Connecting Through Story: Sara Leach shares what it means to her

The theme of the 2023 Whistler Writers Festival is “Connecting Through Story.” Sara Leach, author and festival board member, shares her take on what this means to her as we prepare for the festival in October.

For the past five years, I’ve moderated the children’s author’s panel at the Whistler Writers Festival. Each year, I approach it with both excitement and trepidation.

Excitement because:

  • I get to read an assortment of excellent, recently published children’s and YA books.
  • I get to find connections between the books—what are the chance that three seemingly totally different books would all contain magical realism?
  • I get to ask questions of some of my literary heroes—a highlight was the year we hosted Eileen Cook, Deborah Ellis, Kit Pearson, Cherie Dimaline and Tim Wynne-Jones. It was like being in the green room at the Oscars of Canadian kidlit. The best part of that year was watching Ellis and Pearson, two trailblazers in Canadian children’s writing, delight in meeting each other for the first time.


Trepidation because:

  • What if this is the time one of the authors goes rogue?
  • What if someone doesn’t read my pre-panel email and tries to read for twenty minutes?
  • What if someone deeply offends another panel member or the audience?
  • What if the authors get into a brawl on stage?

As someone who hates conflict, my mind goes into overdrive, worrying about possible nightmare scenarios.

So far, there’s been no need to worry. Every children’s and young adult author who has taken part in our panel has been a delight—inclusive, professional, prepared and kind. Every. Single. One.

Every year I go into the panel a little bit worried and a little bit starstruck. And every year I end the panel feeling like I’ve had a great conversation with a group of friends.

Sara Leach moderates Bravely Going into the Unknown: Children’s and YA Author’s Panel with Leslie Gentile, Emily Pohl-Weary, Andrea Warner, and the WIBA winner in the children’s category. This event is free at the Whistler Public Library, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. Please RSVP online.

Image of the the three authors appearing in the Bravely Going into the Unknown: Children’s and YA Author’s Panel.