Sneak Peek Whistler Writers Festival 2017

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot   

The festival program goes on line tomorrow along with ticket sales. We’ve reviewed all our collateral material about 100 times and I’m sure there will be mistakes, things we overlooked, but it’s now time to let it go and hope we did everything we could. As promised here is a look at the high level program for this year’s festival. For more information visit us on August 14th at

Whistler epitomizes what it means to take risks. When you think about the place, you will no doubt imagine the ski hills or the biking and hiking trails. But we’re also known as a center of artistic excellence. This part of our growth has come about because so many of us took a risk, created something and hoped an audience would come. And you did. Thanks so much.

Now entering its 16th year, the ongoing challenge of organizing the Whistler Writers Festival is to produce a program that will appeal to as broad and inclusive an audience as possible while keeping our events intimate and accessible. To this end, we take your feedback each year and incorporate it to create what you’ve come to enjoy. And I’m so glad you do enjoy it, but know that we, the organizers, are in the back holding our breath, biting our nails, hoping everything will unfold as we had planned, because no matter how much you plan and obsess, organizing anything of the festival’s scale is risky business.

For writers, the risk is in choosing such a profession which undoubtedly means long hours toiling alone to figure out what story to tell and how to do it. Some of our invited authors have written about immigration, refugees, war, our environment, love, hate and a whole kaleidoscope of other risky subjects. Some have chosen to tell their stories through fiction, others through non-fiction accounts, and still others through poetry. All these elements come together under our theme this year, which is risk.

Thursday October 12th will feature Comedy Quickies, a night of bite-sized comedy that takes writers’ humorous humdingers to the stage. Cash and prizes will be awarded for Best Comedy Writing, and our audience will choose the Best Act.

On Friday night our Chefs’ Reception will feature Caren McSherry, cookbook author and owner of the Gourmet Warehouse, local chef, Leah Garrad-Cole, author of It all Begins with Food, and Ben Greenberg, of Night Owl Brewing. There will be samples of appetizers and beer to try and you’ll be able to meet these authors and hear them discuss their featured recipes and books. The Literary Cabaret will follow the Reception. Hosted by local scribe and musician Stephen Vogler, the night combines readings from some of Canada’s best-loved authors, accompanied by live music. This year’s cabaret features David Chariandy, Leanne Dunic, Terry Fallis, Steven Heighton, Helen Humphreys, Grant Lawrence, Suzette Mayr, Sandra Ridley, Mark Leiren-Young, and Terry Watada. The winners of the Whistler Independent Book Awards will be announced just before the Literary Cabaret. 

Our popular Saturday reading events are back, each featuring authors of different genres: Poetry, Non-Fiction and Fiction. In addition, we’ve added two literary salons this year for book clubs and will encourage you to read our feature authors’ books because the authors will be attending the salons. Our first salon on Friday October 13th will feature Frances Itani’s book, That’s My Baby. Our Saturday book salon will feature the Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders and his book, Maximum Canada. Our Saturday Crime Writers’ Lunch reading, moderated by our very own Feet Banks, will host authors John MacLachlan Gray, Sheena Kamal, Michael Redhill, Alisa Smith and Jenny D. Williams.

On Saturday night, a special main stage event will see CBC’s Grant Lawrence in conversation with The Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders, Leslie Anthony, Claudia Casper and Gurjinder Basran.  Doug Saunders will join us again on Sunday, October 15th to host our Sunday brunch and discussion with award winning authors Barbara Gowdy, Monia Mazigh, Frances Itani, Michael Harris and Lee Maracle. For the early risers and those who like a rousing walk in the morning, Grant will host a walk and reading with Terry Fallis, Shelley O’Callaghan, and Mark Leiren-Young.

Friday features a full day of publishing sessions. Join us for a workshop about publishing alternatives. This will be followed by a discussion with publishers about the industry’s challenges. The afternoon will offer an opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a publisher to hone your pitching skills. Seven publishers will participate in this event and together they represent all genres.

This growing festival is a labour of love for so many: the volunteers who persevere and support it tirelessly; the community that has rallied around it; and the participants who come year after year. Thank you for taking a risk on us.

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