Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words. - Plautus

The Whistler Writers Festival began twenty years ago with a simple goal: to celebrate the words and stories of local, national, and international authors. This vision has driven all our efforts over the years and has allowed us to change, expand and grow. Who knew what had started as the little festival that could in 2002 with one guest author and twenty participants would evolve into what is now a multi-day, multi-event festival with some 60 authors and publishers teaching, reading, and discussing their stories? It is fitting as we mark our 20th anniversary that our theme this year is celebration of words and stories.

There have been many challenges over the years and many times I wasn’t sure we’d go on, but with the help of that persistent vision, there was only one way to go: forward. I would like to thank all those who have come along with us on this incredible journey: our volunteers, our community leaders, our sponsors, and other influencers, all the authors and publishers I have met over the years and of course our audiences. You keep coming back every year whether we’re in person or as we were last year, virtual. This year as the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty (just one more challenge to overcome), we are planning a hybrid model. We will have some in-person events that will be live streamed and some virtual events.  It’s an experiment and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. We can’t do what we do without you.

We’ll be hosting a reading and social après on Thursday October 14th featuring the books of the finalists of the Whistler Independent Book Awards.

On Friday October 15th we will again be hosting our Booklovers Literary Salon. Darrel J. McLeod will lead the conversation with bestselling and award-winning author Tanya Talaga about her books Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City and All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward. This event will be available in person and live streamed.

The Literary Cabaret will follow the salon. Hosted by local scribe and musician Stephen Vogler, the night combines readings from some of Canada’s best-loved authors, accompanied by live music. This year’s cabaret features guest authors: Cedar Bowers, Ivan Coyote, Adrienne Drobnies, Leanne Dunic, Ted Goodden, John Gould, Cornelia Hoogland, Sadeqa Johnson, Shaena Lambert, Mary Lawson, Annette Lapointe, Darrel J. McLeod and Zoe Whittall. The winners of the Whistler Independent Book Awards will be announced just before the Literary Cabaret.  The in-person Cabaret watch party and celebration includes appetizers and a cash bar. Or you can watch the cabaret from your own home, although we’d love it if you joined us in person to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

Our popular Saturday reading events are back, each featuring authors of different genres: Poetry, Non-Fiction and Fiction.

And join us virtually for a new reading event at this year’s festival:  Thrills, Chills and Authors Who Kill: A Murder Mystery and Discussion with Five Thriller Writers including: Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Linwood Barclay, Bill Deverell, Joy Fielding, and Linden McIntyre. After the readings, you’ll be invited to participate in guessing ‘whodunit’ in a fanfiction crime story based on one of the authors’ characters. One winner will take home all the authors’ new books!

On Saturday night, a special main stage event will see Thomas King in conversation with author and moderator, Tanya Talaga about his new book, Sufferance. If all goes well, or as Mr. King says, “COVID doesn’t go into extra innings,” this event will be in person and live streamed.

Moderator Alix Ohlin will join us on Sunday October 16th for an insightful, wide-ranging conversation with authors Eden Robinson (Return of the Trickster), Robert Jones Jr. (The Prophets), M.G. Vassanji (What You Are), George Elliott Clarke (Where Beauty Survived: An Africadian Memoir) and Omar El Akkad (What Strange Paradise). We’re hoping that this will be a viewing party where you might order a Sunday brunch. Or if you are watching this event at home, take out will be available from our festival hotel, the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

Thursday’s workshops will focus on alternatives to traditional publishing while Friday will feature a full day of sessions on publishing. In the morning join us for a discussion with publishers about the industry’s challenges. The afternoon will offer writers an opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a publisher to hone your pitching skills. Seven publishers will participate in this event and together they represent all genres. And of course, Saturday will feature various workshops on craft.

This growing festival is a labour of love and now, in our 20th year, a celebration too. Words and stories will flow. And wine may also be involved!

Oh, one last thing before I sign off (don’t I always have one last thing?): we encourage you to visit our Virtual Bookstore and buy your books in advance of the events. Books will also be available on site (at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler) anytime one of our events is in person, thanks to the ongoing support of the best bookstore in the world, Armchair Books!

Welcome to our 2021 festival.

Stella Harvey, Festival Director