What: Victoria Festival of Authors
Where: Various venues, including Metro Theatre, Robert Bateman Centre, Intrepid Theatre
When: Tuesday through Oct. 1
Admission: $15-$250 at eventbrite.ca
The Victoria Festival of Authors expands from five days to seven next week, and for good reason. Greater Victoria is home to a growing number of celebrated writers, several of whom will appear during the third-year event.
“We have some amazing local authors, we really do,” said Laura Trunkey, who shares artistic-director duties at the festival with Vanessa Herman. “This is a great showcase for all of them.”
The Victoria Festival of Authors offers 15 literary events through Oct. 1, three of which have already sold out. That speaks to the popularity of participating authors with deep roots in the area — Esi Edugyan, Yasuko Thanh, Bill Gaston and Sarah Selecky among them — but also to the publishers and publicists from across the country who participate.
“One great thing about the fact that the festival has done well in previous years is that publicists come to us now,” Trunkey said. “In our first year, it was us having to find the authors ourselves and begging them to come to Victoria.”
A focus this year is the series of events at the Greater Victoria Public Library’s Central Branch, the majority of which are free. Programming at the Broughton Street library gets underway Tuesday with a free public gala featuring the short-listed authors for the 2018 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.
Additional free events at the GVPL Central Branch include noon-hour readings in the library courtyard with Jan Zwicky, Bill Gaston and Erin Fisher (on Thursday), Darrel McLeod, Wendy Donawa and Daniel Griffin (Friday), and Amanda Merritt, Joe Denham and Sheena Kamal (Sept. 29).
Elsewhere, the festival offers a variety of high-profile ticketed events, including Dream | Love | Leap | Transcend, set for Sept. 29 at the Metro Theatre on Quadra Street. Edugyan and Selecky will join Sheena Kamal, Darrel J. McLeod, The Real Lolita author Sarah Weinman and emcee Dina Del Bucchia for what’s expected to be the most well-attended night of the festival.
Other highlights include La Palabra en el Tiempo, a night of flamenco music and poetry at the Metro Theatre on Wednesday, and The Trickster in Literature, a conversation between Eden Robinson and Daniel Heath Justice at the Ambrosia Event Centre on Oct. 1.
“We have the opportunity to have Eden Robinson launch her new book [Trickster Drift] in Victoria, because it is not out until the day after her appearance,” Trunkey said. “We couldn’t pass that up. It’s a great opportunity to have her here.”
The Literary Twist provides another notable night at Robert Bateman Centre on Thursday. Centred around the music and writings of Eamon McGrath, Vivek Shraya and Tom Wilson (of Junkhouse and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings fame), The Literary Twist offers a combination of music, literature, cocktails, and art.
The festival explored the relationship between books and music on a smaller scale last year, but Trunkey said the goal was to have a bigger focus on the form this year. “We were so excited Tom Wilson has a memoir out, because a lot of people know who he is. Eamon and Vivek are emerging artists, so it will be great to have them all there together.”
Attracting well-known musicians and writers helps raise the profile of the Victoria Festival of Authors, and of the area in general, Trunkey said. “When we started this, we didn’t know if we would break even. And in fact, until halfway through the first festival […] we hadn’t. Now, we’re able to apply for grants, so it really makes things quite a bit easier.”