Sep 16, 2014

New Voices at the Festival of the Written Arts

festival of the written arts

 Kathryn Para is the author of the novel Lucky, a story about a journalist in the Middle East.
festival of the written arts

Andrea Routley is the author of Jane and the Whales, a collection of dark short stories.

The Festival of the Written Arts

Today is the last appointment with the authors who participated to the Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt, BC, on 14-17th August 2014. First I posted about the reading by Aislinn Hunter, Bill Gaston and Audrey Thomas. Last week we met the charismatic and enchanting Dianne Whelan. Finally, today I would like to introduce you two new voices of the Canadian writing scene, two different styles for two different personalities, interviewed by CBC radio host Sheryl MacKay.

Kathryn Para

She speaks in a silky, fluent voice, her hands move  in slow and precise gestures. It seems she is been doing this all her life, instead she is introducing her first novel, "Lucky", winner of the second Search for the Great BC Novel. The story is about a female journalist from Vancouver who comes back after a reportage in the Middle East and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What really caught my attention about this author is that reviews of her book glorify her ability to put into words war scenes and crude realities but during the Q&A session Para candidly admits she's never even visited the Middle East. Her research was done sitting comfortably at home, watching movies and reading online. 

I was left wondering if I would ever write a novel about a country I've never been to. Traveling is my biggest passion and I am lucky enough to have seen 32 countries up to now. I hope I will see many more before I die, it's kind of my goal for the future. This explains my interest in the matter.

"Can you write a proper description of a country you have never been to?"

Before moving to Canada I had very little information about the geography and the history of the Country. I found all the information I needed online. 

I also knew a few Canadians and I had the sense that people were kind and considerate, open to other cultures, lovers of sport and party. After two years living in BC I can say these stereotypes turned out to be true for the most part.

There are also hundreds of habits and beliefs I wouldn't have never grasped if I hadn't come to see for myself. Just for fun, I will list some examples:

- Canadians drive slowly and respect the safety distance from the car in front of them (that does NOT happen in Italy!)

- Canadians have a great knowledge of nutrition, health foods and diets (that is NOT what appears in the American movies)

- Canadians live in harmony with nature and know how to respect the environment (I could have found this information online, but it's not the same as meeting a bear face to face).

In my opinion, it is advisable to write about what you know about, therefore write about a country you have been to, or use your novel as an excuse to pack and go traveling.

Andrea Routley

Young and energetic, constantly looking for an active interaction with her audience, Andrea Routley appears different from the dark description of her collection of short stories, "Jane and the Whales". She reads two extracts from two different stories, the first sounds like a provocative, sexual, disturbing encounter, the second is more sad, dark, the smell of death is all around it. Sheryl MacKay asks about her passion for writing and Andrea explains how she has always been filling journals with ideas, songs, poems. Now she is trying to turn her passion into a career. 

Many of you reading this page share Andrea's dream... I sure do! Congratulations to Andrea for being published, and good luck to all of us who still haven't!

Have a good novel!