Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Stratford & Perth County

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Focus on: Stratford & Perth County
A Guide to Stratford & Perth County’s Literary Scene
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Is it any wonder that the town known for its Shakespeare is also home to a talented group of writers and a supportive band of book lovers? Open Book: Ontario will spend the month for star-cross'd lovers celebrating the literary scene in Stratford and Perth County. Follow our Focus On series throughout February and discover local authors, writing groups, upcoming events and literary locales along the shores of Ontario's Avon River.

Check in with us all month long — and don't miss our regional Recommended Reads or our new monthly contest...a prize pack featuring some of Stratford's best authors!

Stratford & Perth County News

The Proust Questionnaire, with Pam Fluttert

One of the Focus On: Waterloo Region writers we are celebrating this month, Pam Fluttert is not only an author, but also a committed advocate for youth. Using the difficult experiences of her own childhood, she has written a brave look at mental and sexual abuse in her first novel, Until Today (Second Story Press). The author states that her mission is "to inspire, protect, develop and empower today's youth to take control of their lives and be all that they can be."

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Pam Fluttert tells us about her own inspirations, horses and heroes, the cool drink that tempts her and more.

Behind the Books, with Clare Hitchens

When we think of the people behind the books we love, we generally think of writers. But many people work in a variety of professions to get those books onto your shelves. In our new series, Behind the Books, Open Book speaks with the printers, publicists, book sellers, book bloggers, event programmers and many others who work in the publishing industry.

As we celebrate Focus On: Waterloo Region, we check in with Clare Hitchens of Wilfrid Laurier University Press to find out how the cogs work at this thriving independent publishing house.

Clare is an ideal voice to speak for the Waterloo writing community. Not only has she worked as a publicist for Wilfrid Laurier University Press for the past decade, she also serves as a volunteer with the Eden Mills Writers' Festival as the Young Adult Author Coordinator and Social Media Coordinator. Outside of publishing, she devotes her time to the communication team for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and sits on the Board of Directors for Facile, an organization that seeks to empower people with disabilities to take their place in the world through independent facilitation services.

At the Desk: Erin Bow

For each book we readers eagerly open, there's a writer who's spent countless hours researching, organizing, writing and rewriting. The place where all this happens is unique to every writer, and we love nothing more than to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the site where it all happens. In Open Book’s At The Desk series, writers tell us about their creative processes and the workspaces that inspire them.

Physicist-turned-author Erin Bow sits us down at her desk today to talk about the lengths she went to finding the right space to write. Warning: it involves dancing and poles! Erin is one of the authors featured in our Kitchener-Waterloo Recommended Reads list. Her latest book is the young adult adventure Sorrow’s Knot (Scholastic Canada).

Focus On: Waterloo Region - The Recommended Reads

By Ginger Pharand

It's time to get wild with our Recommended Reads as we Focus On: Waterloo Region this November. Home to Wilfrid Laurier University Press and The New Quarterly Magazine, there is always something literary going on in Kitchener-Waterloo. And with the Wild Writers Festival just about to start up for its second season, it's a great time to take a look at the region's writers.

Waterloo Region offers readers a smorgasbord of genres, from Edna Staebler's classic cookbooks to David Chilton's record-smashing financial guide to Tamas Dobozy's award-winning fiction. And if you're a teen reader in Ontario, you'll find Kitchener-Waterloo is the place to be for new releases in young adult fiction. If you're in the area, there's no better place to pick up this month's Recommended Reads than Waterloo's must-not-miss destination, Words Worth Books.

With special thanks to Timm Vera and the City of Kitchener for permission to publish the photos in this series.

