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Craig Davidson takes us along for a ride – one experienced every day by the “special needs” kids who were part of his own growth and redemption – as he drives their school bus. “I thought I would just drive a bus of high school students and be a faceless driver to them. And it turned out to be completely different,” Davidson says. He shares his “life-changing and transformative year” and the characters he thanks for this – even though he…Find out more »
Northern Anishinaabe poet Armand Garnet Ruffo draws upon his own heritage to illustrate the poetry of place and memory, and explains why his own writing extends to stories, biography, and film-making that reflect his Ojibway heritage. In this poetry workshop, he shows you how to find and bring into the present the stories buried inside yourself – the “old” stories, whether personal stories, family stories, or community stories – with the goal of remaking them into powerful poetry. Limited enrolment…Find out more »
Award-winning author Cecily Ross brings to life Susanna Moodie, an iconic and intrepid early Canadian female writer. Melanie Fishbane’s debut novel is inspired by the life of Lucy Maud Montgomery, famous worldwide for her creation of Canada’s most beloved fictional character, Anne of Green Gables. With Danika Lochhead, Cecily and Melanie share the challenges they encountered as they evoked the spirits of these well-known women and the times in which they lived and wrote, and together ponder the place of women in…Find out more »
YA novelist and teacherLeanne Lieberman helps students come to grips with how to get over your own discomfort and write about subjects that may be considered sensitive, uncomfortable, or controversial. Her own novels have been praised for addressing such topics as the Palestinian–Israeli conflict, the Holocaust, and sexual identity, all of which she approaches with both a light touch and serious consideration. With discussion and short writing exercises, Leanne give student writers tools to find that balance when the writing…Find out more »
Award-winning authors Helen Humphreys and Kyo Maclear are acute observers of things small and significant. Their newest books both have been likened to Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk, in their insights and their accomplished and beautiful prose, and in the way that their chosen subject is both personal and universal. Helen has turned her attention to the humble apple, and reflects upon the link between agriculture, settlement, and human relationships. Kyo applies what she learns as a newly fledged…Find out more »
Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Michael Chabon joins veteran broadcaster Eric Friesen to talk about Michael’s latest, most luminous work, the auto-biographical novel, Moonglow. In a conversation that is sure to be elevated and erudite as well as entertaining, they explore the author’s playful flirtation with the boundary between fact and fiction. About the writing of this novel, The Guardian calls Chabon “a master at his very best.” Please join this master for an evening that will remind us of the…Find out more »
Writer, visual artist, and calligrapher Amanda West Lewis offers a different kind of writing workshop, one that gives you a physical connection to writing and draws out your sense of the book as a tangible object, a source of pleasure, and a thing of beauty. And you’ll get the basics of the beautiful art of calligraphy. Come prepared to be creative and hands-on! No experience needed. Need paper, pens, or other supplies? Minotaur Games & Gifts will have various craft…Find out more »
Eva Stachniak shares her wondrous historical novel about the life of ballet great Bronia Nijinska, sister to the famous dancer Vladimir Nijinsky. With Cecily Ross, Eva talks about Bronia, her brother, and the many important creatives of their time whom they counted among their friends and artistic collaborators. Eva reveals her attraction to writing books about famous women, usually Polish by birth, with strong, complex characters who, despite the cultural and societal limitations of their gender and time, reached the…Find out more »
Author and radio journalist Rosanna Deerchild, a member of O-Pipon-Na-Piwan Cree Nation, author Lee Maracle, a member of the Stó:lō Nation, daughter of a Métis mother and Salish father, author and activist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg and member of Alderville First Nation and of Idle No More, join moderator Terri-Lynn Brennan, whose roots are in the Mohawk Nation. Together, they talk about their work, and the importance of contemporary Indigenous women’s literature in knowledge-making and sharing, reflecting…Find out more »
