Change your leaves, keep intact your roots. - Victor Hugo
We started the Whistler Writers Festival nineteen years ago in my living room. And here, after all this time and many wonderful festivals and events later, we’re back where we started, in my living room. How did that happen? Oh, right, a pandemic.
This year, we’re connecting virtually (a word I barely uttered in the past) to ensure everyone remains safe. Yes, it’s going to be different. It has taken me some time to get used to this new world and this idea, but I’m convinced we can come together and make it work. Why? Simply put, we haven’t forgotten our roots. Even though we won’t be seeing each other in person in 2020, we remain committed and connected to what we started so long ago: workshops for emerging writers, readings that encourage and engage healthy, provocative and thoughtful debate and an intimacy (one that we’re lauded for every single year by participants and authors alike) and vibrant connection with as broad and inclusive an audience as possible.
Yes, our events will be somewhat shorter, and we’ve had to pare back some events to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, but the key cornerstones of the festival remain: connection to authors and writing. To that end, our theme for the 2020 Whistler Writers Festival is listen, write, read, connect.
So, welcome home. Welcome back to my living room. And thank you for inviting us into yours. We can’t do what we do without you.
I also would like to thank our volunteers, our community leaders, our sponsors and other influencers who have come through again this year despite the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic. They have reiterated why connection, now more than ever, is so vital.
We’ll be hosting a reading party on Thursday October 15th featuring both the books of the finalists of the Whistler Independent Book Awards and the launch of our very own Mary MacDonald’s collection of short stories: The Crooked Thing.
On Friday afternoon we will again be hosting our Booklovers Literary Salon for book clubs featuring Marina Endicott in conversation with our festival manager, Rebecca Wood Barrett. We encourage you to read Marina’s new novel, The Difference.
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: Caroline Adderson, Jen Ashton, Dakshana Bascaramurty, Jillian Christmas, Katherine Fawcett, Genni Gunn, D.A. Lockhart, Amy McDaid, David A. Robertson and Lori Rohda. The winners of the Whistler Independent Book Awards will be announced just before the Literary Cabaret.
Our popular Saturday reading events are back, each featuring authors of different genres: Poetry, Non-Fiction and Fiction.
We won’t be having our regular Saturday Crime Writers Lunch session this year, but we’ll be hosting the Domestic Thriller event, moderated by our very own Amber Cowie with Roz Nay, Amy Stuart and Stephanie Wrobel.
On Saturday night, a special main stage event will see Vicki Gabereau in conversation with author and activist, Wade Davis about his new book, Magdelena: River of Dreams.
Dakshana Bascaramurty will join us on Sunday, October 18th to host our Sunday Brunch and discussion with award winning authors David Bergen, Annahid Dashtgard, Emily St. John Mandel, and Waubgeshig Rice. We’ll have recipes to share with you online prior to the event so you might make your own brunch at home. And if you are in Whistler, we will have take out available from our usual 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. Six 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, more than ever, perseverance. We’ve been given another challenge this year and we’ve rallied. Thank you for being there for us.
Oh, one last thing before I sign off (don’t I always have one last thing?): since the festival is online this year, we encourage you to visit our Virtual Bookstore, and buy your books in advance of the events to support authors.
Welcome back to my living room and to our 2020 festival.
Stella Harvey, Festival Director