Connecting Through Story: it takes collaboration and characters

The theme of the 2023 Whistler Writers Festival is “Connecting Through Story.” Shari Lapena, a guest author this year, shares what this means to her as we prepare for the festival in October.

When I think about connecting through story, I think of two things.  First, I think about how writing and reading a story is a collaborative process. The author writes a story, and the reader imagines that story in his or her own mind, bringing his or her own life experience and interpretations to the text. Reading is an exercise of the imagination in a way that getting story from other media is not.  

Secondly, when I think about connecting through story, I think of how as readers, we connect with the characters we’re reading about. In this way we step into the shoes of these characters, imagine ourselves in their situation, in their lives, however briefly. We can be a princess in a tower, or an impoverished woman juggling three jobs.

I’m a firm believer that reading helps foster empathy, and this is why reading is so important, especially for children. So read to your children! Read them all sorts of different stories so that they can connect with the world and other human beings (and animals) from all walks of life—it can help us have a better world.

Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of the thrillers The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, An Unwanted Guest, Someone We Know, The End of Her, and Not a Happy Family, which have all been New York Times and The Sunday Times (London) bestsellers. Her books have been sold in forty territories around the world. She lives on a farm outside of Toronto. Everyone Here Is Lying is her seventh thriller.

Lapena reads at the Thrills and Chills Mystery and Crime Writers Panel on Oct. 14 at 1:15 p.m. at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Tickets are on sale now.