Whistler Guest Authors 2013

Whistler Guest Authors 2013

Whistler Guest Authors Biographies: 

The Whistler Readers and Writers Festival is proud to present the guest authors for Festival 2013.

 Leslie Anthony is a Whistler-based writer, editor, biologist and occasional filmmaker with too few fingers in too many pies. Former Managing Editor of Powder magazine, he remains the longtime Features Editor of Canada’s SKIER magazine, Editorial Director of the acclaimed Mountain Life Annual, and continues his residence on the masthead of a global litany of ski and outdoor magazines. At home he writes broadly about travel, adventure and science subjects ranging from imaginary monsters to fossil smuggling in titles like Canadian Geographic, Canadian Wildlife and explore. He is author of Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist and White Planet: A Mad Dash through Modern Global Ski Culture.

Elizabeth Bachinsky is the author of five collections of poetry: Curio (2005), Home of Sudden Service (2006), God of Missed Connections (2009), I Don’t Feel So Good (2012) and The Hottest Summer in Recorded History (2013). Her work has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Pat Lowther Award, the Kobzar Literary Award and the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. She was born in Regina, raised in Prince George and Maple Ridge, BC, and now lives in Vancouver, where she is an instructor of creative writing and the Editor of Event Magazine.

Born in 1976, Feet Banks was raised in Northern BC without electricity and his first friend was a rooster named Houdini. At age 12 his parents moved him to Whistler to live the dream. He studied writing and film at the University of Victoria before returning home to continue living the dream while making stupid little horror movies with his friends. He is the founding editor of Mountain Life Magazine, the co-creator of the Heavy Hitting HorrorFest and his “Notes from the Back Row” movie column in the Pique Newsmagazine has been running weekly since 2003. Known as Whistler's enfant terrible, Feet loves naps, fishing, drive-in movie theatres and finding new ways to stir the pot.

E.R. Brown is a Vancouver writer whose short stories have been published  nationwide and dramatized by the CBC. His first novel, the BC-based crime thriller Almost Criminal, was launched in April, in Canada the US and the UK. The Globe and Mail said it’s “ funny and twisted in the same vein as Breaking Bad (but very Canadian on the crime) with tons of great Lower Mainland vibes. This is Brown’s debut and it’s an auspicious one.”


Michael Crummey is the author of four books of poetry, and a book of short stories, Flesh and Blood. His first novel, River Thieves, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, his second, The Wreckage, was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. His most recent novel, the bestselling Galore, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book. Under the Keel is his first collection of poetry in a decade. He lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Portland, Oregon.


 William Deverell has worked as a journalist and a lawyer, and is the founder and now Honourary Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. He is the creator of CBC’s long-running television series, Street Legal, which has aired internationally in more than 50 countries. He is also the recipient of multiple literary awards, including the Seal Prize, the Book of the Year Award, the Dashiell Hammett Award for literary excellence, and the Arthur Ellis prize in crime writing. His novels have been translated into fourteen languages and sold worldwide.


Writer/editor Frank B. Edwards moved from the magazine to the book business in 1985 when he became publisher and editorial director of Camden House, the book arm of Harrowsmith and Equinox magazines. For several years he specialized in illustrated, non-fiction "coffee table books" about Canada, natural history and gardening. In 1989, he moved full-time into illustrated children's books at Bungalo Books with his creative partner, cartoonist John Bianchi; by 2002, the pair had produced 38 books together. Faced with the slump in printed book sales, Frank switched exclusively to ebooks — focusing on illustrated projects for the iPad for both children and adults. www.bungalobooks.com

Three time winner of the Leacock Medal, award-winning novelist and travel writer, Will Ferguson is the author of more than a dozen books ranging from budget travel guides to works of literary fiction.

As a teenager he lived and worked in Ecuador, South America, as part of CWY (roughly equivalent to the Peace Corps). He spent five years in Japan, first on the Amakusa Islands south of Nagasaki and then later on the Kyushu mainland.

 He has walked across Northern Ireland in the rain, and has hitchhiked the length of Japan, following the springtime "Cherry Blossom Front" that washes across Japan every year. His travels have taken him from Indonesia to Argentina. And in 2010, he was named the head writer on the Vancouver Olympics Closing Ceremonies, penning material for the likes of William Shatner, Martin Short and Michael J. Fox.

