Guide to Writersfest 2012

Writersfest, Kingston, ON, Holiday Inn, KFPL, Grand TheatreKingston Writersfest offers up a wide range of events for book lovers of all types. Join in on live author discussions, readings and workshops that will take place throughout the weekend of September 27th-30th at various venues in downtown Kingston. Most events takes place at The Holiday Inn where you will find the Islandview room, The Martello Room and Bellevue South. In today’s guide we give you an overview of the many opportunities to take part. Take the time to check out the Writersfest website for even more details, author profiles and to purchase tickets.

Wednesday, September 26th 2012

International Marquee (Grand Theatre, 8pm-9:30pm): Join Michael Ondaatje and Teju Cole with Dionne Brand for the Student Writing Awards presentations.  General Admission: $25.00

Thursday, September 27th 2012

Writing The World (Islandview, 9:30am-10:30am): An award-winning actor and playwright, Chris Morris will perform scenes from his plays and talk about writing in the world’s most troubled zones.  General admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite, Highschool students: $5.00/$8.00 onsite

Dr. Poetry (Bellevue South, 9:30am-10:30am): Robert Priest, also known as Dr. Poetry and a “poem painter,” performs his poems and songs and gets his audience performing and poetizing, too.  Hosted by Shelley Tanaka.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite, highschool students: $5.00/$8.00 onsite

Fantastic Fiction (Islandview, 10:45am-11:45am): Kelley Armstrong blends the real landscape of Vancouver Island with the fantastic in her series Darkness Rising.  Kelley talks about her passion for the paranormal and for animals, and how she creates a compelling, believable universe of werewolves, vampires, witches, and necromancers.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite
highschool students: $5.00/$8.00 onsite

Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary (Bellevue South, 10:45am-11:45am): A thousand chimps still languish in research laboratories. A lucky few make it to Quebec’s Fauna Sanctuary.  For two years, Andrew Westoll worked with these rescued and retired primates and tells their stories in his award-winning book.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite, highschool students: $5.00/$8.00 onsite

Prisoner of Tehran (Islandview, 1pm-2pm): At 16, Marina Nemat stood up for the principle of equal education for women and ended up in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. After two years of torture, under threat of a death sentence, she escaped her fate by marrying one of her torturers. Twenty years later, now a Canadian, she tells her story despite continued death threats, exile, and vilification.  Hosted by Jan Walter.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite, highschool students: $5.00/$8.00 onsite

Five Steps to a Fantasy World (Martello Room, 1pm-2:30pm): Kelley Armstrong offers tips to young writers on how to create a fantasy world, from the shaping of characters with unique, otherworldly attributes to building a believable setting through the invention of site-specific detail.  SOLD OUT.

When Lawyers Turn to Crime (Islandview, 2:30pm-3:30pm): Two criminal lawyers enter the dark world of crime fiction with critically-praised new mysteries. Peggy Blair, who has worked as both a criminal defence lawyer and crown prosecutor, makes her mystery debut with The Beggar’s Opera and Robert Rotenberg, still a practicing criminal lawyer and author of Old City Hall, The Guilty Plea, and now, Stray Bullets. Moderated by Eric Friesen.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Writing in the First Person (Martello Room, 3pm-5pm):  Writing memoir is like making lasagna. Everybody has a different way of doing it, but if the recipe contains a few essential ingredients, it usually turns out pretty well. This workshop covers the fundamentals of personal narrative.  SOLD OUT.

Life is Short (Islandview, 4pm-5:30pm): Short fiction is a preferred form for writers at all stages of their career. Ian Williams makes his publishing debut with Not Anyone’s Anything, The Dead Are More Visible is Steven Heighton’s third collection, and David Helwig has been writing and editing short stories for many decades.  These three writers read from their stories and discuss the challenges and rewards of writing short.  Moderated by Diane Schoemperlen.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Writing Narrative (Martello Room, 6:30pm-8:30pm):  Led by acclaimed novelist Helen Humphreys, this master class focuses on the construction of narrative. She will show you how story works, and how you can make it work for you.   SOLD OUT.

