The Victoria Festival of Authors will host 30 writers in a variety of settings this week, with indoor, outdoor and online events among the offerings.
The upcoming seventh edition has brought back the festival’s hybrid format from 2021, with several online-only events mixed with in-person gatherings. Festival producer Laura Trunkey introduced the format last year, after staging an online-only festival in 2020, and found that attendees appreciated having options when it came to programming.
“We’ve noticed a lot of our regular attendees are still comfortable being in the venues, especially now that they are open at full capacity. A lot of people are happy to have the option to still attend the event from their living room.”
Eleven events, including panels, readings and conversations with authors, are on tap today through Sunday at participating venues the Metro Theatre, Victoria Event Centre, Dave Dunnet Community Theatre, and the Mary Lake Nature Sanctuary on Millstream Road. Four afternoon events on Saturday and Sunday are online-only, but are liable to attract a great deal of attention. Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan, Zsuzsi Gartner, Alessandra Naccarato, Danny Ramadan, and Rita Wong will participate via Zoom at these events, a number of which are based upon themes of ecology and climate.
“The people who are in person are all of our regional authors, because we wanted to give them a lot of opportunity to interact with our community,” Trunkey said. “But the virtual events allowed us to go a lot further afield and have authors from elsewhere.”
Two events curated by Monique Gray Smith, which include former University of Victoria chancellor Shelagh Rogers, educator Leona Prince and Chief Robert Joseph, the ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, are centred around Truth and Reconciliation.
Trunkey said she’s constantly amazed not only at the quality of writers in and around the Vancouver Island area, but the support the received from attendees each year. Many events this week have sold out in advance, Trunkey added.
“Even if we stuck only to regional authors for a number of years, we’re always going to have new voices. It’s a real emerging diversity that we have in this region.”