Five Alberta authors gathered shared ideas and experiences about writing Nov. 16 in the intimate setting of the Empress Theatre.
Sid Marty, Angie Abdou, Fran Kimmel, Ali Bryan and Kevin Allen took part in the first Get Lit! Festival.
Russel Bowers, host of CBC Radio’s Daybreak Alberta, was master of ceremonies for the literary festival.
Bowers and Abdou got the idea for the Get Lit! Festival about a year ago when Daybreak Alberta was at the Empress Theatre to record a program.
“We got talking about books, and next thing you know we’re planning a literary festival,” Bowers said Saturday night.
Abdou laughed that as she left her Fernie home to come to Fort Macleod for Daybreak Alberta, she complained to her husband that she was too busy and had to slow down.
That changed after Abdou saw the Empress Theatre and had the conversation about hosting a literary festival in Fort Macleod.
“It’s really a chance to showcase some of Alberta’s best writers,” Abdou said. “A lot of book media comes out of Toronto and we’re really far away from Toronto, so it’s important to remember to celebrate our own writers who are writing bout our own place.”
Bowers credited John Wort Hannam and the Empress Theatre staff for putting the festival together, along with Abdou, who lined up the writers.
“We’re going to hear five amazing writers over the course of this evening,” Bowers said.
Abdou hosted the discussion during the first half of the evening, interviewing Kimmel and Bryan.
Bowers took the microphone for the second half, interviewing Abdou, Allen and Marty.
The authors took turns reading passages from their books.
Abdou is the author of Anything Boys Can Do, The Bone Cage, The Canterbury Trail, Between, In Case I Go, Writing the Body in Motion: A Critical Anthology on Canadian Sport, and Home Ice.
The Bone Cage was a CBC Canada Reads finalist in 2011 and Chatelaine named In Case I Go one of the most-riveting mysteries of 2017. It was also a finalist for the Banff Mountain Book Award, in the fiction and poetry category.
Lacombe-based author Fran Kimmel’s debut novel, The Shore Girl, won the 2013 Alberta Readers’ Choice Award and was selected as a Canada Reads Top 40 book.
Her second book, No Good Asking, has become a book club favourite and is being published internationally.
Ali Bryan’s first novel, Roost, won the Alberta Literary Awards’ Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and was the official selection of One Book Nova Scotia 2014.
Her second novel, The Figgs, was shortlisted for the 2019 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.
Bryan, who lives in Calgary, was long-listed twice for the CBC Canada Writes Creative Non-Fiction prize. Two of her essays were shortlisted for the Alberta Literary Awards Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Award in 2015 and 2016.
Bryan was recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards 2018 Emerging Artist.
Kevin Allen is a historian turned writer in Fernie, B.C. whose book, Our Past Matters: Stories of Gay Calgary, is a collection of 70 vignettes that document the stories and history of Calgary’s queer past, delving into the lives of those who were instrumental in the formation and preservation of the city’s LGBTQ community.
Allens literary debut was on the Calgary Herald’s non-fiction bestsellers list earlier in 2019.
Based in Pincher Creek, Sid Marty has written five non-fiction books and five books of poetry about natural history and western life.
Many of Marty’s works are based on his formative experiences as a Parks Canada warden.
Marty’s book Leaning on the Wind: Under the Spell of the Great Chinook was a finalist for the 1996 Governor General’s Award for Literature and won the Mountain Environment and Culture Award at the 1996 Banff Mountain Book Festival.
Marty’s 2008 non-fiction book, The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek, made the Globe & Mail’s Top 100 list and was short-listed for the Governor General’s Award.
Marty’s book Switchbacks won the Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature at the 1999 Banff Mountain Book Festival.
Marty closed the Get Lit! Festival with a song.