The Chimps, The Tiger & The Trees (Islandview, 7:30pm-9pm): In powerful eye-witness accounts, three writers explore the collision between the human and natural worlds: Charlotte Gill as a tree-planter in Eating Dirt, John Vaillant on the trail of a rogue Russian feline in The Tiger, and Andrew Westoll as a care-giver in The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary.  Listen to their gripping eco-stories where humans are the problem, the solution, and sometimes, the prey. Moderated by Wayne Grady.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Friday, September 28th 2012

Forgiveness (Bellevue South, 10am-11am): A month after her wedding, Shannon Moroney’s husband was charged in the brutal assault and kidnapping of two women. In Through the Glass, Shannon reveals the impact of Jason’s crimes and the agonizing choices faced by the loved ones of offenders.  An impassioned, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful story of one woman’s pursuit of justice, forgiveness, and healing. Hosted by Diane Schoemperlen.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Writing Dark Fantasy (Martello Room, 9:30am-11:30am): Dark fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, paranormal suspense. Call them what you will, these stories have a supernatural twist that makes them fun to read – and to write. Kelley Armstrong shows you how to mine your imagination to build your own unique dark fantasy world.  Adults only. General Admission: $25.00/$30.00 onsite

Book Lover’s Lunch (Islandview, 11:30am-1pm): Ben McNally, owner of Toronto’s Ben McNally Books and a bookseller for more than 40 years, offers Kingston book lovers his famous “Preview Picks” – personal tips on the best new books of the season from publishing houses, big and small.  Ticket price includes lunch. Cash bar. Hosted by Jan Walter.  General Admission: $37.00

Writing Humour (Martello Room, 12pm-2pm): Humourist Trevor Strong of the Arrogant Worms leads you into the slippery world of humour writing. Through discussions and exercises, learn how to find a comedic idea, develop its possibilities, and improve on it using comedic devices such as repetition, exaggeration, timing, and repetition.  General Admission: $25.00/$30.00 onsite

Inside The Winter Palace (Bellevue South, 1:30pm-2:30pm): Eva Stachniak’s bestselling The Winter Palace sweeps readers into the passionate, intimate, and treacherous world of the Russian court where two young women rise to the pinnacle of power.  Hosted by Barbara Bell.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Print on Demand (Martello Room, 2:30pm-4pm): Self-publishing or print-on-demand has become increasingly popular. Dan Graham, printer of more than 50 local books, explains the process, the cost, the challenges, and the benefits of becoming your own publisher by entering the brave new world of print-on-demand.  General Admission: $25.00/$30.00 onsite

Nurse! (SLC, Davies Hall, 1:30pm-2:30pm): Tilda Shalof mines her career as a critical-care nurse to write books that offer a rare insider’s glimpse of a nurse’s life and her own experience as a heart-surgery patient.  A lifelong care-giver, she brings stories from both sides of the medical trenches, told with stark honesty and humour.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Fantasy: For Adults Only (Islandview, 3pm-4pm): Kelley Armstrong writes teen paranormal novels and crime thrillers, but it is her Otherworld series of adult urban fantasy that propelled her to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.  Find out for yourself why this Aylmer, Ontario writer is one of the most popular paranormal novelists in the world.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

The Other War of 1812 (Bellevue South, 3pm-4pm): Bestselling historian and political scientist James Laxer, an authority on cross-border relations, explores this little-known side of the war through the lens of a remarkable friendship between the Shawnee chieftain, Tecumseh, charismatic leader of the Native confederacy, and the defender of the British Empire, Sir Isaac Brock.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Litdocs: Conflict Tiger (Islandview, 4:30pm-6pm): Award-winning author John Vaillant leads a post-screening dialogue with the audience about Conflict Tiger, the Sasha Snow film that inspired his book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival.  Learn more about the men who hunt the killer, the village whose residents are being ruthlessly stalked, the tiger itself, and the gripping final showdown between human and beast.  Free event.

