North Shore Writers Festival

Where readers and writers meet


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Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who attended, participated in and supported the 13th  Annual North Shore Writers Festival.

The Festival’s organizing committee thanks our headlining authors for giving fantastic talks: Marina Endicott, Anita Rau Badami and Daniel Kalla as well as our first-ever picture book author Kallie George.

Many thanks to the “Secrets of Successful Bloggers” panellists;  Rebecca BollwittSean Cranbury,  Kelsey Dundon Jenn Farrell, Jeannette Ordas, and the “Getting Started, Getting Published” panellists from the North Shore Writers’ Association; Karen Bower, Fran Bourassa, Lynn Crymble, Bernice Lever, Sylvia Taylor and Gerhard Winkler.

The Festival was brought to you by the North Vancouver City Library, North Vancouver District Public Library and the West Vancouver Memorial Library, was supported by the Friends of all three North Shore Libraries, sponsored by the North Shore News and benefited from financial assistance from The Canada Council for the Arts through The Writers’ Union of Canada.


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Of Art, Entertainment, Writing and Life – Author Talk with Marina Endicott

Marina Endicott (author of Good to a Fault and Open Arms) spoke to the audience about the research process for her book The Little Shadows. It was a fine closer for the festival.

Endicott used a PowerPoint presentation (her first!) to show the audience pictures of the vaudeville entertainers and Cochrane, Alberta that populate her story. Her thoughts on the sense of real life behind the photographs influenced her writing of the book, and the reading she shared.

The first reading Endicott shared was of three sisters sending people home from the vaudeville show with the old soldiers behind the scenes. Her reading was filled with details of Aurora, Clover and Bella’s life as closers of the Canadian vaudeville show. Details pervaded all of the readings in the evening.

She described for us the sheer profusion of different vaudeville acts, so many different feats of strength, and posing acts and the monologue, which isn’t just Bob Hope, and shaped the character of Julius Foster Konigsberg in the tale. She also showed us the theatres she travelled to for her research, some that made it into the book and some that didn’t. Endicott showed us pictures of pages from the books that were essential research materials, flipping back and forth between her research and reading bits from her book they inspired.

All in all, Marina Endicott and her research process made for a fascinating presentation of how researching a century-old setting made for her richly detailed fiction and world.


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The Writer as Goddess – Anita Rau Badami reads from Tell It to the Trees

Anita Rau Badami’s author talk began with a reading from her book Tell it to the Trees. She introduced the passage by talking about the “snoopy writer character” whose death is central to it – and to whom she relates the most (though she hopes to avoid the same end!). The audience was very entertained – the text she read might have been about the dead, but was also infused with a warm, wry humour, and room focussed right in.

 Moving in to taking questions, Anita spoke about whether her books are drawn from life: not in any particular way, she says (except her first novel), but she added: “I collect people and images and characters… they stay with me and I find a way to put them in a book.” She’s an engaging speaker – the audience was completely swept up in stories and anecdotes about her writing life. Speaking about her process and her relationship to her characters, she said that she always knows when a story is one she can stick with for the long haul of a whole novel: it’s when events and characters unfold before her, and it’s easy to imagine what comes next. The “a-ha!” moment for her comes when there is no longer any psychological distance between author and characters. And she addressed the title of the talk, “The Writer as Goddess”, pointing out that the writer can cook up people, and do anything to them… it’s like having divine powers! 

She also spoke about reading – a common theme among today’s writers, both of fiction and of blogs, has been that reading=writing: you must do the one to excel at the other! But today’s writers certainly have different writing styles: where Daniel Kallan said he prefers the computer as a writing tool, Anita says that a pen and a notebook can make writing feel very immediate to her. She also spoke about her other passion – art – and the fact that she is now pursuing it, calling a career as a visual artist “the road not taken” in her life.


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Writers Festival Reception

After Daniel Kalla’s talk, patrons, writers, librarians and organizers flooded the lower level of West Vancouver Memorial Library, enjoying wine, cheese, and good conversation. The room was abuzz with discussions of today’s themes – including the incredible history of Jewish immigrants to Shanghai that Kalla talked about with such passion. Once most had a drink in hand, the organizers – librarians from North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District and West Vancouver Memorial Libraries – offered an official welcome as well as their sincere thanks to everyone involved in making this festival possible.

Marcia Bergen, Chair of the West Vancouver Memorial Library Board of Directors, spoke passionately about today’s symbolism: events like this one are representative of the library as a community hub, a place for writers, readers, and lovers of learning to come together. The library’s job is “inspiring and empowering local communities,” she said, adding that one of its most important functions is to provide access, assistance and affordability, of both books and technology, to those who need it most. She pointed out that right here on the North Shore, there are many who rely on the library for these services, and that “the library is essential to the health and development of our communities.”

