25th Trillium Award

The Festival Series: Five Questions with Lauren B. Davis

Share |
Lauren B. Davis

Another wonderful season of literary festivals is on the way and what better way to celebrate than with a series about festivals.

Open Book speaks with Lauren B. Davis, the author of Our Daily Bread. She attended the Ottawa Writers Festival last April and shares with us her thoughts on festivals.

Open Book:

Tell us about the first literary festival you attended.

Lauren B. Davis:

The first festival was the Ottawa Writers Festival back in 2000. I had just published my first collection of short stories, Rat Medicine & Other Unlikely Curatives, and felt as if I had just been invited to the best party in the world ? like my first real grown-up party. When I got out of the taxi in front of the hotel and bumped into Alistair MacLeod I damn near fainted! In hindsight, I suspect I scared the willies out of the poor man when I gushed blithering praise all over him.


What was your favourite moment at the Ottawa Writers Festival?


This year? Well, there were two. One was chatting with Charles Foran, whom I?ve long admired, and Ami Mackay, a wonderful writer I?ve just discovered thanks to the festival. The other was meeting a woman who has been a long-time supporter of my work at the book-signing after my event with Linden McIntyre and Yejide Kilanko. It was lovely to have a chance to meet her in person.


Why do you think literary festivals are important?


Well, part of it is exactly what I just said ? being introduced to new writers and learning about new work from writers one already admires. That?s as exciting for a writer as it is for readers, and of course writers are readers too. But speaking purely as a writer, I spend a great deal of time alone and have little way of knowing whether my work reaches anyone or not. Unless a reader takes the time to write to me, I don?t know if he or she responds to the work. Having the opportunity to meet readers at festivals is incredibly important ? it gives me the little push I sometimes need to keep writing, and it?s an chance to hear from readers what worked (and sometimes what
didn?t) in a novel. As a writer it?s easy to feel one is howling into a vacuum. A festival like this one is a real gift.


When it?s time to take the stage, what do you like most about being in the spotlight?


I love talking about books and writing. And besides, if I really tell the truth, I?m a bit of a ham. When a reading goes well, it?s a little like acting. I get a kick out of doing different character voices, and accents. I do a truly bad Irish accent for example, and once I get started it?s hard to stop me. I love making someone laugh. I love looking out and seeing people nod or feel that sparkle of interest from an audience. And panels are exciting ? you never know what the questions will be, or how the other people on the panel will respond. You don?t know if you?ll disagree or learn something new. Generally, it?s a lot of fun riffing, improving in a jazz sort of way with other authors. Only occasionally does it go wrong, when someone?s ego/insecurity upsets the balance. Then the adrenaline shoots up. It?s a scramble, but even that can be satisfying, if you handle it properly. Oh, the stories I could tell, but I won?t. At least not in print. Snort.


Will you be attending any other festivals this year?


Yes, I?ve just been invited to the Halifax Word on the Street in September, and I'll also at the Hudson Storyfest in October. I'm hopeful to attend a few others, plans are in the works. If Festivals ask me, I?ll do my best to see if I can go!

Lauren B. Davis is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed novel The Stubborn Season, The Radiant City, and most recently, Our Daily Bread, as well as a collection of short stories, Rat Medicine & Other Unlikely Curatives. Born in Montreal, Davis lived in France for 10 years. She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Visit the Open Book Archives for more Festival Series interviews.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Advanced Search