Master storyteller Eva Stachniak shows you how to capture that famous historical figure (or your great great grandmother) by creating a voice that rings true. She’ll discuss how much to depend on archival evidence, where to look for relevant historical details to bring your character to life, and how not to get bogged down by research. Drawing from favourite historical fiction writers and her own writing experience, she shares tips and techniques for creating a fully fleshed fictional version of…Find out more »
How could we not bring Ben McNally, of Toronto’s Ben McNally Books, back to Kingston to present his latest installation of “Preview Picks?” With over 40 years of recommending books to discerning customers, Ben is a master. In our popular BookLovers’ Lunch, he never fails to charm and illuminate with anecdotes from the world of Canadian publishing and hot tips on the best new books. Bring a notepad and create this year’s book club list! Ticket price includes lunch. Lunch Menu:…Find out more »
Award-winning advertising expert and CBC marketing guru Terry O'Reilly shares a lifetime of marketing wisdom tailored to the little guys, ways they can compete with the big guys for their customers’ attention. Terry delivers tried-and-true strategies and best practices for marketing your goods or services. They’ll serve you well, whether your budget is big, small, or almost non-existent. He helps you use your available dollars to build on your business relationships, and to turn your efforts into great results. Event sponsor:St.…Find out more »
When browsing a bookstore, how many readers set aside a book after the first page? Agents and editors can be just as tough. But the good news is that they will all read the first page. Merilyn Simonds teaches you to craft an opening that plunges your readers irresistibly into your story. You’ll look at first lines, first paragraphs, and first pages in a variety of genres, analyzing how they achieve their effects and developing the tools to assess your own first…Find out more »
Five of Kingston’s finest poets gather to read at the fabulous Elm Café. Join Michael Casteels, Sadiqa de Meijer, Steve Heighton, Helen Humphreys, and Sarah Tsiang for this celebration of the written word spoken and turned visual, accompanied by delicious nibbles and beverages. Art exhibition: a display of the poets' work designed and printed by Kingston graphic designer Vincent Perez. Reception by Elm Café. A co-presentation of Kingston WritersFest and Skeleton Park Arts 3:00 – 5:00 pm Elm Café, 303 Montreal Street FREE EVENT for…Find out more »
Join Kingston author Ray Argyle as he and author Lawrence Scanlan chat about Ray’s newest book, a novel based on a true story. Set in rural Ontario, with elements of crime, mystery, and passion, it has been described as a “combination courtroom drama, murder mystery, and a meditation on the moral malaise of Victorian Canada.” Ray delves into the striking social and cultural changes of the time, and talks about class differences and religious and racial prejudices that strike a…Find out more »
GG Award-winning authors both, biographer Karoyln Smardz-Frost and novelist Linda Spalding bring to life the extraordinary experiences of freedom seekers and those on both sides of the border who aided African refugees from the US. Danger and difficulty tested the courage and beliefs of both. Anita Jack-Davies leads a discussion of the inherent drama of the freedom seekers’ story, whether true or fictional, why this story has been mostly excluded from our literary tradition, and asks Karolyn and Linda how they see themselves,…Find out more »
Join Linden MacIntyre, Steven Heighton, and Pasha Malla in a cold one, as these accomplished, award-winning writers share a relaxed, unmoderated conversation about their books and their protagonists, and hash out their thoughts on contemporary masculinity; fathers and sons, and the difficulty of mourning a father’s death; one’s problematic connection to ancestral lands; how the past inevitably shadows the present; and the challenges of pulling all of this together into a compelling, poignant, and even thrilling story. Cash bar 8:30 – 10:00 pm…Find out more »
Please note this event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. KWF will be in touch with all ticket holders. Thank you. Although they can be challenging to find, accurate historical details from primary sources give your story or nonfiction piece credibility and contribute to your readers’ trust. Governor General’s Award winner, historian Karolyn Smardz-Frost, teaches you a methodology for how to locate and receive access to public records, archives, and personal collections that help you write accurately about traditions, customs,…Find out more »
