RELEASE DATE: January 6 2016

Kingston WritersFest has named the first young writers to be awarded mentorships under the Merilyn Simonds Protégé Project. Thalia Danielson, a Grade 12 student at École secondaire catholique Marie-Rivier, and Megan Erb, a Grade 10 student at Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School were selected by a panel of educators and writers as the inaugural winners of a one-on-one writing mentorship in the spring of 2016.

The Protégé Project is intended for high-school students who possess an enthusiasm and talent for writing but who confront challenging circumstances that might limit their creative opportunities. KWF partnered with Pathways to Education to solicit submissions from eligible students.

Beginning in February, Danielson and Erb will work with two well-known Kingston writers, Susan Olding and Lawrence Scanlan. Olding, a poet, essayist, and award-winning author of memoir and creative nonfiction, has mentored writers at all stages of development. Scanlan, the author or co-author of 22 bestselling books, has taught writing at the elementary and secondary school levels. Each student will work with her mentor to develop and hone a piece original writing. The finished pieces and their creators will be showcased at Kingston WritersFest 2016.

“Fostering a love of writing and reading among young people is one of KWF’s core objectives,” says Festival artistic director Barbara Bell. “Our Festival youth programs are designed to nurture creative expression, and open the imagination to new worlds. In the case of the Protégé Project, there is the additional objective of providing intensive guidance and encouragement to those who might not otherwise receive it.”

Support for the Protégé Project’s pilot year has come from a variety of sources. Novel Idea Books is the Project’s corporate sponsor, and donations have been made by local entrepreneur and philanthropist James Brown, and by two anonymous donors. The project received grant funding from the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area.

The mentoring of young writers is a particular passion of KWF’s founding artistic director, Merilyn Simonds, for whom this initiative is named. “Writing gives young people a voice, the confidence that their story is important, their view of the world valid,” says Simonds.

To learn more, or to contribute to this unique initiative by donating to the KWF Merilyn Simonds Protégé Project, visit



To arrange an interview or for more information contact:

Jan Walter

Protégé Project Lead

T: 613-547-2829 E: