Autumn in Muskoka is a magical season. The air is crisp and cool, the days often sunny, and the changing colours of the leaves create a startling and majestic backdrop to an array of activities. This year, autumn will be even more magical with an opportunity to hear and meet some of Canada’s most successful authors.
The North Words Muskoka Literary Festival will take place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, 2011 in downtown Huntsville. The festival is an annual celebration of Canadian literature designed to inspire, educate, and entertain. Events will be held throughout the weekend for readers of all ages, for aspiring writers, and for anyone who is interested in a good story.
Margaret Atwood will launch the festival with a presentation at the Algonquin Theatre on Friday, Sept. 30. Ms. Atwood is the author of more than 35 books that range from fiction and non-fiction, to poetry and children’s literature. Some of her most well known novels include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid’s Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace, (1996), The Blind Assassin (which won the Booker Prize in 2000), and Oryx and Crake (2003). Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008) was published as part of the Massey Lecture series, to much critical acclaim. In her new work, Atwood recounts her lifelong relationship with science fiction, a genre she has visited many times in her work. In Other Worlds is due out in the fall. She is the recipient of numerous literary awards and will speak about her life, including her struggles and successes, as a writer and her thoughts on the future of Canadian literature. There will be a book signing following her presentation.
Saturday will start with a breakfast at Three Guys and A Stove featuring Dr. Vincent Lam and Charles Foran discussing their latest works as part of the Extraordinary Canadians series. Dr. Lam won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures. He co-authored The Flue Pandemic and You. His new book, a biography of Tommy Douglas who was once voted the Greatest Canadian of all time and known as the father of Medicare, brings a novelist’s eye to his life. Charles Foran is the author of 10 books. His biography of Mordecai Richler, Mordecai: The Life and Times, recently won the Charles Taylor prize for literary non-fiction. His biography of Maurice Richard, published in March 2011, was described by the Globe and Mail as a book that “makes sense of this simple man’s importance…a small book that delivers big.”
The Girlfriends Luncheon will follow, showcasing four extraordinary women. Gill Deacon, television host and author of the best-selling green guides, Green for Life and There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, will begin by talking about green issues for women. Novelist Cathy Buchanan, whose debut novel, The Day the Falls Stood Still is on The New York Times Bestseller List and was a Canada Reads Top 40 Essential Novel of the Decade pick, will speak about her own journey as an author. Tish Cohen, author of Town House, The Inside Out Girl, and The Truth About Delilah Blue will speak about her writing life. Claudia Dey, author of How to Be a Bush Pilot and relationship columnist for the Globe and Mail will discuss relationship issues.
Richard B. Wright, acclaimed author of Clara Callan and Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard will give a reading and signing at The Partner’s Hall, Algonquin Theatre. Camilla Gibb is the author of four novels, including the well-received Sweetness in the Belly. She will be discussing her new book The Beauty of the Humanity Movement in a special book club presentation open to the public.
Sunday morning will feature a brunch with Terry Fallis, author of the political satire, Best Laid Plans, and the follow up The High Road. Best Laid Plans won the CBC Radio’s Canada Reads competition in 2011 for the best Canadian novel of the last decade. It also won the Stephen Leacock medal for humour. The High Road has been nominated for the same award this year.
A gala event, entitled “The Stories behind the Books” will take place at Deerhurst Resort on Saturday evening. Terry Fallis, Claudia Dey, Gill Deacon, Richard B. Wright, Vincent Lam, and Charles Foran will discuss the inspirational, funny, and fascinating stories behind the writing of their novels.
For those who write or have ever wanted to write, a workshop will be held on Friday Sept. 30 at the Huntsville Public Library. The workshop will provide insightful advice on the craft of memoir writing and the business of getting published. Cynthia Good, director of Creative Book Publishing at Humber College will deliver a two-hour seminar entitled “An Insider’s Guide to Publishing”. Ms. Good was appointed the first editorial director of Penguin Books Canada in 1982 where she was responsible for establishing a publishing program, which grew into one of the most successful in Canada. Under her leadership the roster included such writers as John Ralston Saul, Michael Ignatieff, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, Timothy Findley, Stuart McLean, Peter Robinson, Guy Gavriel Kay and many others. After twenty years with Penguin, Ms. Good resigned in 2003, when she joined Humber College.
Cori Howard, founder of The Momoir Project, will deliver a two-hour seminar entitled “Writing From Your Life”. Ms. Howard is an award-winning journalist who has worked in newspapers, magazines, television and radio. Her writing, much of it personal essays on motherhood, has appeared in publications including The Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic, Maclean’s, and Chatelaine. She is the editor of the best-selling anthology, “Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood”. She will cover some of the basics of writing creative non-fiction and provide inspiration on how to tell the stories of a life. The workshop can be attended for either half day or full day sessions. The full day will include a light lunch and provide an opportunity to speak with the group and the presenters.
In the week leading up to the festival, children’s authors Cynthia Lord and Tish Cohen will conduct workshops with Grade 5 students around Huntsville. Ms. Lord has written two picture books for young children and two junior novels including Newbery Medal winner Rules. Ms Cohen has written six novels, two of which are middle grade level featuring the zany Zoe Llama.
The North Words Festival has something for anyone who has ever listened to, read, or wanted to write a story. Additional information on the festival, readings, authors, and ticket sales, can be found at northwords.org.