Whistler Writers Festival

My next blog will say more about the experience of being a finalist for The Whistler Independent Book Award. But first an introduction.

It is not every Manitoban in their eighties who manages to drive almost 6000 kilometers to enjoy the beauty of Whistler. We felt a little daring starting out with the weather forecast threatening snow. We travelled between storms and my little blue Yaris purred along without hesitation over long stretches of brown prairie. Calgary provided a challenging slushy section of highway but once into the mountains we left the snow behind and whistler-mountain-mistdiscovered blue sky by the second day. Cache Creek heading south on Highway 99 was amazing as we twisted and turned up and down from one stunning vista to another—sunshine on brilliant white mountains above golden poplar trees framing blue water beside us. Whistler village was a wonder nestling on the mountain side. We settled into Summit Lodge within walking distance of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler higher up the mountain where most of the Festival events would be held.

As a finalist in the Whistler Independent Book Awards I received a reduced price for our suite and with a kitchen and excellent grocery store nearby we ate well. For our lunches though,  we discovered the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre where the food was both distinctive and  excellent.

The first night of the festival I we met the other authors and each made their four minute pitch for their book.  The following night we learned the winners in the four categories: fiction, non-fiction, crime fiction, and poetry. It would have been wonderful to win, but I was not surprised to remain a finalist. Deep down I knew ‘For Elise’ would not win. The book was too unusual for the regular book market—the very reason I had self-published. Just being there however, filled me with pride. What a privilege to converse with the winners, and so many other exceptional writers. A highlight of the event was a panel of six authors in whistler-bill-richardson-and-6-authorsconversation with Bill Richardson. Emma Donoghue, Gary Gedded, Affinity Konar, Cea Sunrise Person, Anosh Irani and Madeline Thien. Madeline has since won the Giller Prize with her book Do Not Say we Have Nothing. Bill’s insightful questions and gentle responses helped the authors express themselves so deeply our hearts were filled to overflowing. I felt overwhelmed by the privilege of being in their presence. I wish I had many more years to attend this enriching event.

You might think 6000 kilometers was an exaggeration of the distance (return) from Winnipeg to Whister, BC. You are correct to think so. We added several excursions to the direct route which I hope to describe in the future. Without exaggeration we enjoyed the trip.

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