OCTOBER 14 - 17, 2021

We know it’s a long ways out, but we’re already excited to announce that this year we’ll celebrate our 20th Anniversary of the Whistler Writers Festival, October 14 – 17, 2021. See you then! In the meantime, check out our Summer Comeback Reading Series in July.

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WORKSHOP 1: Self-Publishing Buffet

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PDT | $50

Vivalogue Publishing and Fenton Street Publishing

Appetizers  |  Taster Menu  |  FREE

Not sure if the Self-Publishing Buffet is for you? Check out these free samples available on the Festival website from October 1 to 14.

View the Videos

Take Our Proofreading Challenge
Fire Up Your Creativity
The Secret Power of the ISBN
The Top Two Cover Mistakes
What Does an Editor do Anyway?
Booksellers and Where to Find Them

Entrees  |  9:00 a.m. – noon PDT |  $50

9:00 Proofreading is Not Just About Typos Kilmeny Denny
9:30 Moving Past Writer’s Block Jane Watt
10:00 The Canadian Publishing Landscape Lynn Duncan
10:30 Book Design Essentials Kilmeny Denny
11:00 What Does an Editor do, Anyway? Jane Watt
11:30 Creating a Professional Sell Sheet Lynn Duncan

Dessert  |  12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. PDT  |  Included

12:15 Design a Cover in Real Time Kilmeny Denny

Vote for your favourite design elements and watch a cover come together in this entertaining interactive session.

Moderators: Lynn Duncan, Jane Watt & Kilmeny Denny



WORKSHOP 2: New Authors: Personal Consultations

1:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. PDT | $50

Presented by Vivalogue Publishing and Fenton Street Publishing

Not sure what to do next? Looking for a second opinion? Meet with Lynn Duncan (marketing) or Jane Watt (blue pencil edit) for a 30-minute private consultation focused on your specific project. Participants will be required to submit a 500-word synopsis (marketing) or 1,500 word extract (blue pencil) before October 1.

Blue Pencil (Jane Watt)  1:15, 2:00, 2:45, 3:30, 4:15 p.m. PDT

Marketing (Lynn Duncan) 1:15, 2:00, 2:45, 3:30, 4:15 p.m. PDT



READING EVENT 1 PART 1: Opening Night Showcase: New Voices & Social Après

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. PDT | FREE (RSVP)

Canada’s Best Independent Authors of 2020

Accomplished writers are increasingly turning to independent publishing as a financially and creatively satisfying alternative to the traditional model.  Meet some of the best independent authors in the country as finalists for the Whistler Independent Book Awards (WIBA) read from books nominated in fiction and non-fiction categories. Winners will be announced at Friday night’s Literary Cabaret. 

Moderator: Lynn Duncan

Sponsored by: Real Estate Association of Whistler


READING EVENT 1 PART 2: The Crooked Thing: Book Launch

Mary MacDonald in conversation with Rebecca Wood Barrett

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. PDT | FREE (RSVP)

For fans of Alice Munro and Carol Shields comes an emotional and hopeful collection of short stories that delve into the tragedies that befall each of us in the search for goodness and meaning. Join author Mary MacDonald in conversation with Rebecca Wood Barrett to celebrate the launch of her first book of short stories, The Crooked Thing.

The English poet, William Blake said, “joy and woe are woven fine.” So it is in The Crooked Thing. A collection of intense and emotional stories, there are traumas and betrayals, loves and losses, missed opportunities and discoveries, and above all, hope. In tales delicate and steely, a troubled young ferryman finds himself with an unexpected passenger, a songbird finds its voice, a mother learns to let go of her son and, after a chance encounter, an aging ballerina dances again. At their core these are love stories; they move us, disturb us, and upend our beliefs, to show us characters not all that different from ourselves.

Moderator: Rebecca Wood Barrett


READING EVENT 1 PART 3:  Virtual Showcase Après

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. PDT | FREE (RSVP)

Join the authors and attendees for a casual online meet-up to discuss the books and readings.



WORKSHOP 3: Insights from Insiders: Trade Publishing in Canada Today

Amanda Betts, Jennifer Croll, Jen Knoch, Justin Stoller, Suzanne Sutherland, and Tanya Trafford

10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. PDT | $10

Want to get your book published through a traditional publisher with a book contract? Join our six publishers and editors to find out what they’re looking for in a manuscript, how to make contact with them, and how to best position your book in terms of genre or category. They’ll provide an overview of the state of the industry, particularly in the current situation of the pandemic, and give sage advice on how to get your book published. With publishers and editors Amanda Betts  (Penguin Random House), Jennifer Croll (Greystone), Jen Knoch (ECW Press), Justin Stoller (Simon & Schuster), Suzanne Sutherland (HarperCollins), and Tanya Trafford (Orca).

