Ian Adams

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Ian Adams
Born 1937 (age 80–81)
Tabora, Tanzania
Occupation Novelist, photographer
Citizenship Canadian
Period 1960–present

Ian Adams (born 1937) is a Canadian author of fiction and non-fiction novels, television, and movies. Originally a journalist, he is now best known for his writing: his most successful novels to date are S – Portrait of a Spy and Agent of Influence, which has also been made into a film. He currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.


Ian Adams was born to a family of Irish lay missionaries administering a medical clinic in the former Belgian Congo. He grew up in Central and East Africa.



Adams began his career as a photographer/reporter. As an award-winning investigative journalist, he worked for five years at Maclean's, Canada’s national news magazine, covering many national stories including "The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack" (Volume 80, February 1967), reprinted under the title "Why did Charlie Wenjack Die?" in The Poverty Wall in 1970. In September 2012 Adams was interviewed about the Charlie Wenjack story as part of the CBC documentary "Dying For An Education".[1] Gord Downie, lead singer of the Canadian band The Tragically Hip, cited Adams' Macleans article as the source for his latest work, "Secret Path". [2]

Adams' international stories included coverage of the Vietnam War and the coup d’etat that overthrew Allende in Chile.


During the 1970s and 1980s Adams lived, worked and traveled extensively in South and Central America, mostly covering the so-called "dirty wars". From this period came the novel Becoming Tania (published by McClelland and Stewart), the love story of Che Guevara and his compañera Tania who was killed with Che in the Bolivian jungle. Adams' screenplay adaptation, Tango Duro, was nominated in 2005 for the Writers Guild of Canada’s Best Unproduced Screenplay: the Jim Burt Prize.

Film adaptations

As of 2006, Ian Adams and his writing partner, Riley Adams, have turned three of his seven published novels into movies. The third, S – Portrait of a Spy, was scheduled for production as a feature film (by Alberta Filmworks) in the spring of 2006.

The Adams team with Riley as the lead writer has also written the original screenplays for two of the seven MOWs in this fall’s CTV lineup. Hunt for Justice, (GalaFilms) starring William Hurt, John Corbett, and Wendy Crewson, The second original screen play, The Clark Todd Story, (ImagiNation Films and Box Films, UK) is scheduled for filming to begin early in 2006.

His most recent novel, Agent of Influence, based on the true story of Canadian diplomat John Watkins who died while under Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Central Intelligence Agency interrogation, was adapted by the Adams team, and aired on the national CTV network in 2003–2004. Produced by Alberta FilmWorks and Gala Films, Agent of Influence starred Christopher Plummer. The film has been sold by Alliance-Atlantis to TV networks in 132 countries, and in 2003 was recognized by the European Screenplay Writers’ association as the best foreign television screenplay.

The Adams partnership created the screenplay for the full-length feature, Bad Faith, adapted from Ian Adams’ novel of the same title and filmed in Calgary and Montreal during March 2000 by Alberta FilmWorks — is now distributed worldwide by Oasis under the title, Cold Blooded.

Ian Adams has also written many hours of produced television for Canadian and U.S. shows.[3]


  • The Poverty Wall (1970) (includes "Why Did Charlie Wenjack Die?") ISBN 0-7710-0051-0
  • The Real Poverty Report (1971)
  • The Trudeau Papers (1971) ISBN 0-7710-0052-9
  • S: Portrait of a Spy (1978)
  • End Game in Paris (1979)
  • Bad Faith (1983) ISBN 0-920053-12-2
  • Becoming Tania (1990)
  • Agent of Influence (1999) ISBN 0-7737-3123-7


Adams' work Agent of Influence has received the following awards:

  • Best Foreign Television Screenplay Award — given by the Les 16e Rencontres Internationales de Télévision: The Euro International Film and Television Festival held March 16–23, 2003 in Reims, France.
  • Nominated for best screenplay in the Writers’ Guild of Canada’s 2004 MOW category.
  • Nominated for best screenplay 2003 Geminis. Agent of Influence garnered five other Gemini nominations and one Gemini — Ted Whitall best supporting actor.
  • Awarded a HUGOS "Certificate of Merit" in the Feature-Length Telefilm Drama category at the Chicago International Television Awards, March 2003.


  1. ^ "Dying for an Education: A CBC Thunder Bay special report". cbc.ca. September 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  2. ^ "New Gord Downie work devoted to First Nations boy who died running away from residential school". cbc.ca. September 9, 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  3. ^ "Geminis hope to 'galvanize industry' with Richmond, B.C., gala". cbc.ca. November 4, 2006. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
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