The Essential Tom Marshall (Bellevue South, 4:30pm-6pm): Through the 1980s, Tom Marshall was a fixture in the Kingston poetry scene, a writer of intense, daring, and ultimately reflective poetry.  Co-editors David Helwig and Michael Ondaatje give Marshall his rightful place in the Canadian canon in The Essential Tom Marshall, launched with readings of Tom’s work and memories. Reception following in the Festival Café. General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Naomi Wolf At The Grand (Grand Theatre, 8pm-9:30pm): Naomi Wolf is one of America’s most acclaimed cultural critics. this year she launches an astonishing work of cutting-edge science and cultural history that radically reframes how we understand the vagina – and, consequently, how we understand women.  General Admission: $25.00

Saturday, September 29th

A Taste of Burma (Islandview, 9:30am-10:30am): Naomi Duguid is renowned for cookbooks that are part travelogue, part anthropological study, part culinary instruction.  Now this world traveller, photographer, and writer brings Burma: Rivers of Flavor, celebrating the food of a rich and exotic culture.  Hosted by Greg Burliuk.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Writing Flash Characterization (Martello Room, 9:30am-11:30am): In the best novels there are no minor characters – even the bit players leap into being before our eyes. Join Steven Heighton for a class on “flash characterization”: techniques for introducing major or minor characters and bringing them instantly and vividly to life.  Come prepared to do a little writing and to talk about it.  SOLD OUT

The End of America – and Canada? (Dunning Hall, 11am-12:45pm): Is Canada on the same slippery slope as 1930s Germany, 1980s China, and now, America? This unsettling film, based on Naomi Wolf’s bestselling book The End of America, chillingly catalogues the ten steps despots (and elected governments) use to subvert democracy.  Join cultural critic Naomi Wolf, film producer Avram Ludwig, and Canadian political specialist Ian McKay for a post-screening talkback. General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Playwrights Without Borders (Islandview, 11:30am-12:30pm): Two of Canada’s most exciting playwrights, both with roots in Kingston, talk about how they turn real life  into deeply compelling live theatre.   Join Christopher Morris and Judith Thompson as they share their process and discuss the challenges of forging harsh reality into art.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Recite a Poem and Win $5000! (Martello Room, 12pm-1:30pm): Join poet Damian Rogers, creative director of Poetry In Voice, for a class on exploring, memorizing, interpreting, and performing classic and contemporary poems. Learn tips that may help you take home a $5,000 prize at the Poetry In Voice National Finals!   Free event.  Teens only.

Author! Author! (Islandview, 1pm-2pm): Bestselling author Will Ferguson made his reputation with humorous tales such as Hitching Rides with Buddha and How to be a Canadian. With 419, the area code of Lagos, Nigeria, where a high-stakes international scam originates, he makes a foray into new terrain: the world of Africa and the realm of suspense thrillers. Shelagh Rogers cross-examines his motives and investigates the modus operandi of this prolific, award-winning writer.  General admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Novel Attractions (Islandview, 2:30pm-4pm): In The Headmaster’s Wager, Vincent Lam exposes the underworld of the Chinese in 1970s Saigon; Tanis Rideout’s Above All Things explores the emotional avalanche of George Mallory’s 1924 assault on Everest; with The Purchase, Linda Spalding traces the consequences of buying a human being in 1798 America; and Pasha Malla moves into an atemporal present of grotesque, gripping unnatural disasters in People Park. Moderated by Laura Murray.  General admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Writing Powerful Searing Monologues (Martello Room, 2pm-4pm): In two hours, participants will create and perform a powerful, searing, unforgettable monologue, which may be the beginning of an unforgettable play.  SOLD OUT.

Dispatches from the Feminist Front (Bellevue South, 4:15pm-5:15pm): For 20 years, Michele Landsberg reported from the front lines of Canadian feminism with blunt humour and fearless advocacy for women and children, peace and pluralism, human rights and social justice. In Writing the Revolution, she reflects on how far we’ve come and looks ahead to the future of feminism. Hosted by Pam Cross. General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

How to Build Characters with Street Cred (Sir John A. Room, 4:30pm-6:30pm): Street cred is what makes characters real – whether they live in a story, a poem, or a play. Actor/playwright Christopher Morris shows how to build characters by watching the people around you, noticing the way they move and speak, selecting the details that make a character universal – and powerfully unique. Teens only.  $10.00/$14.00 onsite

