North Shore Writers Festival

Where readers and writers meet


Festival 2013 – A Grand Success!

Thank you to everyone who attended, participated in, volunteered at and supported the 14th annual North Shore Writers Festival. The Festival was a fantastic literary celebration on the North Shore with attentive and enthusiastic full houses at the author readings, panels, trivia event and reception.

The Festival’s organizing committee would like to extend our appreciation to our headlining authors for giving superb talks to attentive and engaged audiences: Tanis Rideout, Evelyn Lau, Terry Fallis and Helen Humphreys.

The “Art of Food Writing” panel was moderated by Barbara-Jo McIntosh and panellists Stephanie Yuen, Diana Chen, Mijune Pak and Andrew Morrison expressed their candid opinions. The North Shore Writers’ Association panelists Lynn Crymble, Maggie Bolitho, Sonia Haynes, Martin Crosbie and Sylvia Taylor generously shared their experience and advice as they addressed the topic “So you’re Finally Published! Now What?” moderated by Cathy Scrimshaw.

Julie Backer produced the literary trivia quiz, Grant Lawrence was our quiz master and Sean Cranbury hosted the reception with live jazz from the Prescott Jazz Trio. Danielle Wing, Michelle Yule and Ehlam Zaminpaima provided updates during the Festival via social media. The North Vancouver City Library Friends group provided wine sales.
We appreciate the generous donations from Browns Public House and Posy as well as our partnership with our local booksellers, Black Bond Books.

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.


1 Comment

That’s a Wrap!

After an exciting kickoff last night with authors and trivia fun and a full day of author talks and panel discussions today, attendees of the festival were invited to stay for a wine & cheese reception this evening. There was music, food, drinks, and the opportunity to mingle and talk about the events of the day. Winners of the North Shore Writers’ Association’s writing contest were announced, and the awards presented. Thanks for a great festival everyone!

Attendees take the time to mingle and visit.

Attendees mingle.




Writing About the Personal – Author Talk with Helen Humphreys

“The great thing about reading is that you can experience an emotion that is not your own. There is a comfort in it…”

Helen Humphreys reading from her book, "Nocturne."

Helen Humphreys reading from her book, “Nocturne.”

Helen Humphreys is an award winning author, and has published four books poetry, six novels, and two works of non-fiction. She currently lives in Kingston, Ontario. Today, she shared her newest novel, Nocturne with us. It is a non-fiction book that describes the life and death of her brother Martin, who was a classical pianist in Vancouver. The book is written as a letter to her brother after he died, with 45 little pieces, one for each year of his life.

Normally a writer of novels, Humphreys moved away from her usual way of writing for this book. With novels, she spends a long time in the research stage, and while she is researching, the story begins to take shape. By the time she begins writing the novel she knows most of what she wants to do. With Nocturne, it began after Martin’s death, when she started writing a letter to him, saying all the things she felt she needed to tell him. She wrote in an instinctual way, writing when she had the urge to. The book was written with no premeditation- it is her truth, and nothing is made up. Initially, she had no intention of publishing it, but eventually after getting some good feedback on it, she decided to publish it.

An interesting question…does she think that her brother would like Nocturne? She thinks he would appreciate the gesture, but might argue with some of the content!

Now, Humphreys is looking towards transitioning towards fiction, and told us of her concern with making that shift. We are excited to see what she writes next!

1 Comment

Humour of the Canadian Variety – Author Talk with Terry Fallis

It was standing-room only this afternoon as Terry Fallis visited us to talk about his novel Up and Down. With 125+ people in attendance, Fallis began by exclaiming “We Canadian authors are unaccustomed to to speaking to such large audiences!” Fallis proved himself to be not only an amazing writer, but also an amazing speaker, keeping the audience laughing happily throughout his talk.

A strong believer in the “write what you know” school of writing, Fallis began by reminiscing about the summer of 1969. The “summer of love” as his  nine-year old self remembered it….or, perhaps more accurately, the summer that he saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. That particular moment inspired a life long fascination with the space program and anything that flew. In his teens, he and his friends built a number of hang-gliders, which they tried their best to set in flight (though perhaps not successfully). Following this, Fallis started thinking about becoming an engineer.

Terry Fallis' first hang glider.

Terry Fallis’ first hang glider.

