It’s starting to look and feel like fall out there, and with the changing of the leaves comes a slew of literary festivals and events. This past Sunday I attended the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, located in the picturesque village of Eden Mills just outside Guelph, ON.
You couldn’t have asked for a better day for a festival; the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. I attended the festival with two bookish friends, who like me were festival newbies, so we spent the first little while exploring the area and figuring out which readings we wanted to attend.* Of course I was attracted to the YA readings so we headed over to a grassy area called “The Common” to stake out good seats for the first YA set.
First up was Pat Bourke who read from her novel Yesterday’s Dead (Second Story Press). Pat was a great reader with lots of expression to her voice. Next up was the very funny Evan Munday reading from his book The Dead Kid Detective Agency (ECW Press). This was followed by Janet Wilson reading from Shannen and the Dream for a School (Second Story Press). And lastly, Teresa Toten, read from The Taming (Doubleday; co-written Eric Walters). Teresa was excellent! She could easily have been an actress, which fits in perfectly with the dramatic theme of her novel.
While the rest of my group went to another reading, I headed to “Publisher’s Way” to The Bookshelf’s vendor table and the signing booth. I spent much more then I planned at The Bookshelf’s table (seriously, I have an addiction), but that’s alright. With new books in hand, I headed over to the signing table where I had the chance to chat with the authors I had just listened to. Pat had attended the festival a few years before as part of the Fringe contest for unpublished authors so I asked her about the story she had submitted. Evan signed a copy of his book for me, complete with skull and cross-bones. Teresa signed her book for me as well and I asked her if she’s ever taken acting. I loved her response: “No, I’m just a drama queen!” She just really loves doing readings, she told me. And it shows.
At a nearby table were some picture book authors doing signings. The first was Helaine Becker, who signed my newly purchased copy of A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (Scholastic). When I commented on how clever the “leaping Leafs” part is (it’s leaping Toronto Maple Leafs for those who don’t know), she said the illustrator really dislikes the Leafs so he drew them with their hands never touching the Stanley Cup as his little revenge. I think that’s hilarious! (My friend who’s a Leafs fan did not find it as funny…) Then I got to meet Susan Hughes, whose Writer-in-Residence posts at openbooktoronto.com I loved (I read them every day when I was interning there).
Next, I grabbed a hotdog and headed over to “Jenny’s Place,” which was literally someone’s backyard where all the picture book readings were taking place. I listened to Lizann Flatt read from Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Here (Maple Tree). Lizann’s story has excellent pacing and rhythm! I was quite impressed by this picture book about how our means of travel have changed over the centuries.
Soon after, the second set of YA readings began. I listened to Karen Bass read from Drummer Girl (Coteau) and Mariko Tamaki read the first chapter of (You) Set Me on Fire (Razorbill Canada). Toronto’s literary voyeur Julie Wilson read a couple excerpts from Seen Reading (Freehand Books)—I’m still not sure why this was classified as YA, but it was enjoyable just the same. The set was wrapped up by Allan Stratton, who read from his new book The Grave Robber’s Apprentice (HarperCollins). This was an excellent reading! Very creepy! When asked about finding the perfect Necromancer voice, he said it’s an adaptation of his scary “Why haven’t you done your homework” teacher voice.
Then it was back to the signing booth where I chatted with Allan and then with Julie while she signed Seen Reading.
And that was my bookish adventure in Eden Mills. I look forward to attending the festival again next year. It was a truly delightful day.
*It was here that I realized I forgot my camera (a fact I was kicking myself about all day) and my phone is refusing to upload pictures so sadly this post is without festival photos.