Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Writers' Trust Gala Guest Authors on New Books, Favourite CanLit & What To Wear to a Gala

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The Writers' Trust Gala is in many ways the opposite of a writer's normal life — a glamorous evening surrounded by hundreds of people, it's a far cry from the quiet solitude of a keyboard and a notebook full of outlines, queries and research.

So we wanted to talk to a few of the dozens of acclaimed writers who will be in attendance at the November 25 soiree. The gala is an important fundraising initiative for the Writers' Trust of Canada, allowing them to continue as the country's largest non-governmental support for Canadian authors, giving away almost half a million dollars annually. At the gala, each table of donors and sponsors hosts a Canadian writer, with whom guests can chat about books, the writing process and more.

Today we speak to guest authors Craig Davidson, Kim Echlin, Alexandra Grigorescu and Karen Solie, who just last week was awarded the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize, honouring her acclaimed body of work as one of Canada's leading poets.

The writers tell us about their newest books, getting decked out in their finest for the gala and the fellow author they'd most like to sit beside on the big night.
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Open Book:

Is this your first time attending the Writers’ Trust Gala? If so, to what aspect of the event are you most looking forward? If you’ve attended before, what is one of your favourite gala memories?

Craig Davidson:

This will be my second time. I really enjoyed talking to the intelligent, well-read folks at my table. I ended up getting a book recommendation from one of them.

Kim Echlin:

I always look forward most to meeting readers. The Writers' Trust is a unique organization and I am very excited to meet its supporters. In many ways, this dinner is about reading and writing, and this group is the heart of that activity. I always love to see the complex ways in which reading is part of people’s lives.

Alexandra Grigorescu:

It's my first time attending the gala and I'm looking forward to — in one word — everything.

Karen Solie:

Since it will be my first time, I'm not sure what its aspects are! Seriously, though, I'm looking forward to seeing friends and to meeting people I haven't yet.

Open Book:

Each guest at your table receives a copy of your latest book as a gift. Tell us about your recent book.

C. Davidson:

It's called The Deep. It's a horror book, so a little off the beaten track for the Writers' Trust I'd say. But I certainly put as much effort and intensity into it as I bring to bear on my non-horror work, so hopefully my tablemates enjoy it.

K. Echlin:

Under the Visible Life is the story of two unusual jazz musicians, one from Canada, one from Pakistan. But it is really the story of love, and how women find love in their passionate pursuit of their art, in their friendship, in their children, and in the men they seek to bring on their quests.

A. Grigorescu:

Cauchemar is my debut novel, and it's a Southern gothic set on the edges of a remote Louisiana swamp. It centres on 20-year-old Hannah who is forced to confront some fairly significant, and significantly terrifying, internal and external threats, but the book is also a romantic, atmospheric yarn about family, love, and sacrifice.

K. Solie:

It's titled The Road In Is Not the Same Road Out, and is a poetry collection about the tar sands, small burrowing animals, air travel, bedbugs, renting cars, guns, aging, paintings, small towns in Saskatchewan, and the Large Hadron Collider.

Open Book:

What will you be wearing to the gala?

C. Davidson:

A Halloween mask? No, I'll be wearing a Strellson suit, I imagine.

K. Echlin:

Basic black!

A. Grigorescu:

I'm so pleased to be asked that question but, sadly, my answer is a resounding, "I don't know yet!" I default to black and sleek but stay tuned for a possible floral upheaval. Perhaps — and this would be out of character — a bit of colour. Heels, of course.

K. Solie:

I think it likely I will be uttering or thinking a version of this sentence with varying punctuation, degrees of alarm, and word emphasis until the moment I have to leave to get there.

Open Book:

What Canadian writer, living or dead, would you most like to sit next to at dinner? What might you ask him or her?

C. Davidson:

Mordecai Richler would have been a great writer to share a meal and a drink, or several, with. Maybe even nip out for a cigar at some point!

K. Echlin:

Hugh MacLennan. I studied with Professor MacLennan many years ago at McGill. He would bring a bemused wisdom to our current Canadian politics. And it would be a marvel to ask him what the afterlife is like.

A. Grigorescu:

It's a long list: Anne Carson, Barbara Gowdy, Douglas Coupland, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Leonard Cohen, Annabel Lyon, and many more. I'd be an absolute fangirl, inclined to ask them how they produce such reliable literary magic — when your fingers find the right book spine on your bookshelf, locate a random passage, and feel it completely appropriate to that moment in time. That, or I'd sit mute and awed.

K. Solie:

I'd like to sit with the young writers currently publishing such terrific work, some of whom I've worked with, some of whom I've only read. We'd need a big table. I'd ask them who they're reading now, and listening to.


For more information about the Writers' Trust and their initiatives, please visit their website.

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