“Serious” Authors Can Be Funny Too

By Emily Saso

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The Delegate Programme is an opportunity for local authors and journalists to enrich the level of discussion at select events throughout the International Festival of Authors. Emily Saso—author of The Weather Inside—wrote about her experience as an IFOA 2017 delegate and for her, she found hilarity even in the most serious panels.


I expected many things from this year’s International Festival of Authors: intellectual debates, empathetic insights, writing tips, and the chance to meet my favourite authors. What I didn’t expect, however, was comedy.

As a delegate at IFOA 2017, I was lucky enough to attend seven panels. At none of them was humour explicitly on the table. In fact, one event was actually called—wait for it—Futile Fates. Throughout the festival, the writers before me included literary icons, horror masters and articulate historians. Humorists? No. However, at each panel, I spent half of the time in stitches.

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A Writing Community

by: Amy Jones

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The Delegate Programme is an opportunity for local authors and journalists to enrich the level of discussion at select events throughout the International Festival of Authors. Amy Jones—author of We Are All in This Together—wrote about her experience as an IFOA 2017 delegate and for her, the Festival became a community for writers.


In the six years I lived in Thunder Bay, I never missed a Lit on Tour event that came to town. Every year, it was the event I looked forward to the most—the chance to see writers I admired, to meet up with other book lovers, to attend master classes taught by CanLit superstars, to talk about writing and reading and all things literary.

When November rolled around, we all bundled up and headed out to the Prince Arthur Hotel or the Airlane or the Thunder Bay Art Gallery to see Jane Urqhart, or Ania Szado, or Alexander MacLeod, or Michael Winter. It felt like we had a community; it felt like we were part of something. And for myself at the time, an aspiring writer living in a city that seemed worlds away from the rest of the writing world, that meant everything.

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Holiday Gifts For Book Lovers

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Did you know that 14% of books bought last year by Canadians were gifts? With gift-giving season upon us, that number is expected to jump soon, as nearly a third of holiday shoppers are predicted to include books on their holiday shopping lists.

The market is rife with options, which begs the question: what do you buy the book lover in your life? Market researchers forecast that 33% of Canadians will opt for book store gift cards, but if you’re looking for something more personal The IFOA 2017 Holiday Gift Guide has you covered.

We’ve brainstormed top titles, helpful lists, and out-of-the-box experiences to satisfy bibliophiles of all types. After all, the quicker you finish shopping, the sooner you can get back to that great read!

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5 Questions with Kevin Hardcastle

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Kevin Hardcastle discusses subverting the idea of poor communities in his work and what (and who) influences him in our Five Questions series. Hardcastle will be interviewed by award-winning author John Irving at our next IFOA Weekly event on Wednesday, November 29 at 7:30 pm about his debut novel, In The Cage.

IFOA: You’ve written short stories in the past. What was it like completing your first novel and then having that published?

Kevin Hardcastle: It happened kind of backwards, because I’d actually written the novel before most of the stories that I published, those that ended up in my collection, Debris. I kept rewriting and working on the novel while I was improving my skills with my short story work, and eventually got it to where it is now. In those rewrites, I tried to use all of the tools I’d sharpened while writing short fiction, and bring them to bear on the novel.

There is a difference in the way that novels are received though, and the attention they’re likely to get, and I’ve noticed that as I’ve gone through the process. It’s not on the NYT bestseller list, by any means, but the reach of a novel is plainly longer, for the most part. And, as a result, the work you have to do to support the book is much more involved.

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Five Questions with Emma Dibdin

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Debut author Emma Dibdin shares her thoughts on suspense writing and more in our Five Questions Interview about her new novel The Room By The Lake. Dibdin will take the stage at our next IFOA Weekly event with fellow suspense writer Becky Masterman on Wednesday, November 15, 7:30 pm. at Harbourfront Centre.  Andrew Pyper, Author of The Demonologist, will moderate the conversation.

IFOA: What can you tell us about The Room By The Lake?

Emma Dibdin: The Room By The Lake is about a young English woman, Caitlin, who’s just out of university and on the verge of a breakdown. Desperate to escape after years of being a caretaker to unstable parents, she spontaneously books a flight to New York, which feels like a place she can become truly lost. Once there, she falls hard for Jake, a charming and slightly damaged former soldier who whisks her away to meet his family at their idyllic lakeside house upstate. But his family isn’t what it seems.

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