Monday, September 23, 2013

The Magic of a Writers' Festival

I could not have written this blog yesterday or the day before or the day before that. I needed time to absorb the emotion, the experience, and the magic.

It was an honour participating in the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival on their 25th Anniversary. To quote The Record, the festival is virtually a Who’s Who of established and emerging Canadian writers’.
People had asked, Are you nervous. Before I arrived in Eden Mills, the answer was Yes. But meeting the writers, understanding their creed, their passion, and being a part of the celebration overshadowed the apprehension about my reading.
I toted books from home hoping for the opportunity to get them signed. I was lucky to meet and chat with Linwood Barclay about his latest novel, A Tap on the Window, as well as my personal favourite, The Accident. Cathy Marie Buchanan likewise signed The Day the Falls Stood Still and The Painted Girls. Meeting Cathy was a highlight! That left Beginning of Was by Ania Szado. She signed my book just before leaving. Can’t wait to read her new release Studio Saint-Ex.
A small house on the main street served as the authors’ Green Room. That’s where I met Linwood Barclay. That’s where the writers gathered the morning after the party to register and collect name badges. Many of us had become acquainted the evening before at the incredible outdoor gala welcoming and uniting this year’s cast of readers. It was at the party that I got to know YA Fantasy Writer Rachel Hartman from Vancouver, recipient of the 2013 Sunburst Award for her novel Seraphina. Because I wanted to attend her reading, I  missed the first set of Fringe readers consisting of Shannon Alberta, Michelle Glennie, Mo Markham, Desmond Beddoe, and Meghan Casey.  I had the pleasure of chatting with Des and Meghan in the Green Room before dinner and their excitement at being invited to Eden Mills matched my own. The other Fringe readers included Brittany Smith, J.E. Hewitt, and Star Spider.

The day passed in a heartbeat. The readings ended. The crowds dispersed. The writers made their way back to the Green Room. Soon the little house bulged with talent. The living room, dining room and kitchen filled. Writers standing, sitting, crowding couches, or parked cross-legged on the floor. Sipping on a beer or enjoying a glass of wine. That scene - my mind snapshot - will never leave me. It looked like a family reunion – in many respects it was.

That was the magical moment. A moment frozen in time. Not the stage or the dinner, or the book signings. It was the crescendo of voices, the pulsing energy, and the force of like minds. That moment will always be with me. I will be able to recall that memory and re-live the feeling at will.
It’s impossible to mention all the writers I met. At least in this blog. In future blogs I will talk more about the actual readings and how they affected me. More about my reading and how I could do it differently. Aside from the exposure from reading at a festival of this calibre it was an opportunity to learn, to ask questions, to glean as much information as possible from writers who have made the journey. Whether it was at the party on Saturday night or on the shuttle bus the next morning, meeting on Publishers’ Way or at the dinner held at the Community Centre, everyone was friendly and supportive.

As someone mentioned at the time, the heartfelt good-byes after dinner were reminiscent of last day at camp. Hugs, well wishes, and email exchanges.

It was an honour to be included in this monumental celebration of the written word.

The magic lives on.


  1. Great news that you had an awesome and memorable experience, one to carry forward.

    1. Awesome and memorable experience....hey Terry, you summed it up perfectly. :)