Woodstock Hosts International Festival of Ontario Authors

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.

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9 thoughts on “Woodstock Hosts International Festival of Ontario Authors

  1. I love meeting other authors and listening to them read. I haven’t gone to anything besides romance readings for a few years, but I used to go all the time. Lately I attend our local Denver Lady Jane’s Salon, where they only read romance. I love the camaraderie and of course, the books!

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    • Me, too! Although I have to say my story is similar to yours. Not so many readings lately, partly because my own writing is taking up so much time. Your Denver group sounds great. Maybe I’ll have to start an historical fiction one here. Oh, and I have loads of time for that!
      Thanks for visiting, Jessica, and have a great weekend.

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  2. I love readings and still attend them whenever I can. I read whenever the opportunity comes my way, but I enjoy being a part of the audience as well, kicking back and being entertained while breathing caffeine-infused air.

    Now that I’ve released my first book, a collection of short stories, I find that sales are boosted at readings as opposed to sitting at a table. Readers get a taste of what’s inside, kind of like hearing a track on the radio. If you like that tune, chances are you’ll enjoy the rest of the CD.

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    • Oh, I am so ready to say those words! Good for you, Sherry, on being published. And I think you are correct. We all like to hear a taste which hopefully intrigues us. Right now I’m reading the first ten pages of recent literary novels for an assignment for next weekend. Amazing how many of the books I’ll be coming back to completely read.
      Living in a small city, we don’t often get the opportunity to go to readings so this one was a special treat. Hope there are more!

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  3. I’ve never been to a book reading but it sounds great. I have been to book launches where the author has read a small portion, but they were people from my writer’s group so was familiar with their writing. But I did purchase, and enjoy, their books.

    I have given a little thought to making an audio with a reading (once I have a published book) and putting it on the book’s web site. Have you ever done that? If so, did it create an interest in purchasing the book?

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    • I think whatever you do to make your book accessible and your site interesting and different will have an impact on your book sales. If we cover our heads with bushels, nothing will happen, so go for it, I say. Great idea!

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  4. Thanks for the comments regarding the programme. The idea of a historical fiction reading group very much interests me as that is by far my favourite reading genre.
    Let me know when you get it all arranged.

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    • Hi Brian! I was thinking more of an historical fiction writing critique group but can see the utter joy a reading group would be, too. Maybe we need an online one. Wouldn’t that be fun? What a great use for Skype.
      I just found a new HF author, Hilary Mantel. Have you read her? Her book, Wolf Hall, which I haven’t read yet, was a Canadian Giller prize winner in 2009. Good, thick book so will be fun to jump in and revel, don’t you think?

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  5. Sounds like a fabulous event, Elaine. It’s important to choose the right passage to read to an audience. I learned that fast.

    It’s great to sit back and listen to a story. I imagine you were tempted into buying the books!

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