Prefaces & Afterwords

William Gibson: Five Interesting Facts

The work of William Gibson, dubbed the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre, has never been more relevant. With his debut novel Neuromancer, published in 1984, he created an iconography for the information age that stands strong today.

Gibson appears at the Festival in Event 33: Local Legends and Event 64: Probables and Impossibles.

Cory Doctorow: Five Interesting Facts

Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger—a true 21st century writer. His novels have been translated into dozens of languages and are published by Tor Books, Titan Books (UK) and HarperCollins (UK) and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing.

He’ll be appearing at the Festival in Event 20: Playing for Gold and Event 53: Turning the Page. Get to know Cory Doctorow with these five facts:

David Mitchell: Five Interesting Facts

English novelist David Mitchell is renowned for combining epic scale with an intimate understanding of humanity. Famous for his sprawling 2004 novel-turned-film Cloud Atlas, he is back in Vancouver this year with his sixth novel, The Bone Clocks. Mitchell will be reading from his new work as part of a Vancouver Writers Fest’s special event on September 27th. Until then, here are five insights into David Mitchell to hold you over.

Shane Koyczan: Five Interesting Facts

Internationally recognized spoken word performer Shane Koyczan has emerged in a new wave of twenty-first century poets. Since his performance of “We Are More” at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the world has taken notice of Koycan. His anti-bullying “To This Day” video has reached over 14 million viewers and has led to a collaboration with TED Education.

On October 7th, Koyczan will be in Vancouver to discuss the process of transforming his book Stickboy into a contemporary opera. He will be in conversation with James Wright, the General Director of Vancouver Opera. Until then, get to know Koyczan.

Bruce Cockburn: Five Interesting Facts

Bruce Cockburn: Canadian Music Icon, Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, Order of Canada inductee, winner of 13 Juno Awards and most recently, Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award honouree during Canadian Music Week 2014. He boasts a truly extensive career, garnering praise from fellow musicians, activists and academic institutions. With 30 albums, Cockburn has earned high praise as an exceptional songwriter and pioneering guitarist, whose career has been shaped by politics, protest, romance, and spiritual discovery. His remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, blues, rock, and worldbeat styles.

Bruce Cockburn will be in Vancouver on November 10th to talk about his about his long-awaited memoir, Rumours of Glory—a chronicle of faith, fear, and activism that is also a lively cultural and musical tour through the late twentieth century. Until then, get to know Bruce Cockburn.

Alan Doyle: Five Interesting Facts

Canadian musician and actor Alan Doyle enters the literary world with his new memoir, titled Where I Belong. Doyle has described his work as a “rowdy journey through the cod tongues, altars, girls and guitars of my young life in Petty Harbour.” Already a lyrical storyteller as front man of the band Great Big Sea, he describes his transition from writing music to writing a book as “natural and enlightening.”

Doyle will be joining us for an intimate evening on Granville Island on November 13th. In anticipation, get to know a bit more about him with these five interesting facts.

Louise Penny: Five Interesting Facts

Louise Penny is best known for spinning her mysteries with sustained suspense and psychological drama, all while weaving in the unique flavours of the region in which her stories are set. Born and raised in Toronto, Penny worked as a journalist and a radio host for CBC before settling in Montreal, where she began dabbling in the mystery genre. Quebec is an important place for Penny; many of her novels are set in the small villages of the Eastern Townships, which combine New England charm with a Quebecoise flair.

Her forthcoming novel, The Long Way Home, returns to the mythical village of Three Pines, the setting for her Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries. You’ll hear Penny’s own insights on her latest book at our special event on September 3rd. Until then, get to know a little more about Penny, Three Pines and Chief Inspector Gamache.

Anne Giardini: Rotten Shark and Writing in Iceland

It is Day One of the Iceland Writers Retreat and Andrew Evans, a seasoned travel writer, is speaking about ways that writers can create a strong sense of place in their work. His session is called “The Smell of Elephant Poo” but he has decided to test our writing skills by having us eat and then write a description of something more local – hákarl.  Hákarl is locally-caught shark that has been fermented in a cold damp place, and then hung to dry for several months.

The result of this process is passed around on a plate. It has been cut into cubes a bit larger than dice and the colours of sashimi, cream to pink to red to purple. Only six of us take up the challenge. Several plead their existing or new-found commitment to vegetarianism. Others just say no. Hákarl is, after all, a substance that chef Anthony Bourdain describes as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting” thing he has ever eaten.

In the interests of literature, I ate it.

Claudia Casper: First Impressions of Iceland

My travel companion, the much-decorated Anne Giardini (and I don’t just mean her necklace and earrings, she has a QC, Jubilee Medal, is president of Weyerhaeuser, a writer, and new Chancellor of Simon Fraser University) and I arrive in Iceland for the inaugural Iceland Writers Retreat. We spend the first night in Reykjavik learning that: Iceland boasts the smallest gender gap in the world; subsists almost completely on renewable energy (geothermal, wind); continues to hunt whales which are then mostly consumed by tourists on a dare or luxury dogs in Japan; and has a pervasive sense of humour that has the quick wit of Westjet attendants but with something mordantly ironic added.

The next morning we pick up our sad car rental on the outskirts of Reykjavik – Sad Car is the name of the rental agency. The car, a red Subaru, has a couple of warning lights on permanent yellow, and a few rattles and dings, but its 240,000 km on the odometer proves it’s too tough to break down, right? Anne and I are taking two days on a tour to kickstart our muses before the retreat, where we will attend workshops lead by authors including Joseph Boyden, Geraldine Brooks, Susan Orlean, James Scudmore, Iain Reid, Randy Boyagoda and Sara Wheeler.

Get to know Festival volunteer Christine Hayvice

In 2013 Christine Hayvice volunteered for the first time for the Vancouver Writers Fest. We caught up with her as she was preparing to leave for New Zealand, where she will be working on a book about her family at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Auckland.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the VWF this year?
I am retired and for the past few years have enjoyed volunteering at cultural events including the film festival and at the Cultch. I've always attended some events at VWF but either lacked time and/or money to see very many. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to see so much more.

Was the experience what you had expected?
It was more than I expected. I didn't know about the walk-a-writer gig and loved it. A chance to meet and chat with some of the authors.

Highlights?
Seeing and listening to Eleanor Catton, especially the one hour event with her and Hal. And, as I'm a Kiwi, I'm always keen to catch New Zealand writers.

How long have you been coming to the Festival?
Many years.

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