John Farrow (aka Trevor Ferguson) regales us with his newest dark thriller, which includes a murdered New Hampshire co-ed, a letter, and a spy. The investigation is hampered stateside by the fury of nature and internecine wars between police departments, and it’s time for retired Montreal detective Émile Cinq-Mars to insert himself discreetly into the investigation. Join John and Barbara Bell as they talk about how he builds a plot worthy of his detective’s chops, and sufficiently thrilling, puzzling, and complex…Find out more »
In the most recent example of her beautifully written, audacious, and deeply inventive work, Kathleen Winter presents two characters in one, General James Wolfe, known to most Canadian school-children as the “Conqueror of Canada”, and Jimmy, a homeless ex-soldier with PTSD in present-day Montreal. Jimmy bears more than a passing resemblance to Wolfe, who died in 1759. Join Kathleen and biographer/historian Charlotte Gray as they interrogate Kathleen’s copious research and discuss how she arrived at this striking approach to depicting anew this…Find out more »
Project Bookmark Canada, the City of Kingston, and Kingston WritersFest celebrate Merilyn Simonds’ classic literary work, The Convict Lover, with the unveiling of the city’s second Bookmark. Kingston WritersFest is proud to include the ceremony as one of this year’s Festival events. Join Laurie Murphy, executive director of Project Bookmark Canada, at the site in Garrigan Park as she unveils the commemorative Bookmark. Afterwards, take a literary tour of Portsmouth Village with Merilyn. 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Literary Tour…Find out more »
Dialogue can be daunting. Join award-winning author Pasha Malla in this hands-on workshop on how to write dialogue that evokes character, and that resonates with truth of voice. Pasha takes you through the dialogue in the classic short story “Gaston” by novelist and playwright William Saroyan, and talks about the tools used by the author, and their effects. Then he’ll work with the class to write a scene, employing what you’ve learned. Limited enrolment 12:00 – 2:30 pm Sir John…Find out more »
Not many men would volunteer to travel abroad to become one of Juliet’s secretaries, but author Glenn Dixon does just that, in the name of research and in a quest for understanding the elusive truth of heartbreak and healing. As he learns about himself and about the real story of Romeo and Juliet, he discovers extraordinary and unexpected truths about love. Join Glenn andBen McNally in this conversation about broken hearts, the Bard, and the beautiful tradition of Juliet’s wall of…Find out more »
Award-winning screenwriter-turned-novelist Elan Mastai sends us to an alternate world, a thrilling techno-utopian paradise where flying cars and robot maids are a reality, then challenges us to ask ourselves if that reality really is better than our own, and whether we really will want the futures we now imagine. With Kingston Canadian Film Festival director Marc Garniss, Elan talks about the mechanics of time travel and the complications that can arise, the experience of adapting his own novel for screen, and…Find out more »
What makes a great Canadian? Join award-winning authors Charlotte Gray and Lawrence Scanlan as they discuss the extraordinary people featured in their books. Tommy Douglas, Emily Carr, Jean Béliveau, Chris Hadfield, Elijah Harper, and others have made lasting contributions to our Canadian cultural identity. Who do you choose to include? What about unsung heroes? Alicia Boutilier, curator of Canadian historical art at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, moderates the conversation and shares visual examples of how portraiture can also commemorate, comment upon, and…Find out more »
Short of segueing directly to the aftermath, how do you write sex scenes that avoid cliché, pretension, coyness, or awkwardness? Award-winning author Karen Connelly leads you past internal or external barriers to write beautiful, funny, powerful sex scenes. She explains how to treat your characters as subjects in action, rather than objects being acted upon. Bring your notebooks, because Karen provides tips on how to round the scene by writing convincing physical description and sensory detail, and gives you short…Find out more »
Join moderator Eric Friesen for a penetrating conversation with award-winning journalists and authors Carol Off and Doug Saunders, and debut novelist Danny Ramadan, about nations at war, the refugee experience of danger, displacement, disintegration, and intolerance, and the experience of those who try to help. They’ll discuss Canada’s track record of assistance and welcome, particularly in comparison with the US, Britain, and EU countries. Can we, and should we, do more to help? Guests of honour: Jamal Saeed, Rufaida Alakhabaz, Ray…Find out more »