The organizers presented copies of The Library Book to Ministers Ralph Sultan and Naomi Yamamoto, in recognition of their support of the North Shore library system. The book celebrates the B.C. Library Association, which celebrated its centenary in 2011. Finally, several patrons who came out to join in today’s festivities were sent home with more than just a renewed passion for writing and a belly full of wine – one lucky patron won a Kobo e-Reader, generously donated by Chapters, and eight others won copies of books by local authors (including today’s panelists and speakers).


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Dramatizing the Intrigue of History – Author Talk with Daniel Kalla

The fourth event of the day’s festival was Vancouverite Daniel Kalla (emergency room doctor and author of Pandemic and Resistance) speaking about writing and his latest novel The Far Side of the Sky.

Daniel Kalla began his talk by setting out the history of how Jewish people from Austria escaped to Shanghai after the Anschluss. At the time Shanghai was “the Las Vegas of Asia” because of its status as a treaty city that had been invaded by Japan (apart from the international settlement and French concession).

Kalla read an emotionally charged section of his novel from before the Adler family fled. The reading featured Adolf Eichmann blithely discussing his fear for the safety of the Jewish people after Kristallnacht, so Adler would have to leave the Reich or be sent to Dachau.

When he turned it over to questions, people asked technical writing questions about weaving in exposition, and how many times he had to submit manuscripts, but also questions about history. He talked about the era and the setting, and how the relationships between different ethnic groups worked. The key to historical fiction is to sound authentic, he said, and yes he takes a certain amount of license with facts.

Kalla stressed how his story is not a traditional Holocaust tragedy: “There were extremes of evil going on, but there were also extremes of decency.”


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Secrets of Successful Bloggers – Panel Discussion

The audience for the Secrets of Successful Bloggers panel was filled with people who had blogs or wanted to start blogging. The panel, Sean Cranbury (Books on the Radio & Advent Book Blog), Rebecca Bollwitt (Miss 604), Kelsey Dundon (The Anthology), Jeannette Ordas (Everybody Likes Sandwiches), and moderator Jenn Farrell (Canada Fancy) did a great job of introducing the topic.

After a discussion of how the panelists’ impulse to start blogging the direction was turned over to the audience. Some of the questions people asked were: How do you promote your blogs? By engaging in the wider community discussion on topics you’re interested in and creating content that your audience wants to share with their friends. The question of how people make money off blogs led to an interesting talk about the ethics of ads and disclosure of complimentary things to blog about. They discussed easy technical solutions for newbies and why someone might need more control. They talked about the difference between momentum and inspiration, and how using a pseudonym can get in the way of that.

The takeaways from the session are “Engage with your audience” and “Blogging is iterative and the blog you have today will be a different beast next year.”

It was a great panel, thanks very much to everyone involved.


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The North Shore Writers Festival’s first ever event for kids was a resounding success!

Author and editor Kallie George shared her book, The Melancholic Mermaid, with a roomful of rapt children and adults. The book is published by Vancouver publishing house Simply Read Books, where Kallie also works as an editor. Kallie read and discussed the first section of her book, in which a young mermaid is born with two tails. Her parents are sure she is destined for greatness – but all she can think about is how she just doesn’t fit in. An encounter with a fishing boat whisks her away to the circus – for the adventures that await her there, well, you’ll have to check out the book (which Kallie is signing today in West Vancouver Memorial Library’s Welsh Hall).

Kallie shared some of her personal history with the children, including her father’s contribution to the creation of The Melancholic Mermaid (to cheer her up one day while she was sad, he started joking about what sort of tears a mermaid might cry – and an idea was born). She also encouraged the children present to express their own creativity, showing examples of some of her youthful forays into writerdom (including Christmastime adventure stories starring her very own friends and family). She talked about how growing up wandering the woods of Sechelt, as well as having an illustrator live with her family for a while when she was a child, helped her catch the writing bug, and led her to UBC and finally to Simply Read. And after sharing some images and animations from upcoming books by her and her fellow Vancouver authors and illustrators, she guided the group through creating their very own misfit creatures!

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Kallie's example of a misfit creature - she drew the tail, then hid it by folding the paper, and had a volunteer add an animal head! The consensus was that it lives in the ocean, and eats sea-hay!

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Some of the creatures created by the kids themselves!

Storytime with Kallie George was great fun, and the organizers are grateful to her for helping to involve the library’s smallest patrons in today’s festivities!