If you're planning to attend the 12th annual Whistler Readers and Writers Festival, you better get your tickets soon.
Just a little over two weeks away, the festival had already sold out one workshop — Memoir Writing: Where to Begin? — with several others nearing capacity. "It's grown incredibly," says founder and organizer Stella Harvey. "Every year since we started it's grown. I mean we started with 20 people in my living room and last year we had close to 400 people who bought around 600 tickets. We've got two and a half weeks to go and we have over 300 people who bought close to 800 tickets. It's significant."
This year, with an extra $30,000 in their budget, thanks to the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Festivals Events & Animation (FE&A) funding, organizers were able to expand their offerings, both in terms of events and authors.
The festival, running from Oct. 18 – 20, is split into the workshops — which have limited space ranging from 30 to 50 slots — and larger-capacity reading events. The first reading event takes place Friday at 8 p.m. with the return of the Jazz & Books Gala at Millennium Place. It will feature a host of authors, including Mary Swan, Ania Szado (Whistler's new writer-in-residence), Patrick deWitt, Peter Zuckerman, Janet Love Morrison and Roberta Rich. After the reading there will be live music with local musicians.
"Last year, when the FE&A gave us a small amount under their experimental development fund, we were able to put the Jazz & Wine event on," Harvey says. "That was way oversold. There was a discussion for about an hour with the authors and a little bit of reading and then after that, we had a band and wine and people spent the next couple of hours talking to their favourite authors one-on-one. That experience was phenomenal."
Also on the reading roster: Crimes of Fiction, which will feature readings from crime and mystery writers like William Deverell, Robin Spano, E.R. Brown and Ian Hamilton along with lunch on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Fairmont Chateau. "I'm experimenting this year with crime writing because we haven't done that before," Harvey says. "It's close to being sold out as well. A lot of people write crime and mystery books and a lot of people read it, so that's a big draw."
The poetry session, Comes a Time: Past, Present, Future, runs on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. with the aim of examining the way different poets interpret time. Later that night, CBC radio personality and author Jian Ghomeshi will be featured in conversation with Giller Prize-winner Will Ferguson.
The marquee reading event, which also serves as the big closer, will include Ghomeshi again, this time speaking with Lisa Moore, Sue-Oakey Baker, Jane Silcott, Richard Wagamese, Genni Gunn and Meg Tilley, along with brunch on Sunday at 11 a.m.