My first Ottawa International Writers Festival
I wrote this blog post for the Booklounge.ca Insiders’ Blog and thought I might as well cross-post it here.
Appearing at readings and writers’ festivals is still a new and wondrous experience for me, as is bearing the surreal label of “writer.” If you’d have told me six months ago that this past weekend I’d be reading and on a panel, as a “writer”, at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, I’d have suggested reassessing your medication. Yet here I am.
I arrived in Ottawa by train on Saturday and met fellow writer and panelist Stephen Henighan, author of The Afterlife of Culture. Good guy. Smart guy. We checked in at the Delta and then headed over to the National Archives building a couple of blocks away on Wellington Street where the festival has been unfolding all week. We made it in time for a a reading and discussion with prolific writer Bill Gaston, Giller-winning novelist David Bergen, and the much celebrated author Rawi Hage recent recipient of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. What a line-up. These wonderful writers read powerful pages from their new novels. To coin a phrase, “the audience was listening.”
After the session, Stephen and I helped ourselves to some dinner laid on for festival staff and authors. I learned that tofu can actually look exactly like beef bourguignon and I was reminded why I remain an inveterate meat-eater. I’m looking forward to our panel discussion on Sunday afternoon. Stephen Henighan, the aforementioned Bill Gaston and I will each read from our books, and then we’ll be led in discussion by award-winning novelist Sarah Dearing on the current state of Canadian literature. Yikes! I expect I’ll be doing a lot of sage head-nodding punctuated by the odd “agreed” and “exactly.” A friend has also suggested that I consider “steepling” my fingers in a thoughtful pose. Good advice. Stay tuned…