I feel a stab of excitement every year when the authors are announced for the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. Two of my colleagues are on the author selection committee, and landing “big name” authors is part of the fun. I interviewed my colleague Susan to gain some behind-the-scenes insight. Early in December, the selection committee meets two or three times and generates a list of authors. Apparently author suggestions come from various places: authors whose works volunteers have read and liked, prize nominations and winners (e.g., Giller, Governor General’s Literary Awards), publishers’ suggestions, and names in the news. The selection committee focuses on recently-published or about-to-be published works by Canadian authors. They try to get a balance of genres (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, mystery, etc.), of male/female, of authors from various parts of Canada, established authors and new authors. They also include French and Native authors. The Artistic Director contacts the authors through their agents or publishers.
I asked Susan for her most memorable moment at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival:
For me, the most memorable moment was at a session I hosted in 2011. It featured non-fiction authors John Vailliant (The Golden Spruce and The Tiger), Allan Casey (Lakeland) and Alissa York (Fauna). They were reading in the tiny heritage chapel and all three were amazingly accomplished readers – a great combination of humour, serious ideas, and thrills. The climax was at the end when John read the tiger stalking scene from his book The Tiger. He was formerly an actor, and he had the audience on the edge of their seats. THEN – he stopped at the moment of the tiger’s pounce, paused for a few seconds and told them to be careful as they went out the door of the chapel into the woods! It was a priceless moment for me!
Susan has volunteered for the Festival for 16 years, starting out ticket-taking at the gate, then serving as Recording Secretary for the Board for 8 years, and acting as Chair of the Board for 4 years. She loves the setting (village of Eden Mills), the “vibe” of the festival, reading and meeting the Canadian authors, and knowing that the Festival Committee is introducing and promoting these authors to the audience. Of course, the food and parties for the authors are good too!
Festival events run from September 13-15, 2013. A complete schedule of events is available on the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival website. On Sunday, September 15, from noon until 6, members of the public are invited to a variety of readings from adult, children’s and YA authors. Some adult festival authors include Linwood Barclay, David Bergen, Marie-Claire Blais, Joseph Boyden, Cathy Marie Buchanan, Emma Donoghue, Thomas King, and Mary Swan.
The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The Festival has evolved from informal readings on the steps of the old General Store to a widely respected and nationally acclaimed festival of readings, interviews and workshops.
Some of our library book clubs are reading Thomas King’s new book The Inconvenient Indian, so it is an excellent opportunity for all the club members to hear him speak, get an autograph, and possibly exchange a few words. Adult tickets are only $15 for Festival Sunday at Eden Mills. Drive time: 10-15 minutes. Who needs to go to Toronto?
Come for the words and pray for sunshine.
I would love to know your favourite memory from the Festival…