Whistler Writers Festival set to launch 16th year

Annual fall festival line up packed with writing workshops, reading events and performances from Oct. 12 to Oct. 15

This year, the Whistler Writers Festival added a quirky, experimental session.

A Walk to Lost Lake and Back will feature a small group of writers and festival participants strolling to — you guessed it — Lost Lake for a chat. But, explained Rebecca Wood Barrett, organizer with the festival, the idea for the workshop evolved from an even wackier suggestion.

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“A few years ago I had been interviewing (author and CBC host) Grant Lawrence — he’s such a funny guy. I said, ‘what kind of session would you want to have if you could make something up?” Wood Barrett recalled. “He said, ‘what about hot tub sessions?’… We kind of laughed. The Fairmont was willing to entertain the idea, but they weren’t sure if there was going to be (another event) happening at the time.”

Still, it’s not off the table for the future, she added. “One day it might happen,” she said, with a laugh.

The festival is set to mark its 16th year from Oct 12 to Oct. 15. Also new this year is the expanded reading event, The Booklovers’ Workshop & Literary Salon. The first is set to take place on Friday featuring Caroline Adderson moderating a discussion with best-selling author Frances Itani. Then on Saturday, JJ Lee will lead the conversation with author Doug Saunders.       

“It’s like a large book club — with a bit of context from the moderator who’s helping to lead and figure out how they can get the most of the discussion about books,” Wood Barrett said. “We always do feedback sessions with our participants and (last year) one had suggested, ‘you know what would be great is if we could read the authors’ books ahead of time so we have a specific book to focus on.’ In the past it was more broad and a discussion of many books.”

Wood Barrett said she’s also looking forward to the third installation of Comedy Quickies, in which writers submitted their funniest pieces of writing and judges selected their favourites to be performed on stage. “You never quite know with comedy what’s going to work,” she said. “I’m one of the judges, so I get to see the scripts ahead of time. (Organizers) Brandon Barrett, Ira Pettle and I have our favourites and what we think will be funny and then we’re not always right. You just can’t guarantee.”

To that end, while the judges choose their top script for an award, there’s also an honour for people’s choice after the live show.

Then there are the popular, ongoing writing workshops and reader events — like the Sunday morning brunch event — this year featuring Doug Saunders in conversation — and the Saturday evening event, this year called When Reality Looks Like Fiction, How do you Write Your Way to the Truth? — again featuring Saunders as well as local writer Leslie Anthony, Claudia Casper and Gurjinder Basran.

“This will be a pretty interesting event,” Wood Barrett said. “Normally, we’d have one writer, but this year we decided to have several.”

On top of all that, there are workshops ranging from Publishing Alternatives for those looking to self-publish books to Awakening Your Inner Teen for YA writers, songwriting and a Crime Writers lunch.

To see the full range of events, or to register, visit whistlerwritersfest.com.

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