What a spectacular title. It sounds so important and high-level. When my sister told me, Tuesday, that three Canadian authors would be reading Wednesday night five minutes from my home, I immediately asked at the library. I was there anyhow to pick up nine books so that I could finish my assignments for next weekend’s Algonkian Niagara Writers Conference. I bought a ticket right then.
The church was pretty full and I wondered how I could get a seat that was close enough but I managed it. Easy when you’re only looking for one. The microphone was about fifteen feet away and I had an excellent sight line. No big hats or broad shoulders blocked my view.
Joe Dunthorne read from Wild Abandon, a “tale of two siblings raised on a secluded communal farm where preparations are underway for the end of the world.” His British accent was a bit tricky at times, but I loved his passion for the story and marveled at his concept as he read for fifteen minutes. Here was someone out there writing and writing well. He is doing it. If he can, I can. Wonderful to have role models.
Next up was Joy Fielding, author of twenty-four novels, several of which have been New York Times bestsellers. And there she was, warm and relaxed, reading from her latest, Now You See Her. I appreciated Joy’s attention to speaking into the microphone as I didn’t miss a word she read or said. Her latest novel shows “a newly divorced woman attempting to heal her heartache only to find herself on a desperate search for her missing daughter.” Joy read from near the beginning and I appreciated her experience in choosing that section. Surely many of the 250 audience members will want to read more. After all, in spite of the entertainment value of the evening, all authors want people to buy their books, or what’s a reading for?
Johanna Skibsrud read from her short story collection, This Will be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories, and knocked my socks off. Generally short stories are not my thing but Skibsrud’s work has me changing my mind. A Scotiabank Giller Prize winner for her first novel, Joanna has also published a poetry book and this short story collection, which “includes stories about the small epiphanies of everyday life that take place around the world”. What I liked was the way I was totally invested in her story the whole time. I only wish now I could remember the title! (My fault, not hers.)
The host for the evening was Susan Start from the Woodstock Public Library. Her calm excitement added to her inspired introductions, completing the perfect evening. I didn’t go to the event afterwards–my pillow was calling–but I’m sure it was full of food and fraternizing with the authors.
The International Festival of Ontario Authors has two components: the Harbourfront event in Toronto every year and the traveling road show event which tours smaller Ontario communities. This year’s tour runs from October 16 to November 8 and the schedule can be found here. Try to attend or find similar events is a town near you. Hearing authors read is just as inspiring as listening to your favorite singer. Nothing like the real thing.
Have you been to a reading lately? Who was it and how was it? Do you think reading events like this increase sales for authors? Kindly leave a comment below.
Note: author bios in quotation marks are from the excellent program provided for the evening.