November 4th – Mini-Workshop: Eva Stachniak on Setting in Historical Fiction

Setting In Historical Fiction

Facilitator: Eva Stachniak

Photograph of Eva Stachniak
Photo credit: Mark Reyners Roberts

The Mini-Workshop will look at how to create scenes set in the past which are vivid and convincing to the reader. Eva will talk about where to look for relevant historical details which will bring your scenes to life, how not to be bogged down by too much research, and how to transport your reader into the past in ways that intrigue and delight. Drawing from what Eva has learned from her favourite historical fiction writers and from her own writing experience, she’ll share her favourite tips and techniques of creating settings in historical fiction that are accurate, authentic, and alive.

About Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak is the award-winning and internationally bestselling author of The Winter Palace and Empress of the Night, two novels about Catherine the Great The Winter Palace was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and made The Washington Post’s most notable fiction list. She holds a PhD in literature from McGill University. The Chosen Maiden, set in the world of Ballets Russes and inspired by the art and voice of Bronislava Nijinska, has been published in Canada, US, Germany and Poland.

Born and raised in Poland, Eva moved to Canada in 1981 and lives in Toronto.

Register for the Mini-Workshop when you register for the November 4th RoundTable.  

September 9th – Mini-Workshop: The Infinite Power and Responsibility of Storytelling

Photograph of Author Shannon Webb-Campbell

Writers will explore first person storytelling and poetics, the dangers and excitements. This is a chance to share truth in a personal way – as a form of criticism with poetic veneer. We will dismantle truth, discuss the importance and healing power of telling untold stories, the responsibility of storytelling, and how to be careful not to appropriate.

About Shannon Webb-Campbell

Shannon Webb-Campbell is a mixed Indigenous (Mi’kmaq)-settler poet, writer and critic. She is the author of Still No Word (Breakwater, 2015) and Who Took My Sister? (BookThug, 2018). She was Canadian Women In Literary Arts critic-in-residence 2014, and is a board member. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from University of British Columbia, a BA from Dalhousie University, and currently is working towards a MA in English Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. Her play The Landless Band opens at LSPU Hall in St. John’s, Newfoundland Spring 2018. She is a member of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation.

Register for the Mini-Workshop when you register for the RoundTable.

Shannon Webb-Campbell – September 9th RoundTable

Shannon Webb-Campbell at the September 9th RoundTable & Mini-Workshop!

Shannon Webb-Campbell photograph
Shannon Webb-Campbell

RoundTable Discussion: The Power and Hazards of Story, and What it Means to Write What We Know in Our Bones, Bodies and Hearts

Writing is powerful medicine. Stories are a means of passing down knowledge. Stories are sacred witness and ceremony and thus come with a sacred responsibility.

A story isn’t merely a story; it’s a telling and retelling, a living and breathing entity. All stories are acts of ceremony and harbour responsibility. Stories belong to particular cultures, peoples, lands and spirits.

Cultural appropriation is about consent, or the lack thereof.

This past spring, Twitter blew up over the “appropriation prize” debacle, fuelled by Hal Niedzviecki editorial called “Winning the Appropriation Prize” in Write Magazine, a quarterly published by the Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC). As some of the top editors and journalists of Canada’s media outlets lauded the idea of creating a literary prize-celebrating writers who seek to explore people, culture and narratives that are not their own, CanLit exposed its colonial underbelly.

As writers, how can we hope to understand profound experiences from another cultural group if we haven’t even bothered to ask whether it’s appropriate to share their stories in the first place?

In this Roundtable discussion, we will acknowledge the power and hazards of story, and what it means to write what we know in our bones, bodies and hearts. As writers, we carry our ancestors and generations of voices. Stories are transformative. Stories are complex, and at the heart of the problem with appropriating stories and voices are knowledge of location: where a story belongs; and ownership: who it belongs to and who is the rightful teller.

Every storyteller has a responsibility to their stories, where they come from, and whom they belong to. Questions we need to ask ourselves as writers include: Who am I to write this? What are my intentions writing this story? Who is my intended audience? Am I the appropriate teller for this story? What is my responsibility to my writing?

Easy answers are not the end game. Questions are the things – and often what propels writers to commit words to a page. This conversation invites writers to question, reflect, and expand the conversations around cultural appropriation, all the while finding their own voices, and treating the power of story with the respect it deserves.

