December 11, 2013

Victoria Writers Festival

(I'm playing catchup here on my blogging, though I'd actually written most of this in Victoria.) 

I had a rough start to my journey that involved horrendous Montreal traffic, missing my flight, waiting a bunch of hours for another flight via Toronto which then ended up being diverted to Vancouver, where we spent a bunch of hours waiting for Victoria's fog to clear. Eventually they sent us to hotels at around 2 in the morning to sleep for four hours before an 8 a.m. flight that (luckily!) turned out to be one of the only ones to make it out of Vancouver that day.

I'd called ahead to the hotel to make sure I'd be able to check in early and get some sleep, and I even got there in time to get some breakfast before an intense power nap until the early afternoon. I was sorry to miss Jan Zwicky's talk on Poetry and Meaninglessness (doesn't that sound amazing?? and apparently it was), but the sleep and shower were more important at that point after a full 24 hours of stressful travelling. 

The festival event itself was stellar...the kind where you're absolutely riveted by everybody's reading and immediately want to run out to buy and read all the books you don't already have. I was nervous before the reading but I was happy with how it went. The other amazing writers were Angie Abdou, Ayelet Tsabari, Sarah Peters, Jay Ruzesky, and Annabel Lyon

It was fun to meet Angie in person after knowing her from Twitter, and Ayelet, after meeting briefly at Eden Mills. (At this point, looking back after the Vancouver festival, it seems crazy to think this was the first time I really hung out with either of them! Love you ladies!) I was sorry not to have remembered to bring my copy of 1996 to get Sarah Peters to sign is one of the few books I can actually locate after the great post-fire-cleaning-move-jumble of earlier this year. 

It was also nice to re-meet Annabel Lyon, though I was a little too shy to say much. (It is just possible I may have accosted her in the bathroom at the offices of the Canada Council a few years back and introduced myself as a superfan. I've noticed that I am way, way more awkward around the women I adolize than the men...or at least feel as though I am...but let's not analyze that here. Is anyone else like this or is it just me?  Anyhow, I'd convinced myself that maybe I had only thought about introducing myself then, but actually hadn't...or that I'd waited for a more opportune moment in the hallway or something...but this remains unconfirmed.) She brought her daughter along to the reading, which was nice to see, so I managed to keep myself in check and not bother her with, well, all of the above!

Here are some quick cell phone snaps from Julie Paul, who was up in the balcony, to give you an idea of the venue.

Reading at the Victoria Writers Festival

We all did a Q & A up on stage later

There were so many lovely readers and people to talk to afterwards that I had to be hurried out to get a ride to the afterparty and I missed checking out the bookstore (which had already packed up)!  My friend H. came with her mom, which was so nice. I love meeting people's moms!

I got to meet other internet writer friends, too! 

Mega-selfie with Ayelet Tsabari and Will Johnson

The afterparty was at the lovely home of festival co-organizer John Gould and his partner Sandy, and it was a beautiful spread! I was unfortunately still really tired, in spite of my nap (and maybe partially because of the time difference, too), and so I caught a ride back to the hotel at the rather respectable hour of midnight (it's respectable either way you look at it...somehow managing to be both reasonably late and reasonably early). Nevertheless, I managed to have a lot of fun while I was there. I also had some really interesting conversations with people about their travels up north and have vowed (again) to make it up there one of these days.

Here are a couple of photos I nabbed from Twitter:

Me and Ayelet!

A photo where you can spot my encroaching fatigue:

 Twitter pals IRL: Me, Angie Abdou, and Ayelet

One party highlight was meeting the daughter of Julie Paul, one of the festival organizers. Thanks to Julie's posts on Facebook, I basically now regard her as a kind of celebrity. She offered me a cupcake (absolutely delicious and looked professionally made, which is not surprising because she has her own cupcake business!) I also got to hear her play and sing one of her own songs before I left. Pretty cool for a girl who (I think) just started high school not long ago. You rule, Avery Jane!


I also got some nice goodies from the festival I've been using a lot, including some nice Victoria Writers Festival bookmarks that I'm using in the, oh, nine or so books I'm in the middle of right now and a giant Greater Victoria Public Library reusable bag with funky graphics that people keep commenting on and which has now been used for groceries, an overnight trip to Halifax, and even trick-or-treating.

All in all, a wonderful festival and a great experience and I'm so grateful to have been invited!


Alice Zorn said...

What a lovely picture of the stage! It looks like a wee dollhouse set. Quite magical.

saleema said...

It really was a charming venue! Not too many seats, but the stage had a wonderful stage-y feel.