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Connecting storytellers with their writing DNA

Whistler's writer-in-residence Caroline Adderson helps would-be novelists move forward



We're all born storytellers. It's in our DNA and sometimes being around a published author makes people realize it is something they can do, too," says award-winning novelist Caroline Adderson, this year's writer-in-residence for Whistler.

Twelve writers will get the chance to test their DNA and work on manuscripts with Adderson part-time for two months, starting in early September.

The program runs ahead of the Whistler Writers Festival in October.

Vancouver-based Adderson has written four novels, the most recent being Ellen in Pieces in 2014, plus two books of short stories and seven children's books.

She was nominated for the Governor General's Award and won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for her first novel Bad Imaginings in 1993. She again won the Ethel Wilson Prize a decade later, for Sitting Practice in 2003.

And in 2006, she received the Marian Engel Award, which is given to a mid-career Canadian female writer in recognition for her work.

She edited and contributed to Vancouver Vanishes: Narratives of Demolition and Revival, and is also an associate director of the Writing Studio in Banff and an instructor at Simon Fraser University.

"It's a question of giving back. I was helped by so many people throughout my career," Adderson says.

Teaching is clearly important to her, and adds "you can't write fiction for eight hours a day."

She laughs and continues: "Maybe genre work, I don't know. I find I can only sit and compose creatively for about four hours."

Adderson just completed a week in as writer-in-residence on Denman Island as part of its writers' festival, and has previously been a writer-in-residence at Vancouver Public Library and the Elephant Mountain Festival in Nelson.

Many of the students she has worked with have gone on to publish their works.

"I'm always really impressed with how many different people write from all walks of life," Adderson says.

"People, by circumstance, end up doing something else for a living, but many come to these programs and have either wanted to do these things for years, or they had started years ago and then life got in the way."

She says her role is to help people find the confidence to pick it up again or even try it out for the first time. She particularly likes to help writers develop their own sense of judgement of their work.

Adderson has two works in the progress at the moment, an adult novel and a children's book. She couldn't say more, other than she plans to work on the second draft of her novel while in Whistler.

The program runs during September and October, and is expected to fill up completely. Participants meet with Adderson four times for private manuscript consultation, and the entire group meets four times for a lecture and to discuss the craft of writing. It costs $125.

For more information and to apply, contact WWF's executive director Stella Harvey at stella_harvey@telus.net. The deadline to apply is Aug. 14.


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