Eden Mills Weathers the Storm

Eden Mills Authors

(From left to right: Dennis Lee, Kenneth Oppel, Arthur Slade and myself. Photo courtesy Clare Hitchens.)

Sunday dawned wet. I was sure that the Eden Mills Writers Festival would have to make use of their alternative rain-day site, for only the third time since the Eden Mills Writers Festival started (and that was twenty years ago). However, as I parked on the outskirts of the village, I was pleased to see a lot of cars parked beside me, people meandering down the road, and authors reading beneath tents just as they had in sunnier days.

I’ve attended the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival for close to ten years, now, but this was my first time appearing as an author. The heavy rain could not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds of people who showed up to share their love for books and literature. And the decision not to use the more cramped rain-day spot paid off. I huddled with the rest of the audience under the Young Adult area tent as Kenneth Oppel and Arthur Slade started their reading. By the time their set was over, the rains had let up, and the sun was coming out.

Kenneth Oppel read from his latest novel, Starclimber, and did his usual excellent job. I am so looking forward to reading this latest book in the Matt Cruse/Kate DeVries series. It was Arthur Slade, however, who blew the audience away with an extremely funny selection from his latest novel, Jolted.

My set came an hour later. I opened for Marika Tomiko, Susan Juby (author of Alice, I Think) and Dennis Lee.

Yeah, that Dennis Lee. It was an honour to read alongside one of Canada’s greatest poets, whose work was a staple of my childhood. I made sure to bring along my 30-year-old copy of Alligator Pie, and I think he was quite chuffed to sign it.

We read under sunny skies to an enthusiastic audience, and Vivian was delighted to sit and watch with her grandparents. I felt that my reading went well, and a number of people actually approached me at the end with copies of my books to sign.

I want to thank Jessie for giving me such a wonderful introduction to the audience, and to Clare for keeping the event moving and for taking pictures. I’d like to thank Arthur Slade, Susan Juby and Richard Scrimger for befriending me and keeping me from being a wallflower at the mix and mingle events. I met a number of authors and readers, and I had a fantastic time. So the final thanks goes to the entire village of Eden Mills, for hosting a literary festival like none other in North America and making us feel very welcome.

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