Writing Habits: These Happy Golden Years

By Carrie Snyder

I call my writing “work,” but that’s mainly tactical, to convince others that writing is something I really must be doing. No one ever questions you if you say you’re going off to work. Even children take this very seriously. But I’ll let you in on the truth: writing isn’t work, for me, though I’m not suggesting it’s recreation, either. Writing is breathing, it’s therapy, it’s sanity, it’s expression, it’s habit, it’s compulsion, it’s delight, it’s celebration, it’s adventure, it’s discovery, it’s mystery. I could go on. But for the sake of simplifying the editing process (which, by the way, is also not really work, for me) I will stop. Unlike any other job I’ve tried, writing is never something I don’t want to do, and I have the sneaking suspicion that were I not bound to reality by my responsibilities — in the very specific form of four active children — I would disappear inside my imagination and never come out again. Or rarely. You’d probably glimpse me around town in running gear mumbling to myself as I pounded past in all weathers. There she goes — you know, she’s a writer.

And so I count my blessings: pressing pause to exit my head at regular intervals, and dash around in the real world, ferrying children to activities, reading to them, meeting up with friends, cooking meals and participating in the primal stuff and bother of actual life. I’ve learned, over years of necessary practice, how to move between worlds, being as present as possible wherever I happen to be. This fails only when I’m in the midst of a serious plot-push, desperately trying to dump every idea onto the page. That’s when, stirring a pan on the stove while listening in stereo to children begging for snacks and screen-time, I sense myself tuning out, pulled into my imaginary spaces, trying to untangle imaginary problems, my eyes going blank, and I regret it, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

Focus On: Waterloo Region

The Waterloo Region is a haven for great minds — including the many gifted and, yes, wild writers who make their homes here. Kitchener-Waterloo is the base for two of the country's best steadfast independent publishers: Wilfrid Laurier University Press and The New Quarterly Magazine. The unparalleled Words Worth Books, host of many spirited literary discussions and readings, is a community-oriented bookstore with an incredible hand-picked selection of books and magazines. And the new Wild Writers Festival, the region's first lit fest, is gearing up for its second season! Follow Open Book: Ontario throughout the month of November as we Focus On: Waterloo Region.

With special thanks to Timm Vera and the City of Kitchener for permission to publish the photos in this series.

Five Things Literary: The Virtual Literary World, with Douglas Glover

Today's literary connections are hardly limited to any immediate neighbourhood of scribblers. In our favourite Five Things Literary feature yet, Governor General's Award-winning author Douglas Glover shares a mere five of his favourite links to his literary community, all thriving in the busy hub of cyberspace.

Douglas was born in southwestern Ontario, lives in New York State and is currently serving as writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. This week he's on tour in Ontario with his new book, Savage Love (Goose Lane Editions).

Douglas began his tour on September 16 in Windsor and continues on to Toronto on September 17, Hamilton on September 18 and Waterloo on September 19. He'll return to Toronto in November for the International Festival of Authors. Visit our Events page for details.

The Dirty Dozen, with Barbara Aggerholm

Barbara Aggerholm grew up in towns across the Bruce County, and now spends her summers in Kincardine, where she was born. The area is in her blood and has inspired her two novels, The Phantom Piper and Stowaway in the White Hurricane (The Brucedale Press). Barbara will launch Stowaway in the White Hurricane, which tells the story of the Great Lakes Storm of November 1913 from the perspective of 13-year-old Lucy Clark, in Kincardine on Sunday, August 25. Visit our Events page for details.

Today Barbara takes on the Open Book Dirty Dozen and reveals her predilection for altering photographs, her appreciation of selective hospitality and her solution to the violent feline soap opera that unfolded in her home.

The Proust Questionnaire, with Jason Wilson

Jason Wilson is an award-winning Canadian author and musician. He is a two-time Juno Award nominee and is currently completing his Ph.D. at the University of Guelph. Author of four books, including Lord Stanley: The Man Behind the Cup (2006), Wilson has published on various topics, including Canada and the First World War, hockey and music. His latest book, Soldiers of Song: The Dumbells and Other Canadian Concert Parties of the First World War, was recently published with Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Jason will be at Toronto's Hugh's Room on Saturday, June 15 along with Canadian storyteller Lorne Brown and his “era-appropriate” band. Visit Open Book: Toronto's Events page for details.

