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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Every Writer Has a Story to Tell

On September 21st, I attended a local author showcase at the Albert Campbell Library in Scarborough. It’s part of a monthly series that, as the name suggests, showcases authors from the Toronto area and their books. Some authors have published ten or twelve books, while others have only published one, but it’s a place for them to promote their work among both their peers and readers alike. This isn’t the first author showcase I’ve attended, and it certainly won’t be the last (though the last two I attended, I was, essentially working it, helping friend, Dylan Madeley promote his book, The Gift-Knight’s Quest. You can find the book here: The Gift Knight's Quest). The events are hosted by Maria Sams, a librarian at Albert Campbell and fellow NaNoWriMo participant, and are her baby.

There were seven authors in attendance, and three were sharing their work specifically. The authors there were, Stefan Budansew, Rebecca Diem, Noelle Jack, Igor Klibanov, Eva Shliuger, Marjan Sierhuis, and Horane Smith. Rebecca Diem, Noelle Jack, and Horane Smith were the three showcased authors, and read from their books.

Rebecca Diem is the author of the Tales of the Captain Duke series. Like many independent authors, Diem has a day job, but goes to the same coffee shop every morning before going to work to get in a couple hours of writing. I think I might need to adopt this kind of discipline for my writing - or, at the very least, something very similar. Diem is also an avid fan of Steampunk, and that comes through in both her fashion sense and her writing. Tales of the Captain Duke is a series of novellas that follow the adventures of the crew of the Duke, an airship in an alternate Victorian universe, twenty years after Queen Victoria has reclaimed the throne and issued better gender equality.

Diem read from the third book in this series, Tales of the Captain Duke: A Scholar and a Gentleman. It’s a YA pirate novel series full of fun characters I can’t wait to get to know more about. And I will, because I bought the first book in the series at the showcase.

Noelle Jack, author of Shire Summer, was born in Fife, Scotland and moved to Canada at age eleven. Before becoming a writer, she was school teacher, and this comes through in her storytelling. When she read to us, her voice changed for each character speaking. It was like I was back at school during story time, and this is definitely a good thing. Shire Summer is Jack’s first published novel, and is about an eleven year old girl named, Annie, living in Fife, Scotland during the Polio outbreak shortly after World War Two. When she finds out her cousin, Moira is coming to stay, she sets out to make her a gift. Her father, a Navy man recently returned from the war builds model boats, and Annie believes she can make one, too. But when Boz the cat knocks down one of her father’s best boats, Annie fixes it. But when that boat goes missing just as her cousin comes down with Polio, Annie sets out to set things right again. Jack admits there is a lot of her childhood in this story, and in many ways, Annie is just like she was. However, it is also a look back at how childhood used to be; the ability to go places, to roam, and play freely as opposed to bound by our electronic devices and tied to our parents’ hips by fear. I know there is an adventure much like the ones I went on as a child waiting for me in those pages.

Horane Smith, author of Underground to Freedom, Lover’s Leap, and Dawn at Lover’s Leap to name a few, is a contemporary and historical fiction writer who was born in Jamaica and emigrated to Canada in 1990. He worked as a journalist and was an Editor In Chief for a time before he realized he wanted to tell stories rather than tell people the news. So, he began writing. He has now published twelve books, with his thirteenth being released next week. He is also the first recipient of the Burke’s Literary Award (BURLA) for his outstanding contribution to African-Canadian and Caribbean literature.

Smith read from Marooned in Nova Scotia: A Story of the Jamaican Maroons in Canada, a novel about what the title suggests. The Maroons were Jamaicans who evaded slavery by escaping into the hills, but were then shipped to Nova Scotia. This particular story follows the life of Kwabena, a strong-willed warrior-type man and his group as they attempt to navigate a land completely foreign and, for them, nigh-inhospitable. While the Nova Scotian land is, indeed, rich and fertile, it wasn’t for the crops the Jamaicans brought with them. I look forward to reading this book in its entirety and learning about a history that isn’t always taught in schools from the perspective of those who lived it - even if the book itself is a work of fiction.

The author showcases occur once a month and offer, not only a way for authors to promote their works, and a way for readers to not only experience the stories for themselves, but a way to meet the authors, people who may very well shape their lives, even if only for a short time. As readers we’re always looking for stories to hear, stories to be told. As writers, we’re always going to be telling those stories. The monthly author showcases at Albert Campbell library provide a wonderful opportunity for those two groups to connect, talk, learn, and inspire.

If you’re interested in attending one of these author showcases, the next two are listed below:

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 6-8:30pm
Wednesday, November 16th, 2016; 6-8:30pm.***

For more information about the books I bought, check out the amazon pages below. Through those links, you will also find other works by them.

*** This showcase will be highlighting published, and unpublished writers participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) If you have any questions about NaNoWriMo, or want to participate, check out the website, here. You can also leave a comment below, as I have participating in it since 2012, and am a Municipal Liaison for Toronto this year. I am also co-hosting this event with Albert Campbell Library.