Aspiring scribblers and lovers of literature should take note: tickets are already on sale for the 11th annual Whistler Readers and Writers Festival on October 12 to 14.
This year’s festival celebrates the art of storytelling with an impressive lineup of guest authors, workshops, seminars and special events.
Headlining the fest this year is Alistair MacLeod, best known for his critically-acclaimed collection of short-stories Island, as well as his multiple award-winning novel No Great Mischief, which took home the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Other guest authors include Lawrence Hill of the international best-seller and prize winning The Book of Negroes; short-story author and journalist Zsuzsi Gartner (Better Living Through Plastic Explosives); humourist young adult writer Susan Juby (Alice, I Think, The Woefield Poultry Collective>); non-fiction and fiction writer Margaret Macpherson (Nellie McClung: Voice for the Voiceless, Body Trade); historical fiction novelist Jack Whyte (A Dream of Eagles, The Templar Trilogy); fiction and poetry writer Miranda Hill (Sleeping Funny) and celebrated poet John Burnside (Black Cat Bone).
It’s a far cry from when the event first started out as a gathering of members of the Whistler Writers’ Group, also known as The Vicious Circle.
“It started in a house with about 20 people, and no funding,” said festival director Stella Harvey. “I didn’t think it would grow this much.”
But through lots of hard work – and securing funding from sources like the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), among others – the Readers and Writers Festival has become a premiere literary event where storytellers of all levels can hone their skills through panel discussions, workshops and fun, intimate events with the authors.
“We have bigger and better events, galas and workshops this year,” said Harvey. “And we are also trying a few different things. People say they like how the festival is intimate, so one of the things we are having are book discussions with the authors, followed by a jazz ensemble and food. We are trying to combine all the arts.”
Also new this year is Pecha Kucha – a fast-paced, show-and-tell Japanese presentation style featuring special guest Jillian Christmas along with signer Chelsea D. E. Johnson.
“Pecha Kucha tends to draw a younger group of people,” she said.
Aspiring screenwriters will also be interested to know this year’s event features a Writing and Film panel where people from the filmmaking industry talk about breaking into a film writing career.
“The key for us is to make it as inclusive as possible,” she said. “People see writing and literature as something for the elite, but really, reading is for everyone.”
It’s also a bit of an extra special festival for Harvey this year too, as she launches her own novel during the event.
“It’s really my second novel,” she said. “The first one is still on the shelf.”
Harvey’s book, Nicolai’s Daughters, is historical fiction set in a small village in Greece.
“I wanted to write something involving tragedy, and the far-reaching impact of that tragedy on a family,” she said. “I also am Greek, so I wanted to set it in Greece.”
Published through Signature Editions in Winnipeg, the new book hits the shelves on Sept. 15, but launches at the Readers and Writers Festival at a special soiree on Oct. 12.
Visit theviciouscircle.ca for a full schedule of events and tickets.