Mini-Workshop: The Infinite Power and Responsibility of Storytelling

Writers will explore first person storytelling and poetics, the dangers and excitements. This is a chance to share truth in a personal way – as a form of criticism with poetic veneer. We will dismantle truth, discuss the importance and healing power of telling untold stories, the responsibility of storytelling, and how to be careful not to appropriate. Register for the Mini-Workshop when you register for the RoundTable.

About Shannon Webb-Campbell

Shannon Webb-Campbell is a mixed Indigenous (Mi’kmaq)-settler poet, writer and critic. She is the author of Still No Word (Breakwater, 2015) and Who Took My Sister? (BookThug, 2018). She was Canadian Women In Literary Arts critic-in-residence 2014, and is a board member. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from University of British Columbia, a BA from Dalhousie University, and currently is working towards a MA in English Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. Her play The Landless Band opens at LSPU Hall in St. John’s, Newfoundland Spring 2018. She is a member of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation.

 
Register

March 2017 Guest Speaker – Kerry Clare


Fail Better with Kerry Clare
March 11th RoundTable Speaker

Kerry Clare
Kerry Clare

 

The best thing that ever happened to me as a writer was having my thesis project (a novel) for my Creative Writing Masters Degree declared, unilaterally (pretty much): boring. They weren’t wrong. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because failing in my ambitions taught me that failure wasn’t so bad after all. And once I learned that, there was nothing to be afraid of, and it was here where my writing life really began, unfolding in ways that have never ceased to surprise me.

About Kerry Clare: For more than fifteen years, I have been blogging about books, writing, reading, my family, and curious adventures and diversions. I’m a reader, National Magazine Award-nominated writer, an editor, a writing instructor & a world famous would-be pickler.

My debut novel, Mitzi Bytes, “a grown-up Harriet the Spy for the digital age,” will be published by Harpercollins Canada in early 2017.

I read and write in downtown Toronto, where I live in a drafty attic with my husband, Stuart, and our daughters, Harriet and Iris. I have the best part-time job in Canadian literature, editing the fantastic books website 49thShelf, and I also teach The Art of Blogging at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

June 2017 Guest Speaker – Elise Levine


Risky Business: Raising the Stakes on Character and Form with Elise Levine
June 10th RoundTable Speaker

 

Elise Levine
Elise Levine

When our characters make choices — usually bad choices — high-stakes narratives ensue. When we as writers take risks on behalf of our characters — through unusual choices we might make in terms of characterization, voice and style, and form — our work achieves velocity. Learn some of the techniques for pushing your own writing boundaries, and capturing the spirit of your envelope-pushing protagonists.

BIO: Elise Levine is the author of the story collection Driving Men Mad and the novel Requests and Dedications. Her work has also appeared in The Journey Prize Anthology, and Best Canadian Stories. Originally from Toronto, ON, she now lives in Baltimore, MD, and is Director of the MA in Creative Writing at Johns Hopkins University.

Register for RoundTable

January 2017 Guest Speaker – Joel Sutherland


The Path to Publication with Joel Sutherland
January 14th RoundTable Speaker

Joel A. Sutherland
Joel A. Sutherland

 

The path to publication is filled with ups and downs, zigs and zags, plenty of ‘no thank yous’ and the occasional ‘yes please.’ The one constant is that no two paths are identical — every writer must find his or her own success story (please pardon the pun) — but much can be learned from the trials and tribulations of others. Joel will share the story of his own path to publication, from cranking out short stories to working with a micro press on his first novel to writing eight books over six years for Scholastic Canada…while balancing writing with a full time job and raising three young children with his wife (and trying not to lose his sanity). haunted-canada-6
 

BIO: Joel A. Sutherland is the author of Be a Writing Superstar and Haunted Canada volumes 4 to 6 (from Scholastic Canada). In 2017, Scholastic Canada will publish his young adult novel Summer’s End, the first two books in a middle grade series called Screamers, and Haunted Canada 7. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, including Blood Lite II & III (Pocket Books) and Cemetery Dance Magazine, alongside the likes of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.