 In 2012, he won the Giller Prize for his novel 419.

Jian Ghomeshi is an award-winning broadcaster, writer, musician and producer. He is the host and co-creator of the national daily talk program, Q, on CBC Radio One and CBC TV. Since its inception in 2007, Q has garnered the largest audience of any cultural affairs program in Canada and has become the highest-rated show in its morning time slot in CBC history. Q is also now broadcast across the United States, on PRI. 

Genni Gunn is a writer, translator and musician. She has published three novels: Solitaria (Signature Editions), nominated for the Giller Prize 2011; Tracing Iris, made into a film titled The Riverbank; and Thrice Upon a Time, finalist for the Commonwealth Prize. She has also published two story collections, and two poetry collections, one of which was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Poetry Award. Her two poetry translations of Dacia Maraini were finalists for the John Glassco Prize and the Premio Internazionale Diego Valeri. She has also written the libretto for the opera Alternate Visions, produced in Montreal in 2007, and showcased at the Opera America Conference in Vancouver, May 2013. She is an inveterate traveler, and her experiences are reflected in her most recent book, Tracks: Journeys in Time and Place (Signature Editions, 2013).

Ian Hamilton is the author of The Water Rat of Wanchai, The Disciple of Las Vegas, The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, The Red Pole of Macau, and The Scottish Banker of Surabaya. The Water Rat of Wanchai was a winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, an Amazon.ca Top 100 Book of the Year, an Amazon.ca Top 100 Editors’ Pick, an Amazon.ca Canadian Pick, an Amazon.ca Mysteries and Thrillers Pick, a Toronto Star Top 5 Fiction Book of the Year, and a Quill & Quire Top 5 Fiction Book of the Year.


Stella Harvey was born in Cairo, Egypt and moved to Calgary as a child with her family. In 2001, Stella founded the Whistler Writers Group, also known as the Vicious Circle, which each year produces the Whistler Writers Festival under her direction. Stella is a fiction writer whose short stories have appeared in The Literary Leanings Anthology, The New Orphic Review, Emerge Magazine and The Dalhousie Review. Her non-fiction has appeared in Pique Newsmagazine, The Question and the Globe and Mail. She currently lives with her husband in Whistler, but visits her many relatives in Greece often, indulging her love of Greek food and culture and honing her fluency in the language. Nicolai’s Daughters is her first published novel. Visit Stella at stellaharvey.com .

While she was working on her master’s degree in English (Creative Writing) and teaching at Concordia University in Montreal, Karen Haughian decided to audit an undergrad publishing class — which resulted in the formation of a publishing company. Originally named Nuage Editions, the press began in 1986 as a 16-person publishing collective, although by 1987 it was a three-person press.  It was the very first desktop publisher in Quebec, and put out two to four books a year for the next five years. Since 1991 the press has operated as a sole proprietorship run by Karen Haughian and has published eight to ten titles a year. In 1997 the press moved to Winnipeg and in 2000 was renamed Signature Editions. Karen is committed to discovering and developing new Canadian writing of literary merit, regardless of genre, and the press publishes many first-book authors and works with them to develop their craft. Karen edits all prose titles in-house, while poetry and drama are handled by outside editors. In the 26 years of running the press she has read thousands of manuscripts and edited hundreds of books.

These days Karen lives in Winnipeg with her husband, also a publisher (but the rivalry is generally friendly), and their teenaged son.  

Evelyn Lau was born in Vancouver in 1971. She is the author of five previous volumes of poetry, two short story collections, two works of non-fiction, and a novel.  Runaway:  Diary of a Street Kid, published when she was 18, was made into a CBC movie. Lau’s prose books have been translated into a dozen languages worldwide. Her poetry has been selected for inclusion in the Best American Poetry and Best Canadian Poetry anthologies, as well as receiving a National Magazine Award. You Are Not Who You Claim won the Milton Acorn People’s Poet Award, Oedipal Dreams was nominated for the Governor-General’s Award, and Living Under Plastic won the Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a woman in Canada. Evelyn is the 2011-2014 Poet Laureate for the City of Vancouver.

