The 15th annual Whistler Writers Festival, held 13-16 October, was one of the most successful to date, with record-breaking visitors attending the four-day event. A new feature of this year’s festival was the inaugural Whistler Independent Book Awards, established to recognize excellence in Canadian independent publishing. The winners of the awards in four categories – fiction, non-fiction, crime fiction and poetry – were announced at the Festival’s Literary Cabaret event. “This was a truly national event, with the 12 finalists coming from all across Canada,” explained Lynn Duncan, director of Vivalogue Publishing, who organized the awards in conjunction with the Whistler Writing Society. “The rigorous judging process ensured that the best self-published books in each category were presented to the finalists’ judges.”
Winner of the fiction category was Byrna Barclay (Saskatchewan) for her novel, House of the White Elephant. Miji Campbell from Alberta won the non-fiction category for her book, Separation Anxiety: A Coming of Middle Age Story. Ontario resident Gerry Fostaty’s novel, Stage Business, was the winner of the crime-fiction category. How the Light Is Spent, by Gail Sidonie Sobat, from Alberta, was named the winner of the poetry category. “Our judges were impressed by the fine writing and quality of the independently published books presented, and the winners well deserve the recognition given by the Whistler Independent Book Awards,” said Stella Harvey, Director of the Whistler Writers Festival.
The longlist for the awards was determined by Vivalogue Publishing, with the shortlist of three finalists in each category selected by members of Canadian Authors Vancouver. Judging the winner in the fiction category were author and translator Genni Gunn (Solitaria) and author and festival Director, Stella Harvey (The Brink of Freedom). Of Byrna Barclay’s House of the White Elephant, they said, “The novel is meticulously researched and evokes the Colonial period in India in all its brutality, but also in the tender moments always possible among all people.” J.J. Lee (The Measure of a Man) and Whistler Writing Society’s Susan Oakey-Baker (Finding Jim) described Separation Anxiety as “so brave,” and its author Miji Campbell as having “a distinct writing voice that is readable, humorous and personal.” Gerry Fostaty’s novel, Stage Business, was selected by author and publisher Linda L. Richards (the Kitty Pangborne and Madeline Carter series) and author Katherine Fawcett (The Little Washer of Sorrows) from the Whistler Writing Society, who called it “a fun peek into the life of a struggling actor who becomes entangled in the world of drugs and crime” with “sharp writing”. Award-winning author and former City of Vancouver Poet Laureate Evelyn Lau jointly selected How the Light Is Spent with author Mary McDonald of the Whistler Writing Society. They described Gail Sidonie Sobat’s work as poems which “illuminate unadorned lives” and that have “breadth and detail and the hope in the small things of everyday life.” Winners received a cash prize of $500 each and the opportunity to present their work to the Canadian publishers and agents who attended the Festival. Winning authors also read and participated in key events at the Festival.
“We are committed to supporting and recognizing independent authors, and their participation in the Festival added to the inclusivity which is at the heart of our event for readers and writers,” said Stella Harvey. Canadian self-published authors will be able to submit their books for the 2017 awards through Tidewater Festivals for Independent Authors, www.tidewaterfestival.com early in the new year.
Media Inquiries About the Awards: Contact Lynn Duncan, [email protected] or 604-522-6222
Media Inquiries About the Whistler Writers Festival: Contact Stella Harvey [email protected]
About the Whistler Writers Festival: Now in its 15th year, the Whistler Writers Festival has hosted more than 100 leading Canadian authors. The Festival is organized by the Whistler Writing Society, which also sponsors a Writer in Residence and Authors in Schools program.
About Vivalogue Publishing: Vivalogue offers comprehensive print and online publishing and editorial services for individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations. In addition to its work with independent authors, Vivalogue partners with Canadian publishers producing fiction and non-fiction titles.