In his answers to Proust Questionnaire, Jason tells us how dropping out of high school inspired his life-long love of reading, what his perfect afternoon in the backyard would look like and why the hockey dressing room might just be the most honest place to reveal one's feelings.

The WAR Series: Writers As Readers, with Don Gutteridge

The WAR Series (Writers As Readers) gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Don Gutteridge is the author of 40 books, including the captivating Marc Edwards series. These historical suspense novels are set in the North American colonies in the years surrounding the 1837 rebellions. The most recent installment is Bloody Relations (Simon & Schuster), which fids Marc Edwards scouring old Toronto for answers to a murder that threatens to undermine the fragile union of Upper and Lower Canada.

In today's WAR interview, Don tells us about treasure, expectations and mischief.

The Dirty Dozen, with Adrienne Barrett

Adrienne Barrett is the author of The House is Still Standing (Goose Lane Editions), her first collection of poetry. Published on April 23, 2023, this book is filled with poems about charlatans, gingerbread men, children and savants. Adrienne will be in Waterloo reading from her new book on May 13, 2023 alongside Ailsa Kay, Andrew Faulkner, Andrew Kaufman, Amanda Leduc, Sara Peters and David Seymour. Click here for further details. She will also be launching her debut poetry collection in her hometown of Woodstock, Ontario on May 30, 2023. Head over to Open Book: Ontario’s Events page for further details.

Today Adrienne takes on the Open Book Dirty Dozen, which gives authors the chance to share 12 unexpected facts about themselves. In this interview, she explains how she feels when she returns to Toronto after not being there for a long time, tells us a funny story that her daughter loves to hear at bedtime and reveals her challenges when it comes to reading poetry.

The Dirty Dozen, with Diane Allwood Egerton

Diane Allwood Egerton, a resident of Stratford, is the author of Artist and Aristocrat: The Life and Work of Lady Mabel Annesley, 1881-1959 (Ulster Historical Foundation), a biography about a renowned Anglo-Irish artist and wood engraver. Today Diane takes on the Open Book Dirty Dozen, which gives authors the chance to share 12 unexpected facts about themselves. In this interview, she reveals details about herself that extend beyond her love of the Irish spirit. These include her numerous musical talents, her knowledge of dog breeds and her positive outlook on being married twice.

Poets in Profile: Carolyn R. Parsons

Carolyn R. Parsons is a poet/author from Stratford whose first book of poetry, Wind Rhymes: Poetry from the Breeze, was released in 2009. Since then, she has also written a novel, The Secrets of Rare Moon Tickle, which came out in 2010. In today’s Poets in Profile interview, Carolyn tells us specifically about her experience as a poet. We learn about the teacher who encouraged her to pursue writing and how television is her most unlikely source of inspiration. Carolyn reveals what the worst thing about being a poet is, while at the same time celebrating the effectiveness of poetry and how a poet can reveal very personal information without revealing anything.

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with R. J. Anderson

The WAR Series (Writers As Readers) is our newest interview series at Open Book, and gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Born in Uganda and raised in Ontario, R.J. Anderson has been travelling worlds both actual and imaginary since childhood. Now a resident of Stratford, this award-winning fantasy author tells Open Book about the rare book that made her cry, the book she's trying to get everyone she knows to read and the book that she wouldn't give to her 17-year-old self — because it would mean that self would be waiting 19 years for the sequel. You'll only have to wait a few days to read Rebecca's newest book: Quicksilver (Lerner Publishing Group) will be released on March 1, 2013.

Get to Know Literary Ontario, with Charles Mountford of Stratford Poetry

Charles Mountford, a Stratford poet, speaks to Open Book about Poetry Stratford, a poetry reading series he organized to promote poetry within the community. Charles, who is also Poetry Stratford’s Artistic Director, tells us about the writing scene in Stratford, Poetry Stratford’s role within the community and his average day as a Poet-in-Residence at the Stratford Public Library.

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