Moderator: Eileen Cook

Sponsored by: SFU Continuing Studies – Creative Writing


WORKSHOP 4: Speed Dating: Pitch your Book/Idea to Publishers

Amanda Betts, Jennifer Croll, Jen Knoch, Justin Stoller, Suzanne Sutherland, and Tanya Trafford

1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. PDT | $65

Meet publishing decision-makers for 15 minutes to pitch your book or story idea one-on-one and receive feedback. Come prepared with a five-minute pitch and/or questions for the publishers. Meet publishers and editors Amanda Betts  (Penguin Random House), Jennifer Croll (Greystone), Jen Knoch (ECW Press), Justin Stoller (Simon & Schuster), Suzanne Sutherland (HarperCollins), and Tanya Trafford (Orca). The session includes up to two pitches of your choice, on a first-come, first-choice basis. Pro tip: Research your choices (read their bios, google) before booking to ensure a good fit for your book or pitch.

Sponsored by: Marquis Book Printing


READING EVENT 2: The Booklovers’ Literary Salon

With Marina Endicott

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. PDT | $10

Rebecca Wood Barrett will lead a book-club style conversation with Marina Endicott, author of novel The Difference, a sweeping tale set aboard the Morning Light, a Nova Scotian merchant ship sailing through the South Pacific in 1912. Inspired by a true story, Marina Endicott shows us a now-vanished world in all its wonder, and in its darkness, prejudice, and difficulty, too. She also brilliantly illuminates our present time through Kay’s examination of the idea of “difference”—between people, classes, continents, cultures, customs and species. Participants and book clubs are encouraged to read Endicott’s latest novel to fully engage in the discussion. Visit your local bookseller (Armchair Books in Whistler) or online stores to get your copy.

Moderator: Rebecca Wood Barrett


The Booklovers’ Literary Après

5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. PDT | FREE (RSVP)

After the event, we invite you to join our après session at a separate meeting URL link, to connect with other guests to chat about books, authors and ideas.


READING EVENT 3: The Literary Cabaret

6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. PDT | $10

We’re putting the band back together! Not even a pandemic can keep the Literary Cabaret from pulling musicians and writers together for a magical night of words and music. Host Stephen Vogler brings his band Some Assembly Required back to the stage to perform with a host of writers beamed in via Zoom for a night of improvisation, innovation and rich storytelling embellished by sweet and soulful sounds. Guest authors include Caroline Adderson, Jenn Ashton, Dakshana Bascaramurty, Jillian Christmas, Katherine Fawcett, Genni Gunn, D.A. Lockhart, Amy McDaid, David A. Robertson and Lori Rohda. Our guest musicians are Geeta Das, Musical Director, also playing trumpet, saxophone and percussion; Rajan Das on upright bass; Dean Feser on percussion; and Rosalind Steel on piano and electric keys. The winners of the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories of the Whistler Independent Book Awards will also be announced.

Moderator: Stephen Vogler

Sponsored by: Canadian Authors Association



WORKSHOP 5: Connecting with our Inner Observer: Insight through Mindfulness 

With Nicola Bentley

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. PDT | $10 

Connecting with our thoughts and experiences, gaining insights by paying attention moment to moment, can inform creativity, fuel curiosity, and transform our knowledge of ourselves. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention, of being situationally aware of our thoughts and feelings in the present, with a keen sense of awareness and insight. Mindful is that place where clarity informs wisdom. This short experiential session includes an overview about mindfulness and a guided meditation practice inspired by the festival’s theme of connection. Start your morning by connecting to your inner observer.


WORKSHOP 6: How did you think of THAT?

With Katherine Fawcett

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. PDT | $10

The process of conjuring up characters, settings and tales from thin air may seem like a miracle in itself. Whether it’s a sci-fi fantasy, a travel adventure or a new-fangled fairytale, no story is possible without imagination. In this workshop, we’ll untangle that miracle and look at how curiosity, receptivity, passion and immediacy can sharpen the creative instinct that lurks in us all. Bring a notebook and a writing instrument (e.g.: a rusty nail, a burnt match from most recent arson, a prince’s eyeliner) and prepare to play. Katherine is the author of The Swan Suit, an inventive mash-up of fairytales, folklore and twenty-first century feminism. 


