Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Vancouver International Writers Festival adventure

My journey to the panel discussion Up All Night at the Vancouver International Writers Festival began shortly after 4 o'clock on Wednesday, October 23rd. Days later a neighbour told me that he'd heard the distinctive sound of suitcase wheels on pavement and wondered who was breaking the peace. (It's a sound heard in the summer but seldom during the rest of the year.)

Why did I take a suitcase to a two-hour event?
Well, because the last ferry leaving mainland B.C. heading to Mayne Island leaves at 7:20 pm. Up All Night was scheduled to start at 9:00 pm.

Why did I choose to attend that panel discussion? There were other panel discussions that would have been more convenient to attend--like those held in the middle of the afternoon.

It was the description...

'Plot-twists, reversals, setbacks and upheavals, a good thriller must have all of these and more. And a truly excellent one should keep you reading into the wee hours of the night. Lisa Moore may be better known as the author of the Man Booker–nominated February, but she deftly turns her hand to creating a page-turning thriller in CaughtScott Turow has sold more than 25 million copies of his legal thrillers and has been highly praised for his ability to engage readers with his writing, as well as dazzle with his twists and turns.' - from the Vancouver International Writers Festival

*Marsha Pessl was to be the third panelist but she had to cancel. She was replaced by Norwegian author and international sensation Jo Nesbo

It was the genre...
I enjoy reading thrillers.
I've written a thriller, and I'd like to write others.

And did I mention that I'm one of Lisa Moore's fans. (In this post I rave about February written by Lisa Moore)

Okay, so, there I am rushing down the road, worried that I'll miss the ferry. I continue to worry until, while purchasing my ticket, I look up at the clock on the wall of the BC Ferries' booth and realize that I'm twenty minutes early. I breathe. It's a sun-filled, warm(ish) day. I sit outside at the dock, flip open my book--Insomina by Stephen King--and read.

What felt like moments later, the ferry docked at Mayne Island and I walked on. Usually I have a late supper, around 7 pm, but for some reason the minute I set foot on the ferry I was hungry. I'm a vegetarian and so got to choose between a veggie burger with fries or a veggie burger with salad. I don't like salad, don't ask me why. Fries upset my sensitive stomach. So I zigged when others would have zagged and purchased a rice cake with my burger.

Meal eaten, I found a quite place to read. I was bent over my suitcase, digging out my book, when I heard, "Leanne?"
I didn't think the top of my head was a identifying feature--but I guess it is.
I looked up and was pleased to see a friend I hadn't seen for months, maybe even a year. We chatted until the ferry docked.

My mother-in-law was waiting at the ferry terminal to pick me up. After a few detours, she drove me to Granville Island. In the dark night, we searched for the 'Performance Works' building. There were signs but more would have been helpful. Even though it was only 8:30 pm people were already standing in line. Feeling, and I'm sure looking, like a small island gal I join the que. The woman standing beside me looked friendly so I said or maybe she said, "Hello, do you write?"

We continued to talk about our lives both with and without pens as we waited, walked inside and claimed our seats. Someone turned the lights down and the moderator claimed the podium. In response to his first announcement, my new acquaintance turned off her cellphone and I put my camera away. One at a time, each of the three thriller authors entertained the audience by reading from their books.

A Question & Anwser period followed.

Jo Nesbo showered the audience with good, old-fashioned Scandinavian charm.
Nesbo wrote his first book--The Bat--while visiting Australia. He said he had jet lag so thought writing would be the best activity to engage in. Five months later, he submitted his manuscript to a publisher but he didn't expect to it to be accepted. His goal was to have the publisher ask for something else.
Nesbo said that in Denmark, Sweden and Norway most serious writers have tried their hand at writing a crime novel. He liked crime novelist to illusionists.
Nesbo outline his writing process.
1)a three sentence description of the idea.
2)a five to twenty page synopsis.
3)a one hundred page synopsis complete with dialogue.
4)working on drafts, etc.

Lisa Moore's thriller--Caught--was inspired by Newfoundland folklore heroes. She wasn't aware that Caught would be read as a thriller. And in fact she wasn't sure she wanted to write a thriller because she thought, at the time, that the genre relied too heavily on suspense. And she thought that suspense was a manipulative device.She now realizes that there's nothing wrong with suspense. In fact, believes that it is necessary to encourage readers to keep turning pages.

Scott Turow, who had been a lawyer, was attracted to the genre (thrillers) because he enjoys exploring moral conundrums.
Turow said that all literature relies on conventions.
Turow described his writing process as varying greatly from Nesbo's. He said he typically spends a year groping toward a story. He writes pieces of narration, setting, dialogue. A question--how will I connect all of this?--is where the plot comes from. And it's only after the manuscript is complete that he could write a three sentence synopsis.

It was an engaging, fast paced Q & A that left my head swimming.

"Thank you all for coming," the moderator said.
The audience applauded.
"Books are available at the back of the room and the authors will be at the front of the room for book signs." Is what I think he said. Frankly my mind was too full of 'soon I'll be able to meet Lisa Moore' to take anything else in.
Well, to make a long story short, I did meet Ms. Moore. I hoped I wouldn't act like a silly, goofy fan. But I did.
"I'm so excited to meet you that my hand is shaking." I held my hand out and it was shaking.
Lisa Moore's friendly, welcoming smile immediately put me at ease. So, I asked, "Can I take your picture?"
"Yes, but." She nodded in the direction of the other people who were waiting in line.
Oh, there are other people? Some how this fact had totally escaped me. "I'll happily wait." I walked over to the side of the table and watched her engage with the other readers. She was equally welcoming to each of them--spending time, ask questions, showing interest.
I thought to myself, There's a lesson here--respect your readers, treat them well.
Finally, she signed her last book and I dived back in, camera in hand.
"Would you like to be in the picture with me?" she asked.
"What a great idea. Yes, please." But who will? 
The moderator stepped up to lend a hand.
Not wanting to blind a Canadian treasure, I'd turned off the camera's flash--that's why the picture is so dark.


There's Lisa Moore's friendly, welcoming smile and me--looking like an overwhelmed fan.

4 comments:

Darlene said...

How exciting to meet a favourite author. I met Alexander McCall Smith a couple of years ago and he also so graciously allowed me to have a picture taken of the 2 of us. (The person behind me in line offered to take the picture. People are so nice!) The panel discussion sounded wonderful. I was at the Surrey International Writers Conference so missed the events in Vancouver.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - That description would have reeled me in hook, line, and sinker too! Thank you for sharing your experience.

Leanne Dyck said...

Hi Darlene,
Thank you for your comment. Some day I hope to be able to attend the Surrey International Writers Conference. I've heard that it's information rich. The opportunity to meet literary agents is enough of a pull for me.

Leanne Dyck said...

Hi Laurie,
It was fun bringing you with me (virtual). : )