Join us for an entertaining evening of poetry and prose, with a live set to open by our house band, Trio Without Words. Local saxophone virtuoso Jonathan Stewart, bassist Mike Perlin, and drummer Michael Cassells create a unique soundscape for each of these stellar literary performances by Michelle Berry, Janie Chang, Karen Connelly, Glenn Dixon, Pierre-Luc Landry, Jennifer LoveGrove, Robert Rotenberg, Diane Schoemperlen, and Anna Porter. Hosted by CBC radio host and author Bill Richardson, with his customary panache, and a potato. Cash bar Event Sponsor: Fancy…Find out more »
Five of Elan Mastai’s screenplays have been made into films, most recently “What If – a.k.a. The F Word”, which won the Canadian Academy Award and the Writers Guild of Canada Award for best screenplay. He’s also adapted his own first novel for screen. Elan gives you the nuts and bolts of compressing a novel into a different format and shorter length, and how to transition exposition into directions, how to cut supporting characters and subplots, finding the key dialogue…Find out more »
AuthorMerilyn Simonds shares stories that span 40 years from her new memoir, and talks about her ongoing love affair with books, reading, and writing. With author Diane Schoemperlen she explores the nature of innovation, the past and present significance of books as tangible objects, and the future of the thing that is a book. Merilyn reflects on how human communication has changed over centuries, and how it might be expected to change in the future. 9:00 – 10:00 am IslandviewFind out more »
Janie Chang spins a richly textured tale of a thrice-unfortunate girl – the illegitimate Eurasian daughter of a Chinese concubine – who navigates the complexities and intrigues of early twentieth-century Shanghai as the ancient imperial dynasty is collapsing. Jialing learns to rely on her own intelligence, resilience, courage, with help from a surprising spirit ally, to find purpose, to thrive, and to find belonging. Join Janie and Barbara Bell as they delve into Janie’s insights on race, identity, women’s struggle for agency,…Find out more »
Robert Clark, a three-decade veteran of Corrections Canada, believed he had something to offer prisoners. This belief was crushed as he climbed to the position of deputy warden and suffered a crisis of conscience that took its toll on his health and happiness, and in the end, wouldn’t be silenced. Robert’s stories of institutional neglect, secret-keeping, and downright cruelty, call into question Canada’s current punishment paradigm. Addressing the question of whether the country’s prison system needs reform, Robert tells it like…Find out more »
NovelistMichelle Berry gives useful pointers about the fundamentals of a good opening chapter, and then moves on to how to explain how to develop great characters that leap off the page. She’ll assign a fun exercise: participants interview one another (questions will be provided) and then create an opening scene with a character that is based on the person you interviewed and in which you incorporate what you learned at the start of the class about openings. Come prepared to participate…Find out more »
Join historian Tim Cook and Queen’s University HistorianDuncan McDowall as they talk about this legendary battle and its place in the Canadian national consciousness. How did Vimy, relatively insignificant in terms of the overall campaign, become enshrined in the nation's self-identity? What part did imperialism, politics, or economics play? And how do we make sense of the enormous psychic toll on Canadians who fought there? As a symbol, Vimy allows us to talk about our history, the stories we tell about ourselves,…Find out more »
Forensic anthropologist and academic by day, prolific writer by night, American author Kathy Reichs has delivered a brilliant forensic crime series, featuring Temperance Brennan, that spans two decades and exceeds two dozen works of fiction. With Robert Rotenberg, Kathy reflects on her two careers and shares how it feels to say goodbye to Temperance as she launches her newest fictional creation, Sunday Night, a smart, tough, and talented heroine whose thirst for justice stems from her own dark past. This is a don’t-miss event!…Find out more »
Kingston WritersFest and Juvenis Arts Festival celebrate young literary talent in a lively hour of spoken-word poetry, as promising young local writers, aged 13–30, perform a curated selection of original pieces. This event gives you a chance to discover young Kingston talent currently in development. Join us outdoors in the garden, where you can enjoy the fresh air, pull up a seat, and prepare to be wowed. Admission is free to all ages. A co-presentation of Kingston WritersFest and Juvenis…Find out more »