Desperately Seeking Susans (Bellevue South, 5:30pm-6:30pm): The brainchild of local poet Sarah Tsiang, this whimsical celebration of Canadian poetry brings together the work of over two dozen poets named Susan, plus a poem by Lorna Crozier, a wannabe Susan. Three Susans read from their work and discuss the importance of being Susan.  Moderated by Sarah Tsiang.  General admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Peace, Equality, Democracy: Are We There Yet? (Bellevue South, 7pm-8:30pm): Three of Canada’s sharpest cultural critics take a hard look at how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go.  Moderated by Carol Off.  General admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

The Library Chronicles (Central Library, 7pm-8:30pm): Four specially commissioned plays collide in this unique theatrical experience. Divided into groups of 20 people, the audience follows actors through the many nooks and crannies of Kingston’s historic downtown library as they bring to life tales based on Kingston’s literary past and present.  Plays by Alex Dault, Ned Dickens, Jill Connell/Michael Payne, and Judith Thompson.  General Admission: $20.00/$20.00 onsite

Saturday Night Speakeasy (Islandview, 9pm-11pm): Enjoy a night of stories and poems set within the original musical landscape of our house band, the jazz combo Trio Without Words, led by local saxophone virtuoso Jonathan Stewart.  Hosted by CBC’s favourite literary maven, Shelagh Rogers. Ticket price includes nibblies. Cash bar. Doors open at 8:30 pm.  SOLD OUT.

Sunday, September 30th

Uncle Wally’s Old Brown Shoe (Islandview, 10am-10:45am): Wallace Edwards has won every Canadian award available for children’s picture books.  Join him as he reads from his latest and reveals the secrets of picture-book making, drawing for and with the children. Ages 4 to 8.  Free event.  Special kids activities start at 9:30 am!

Wrangling the Web (Martello Room, 10am-12pm): Writers today are faced with the challenge of maintaining an online presence as well as producing a written body of work. Join Ami McKay as she discusses the ins and outs of navigating the net.  General admission: $25.00/$30.00 onsite

The Neil Flambé Capers (Islandview, 10am-12pm): Neil Flambé, a 14-year-old world-class chef who solves mysteries on the side, is the zany creation of author/illustrator Kevin Sylvester.  Join Kevin as he reads from the third and latest installment, Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse, and shows us how to draw Neil Flambé. Sharpies and paper provided!  Free event. Ages 8 to 12.

Only Connect (Islandview, 12:30pm-2pm): What poetry can do is make connections, make associative leaps, says poet Ken Babstock, author of the 2012 Griffin winner Methodist Hatchet. Ken is joined by Don McKayPhil Hall and Stephanie Bolster for readings and conversation on the connections that inform and inspire their work. Moderated by Susan McMaster. General admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsite

Kingston Reads: Battle of the Books (Bellevue South, 12pm-1:30pm): Local luminaries vie for votes for this year’s Ontario Library Association’s prestigious Evergreen Award book nominees.  Join the ringside fun in this no-word-play-barred, spine-tingling battle in which defenders joust to win over the audience to their chosen book. Audience members get first crack at casting their ballots; the contest continues throughout the month at all KFPL branches and local bookstores.  Moderated by Eric Friesen.  Free event.

A Life in Pictures: The Graphic Tom Thomson (Agnes Etherington, 12pm-1pm): Through a wordless narrative of 109 wood engravings, master engraver George A. Walker explores the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a Canadian artistic icon in his latest work, The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson.  Join this eminent book artist as he talks about his approach to the Thomson legend, his own engraving and book-making techniques, and the increasingly significant genre known as the graphic novel.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 at the door

The Beautiful & The Damned (Bellevue Room, 2pm-3pm): Mistresses of biting satiric wit, Dugan and Schultz discuss their very funny and deeply disturbing portraits of worlds where beauty is deadly and where making a choice means taking a chance. Moderated by Susan Olding.  General Admission: $12.50/$16.00 onsight

Afternoon Delight (Islandview, 3pm-5pm): Enjoy high tea with five of this year’s most notable authors: Miranda Hill, Linden MacIntyre, Ami McKay, Lilian Nattel and Nancy Richler.  Treats savoury and sweet for every taste. Moderated by Merilyn Simonds.  SOLD OUT.

Danielle Lennon

Danielle Lennon is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. She was the Editor, Community Event Coordinator and Contributor at-large (2008-2018). She is otherwise employed as a section violinist with the Kingston Symphony, violin teacher, studio musician and cat lover. Learn more about Danielle...

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