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Meet the Authors at Gananoque Literary Festival

Yes, they are back… Some of Canada’s best-known authors are coming to Gananoque for a literary festival, from April 29 – May 1, 2016.

Last year I attended the first Festival, and as the young people say, “I was blown away.”  I had no idea who or how the festival was able to muster such prominent writers, but there they were. Barry Keefe wrote about the event in our May TI Life issue. “The Book Guys attend Gananoque’s Literary Festival” and my endnote to the article said, “attendees agreed this must be an annual event.”


I discovered the “Who” and “How” by meeting Debra Davis, the Festival Chairman.  Debra, who spends summers in Gananoque and winters in England, has put together a dedicated group of volunteers, all part of a new Canadian non-profit group - The Thousand Islands Festivals & Events Organization – and they are about to host the 2nd Annual Literary Festival. 


Their mandate is simple:  promote Gananoque as a tourist destination by creating annual events focusing on popular topics such as culinary interests, sports, performing arts, culture and business.  “The festivals focus on bringing people to the region in the shoulder season.” said Debra. 


The first major event of 2016, the Gan Lit Festival, is supported financially by the Town of Gananoque, Thousand Islands Community Development Corporation, Penguin Random House and the Rotary Club.  There are many in-kind sponsors including the Gananoque Brewing Company, Pierrson Creative, Tourism 1000 Islands, accommodation partners  – Sleepy Hollow B&B, Turtle Islands, Trinity House Inn, Riverwalk B&B plus the Gananoque Inn and Spa, Comfort Inn and the Colonial Inn Resort – and media partners MyFM 99.9 and the Gananoque Reporter.  It has two main partners, The Gananoque Library and Beggars Banquet Books, which is located on King Street in Gananoque, and a superb planning committee putting in time and energy to bring these prominent writers to Gananoque.



The three-day program is filled with a dozen authors participating in 19 sessions.  It kicks off with the Chamber of Commerce Literary Lunch on Friday with special guest speaker Dan Gardner, co-author of Superforecasting:  The Art and Science of Prediction. 


The festival opens on Friday night with “Across Canada by Story” – a show presented by publisher and editor to Canada’s greatest writers, Douglas Gibson.  Saturday the day is complete with readings, two writers’ workshops and the very popular “living-room sessions.” On Saturday morning, authors meet in a living room in several area B&Bs and small inns, to answer questions about their work or their writing craft – up close & personal.   These sessions are unique and the audience can find out what book the authors have on their own nightstands.


Each week more information is appearing on the Festival website, and perusing the list of authors makes me extremely appreciative of the efforts of Debra and her crew.  I for one, am going to take full advantage of what is being offered and after moderating the Saturday afternoon workshop, I hope to meet all the storytellers. 

Please join me in welcoming the following to Gananoque for the 2nd Annual Gananoque Literary Festival:



Carolyn Abraham is a journalist and author of the national bestseller, The Juggler’s Children: A Journey into Family, Legend, and the Genes that Bind Us; named a Best Book of 2013, by Amazon and the Globe and Mail and a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award.  Her first book, Possessing Genius tells the true story of the man who took Albert Einstein's brain and kept it for 50 years.
Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist and medical biochemist, bringing together ethno botany, horticulture, spirituality and alternative medicine.  Diana's latest book is called The Sweetness of a Simple Life.  It contains easy doses of healing and practical wisdom, blending modern science and medicine with aboriginal traditions.  Her previous books include The Global Forest, Arboretum Borealis: A Lifeline of the Planet, A Garden for Life and a collection of stories, Time Will Tell.
Denise Chong is an internationally published, award winning author of four books: The Concubine’s Children, called “beautiful, haunting and wise” by the New York Times Book Review and a Globe and Mail best seller for 93 weeks; The Girl in the Picture, about the napalm girl of the Vietnam War; Egg on Mao, a meditation on human rights that pivots on a bus mechanic’s defacement of Mao’s portrait during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests; and most recently, Lives of the Family, linked stories exploring the tumult, heartbreak and triumph of immigrant families who ended up in small town Canada, typically running the lone Chinese cafe in town. 
Craig Davidson has published work under both his own name and the pen names Patrick Lestewka and Nick Cutter.  He has published a number of novels under his own name Rust and Bone (2005); The Fighter (2008); Sarah Court (2010); and Cataract City (2013) which was shortlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.  As Patrick Lestewka, he has published Mother Bitchfight (2003); The Preserve (2004); Imprint (2011); The Coliseum (2011); and Vehicles (2012).  Under Nick Cutter, Craig has written and published The Troop (2014); The Deep (2015); and The Acolyte (2015).
Terry Fallis returns to the Gan Lit Fest with his fifth novel released in 2015, Poles Apart. His debut novel, The Best Laid Plans, won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC Canada Reads as the “essential Canadian novel of the decade.“ In January 2014, CBC aired miniseries based on The Best Laid Plans. In September 2015, it debuted as a stage musical in Vancouver. The High Road (2010) was a finalist for the 2011 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Terry’s third novel, Up and Down, debuted on the Globe & Mail bestsellers list. Terry’s fourth novel, No Relation (2014), won the 2015 Leacock Medal.
With over 30 years in the publishing business and named publishing icon by the Globe and Mail, Douglas Gibson was editor to the great and good in Can Lit. His list of writers includes Hugh MacLennan, Robertson Davies, Morley Callaghan, W.O. Mitchell, Alice Munro, Terry Fallis, Guy Vanderhaeghe and Mavis Gallant.  He has worked with Canada's greatest journalists including Bruce Hutchison, Jeffrey Simpson, Paul Wells and Peter C. Newman.  He retired in 2007 and published his insider's memories Stories about Storytellers.  In 2015 he brought out his second book, Across Canada by Story:  A Coast-to-Coast Literary Adventure and took to the stage with over 100 performances about his career and work with Canadian writers.
Frances Itani - Writer of novels, short stories, poetry, essays, reviews and children's books, has published 16 books, including her recent novel (2015) Tell, a bestseller, shortlisted for the 2014 Giller Prize. Her children's book, Best Friend Trouble, was published by Orca 2014. She won a Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book, 2004, for Deafening, a #1 bestseller.  Frances is a three-time winner of the CBC Literary Award for short stories and won the Ottawa Book Award twice, for her story collections, Man Without Face and Poached Egg on Toast.
Elly Mackay creates worlds inside a paper theatre. She is an award winning illustrator. She has written and illustrated Butterfly Park, Shadow Chasers and If You Hold a Seed. She is also the illustrator for a new edition of the Anne of Green Gables series. Elly’s art is sold internationally and has been featured in Chatelaine, O Magazine, FLOW and Cosmopolitan. She and her family live in Owen Sound, Ontario. Watch for her newest books, Maya and Beach Baby, released in the spring of 2016.
Shane Peacock is an author of books, plays, documentaries and articles for young readers and adults. He is particularly known for his series, The Boy Sherlock Holmes.  Peacock's books have won Junior Library Guild of America Premier Selection Awards.  Eye of the Crow has gained many other awards, including the Violet Downey Award for Best Children’s Book in Canada and the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile Crime Fiction in Canada. Death in the Air garnered many awards too and Vanishing Girl won three national awards in Canada in one week in May 2010.
Alison Pick publications include Between Gods (2014), a memoir about depression, family secrets and forging a new identity, from the ashes of the past.  It was a Top Book of 2014, at the CBC and the Globe and Mail.  Pick’s best-selling novel Far to Go was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, and won the Canadian Jewish Book Award.  Alison’s first novel, The Sweet Edge, was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of 2005, and was optioned for film. Her first collection of poetry, Question & Answer, was short-listed for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada.
Dr. James Raffan is a prolific writer and geographer (named as one of Canada’s Greatest Explorers by Canadian Geographic in 2015) who has a long association with the Canadian Canoe Museum, in Peterborough, Ontario.  Over the years he has produced a number of bestselling books including, most recently, Circling the Midnight Sun.  He has also written for Canadian Geographic, National Geographic, Explore, The Globe and Mail, as well as for CBC Radio, the Discovery Channel and independent films.   James is a Fellow International of the Explorers Club, Past Chair of the Arctic Institute of North America as well as a Fellow and Past Governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, service for which he was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, in 2002, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Camsell Medal in 2009.   James lives on Cranberry Lake, in Seeley’s Bay with his wife, Gail Simmons.
Jeff Rubin is the former chief economist at CIBC World Markets.  Rubin wrote the 2009 book Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization, which won the Canadian Business Book of the Year award. Jeff Rubin's second book, The End of Growth - but is that all bad?  was released in Canada in 2012. It follows up on the theme of how oil prices are changing the world.  A third book titled The Carbon Bubble - What Happens to Us When It Bursts was released in Canada in 2015.

Also, there will be a Creative-Design Contest, for students under the age of 19, who live in the Thousand Islands area, and who were invited to submit an entry by April 1st, either individually or as a team.

Please review the Festival Programme, choose sessions of interest, and come to Gananoque, for a great fun-and-interesting weekend.


By Susan W. Smith,


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