Veteran editor Patrick Crean leads this roundtable, open to all writers, beginners or published, to discuss strategies to get your work published. What do editors look for? What are the differences between over-the-transom and solicited submissions? How do you find the right publisher for your kind of work? What do you need to know about submitting your manuscript? Patrick also opens it up for discussion, and encourages free-flowing conversation to encourage you to engage with other members of the writing…Find out more »
Picture a comfy living room get-together with the smartest women you know. Now, imagine that you’re there as they sip wine, dip into their latest books, and discuss the issues that drive their creativity. In the way of conversations amongst women, the topics flow seamlessly from the weighty to the quotidian, from the deeply personal to the global, and run the gamut from culture, history, family, identity, to beauty, trauma, depression, and sexuality. Join superb novelists and poets Karen Connelly, Leanne Dunic, Jennifer…Find out more »
Brent Preston and his partner left Toronto and purchased acreage in southwestern Ontario. Their goal? To feed their family quality organic food, paying their way, and restoring land that had suffered decades of industrial farm practice. Brent talks about their ten-year learning curve, and how, along the way, he realized he needed to include not only those who can afford organic foods, but those less fortunate who need it most. With Chef Brent McAllister (AquaTerra), Brent demonstrates the superiority of…Find out more »
An Officer of The Order of Canada, Anna Porter is one of Canada’s most respected publishing professionals, and is co-founder of Key Porter Books. She is also an award-winning writer of both fiction and nonfiction, and this year releases The Appraisal, a thriller with literary chops. Anna knows the world of books: she has advised and spoken on writing, editing, book production, and other aspects of the business. Born in Budapest, Hungary, she understands first-hand the immigrant experience. As 2017 Robertson Davies…Find out more »
Join Kingston WritersFest in a very special evening event featuring a reading and presentation by Alan Doyle as he shares his new memoir A Newfoundlander in Canada. Following the fantastic success of his bestselling memoir, Where I Belong, Great Big Sea front man Alan Doyle returns with a hilarious, heartwarming account of leaving Newfoundland and discovering Canada for the first time. Armed with the same personable, candid style found in his first book, Alan Doyle turns his perspective outward from Petty…Find out more »
***Advance sales have now ended. Tickets are available at the door for $22 each.*** What does it mean to serve? In Everyday Heroes, a collection of essays edited by bestselling author Jody Mitic, veterans and active military personnel from across Canada tell us, in their own words, what it means to answer the call of duty. Join us for this special conversation with Jody, lead by moderator Duncan McDowall. We are proud to welcome several contributors to the collection, Bill Fitsell,…Find out more »
Join science fiction and fantasy author J.M. Frey, novelist Sean Michaels, author and poet Sarah Yi Mei Tsiang and children's/YA/adult fiction author Tim Wynne-Jones for a special evening event! Listen to the authors read from selected works, and then sit down for a wide-ranging conversation on writing in general. A book signing will follow the onstage event. Books will be available for sale from Novel Idea books in the lobby. Tickets $10 (includes GST and all handling fees). Purchase here:*…Find out more »
You told us your top 150 choices, now's your chance to discover the Top 10 for Kingston WritersFest's Canada's 150 Best Books project! Please join us for the big reveal. The event promises to be an engaging evening featuring theatrical readings, video interviews, PLUS readings and conversations with some of the top ten authors as chosen by YOU! This event is free to the public, with free nibbles and a cash bar. Bellevue Ballroom, Holiday Inn 7:30…Find out more »
THIS EVENT IS COMPLETELY SOLD OUT Join Kingston WritersFest and Queen's Reads for a special offseason event featuring author Katherena Vermette as she discusses her career and her multi-award winning book The Break. When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break ― a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house ― she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. In a series of…Find out more »
