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An exploration of the written word

Whistler Readers and Writers Festival offers up extravaganza of learning opportunities for literary lovers



What: Whistler Readers and Writers Festival

When: Friday, Sept. 11 to Sunday, Sept. 13

Where: Legends, Creekside

Cost: Free to $180 (full festival pass)

Writers: sharpen your pencils, dig out that notebook, and let the brainstorming begin - the annual Readers and Writers Festival is almost upon us.

Stella Harvey actually founded the local writing group, which is better known around town as the Vicious Circle, and is director of the three-day Whistler Readers and Writers Festival, which is entering its eighth year this fall.

What started as a one-day event held in Harvey's living room, attracting about 20 participants, has truly blossomed into the pinnacle event for word nerds from near and far. Since then, the event has grown immensely; doubling in duration to three days, and attracting 120 participants last year alone.

"What's interesting - to me, anyway - is that it's not just for one group of people; it's not just for readers, it's not just for experienced writers..." Harvey said. "It's for the whole gambit."

Designed with every level of literary lover in mind - readers, amateurs, and published professionals - the festival is reaching new heights this year, featuring more than 20 Canadian authors and editors who have been invited to take part in the festivities.

Participants can mix and match workshops and panels, dabbling in a range of genres, or choose a more intensive stream, like Writing for Children, Writing for the Screen, Writing for Magazines, or the Technique Tune-up: Getting your Prose Lean, your Characters Mean (or meaningful), and your Writing Voice Tuned Up.

Workshop and panel leaders include 2009 B.C. Book Prize winner, Lee Henderson (The Man Game), Vancouver author, Annabel Lyon (The Golden Mean) and Claire Mulligan, who was long listed for the Giller Prize for her book, The Reckoning of Boston Jim. Organizers have also managed to dig up some local talent to offer their insights at this year's festival, with Whistler writer Sara Leach (Jake Reynolds: Chicken or Eagle) and Leslie Anthony ( Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist ) on board to participate.

"We've always tried to showcase Canadian authors as well as local authors, because there are quite a few people within our local community that are writing away, and have published work and that kind of thing," said Harvey.

The festival has been relocated to Creekside, for a few reasons. On top of the obvious lure of free parking, Harvey said Legends could better accommodate their various sessions, all while offering up breathtaking views for out-of-town participants.