Mary MacDonald is a poet, writer, and child psychologist, living a sometimes wildly incompatible life, in Whistler and Vancouver, B.C. “I really believe we are more than one thing — one idea, one passion, one talent — and have a great fondness for pairing poetry with all forms of art.”  She thrives on collaboration and has written poetry for opera, ballet and public art.


Lisa Moore is the acclaimed author of February, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as one of The New Yorker’s Best Books of the Year, and was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, and won the 2013 Canada Reads contest; and Alligator, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Commonwealth Fiction Prize (Canada and the Caribbean), and was a national bestseller. Her story collection Open was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a national bestseller. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland 

Janet Love Morrison is an author, editor, and a Goodwill Ambassador for Friends to Mankind (www.friendstomankind.org), an international non-profit foundation that works with individuals, corporations and philanthropic organizations towards the betterment of humanity. She was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up in Port Coquitlam, near Vancouver, BC. She spent a lot of her life travelling around the world doing a variety of jobs while living in Switzerland, Israel, India, Japan, and Malaysia. “Refugees, children, taxi drivers, fellow travellers, work colleagues, family, friends, Master Dhyan Vimal, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and so many, many more remarkable people have been my teachers. From the Himalayas, to the Alps; from the Andes to the Rocky Mountains; I have encountered this planet and I write to honour the courage of those who have met life challenges and rose to be the best they can be. They have sparked the belief in me that when we all rise to be the best we can be, humanity will rise to be the best it can be.”

Susan Oakey-Baker is a teacher, guide, painter, and writer and holds degrees in French literature and Language Education. She has twenty years of outdoor experience, having spent time ski touring, mountaineering, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting and biking all over the world. She has worked as a nationally certified hiking guide in Africa, Nepal and North America and has guided more than 100 people, ranging in age from sixteen to eighty-five, to the top of Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, for the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia. Her photographs and writing have been published in Pique magazine, the Alpine Club of Canada Gazette and the Canadian Alpine Journal. Her memoir, Finding Jim, will be launched at the festival. She grew up in Vancouver and now lives in Whistler, British Columbia, with her husband, Joe, and their six-year-old son, Sam.

Roberta Rich divides her time between Vancouver and Colima, Mexico. She is a former family law lawyer. Her first novel, the bestselling The Midwife of Venice, has been published to acclaim in thirteen territories, including the U.S., the UK, Germany, Spain and Brazil. Visit Roberta at www.robertarich.ca


Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Rona Shaffran lives in Ottawa, Ontario. Ignite (Signature Editions, 2013) is her first published collection of poetry. It tells the book-length story of remarkable things that can happen in a broken relationship between a man and a woman, healed by a physical process of self-discovery.

A member of the board of directors of the Tree Reading Series, one of Canada’s longest running poetry venues, Rona recently retired as its co-director.  She now co-directs a new, occasional poetry reading series in Ottawa, called RailRoad.  Rona graduated from the Humber School for Writers and the Banff Centre Writing Studio. Her poems have appeared in Canadian literary journals, in an illustrated chapbook in Canada and Australia, and in several collaborative chapbooks. She has won honourable mention for the John Newlove Poetry Award.

Retired several years ago from federal government and charitable board work, Rona Shaffran devotes time to writing and to travel, and is at work on a second manuscript that includes poetry and prose.

Jane Silcott's award-winning writing has been called fearless, honest, crisp, compelling, and cheeky. Her debut collection of memoirs, Everything Rustles, about middle age, marriage, loss, and laundry rooms was published this spring with Anvil Press. She lives in Vancouver with her family and teaches for the UBC Writing Centre and the SFU Southbank Writing Program.


Robin Spano grew up in downtown Toronto and now lives in Lions Bay, B.C. She studied physics at university but dropped out to travel North America on her motorcycle, waitressing in various cities and towns while trying to write her first novel. When she’s not lost in fiction, she loves to get outside snowboarding, hiking, boating, and riding the curves of the local highways in her big, black pick-up truck. She is married to a man who hates reading.