Now, as a writer, Fallis still employs his engineering mind, planning his books carefully in advance of writing them. Before he begins writing, he knows how long the book will be and how long each chapter will be. He explained, “I like chapters that are a common length…it’s like I am building a bridge.” In all seriousness, he finds that this method prevents him from wasting any words, and it allows him to write with great efficiency. By the time he begins writing a book, he knows exactly what he is writing.

His claim to fame? Marc Garneau not only met with him prior to his writing the novel Up and Down, he also read the manuscript of Up and Down,  proofread it, and found (51) errors that Fallis’ own proofreader missed. In Fallis’ opinion, “if you want a thorough job done, ask an astronaut.”  Also notable, if you’ve ever wondered what Terry Fallis uses for inspiration, it’s a doodle, drawn by Marc Garneau, and retrieved from the trash can after its disposal!

The manuscript of "Up and Down" with Marc Garneau's sticky notes.

The manuscript of “Up and Down” with Marc Garneau’s sticky notes.


The Art of Food Writing – Panel Discussion

It’s lunchtime, and this session couldn’t have been timed any better! The audience was treated to a delicious array of information and advice on food writing and blogging.

Barbara- jo McIntosh expertly moderated a panel of four local food writers including Stephanie Yuen, Diana Chan, Mijune Pak, and Andrew Morrison. The panelists come from a range of backgrounds and are food bloggers, cookbook writers and magazine article writers. Despite their differences, they find common ground in the fact that their work is inspired by a passion for food. Mijune Pak described her motivation for food writing as a desire to understand and engage with other cultures around the world, while Diana Chan simply stated “I will eat anything, and I’ve never been afraid to try anything new.”


The panelists all approach their food writing and experiences differently, and gave us many perspectives to consider. When they are reviewing food, they have to make a decision about how to write a fair and honest review. It was noted that we all have our own palates and tastes, so no one review can definitively describe a particular restaurant or dish for everyone else. Most strikingly, we learned about the stories that are created by food. When a chef cooks a meal, they create an opportunity for us to learn, and they inspire stories.

There was also lots of discussion about the food available to us locally in Vancouver. Andrew Morrison showed great enthusiasm for what Vancouver has to offer, and described the city as the most exciting food city in Canada per-capita! So, get out there and eat, everyone, and let it inspire your writing!

1 Comment

Words from the People’s Poet- Author Talk by Evelyn Lau

Evelyn Lau, Vancouver’s current Poet Laureate – “the people’s poet” took the time to share her poetry with us this morning and also answered questions from the audience about her writing process and role as Poet Laureate. A very accomplished and talented writer from a young age, Evelyn Lau was first published at the age of 18, and in 1992, she became the youngest poet ever to receive a Governor General’s Award. To date, she has 5 volumes of poetry, two works of non-fiction, two short story collections, and a novel. Her works have been translated into a dozen languages worldwide.

Evelyn Lau sharing her poetry.

Evelyn Lau sharing her poetry.

After reading a number of poems, Lau shared her perspective on poetry and writing, explaining why she has always been drawn to poetry – “I have always liked working in a smaller space where every word has to count for itself.” Her writing process involves her retreating from the world and going for long walks. In fact, she explained “…when I am at a loss, I go for a walk at the mall. I do my best thinking there.”

When asked about her role as  Poet Laureate, Lau’s passion for poetry shone through in her response. She explained that her role is to promote poetry, and her goal is to make poetry more accessible and “everyday.” She has partnered with Poetry in Transit in an attempt to promote poetry and get rid of the fear that so many people have of poetry. The organization prints posters of poetry and posts them in bus shelters, businesses, schools, and other locations throughout the city. Thank-you Evelyn Lau, for your enjoyable and inspirational talk!

1 Comment

Trivia Throwdown!

On one side of the room we had librarians from West Vancouver Memorial Library. On the other side was a table full of published authors and musicians. In between there were trivia goers from all over the North Shore. The competition is fierce but only one team can come out victorious.

The trivia night was full of high fives, victory dances and pointing fingers. More than once an answer had to be ruled by the Jepordy master. One of the notable mistakes was the author of Harry Potter answered with “AJ Rowling”.

All teams battled it out through three rounds of intense questioning with topics ranging from literary characters to worldly facts.  After the required drum roll the winners were announced!

The Knuffle Bunnies from North Vancouver District Library came out victorious with 56 of a possible 61 correct answers. Good job team!