He has served as a juror for the YA category of the Bram Stoker Award, the John Spray Mystery Award, and the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy. His Haunted Canada books have won the Silver Birch Award and the Hackmatack Award.

summers-endJoel is the Children’s & Youth Services Librarian for the Georgina Public Library, and appeared as “The Barbarian Librarian” on the Canadian edition of the hit television show Wipeout. He has a Masters of Information and Library Studies from Aberystwyth University in Wales.

January 9, 2016 Guest Speaker – Donna Bailey Nurse


 

Donna+Bailey+Nurse from her website
Donna Bailey Nurse

 

Donna will talk about how her love of literature dovetailed with her black experience to produce a rich life in cultural criticism. She will share some of the joys and challenges of her work, discuss some of the larger than life personalities she has encountered and affirm the significance of stories in our individual and collective lives. Hopefully people will ask lots of questions and share their own literary experiences with her.

Bio:

Donna Bailey Nurse is a literary journalist, lecturer and cultural critic. She is the editor of Revival: An Anthology of Black Canadian Writing and the author of What’s a Black Critic to Do? Interviews, Profiles and Reviews of Black Writers, volumes 1 and 2. Donna is a frequent book reviewer for Maclean’s Magazine and a columnist for CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Globe and Mail, Hazlitt Magazine and the National Post. Donna has lectured on literature at the University of Moncton, George Brown College, and Mount Allison University. She has served as on-stage interviewer for Luminato, the International Festival of Authors and the Toronto Public Library. She is a member of the Toronto Arts Council’s Literary Arts Committee and has recently launched a magazine BlackIris.co.

Black Iris Magazine

Recent review

CBC’s The Next Chapter

Macleans’s

October 10, 2015 Guest Speaker – Dan Yashinsky


 

Dan Yashinsky photo credit - Errol Young
Dan Yashinsky

Listening has always been at the heart of Dan Yashinsky’s interest in the art and tradition of storytelling.  From growing up as the son of a Holocaust survivor, to hearing ghost stories as a camp counsellor, to studying Homer in college, he’s always been fascinated by the mysterious “red thread” of the story – the quality of narrative that makes us want to know what happens next. Dan will share his thoughts through The Listener’s Tale.

Bio:
Dan Yashinsky is an author, editor, community animator, and touring storyteller. His most recent book is Swimming with Chaucer – A Storyteller’s Logbook. In 1999 he received the Jane Jacobs Prize.

www.tellery.com

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly They Heard Footsteps
Suddenly They Heard Footsteps
Swimming with Chaucer
Swimming with Chaucer

November 7, 2015 Guest Speaker – Christopher Heard


 

The role of writer is not something you do, but something you are. The writing life chooses you, not the other way around. Christopher Heard will discuss the professional and physical process of writing.  Part of that process involves drawing inspiration from everywhere and anywhere, keeping our minds open to all possibilities. Christopher has experienced first hand that the smallest spark of an idea can grow into the most unexpected successes.

Christopher Heard
Christopher Heard

Bio:

Christopher Heard is a film historian, biographer and recently, a writer of children’s fiction. From his beginnings as an Oshawa Times columnist to the success The Suite Life: The Magic and Mystery of Hotel Living, Christopher Heard divined stories by asking the right questions. Throughout his multifaceted media career, he’s been a co-creator, head writer, co-associate producer, on-air co-host and panelist. We’ve seen him on Reel To Real and CBC News World’s Gemini Award winning Gilmour On The Arts. Christopher has written countless magazine articles and published the biographies of Hollywood’s elite such as James Cameron, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke and more.

December 12, 2015 Guest Speaker – Craig Davidson


 

The events in a writer’s life often impact their story. Where we were born and how we were raised, for example, affects how we write our fiction. Craig Davidson will discuss place in his writing. He’ll also share tips on how writers can pick and choose elements of our own lived experiences as fodder for great fiction.

Craig Davidson
Craig Davidson

Bio:

CRAIG DAVIDSON was born and grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, near Niagara Falls. He has published three previous books of literary fiction: Rust and Bone, which was made into an Oscar-nominated feature film of the same name, The Fighter, and Sarah Court. Davidson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his articles and journalism have been published in the National Post, Esquire, GQ, The Walrus, and The Washington Post, among other places. He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his partner and their child.