Now in its seventeenth year, the Whistler Writers Festival is an annual fall favourite celebrating the written word.
Growing larger each year, the event provides a chance to meet renowned authors, listen to them read from their work during lively speakers panels and performances, and attend workshops on publishing and word craft before gathering for evenings of music and great conversation with other readers and writers.
It’s also so much more than that. It’s an opportunity to bring together and strengthen a community – a community of book lovers, readers, established and aspiring authors, as well as those that may not consider themselves among those categories, but are simply curious about what the festival has to offer. There’s a palpable energy, a desire to express, create and connect. It fills the event venues and spills into the village stroll. It enables renowned authors to connect with readers who savour their words. It inspires unpublished writers to submit their work, encourages those who never envisioned themselves as writers to pick up a pen, to start writing, to get the words down. It’s a meeting place to find other people who feel just as strongly about a particular book, who writhe amid the same hard truths, who laugh at the same dry humor, who cry for the same scenes of injustice, who revel in the complex beauty a simple string of words can create.
It is for this reason that the theme of this year’s Whistler Writers Festival is: No one succeeds alone.
“It’s impossible to succeed without two key elements: courage and community, because no one ventures into the unknown without courage and no one succeeds without community.”
— Stella Harvey, Festival Director and Founder
Even though writing may seem a solitary and lonely effort, successful writers do not become so in a vacuum. It takes a village, as they say. Community is crucial for a thriving literary culture, to propel a talented writer to the next level, and the Whistler Writers Festival provides the perfect buzzing, inspiring and welcoming environment to nurture and grow the local scene of written word.
This year’s lineup of events brings back some fan favourites and some new explorations in writing. We’ve brought together a few unmissable highlights that are sure to get you as excited as we are for the Whistler Writers Festival:
An Evening of Stories and Songs
October 11 | Reception 7pm | Event 8pm | Maury Young Arts Centre
Join award-winning author, broadcaster and raconteur extraordinaire Grant Lawrence (Dirty Windshields: The Best and the Worst of the Smugglers Tour Diaries) for a very special evening of stories and songs at the Maury Young Arts Centre. Joining Grant will be an all-star cast, including musician Dustin Bentall, Dave Bidini (Midnight Light: A Personal Journey to the North), the renowned Toronto musician, author, and founding member of the Rheostatics, author, actor, screenwriter and musician Joel Thomas Hynes (We’ll All be Burnt in our Beds Some Night), and celebrated poet / author / spoken word artist and singer Janet Marie Rogers (As Long as the Sun Shines: Modern Indigenous Voices). A reception and short presentation will precede the event.
October 12 | 8pm | Maury Young Arts Centre
In this event, award-winning guest authors read from their masterworks while local musicians enhance their reading performances with stirring musical accompaniment. The evening features authors Sharon Bala, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Kevin Chong, Bill Gaston, Wayne Grady, Joel Thomas Hynes, Darrel J. McLeod, Merilyn Simonds and Carolyn Marie Souaid. Guest musicians include Geeta Das, Musical Director, also playing trumpet, saxophone and percussion; Rajan Das on upright bass; Dean Feser on percussion; and Rosalind Steel on grand piano and electric keys. The winners of the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories of the Whistler Independent Book Awards will also be announced.
Crime Writers Lunch
October 13 | 1pm | Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Feet Banks steals us away through the deceptive twists and turns of the crime, mystery and thriller genres. Join us to hear our guest authors read from their latest works about murder and mayhem and discuss this chillingly popular genre. With Charles Demers (Property Values), Ian Hamilton (Imam from Tawi-Tawi), Eve Lazarus (Murder by Milkshake: An Astonishing True Story of Adultery, Arsenic, and a Charismatic Killer) and Sam Wiebe (Cut You Down).
Saturday Night Main Stage Event
October 13 | 8pm | Fairmont Chateau Whistler
CBC Radio host Ali Hassan joins Peter Carey in conversation at our Saturday night gala event. Carey is the author of thirteen previous novels, including Oscar and Lucinda, True History of the Kelly Gang and his latest book, A Long Way From Home. He has won the Booker Prize twice, and in addition, his honours include the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Moderator Hassan is a stand-up comic and actor as well as the host of Canada Reads and Laugh Out Loud on CBC Radio and SiriusXM, on which he wrangles top Canadian comedians for a listenership of over 1 million people. The gala includes a glass of wine at this cabaret style reading and discussion event.
A Walk to Lost Lake and Back
October 14 | 8:45am | Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Take a walk to the beach and back through the pine forests of Lost Lake Park. Inhale a dose of fresh air, get a little exercise, and enjoy invigorating short readings and writerly conversation with our guest authors Dave Bidini (Midnight Light: A Personal Journey to the North), Charles Demers (Property Values),Wayne Grady (Up From Freedom) and Merilyn Simonds (Refuge), led by moderator Grant Lawrence (Dirty Windshields: The Best and the Worst of the Smugglers Tour Diaries), along the stunning lakeshore. The flat gravel trail is a 4 km round trip. Rain or shine. Please bring appropriate outdoor clothing. Don’t forget your camera.
October 14 | 11am | Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Join in on a delicious brunch and indulge your literary cravings during a conversation between moderator Ali Hassan and Rawi Hage (Beirut Hellfire Society), Darrel J. McLeod (Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age) Lisa Moore(Something for Everyone), Elizabeth Renzetti (Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls), and Iain Reid (Foe). Three of the authors on this panel are Canada Reads finalists or winners.
The Whistler Writers Festival is organized by the Whistler Writing Society, which was founded in 2001 and became a non-profit organization in 2005. The group includes over 150 members. From its inception the group has promoted the literary arts, provided a forum for local writers to develop their craft within the community, and sponsored literary events for readers and writers alike, including the annual Whistler Writers Festival and the Writer in Residence Program.
Written by Laura Walker