Mary Swan’s first novel, The Boys in the Trees, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2008 and for the Amazon First Novel Award. She is the winner of the 2001 O. Henry Award for short fiction and is the author of the novella The Deep, a finalist for the Canada/Caribbean Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and the collection Emma's Hands. Her work has appeared in several Canadian literary magazines and anthologies, including Malahat Review and Best Canadian Stories, as well as in American publications such as Ploughshares, Harvard Review, Zoetrope and Harper's Magazine. She lives with her family in Guelph, Ontario.

Ania Szado's novel STUDIO SAINT-EX (Viking Canada/Knopf USA) is a national bestseller, and is forthcoming in Italy, Russia and Poland. Her debut novel, BEGINNING OF WAS (Penguin Canada), was regionally shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Her short fiction has appeared in a range of literary magazines and the anthology ALL SLEEK AND SKIMMING (Orca). Ania holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and an AOCA from Ontario College of Art. She lives in Toronto, and is the 2013 Writer in Residence for Whistler, BC. Visit her website at www.aniaszado.com.


Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner for her role in Agnes of God, Meg Tilly is a multi-talented actress as well as a best-selling author of several adult novels including Gemma and Singing Songs. Tilly has recently revealed that both books, which deal with dysfunctional family violence and abuse, are autobiographical stories about her own abuse growing up. Critics everywhere, from The New York Times to the Palm Beach Post, have hailed her as a talented writer with impressive storytelling skills. Her best-selling young adult book, Porcupine, was short-listed for several YA literary awards. The novel chronicles how a young girl copes when her father is killed in the peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan. She also wrote First Time, a reluctant reader for teens, about a sixteen year old girl who is fending off unwanted advances from her mom’s new boyfriend.   A Taste of Heaven, is a cozy middle-grade read that deals with best friends, family and the challenges of fame.

Stephen Vogler is the author of Only in Whistler: Tales of a Mountain Town and Top of the Pass: Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Country, both published by Harbour Publishing. He has written radio documentaries and commentaries for CBC Radio’s Ideas, DNTO and Outfront programs, and contributed to Explore Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and Vancouver’s Georgia Straight among other publications. Stephen hosts Creative 5 Eclectic, a monthly arts open mic night, and is the founder of The Point Artist-Run Centre in Whistler. www.stephenvogler.com

Richard Wagamese is one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. Working as a professional writer since 1979 he's been a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of thirteen titles from major Canadian publishers. His new novel, Indian Horse arrived in February 2012. He will publish two novels in 2013; his second Orca Press Rapid Reads novel, Him Standing, and a new literary novel, Medicine Walk, with McClelland & Stewart. He has twice won the Native American Press Association Award and the National Aboriginal Communications Society Award for his newspaper columns. Currently, his series One Native Life runs as a radio commentary and newspaper column in both Canada and the U.S. and was a weekly television commentary on CFJC-TV 7 in Kamloops, BC from 2007 to 2010.

Rebecca Wood Barrett, BAA Film, MFA Creative Writing, wrote and illustrated her first book when she was seven. (A very good year). Since then she has become an avid genre-crosser, and her diverse body of work includes creative non-fiction, web copy, postcard stories, feature magazine and online articles, short films, feature films, plays, television advertising, infotainment, short fiction and a children’s chapter book. Her short fiction has been published in Room, Pique and The Antigonish Review. She enjoys the fizz of collaboration, and this year she and Lisa Fernandez co-wrote and co-directed the short comedy Designer Genes, a 72 Hr. Filmmaker Showdown Finalist. Rebecca also teamed up with her husband to write the play The Cell, which was performed at the Chairlift Revue. 

Peter Zuckerman is a non-fiction writer. He has received some of the most prestigious recognitions in American journalism. In 2005, he was one of the youngest people ever to win a Livingston Award, the largest, all-media, general reporting prize in America. Among the dozens of other awards his reporting has received is the National Journalism Award, given by the Scripts Howard Foundation for the best newspaper writing in the United States; and the Blethan Award, given for the best journalism in the northwest. PBS profiled Zuckerman in an hour-long documentary, "In a Small Town," and Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Excellence in Journalism profiled Zuckerman as part of a series about courageous reporting. Zuckerman has served as visiting faculty at the Poynter Institute, the St. Petersburg, Florida-based journalism organization, and he has taught journalism at universities and professional seminars. He is a resident of the Falcon Art Community and a teacher at the Attic Institute. Zuckerman lives in Portland, Oregon.