Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Get to Know Literary Ontario, with Barbara Hunt of the Ontario Writers' Conference

Share |

Barbara Hunt, President and Chair of the 2011 Ontario Writers? Conference, gives Open Book a sneak preview of this year's conference plans. Writers of all levels of experience — including Andrew Pyper, Wayson Choy, Robert J. Wiersema and Alison Pick — will meet in Ajax on April 30th for a full day of workshopping, networking and celebrating.

Now in its third year, the OWC is a much-anticipated event for writers across the province and is recognized as one of Ontario's outstanding Literary Landmarks. For photos, videos and reflections from last year's conference, please visit the Ontario Writers' Conference Scrapbook on Open Book: Ontario.

Open Book:

The 2011 Ontario Writers' Conference will take place in Ajax on April 30th. What is the purpose of the OWC?

Barbara Hunt:

The Ontario Writers? Conference is an annual full-day conference. It aims to provide a nurturing environment in which writers and editors at all levels of expertise can enhance their works, network with industry professionals and celebrate the written word. Our mandate is to conduct educational, challenging and interactive workshops, panels, roundtables, mentoring sessions, etc. led by writers, arts-related facilitators and industry professionals. Our vision is to connect, educate and inspire.

We also host a public reading/networking event in the evening called the Festival of Authors at which we bring readers and writers together over good food and great writing.


Tell us about what participants can expect from their experience at the OWC.


Participants to the 2011 conference can expect to learn about suspense, setting, voice, self-promotion, genre variations and mixing, self or traditional publishing and so much more from our facilitators. Speakers such as Andrew Pyper, Robert J. Wiersema and our honorary patron, Wayson Choy, will inspire and instruct by sharing their experiences and words.

In the evening, expect to hear Sarita Mandanna read from her Man Asian Literary Prize long-listed debut novel, Tiger Hills. Enjoy Alison Pick reading from Far to Go, Robert J. Wiersema sharing from the exhilarating Bedtime Stories and Ray Robertson engaging an audience with an excerpt from David. Participants can shop — books, writing organizations and courses, food, crafts. They can also enter to win great gifts at the raffle.


Who are some of the writers who will be reading, speaking or acting as mentors at the conference?


We are thrilled to have a wonderful roster of experts with us in 2011.

Ann Douglas will teach self-promotion. The Professional Writers Association of Canada's own Paul Lima goes head to head with Penguin Canada editor Adrienne Kerr discussing self versus traditional publishing in Canada. Not one but two roundtable sessions will educate. The first covers genres with Neil Crone and Barbara Fradkin; the second, aspects of self-publishing with industry professionals. Children?s author Kathy Kacer will speak to that sector and Canadian Roots musician Jory Nash will blend poetry and music. Luncheon speaker Andrew Pyper and dinner speaker Robert J. Wiersema and well as honorary patron Wayson Choy will "wow" participants with their enthusiasm and passion for writing.

For those participants lucky enough to sign up for a Blue Pencil session, our roster of mentors will give them feedback on their own written material. We have two agents and a full roster of editors participating in 2011.


This will be the third year for the OWC. How did the conference get started?


The Ontario Writers? Conference was started by a small group of writers and board members of The Writers? Community of Durham Region in 2006 and came to fruition in the spring of OWC 2008. In the fall of 2008 the Ontario Writers? Conference found its own legs and held the second conference in Durham Region (just east of Toronto, Ontario) in May of 2010. The conference has grown to such an extent that it has a permanent home on the writing calendar every spring and is held in Ajax, Ontario at the beautiful Deer Creek Golf Club. The Ontario Writers? Conference is still run by a dedicated group of volunteers (both on its board and organizing committee) who have a passion for writing and a willingness to nurture writers and would-be writers everywhere.


Why did you want to be involved with organizing the OWC?


I?m passionate about sharing the experience of writing and information about the writing/publishing community in Canada with others. I was invited by our inaugural Chair, Sherry Hinman, to bring my knack for booking talent to the first conference.

When the conference needed its own strong foundation, I stepped into the role of president of the new not-for-profit and with my OWC friends continued to promote the benefits of writing and learning to all writers of all levels. I still fill the role of program co-ordinator due to my fearlessness when asking prominent authors to partner with us.


What is your favourite memory from last year's conference?


There were so many, but?

I have two that centre on Blue Pencil Mentoring Sessions, which we first implemented in 2010. We received an amazing letter from a first-time participant who was overwhelmed by the feeling of acceptance that she received from her mentor, and another participant received unexpectedly glowing feedback on her written material from an agent. The buzz in the room is what?s memorable.


How does the conference challenge and inspire your own writing?


I?m a poet and active creative writer who?s very involved in partnered writing and small writing circles. I know how important connectivity is to writers who produce their material in solitude. The conference has challenged me to stretch my business writing, grant application writing, letter and sponsorship writing in the past few years. I?m a firm believer that inspired writing in one sector of a writer?s life always bleeds into other areas. Exercising writing muscles makes you a stronger writer.


Is there still time to register for the conference? How do we sign up?


Yes! Registration is open until midnight March 31st and can easily be completed online at All the information is there, but should there be concerns or questions, contact [email protected] or call 905-985-4409.

Barbara Hunt writes from her home in Port Perry, Ontario. She has been published with CBC Radio One, The Globe and Mail, Metroland, Esteem and Homemakers Magazine and was selected for one of the 2008 Diaspora Dialogues mentorships in Toronto. She has written for the local monthly magazine Focus on Scugog for three years.

As past-president of The Writer?s Circle of Durham Region she covered promotion, booked speakers, served as VP and president. Now serving her third year with the Ontario Writers? Conference, she has the opportunity to apply skills and partner with volunteers and professional in this not-for-profit organization.

She is currently employed as part-time support staff by Phanta Media in Markham, Ontario.

For more information about The Ontario Writers' Conference or to register for this year's conference, please visit their website and the Open Book: Ontario Literary Landmarks page.

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