North Shore Writers Festival

Where readers and writers meet


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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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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.”