I had planned to attend 4 events over three days but only made it to one due to illness.  It was an excellent one thought!  It was on Wednesday evening, October 19th and titled Rich With History.  There were four authors on stage together. Each of the authors did a brief reading and then there was discussion and a Q & A from the audience.

Randy Boyagoda’s latest novel is Beggars Fest. Randy told us that he had an uncle that inspired the book.  He had three wives and burned two to death and then married the third one.  He then became a shipping magnet. 

Randy said that he is drawn to characters like his lead character, Sam, who lead wildly different directions in life.  He likes to explore all those directions come together to be one person.

Helen Humphrey’s latest novel is The Reinvention of LoveHelen said that her main character, Charles was his own worst enemy. When asked: “the relationship between history and imagination, what comes first?”  Helen said she tried to stay true to Charles, the real person, as much as she could but there are always bias’s in history.

Madeleine Thien latest novel is Dogs at the Perimeter.  When asked: “the relationship between history and imagination, what comes first?” Madeleine said that “sometimes imagination can be more powerful than history.”  She also said that the subject of the Dogs at the Perimeter, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, is not well known.  Because of that she kept it historically accurate however, she did take poetic license on how the family got out.  She wanted to be kinder to this family than history was.

As many of you know, I was born and raised in Minnesota.  When I was in high school Cambodians started flooding into the state.  We had many in our school and they were treated horribly by most of the other kids.  In fact one girl came up to me and said, “isn’t it great?  Us whites finally have a common goal with the blacks, we want to beat the crap out of the Cambodians.”  It made me so mad and cry!  I took very un-popular action after that, I volunteers to teach esl to some Cambodian students. Most of the kids I grew up with wouldn’t talk with me but I made some awesome new friends.  I got to tell Madeeline about this experience.

The Cannibal Spirit is Harry Whitehead’s first novel.   He pointed out that he was the only non-Canadian on the panel yet he was the only one who wrote a Canadian novel from the novels discussed.  The audience laughed!  Harry came to North Vancouver many years ago and learned about a man named George Hunt.  After many year he pulled his notes out of a drawer and decided to “feed my obsession to the real character” and start writing about him.  He has observed that we are different people in different circumstances.  His main character, Hunt gets flipped inside-out by circumstance.

Harry really had the audience laughing we he told us that his mother ran a home for disturbed children and he lived with them.  It helped shape who he is today and it could be a topic for his next novel.  

After the session I had the privilege of having my photo taken with three of the authors and having brief conversations with them:

Randy Boygagoda & Teddy

Madeleine Thien & Teddy

Harry Whitehead & Teddy

Wow, what an amazing evening it was!  I already had 3 out the 4 novels on my TBR.  I hadn’t heard of Harry Whitehead until that evening but his novel got added to my TBR as well.  All of the novels sound equally good in different ways.  If you, like me are a lover of historical fiction you have to read all four of these books too!

Thanks so much to Judith Walker of the Vancouver International Readers and Writers Festival for making it possible for me to cover this event.  I just wish I could have made it to the others as planned.


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