The Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival returns this spring with a focus on familiar faces, informative workshops and, of course, the written word.
Best of the Fest is how organizer Kay Johnston describes this year’s event, held May 11 to 13 at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort and Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus.
Most of this year’s presenters are friends of the festival who have appeared at sometime in the past. They include 2017 festival sensation Sheri-D Wilson, crime lawyer turned crime writer Michael Slade, author and Order of Canada recipient Jacqueline Guest, multiple-award winning playwright, TV producer and novelist Ian Wier, historical fiction writer Jack Whyte, musician, CBC personality and author Grant Lawrence, author, novelist and actor Chris C.C. Humphreys, musician and photographer Victor Anthony, academic and award-winning author Patricia Donahue, former educator and editor Joy Vowles and author and B.C. historian Howard White, whose awards and accolades include a Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, the Order of B.C. an Officer of the Order of Canada. Rounding off the list is Salmon Arm’s own award-winning storyteller and photographer James Murray.
“They love to come,” says Johnston of the high-caliber slate of talented individuals the festival attracts each year.
“They love to come because first of all they’re well looked after and they’re here and they can get to know people – they feel as though they’re part of the whole thing, they’re not a number.
“It was Chris (Humphreys) actually who said I love this festival, I love the atmosphere, it’s intimate, I feel as though I get to know the people in my workshops.”
A highlight of the festival are the workshops headed by the presenters, and this year’s offerings touch on a tantalizing array of topic, including: “The sex scene: how much is too much? A male novelist’s perspective” with Chris Humphreys. There will also be sessions entitled: “Romance novel and its expanding sub-genres” with Patricia Donahue, to “Creating villains, conflict and tension” with Michael Slade to a special master class with Jack Whyte.
For one-on-one instruction, there’s the Blue Pencil Café, which offers attendees an appointment with an available presenter of their choice.
Johnston says the festival, put on the Shuswap Association of Writers, offers an intimate setting where people can meet the authors, talk with them about their writing, hear them read and learn from them.
“If you just enjoy writing, if you just enjoy doing your blog or you want to write about your family, you’ll fit right in,” said Johnston. “Because writing can be pretty lonely… It’s nice to come and talk to other people. It’s a shot in the arm. And they can network, that’s a really important part, that we have to leave them time to talk to each other.”
Registration for the festival is already underway at wordonthelakewritersfestival.com, with an early bird draw prize package up for grabs that includes a two night deluxe stay at the Prestige, a bottle of wine from Larch Hills Winery, gift certificates and, of course, full festival access.