North Shore Writers Festival

Where readers and writers meet

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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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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!


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!


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!