“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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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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5 Questions with Diana Biacora

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We asked Diana Biacora five questions about writing as we gear up for the launch of The Unpublished City collection on June 22.

IFOA: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Diana Biacora: I draw inspiration from anything that sparks my interest from real life.

From everything I see, touch, taste, smell and hear.

I particularly enjoy drawing inspiration from my travels, and the observations and experiences I’ve had in other parts of the world. Experiences that are new, foreign and unfamiliar.

IFOA: What’s the story that you have to write no matter what (at some point in your life)?

Biacora: I think we all have several stories that we have to write at different stages in our lives. Sometimes the stories come out immediately, other times it’s years after. No matter what, they are always there. It’s a matter of timing, listening to ourselves and being open.

The story that I have to write right now is about two childhood friends.

IFOA: Where do you write? Is there a specific place you do your writing?

Biacora: I have a room with a desk and a big window with lots of plants. Sometimes I write in coffee shops, in public libraries and my backyard.

IFOA: If you could ask your favourite author a question, what would it be?

Biacora: I’m always interested in the process and the different ways in which all artists conceptualize their ideas into something physical and concrete such as a novel, a poem, a play, or a painting. I’m fascinated by different approaches and practices for my own growth and learning as an artist.

IFOA: What are you writing now?

Biacora: I’m writing a piece that will hopefully turn into a novel. It’s about the childhood friendship between two girls.


Diana Biacora. Author. The Unpublished City. BookThug. IFOA. Diana Biacora is a first year MFA student in the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing program. She writes fiction and non-fiction. She lives and writes in Toronto.

Biacora is one of the authors featured in The Unpublished City: a collection of works by Toronto’s emerging literary talents. IFOA and BookThug invite you to the collection’s release on June 22 at 7:30 PM as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

For more information, click here!

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