Be a part of the kick-off celebrations for Kingston WritersFest's 10th Annual Festival! Join sommelier Ian Nicholls and authors Helen Humphreys and Sarah Selecky for a day-long curated trip through Prince Edward County with wine and cider tastings, lunch, and literary readings by the authors. Wine tour participants also enjoy VIP access to our invitation-only Festival Launch party at the Delta Hotel on Tuesday night, where we'll raise a glass and reveal the full 2018 line-up! PLUS, you will receive…Find out more »
Kenneth Oppel and Tim Wynne-Jones are prolific, award-winning children’s authors. Ken brings us middle-grade graphic novel Inkling, about an artist’s ink blot that comes to life, and Tim Wynne-Jones presents crossover YA thriller The Ruinous Sweep. In conversation with kidlit editor Shelley Tanaka, Ken and Tim talk about why they write for kids, the phenomenal rise in crossover fiction --- books written for children and young adults but attractive to adults --- and why it’s important for adults to read children’s and…Find out more »
Join us for a spectacular evening of elevated conversation when two-time Giller Prize shortlist nominee and winner of the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Rawi Hage, presents his brilliant new novel, Beirut Hellfire Society. Returning to the territory first imagined in his debut novel, De Niro’s Game, the novel combines comedy and tragedy and serves as “an urgent meditation on what it is to love through war.” Rawi reads and shares his thoughts with master interviewer Eric Friesen. Cash bar. Media…Find out more »
*Individual tickets to this class are now SOLD OUT. Tickets are still available through the purchase of a Writers Retreat Package. Editor and author John Metcalf, himself a master stylist, challenges you to stop writing sentences that are soft, polite, and easy, and to learn to write sentences with depth of meaning. Teaching you three or four basic concepts that are simple yet important, John uses sample sentences in various iterations to show how a sentence can evolve from unremarkable to…Find out more »
“No matter what kind of fiction you want to write, there always has to be suspense,” says author Tim Wynne-Jones. We turn the page out of anticipation, expectation. Will the protagonist achieve their goal? What stands in their way? What are the stakes? That’s where suspense comes in. Tim shows you how to build the tension by looking at different techniques that engage reader anticipation. Get ready to embark on a suspenseful writing assignment. We won’t tell you how it ends. Limited enrolment.…Find out more »
FESTIVAL TICKET INFO + PRICES 2019
Want more info?
Tickets can be purchased directly from the Grand Theatre Box Office online (click the ‘Buy Now’ ticket icon), in person at 218 Princess Street, or by phone (613-530-2050) until 6 pm on Tuesday, September 24, 2019.
Ticket prices are listed as Pre-Festival (purchased by 6 pm on Tuesday, September 24), and Festival (all tickets purchased once the Festival has begun):
Regular Onstage and Festival Field Trip events
General Admission $20 Adv/$22 Fest; Senior $18 Pre/$20 Fest; Student $5 Pre/ $8 Fest
Writers Retreat Classes General Admission $35 Pre/$40 Fest; Senior $32 Pre/$38 Fest
Robertson Davies Dinner, Book Lovers’ Lunch and The Long Table General Admission $45; Senior $40
Literary Pub (S)crawl General Admission $40 (includes 3 beverages; $27 (event only)
BUY 5 and SAVE – available for regular events OR Writers Retreat classes! Add EITHER 5 regular onstage OR 5 Writers Retreat tickets to your cart, change the price point to 5 AND SAVE and the discount will automatically be applied.
OFFSEASON EVENTS: View event description carefully for details on price, advance sale cut-offs, and venue.
FEES: All ticket prices include HST. Please be advised that the Grand Theatre Box Office will add a handling fee of $3.80/ticket.
TICKET PICK-UP: Any tickets that are not picked up at the Grand Theatre before 12 pm on Wednesday, September 25th will be brought to the onsite box office at the Holiday Inn. You may pick up your tickets at the Holiday Inn at any time during onsite box office hours (30 minutes before the first onsite event of the day til 15 minutes after the last event of the day).
During the festival, tickets are ONLY available onsite from the Festival Box Office on the main floor of the Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront.
EXCHANGES and REFUNDS: We do not offer exchanges or refunds on tickets (except when an event is cancelled), so please plan before you buy. Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of KWF staff.
PHOTOGRAPHS: No flash photography, video recorders or tape recorders, please.