.
- "Entertainment : Books : Interviews | Valerie Mason-John", GaydarNation, 3 July 2005.
- Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, "Inside the Writing Mind - An Interview with Valerie Mason-John", The Sword Review, 2005.
- Linda Jordan, "'Detox Your Heart' by Valerie Mason-John", Wildmind, 18 April 2007.
- "Valerie Mason-John (Vimalasara)", Windhorse Publications