Award-winning Shuswap author Gail Anderson-Dargatz will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival at Sorrento Centre from April 29 to May 1, 2022. (Contributed)

Award-winning Shuswap author Gail Anderson-Dargatz will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival at Sorrento Centre from April 29 to May 1, 2022. (Contributed)

Author, mentor: Shuswap’s Gail Anderson-Dargatz to host pair of workshops at writers’ fest

One workshop will focus on overcoming fears, letting go of ‘what will mom think’ mentality

By Barb Brouwer


Wife, mother, award-winning author, mentor, editor and Shuswap resident.

Just as she juggles the many aspects of her life, Gail Anderson-Dargatz writes best-selling books in several different genres. It is not uncommon for her to have several books underway at a time.

Her international bestsellers, The Cure for Death by Lightning and A Recipe for Bees were finalists for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize. She has won several other awards and her new thriller, The Almost Wife, quickly hit Canadian bestseller lists.

Anderson-Dargatz also writes young adult and hi-lo books for the educational market, where stories focus on high interest and lower reading skills.

The gifted author began her writing career as a poet and short story writer. She started writing fiction during a stint as a reporter and photographer for the Salmon Arm Observer, after which, she earned a creative writing degree from UVic.

Not only did her first novel, Cure For Death by Lightning, win awards, it launched her career.

Anderson-Dargatz says she does not write about her own life, increasingly looking outside of herself for inspiration. She creates a situation and then asks herself, “what is the worst thing that can happen?”

“I am a nice middle-aged writer and mom. I talk to my cat, I eat porridge, but through my books I get to be the hot young marathon runner who gets herself into trouble,” says the engaging writer, who enjoys creating lives that are vastly different from her own. “That’s the fun of a thriller; you get to do things you’d never do in real life.”

Anderson-Dargatz, who mentors writers and hosts courses and edits on her website, will share her knowledge in two workshops at the 2022 Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival.

In “Overcoming Our Fears to Write Powerful Stories,” Anderson-Dargatz will help participants learn to let go of the “what will mom think” mentality and deal with conflict in their stories.

“We as writers like to avoid conflict and we tend to avoid it on the page too,” she says, noting writing hard scenes can be painful. “My big job as a mentor is to point out places where writers avoid conflict and offer solutions.”

In her second workshop, “From Literary to Thriller: Crossing Genres to Add New Life to Your Craft,” Anderson-Dargatz will offer her own experience on how exploring another genre can breathe new life into writing and open the door to new markets.

Read more: Shuswap best-selling author Gail Anderson-Dargatz reveals details about new book

Read more: Renowned Shuswap author nominated for B.C./Yukon children’s literature prize

While she admits there are challenges, Anderson-Dargatz says it is important to explore and experiment in different genres.

“As professional writers, we can’t pigeonhole ourselves; we have to be willing to do a number of things just to keep the money coming in,” she laughs. “I like the mash-up playing with genres, it keeps my writing life interesting.”

Anderson-Dargatz, who will also be a keynote speaker, says because the subjects are too deep to cover in the workshops, she will provide links to her blog and other material.

Like many members of the Shuswap Association of Writers, Anderson-Dargatz is looking forward to the first face-to-face festival she has attended in two years.

For details and to register for the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival, which takes place at Sorrento Centre from April 29 to May 1, visit

This is a good time to join SAW. Word on the Lake early registration runs to April 10 and is $245 for members and $270 for non-members. Members also receive all the added benefits and discounts at SAW events and local businesses, as well as advanced notice of local literary events.

Those who register by April 10 will be entered to win a gift basket containing $200 worth of local products. The draw will take place on April 11.

Regular registration continues until April 24, and is $295 for the full festival or $210 for Saturday only.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Sign up for our newsletter to get Salmon Arm stories in your inbox every morning.

FestivalLiteratureSalmon ArmShuswap

We are experiencing technical difficulties with our commenting platform and hope to be up and running again soon. In the meantime, you can still send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter, or submit a letter to the editor.