READING EVENT 4: Writers of Non-Fiction

Janie Brown, Rosemary Keevil, David A. Robertson, WIBA Winner

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PDT | $10

Our writers of non-fiction tell the stories of their intimate journeys: a father and son travel together back to a trapline at Black Water, through the past to create a new future; a young mother struggles to find her way from one side of grief and addiction to another; and an oncology nurse recounts twenty conversations she has had with the dying, and offers wise insight into our final moments. The non-fiction writers panel and audience discussion will centre around readings by Janie Brown (Radical Acts of Love: How we find hope at the end of life), Rosemary Keevil (The Art of Losing It: A Memoir of Grief and Addiction), and David A. Robertson (Black Water: Family, Legacy and Blood Memory). The event will also include the winner of the Whistler Independent Book Award for non-fiction.

Moderator: Leslie Anthony

Sponsored by: BDO


WORKSHOP 7: Laughing in the Dark

With Amy McDaid

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PDT | $10

Laughter is powerful, even when life is tough. Laughter reduces anxiety and creates connection. If your writing deals with big themes, injecting some humour can relieve the bleak and help you grab your readers by the heart. But how can you do this sensitively, without undermining your message?

Amy McDaid, author of the darkly funny satire Fake Baby, will be taking you through a fun, interactive workshop looking at the role of humour in literature and how to use it successfully in your own writing.


READING EVENT 5: Prose Poetry in the Time of Hekla 

With Patrick Friesen, Ulrikka S. Gernes, David Keplinger, Carsten René Nielsen

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. PDT | $10

Anyone who lives in the mountains knows we are known for otherworldly beauty and inhospitable weather. Hekla, is one of Iceland’s most prominent and active volcanoes. The word also means ‘a small hooded cloak.’ The mist that hides the summit. The clarity of a poem can read the weather and slip through to beauty in a dark time.

Narrative and lyrical, we have four poets who will present the unique format of prose poetry: Canadian poet Patrick Friesen (Outlasting the Weather), American poet David Keplinger (The Long Answer: New and Selected Poems), and Danish poets Ulrikka S. Gernes (Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments) and Carsten René Nielsen (Forty-One Objects)—original voices that give us humour, wisdom, joy, and hope.

Moderator: Mary MacDonald


READING EVENT 6: The Domestic Thriller

Roz Nay, Amy Stuart, Stephanie Wrobel

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. PDT | $10

Suspicion begins at home for authors and readers of domestic thrillers, a genre which captures the uneasy truth of modern society that one is more likely to be harmed by someone they love than a stranger lurking in the bushes. Join a panel of award winning authors such as Roz Nay (Hurry Home), Amy Stuart (Still Here), Stephanie Wrobel (Darling Rose Gold) for a digital murder mystery session that will introduce you to a series of suspicious characters before asking you to guess which of them committed an imaginary crime. Come for the mystery and stay for the thrills. 

Moderator: Amber Cowie

Sponsored by: RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate


WORKSHOP 8: On Writing, Publishing and Sharing Personal Story

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. PDT | $10

Reading and writing about lived experience is such a primal way of knowing the world.  Memoirist and non-fiction author Annahid Dashtgard (Breaking the Ocean: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion and Reconciliation) will share tips from her journey of writing, publishing and sharing personal story.  From idea to page to proposal to editor to book to literary events, writing non-fiction is about so much more than merely artistic talent.  Join Annahid for tips on how to nurture your voice into the world.


WORKSHOP 9: Tried and true tips and trade secrets on creating the best story possible

With Grant Lawrence

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. PDT | $10

Join master raconteur Grant Lawrence for this lively, positive, and very useful writers workshop that will help you craft your best story possible, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Grant is an award-winning storyteller on various mediums: radio, podcasts, television, live presentations, and in his trilogy of bestselling memoirs, Adventures In Solitude, The Lonely End of the Rink, and Dirty Windshields. In this not-to-be-missed session, Grant will guide you through many of his tried and true practices that will help you create, edit, organize, and ultimately deliver a story that your readers will remember, because great stories are always retold.


