Whistler’s 7th annual lit-fest, the Whistler Readers &
Writers Festival, is set to take place Sept. 12-13, 2008. With 15 different
seminars, sessions, workshops and readings available to select from, the
biggest challenge for aspiring, emerging, devoted or lapsed writers is choosing
which sessions to take. Streams on fiction writing, non-fiction and magazine
writing, as well as memoir and writing from life are programmed, with guest writers
including Wayne Grady, William Deverell, Nancy Warren, Shaena Lambert, Leslie
Anthony, Susan Reifer, Candas Jane Dorsey, Mel Hurtig and Rebecca Wood
Barrett. For more information, visit www.theviciouscircle.ca and download
the festival program. Tickets are available online at www.theviciouscircle.ca,
and start from $20.
This week, local writer and filmmaker Rebecca Wood Barrett
discusses creative nonfiction with author Wayne Grady.
Rebecca will be teaching a session on
Screenwriting at the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival.
A conversation with Wayne Grady
The truth about creative nonfiction
By Rebecca Wood Barrett
Author Wayne Grady and I have never met in person, but in a strange way — and one that’s indicative of our cyber-times — I think we know each other rather well. Last year Wayne was my online professor of non-fiction in the UBC low-residency MFA program. He read and critiqued my work, and encouraged me as I wrote and revised four highly personal essays, including one about my breasts — but that’s another story. He’s the author of 11 books of non-fiction, including Bringing Back the Dodo: Lessons in Natural and Unnatural History , and Tree: A Life Story , co-authored by David Suzuki. I can’t wait to meet him in person at the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival in September, and if you’re interested in creative writing, you should sign up for one of his workshops. It seemed only fitting that we meet for an interview by e-mail.
RWB: The term “Creative Nonfiction” sounds like a contradiction. How is the genre a hybrid between journalism and fiction?
WG: Creative nonfiction writers borrow techniques normally used by fiction writers; they use character development, scene setting, dialogue, experiment with point of view, and so on. Nonfiction writers tell stories just as fiction writers do, except that the stories they tell are "true," in the sense that the events in the story actually happened. Unless you are told in advance, it should be almost impossible to tell the difference between a nonfiction story and a fiction story.