25th Trillium Award

Hamilton Gears up for GritLIT: March 28-April 1

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Award-winning authors and enthusiastic book lovers will descend on the city of Hamilton this week to ensure that March goes out like a lion — roaring with words, debates, workshops and other gritLIT festivities. Since its inception in 2004, gritLIT has acquired a reputation for being one of the liveliest lit fests of the season, one of many reasons why the city is becoming a cultural hub of Southern Ontario. The 2012 roster boasts Giller finalists Lynn Coady and Marina Endicott; Governor General's Award-winning poets Stephanie Bolster and Phil Hall; internationally renowned travel writer Will Ferguson and folk legend Sylvia Tyson. GritLIT audiences will also be introduced to some of the most promising new writers on Canada's literary landscape, including Trevor C. Smith, Robin Richardson and Evan Munday.

GritLIT kicks off with a bang this Wednesday, March 28th, with the launch of the inaugural Hamilton Reads! debates. Ten of Hamilton's boldest literary citizens will square off to defend a title from the Ontario Library Association's 2012 Evergreen Reading List. For the rest of the week, festival goers will enjoy readings of fiction and poetry, plus discussions about subjects of key importance to contemporary literature, such as the role of the coming-of-age novel in today's reading climate. (A complete schedule of events can be found here.)

Among the most highly anticipated events (aside from the rollicking Gala Festival Close with Lit Live) are Saturday's writing workshops. Publicist, novelist and cartoonist Evan Munday gave Open Book a sneak preview of his upcoming workshop, The Published Author, a demystification of Canadian publishing.

Coach House Books publicist by day, Evan has been part of Toronto's publishing scene for nearly a decade. He's learned a few tricks of the trade in the years since he first interned with This Magazine and Cormorant Books, and he plans to share these tips with Saturday's audience (hint: DO tell everyone you ever knew about your upcoming book launch; DON'T try contacting the Books editor of the Globe and Mail). He'll answer questions about what a writer should do when the manuscript's the best it can be and the search for a publisher begins. Writers who already have their first book deals lined up will also learn some key pointers (don't let the Public Lending Right Program cheque pass you by). Perhaps most importantly, Evan's experience as both a writer and a publicist will give writers perspective on the industry from both sides of the page.

"Working dual role as publicist at one press and published author at another has helped most in keeping my expectations realistic," says Evan. "I know how hard most publicists work to organize events or sell a couple books. I've been to readings where two hundred people show up and I've been to readings where two people show up, and I know that publicity can be a long game."

In fact, the entire publishing process is a long one. It's one of the things Evan wishes he'd been told when he first started out as a writer. His recently released novel, The Dead Kid Detective Agency (ECW Press), took five or six years before it was accepted and finally published last fall — and that's on the shorter end of the spectrum. Understandably, says Evan, the waiting, rejections and false starts can be difficult for a first-time author to navigate without losing hope.

But expectant authors don't need to spend those years checking their mailboxes and refreshing the inbox. Evan's advice? "Ingratiate yourself with the literary scene wherever you live. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. As an author, you probably love books, you support local, up-and-coming writers (like yourself), so go out to some book launches and readings. Become a regular at your local bookstores. Become a supporter of literature in a very in-person way. I think you usually find making these kinds of connections will pay off in really unexpected and pleasant ways."

"And speaking of connections paying off in unexpected ways, make sure everyone you meet knows you have a new book. Don't be weird about it, but if someone asks, you 'What's new?', the response, 'I just wrote a book,' is pretty awesome, right?"

To register for The Published Author or the creative non-fiction workshop Telling Your Tales, presented by Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady, click here.

contributed by Erin Knight

Evan Munday is an illustrator whose work has appeared in books and magazines including Toronto Life, This Magazine, Alternatives Journal and Broken Pencil, as well as the novel Stripmalling by Jon Paul Fiorentino. He works as publicist for Coach House Books and self-published the graphic novel, Quarter-Life Crisis, set in a post-apocalytic Toronto. He lives in Toronto, which is not yet post-apocalyptic. Find him at his blog, I Don't Like Mundays.

For more information about The Dead Kid Detective Agency please visit the ECW website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.


Erin Knight is Open Book: Ontario's Contributing Editor. Chaser, a collection of poems on tuberculosis and manic economy, has just been published with House of Anansi Press.

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