READING EVENT 7: Writers of Fiction

Michelle Good, Aislinn Hunter, Annabel Lyon, Cordelia Strube, WIBA Winner

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. PDT | $10

Join moderator Jillian Christmas to delve into our guest authors’ stories and their worlds of fiction, encompassing: the story of five residential school teens striving to find a place of belonging; the entwined fates of two very different refugees; two sets of sisters whose lives are braided together when tragedy changes them forever; and an alcoholic and kitchen manager who is frantically trying to prevent the people around her from going supernova. Featuring Michelle Good (Five Little Indians), Aislinn Hunter (The Certainties), Annabel Lyon (Consent), Cordelia Strube (Misconduct of the Heart). The event will also include the winner of the Whistler Independent Book Awards for fiction.

Moderator: Jillian Christmas


READING EVENT 8: Saturday Night Gala

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. PDT | $10

Travelers often become enchanted with the first country that captures their hearts and gives them license to be free. For Wade Davis, it was Colombia. Join moderator Vicki Gabereau in conversation with Wade Davis (Magdalena: River of Dreams) about his travels on the mighty Magdalena, the river that made possible the nation. The discussion will touch on Davis’s discovery of a people who have overcome years of conflict precisely because of their character, informed by an enduring spirit of place, and a deep love of a land that is home to the greatest ecological and geographical diversity on the planet.

Moderator: Vicki Gabereau

Sponsored by: RGF Integrated Wealth Management


Saturday Night Gala Après

7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. PDT | FREE (RSVP)

After the event, we invite you to join our après session at a separate meeting URL link, to connect with other guests to chat about books, authors and ideas.



WORKSHOP 10: Teenagers are Smart! Ideas for Writing Characters that Will (Hopefully) Speak to Them

With Tanya Boteju

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. PDT | $10

If I’ve learned anything from teaching teenagers for twenty years, it’s that they’re deeply complex human beings with the ability to see through superficiality in an instant! Hence, writing character-driven stories for teens means spending time capturing that depth in your characters so your young, smart readers are left satisfied and connected. In this workshop, my hope is that you’ll walk away with some energy and excitement for creating complex characters and some tools to help get you there. Tanya Boteju is the author of YA novel Kings, Queens and In-betweens.


READING EVENT 9: The Sunday Brunch

Dakshana Bascaramurty in Conversation with David Bergen, Annahid Dashtgard, Emily St. John Mandel, Waubgeshig Rice 

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon PDT | $10

Join moderator Dakshana Bascaramurty in an insightful, wide-ranging conversation that delves into nuanced fictional stories and non-fiction subject matter, involving: the rendering of complex moral ambiguities, and asking what it means to be lost—and how, through grace, we can be found; a unique perspective on how racism and systemic discrimination result in emotional scarring and ongoing PTSD; the story of how a remote, northern First Nations community learns to rely on old ways to survive in a post-apocalyptic world; and a captivating imagining of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts and moral compromise. David Bergen (Here the Dark), Annahid Dashtgard (Breaking the Ocean: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Reconciliation), Emily St. John Mandel (The Glass Hotel), and Waubgeshig Rice (Moon of the Crusted Snow).

Moderator: Dakshana Bascaramurty

Sponsored by: The Art Side by Sea to Sky Welding


The Sunday Brunch Après

12:00 noon – 12:30 p.m. PDT | FREE (RSVP)

After the event, we invite you to join our après session at a separate meeting URL link, to connect with other guests to chat about books, authors and ideas.


READING EVENT 10: Storytime for Families: It Happened on Sweet Street

With Caroline Adderson

1:00 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. PDT | FREE (RSVP)

Are you a Cookie Person, or is Cake more your thing—after all, you can have it and eat it too?  Or maybe you think Pie is à la mode? Join author Caroline Adderson as she shares her delicious new picture book, It Happened on Sweet Street.  Find out who won the soon-to-be-famous Battle of the Desserts.  Sweet-toothed listeners of all ages welcome!


WORKSHOP 11: How Do You Become a Writer? (must be under the age of 19 to attend)

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. PDT | FREE (RSVP)

How do you become a writer? What do you have to do to get to where you want to be, and write what you want to write? In this workshop, author David A. Robertson will detail his personal journey from childhood to published author, the things he learned along the way that all young writers should know, and some writing practices that help you find the inspiration you need to write something amazing. Be prepared to listen, to ask questions, and to write a little bit too! 

Sponsored by: Vision Pacific Contracting Ltd.