It’s best to book off all of Oct. 15 to 28 inclusive if you’re keen on meeting some of the country’s best authors. The St. Albert Readers’ Festival, better known as STARFest, just announced the lineup for its ninth edition and, as its name suggests, it's bringing in a whirlwind of writers for readers of all tastes out there.
“The range of voices and stories, and of those who tell them, reflects the society we live in – and that makes for an exciting festival,” said STARFest director Peter Midgley. “There is sure to be something of interest to everyone in the STARFest 2019 lineup.”
The festival might still be relatively young but it has already established a tradition of attracting some top names and many rising stars. This year will build on that strength with some well-known authors joined by others that people should really pay attention to. The schedule includes 15 events that will be feature 19 ‘STAR’ participating authors.
The whole thing kicks off on Friday, Oct. 4 when Governor General Award-winning Metís writer Katherena Vermette comes to town. There’s virtually nothing that Vermette hasn’t written, as she has penned works of poetry, fiction, picture books, graphic novels, and has even co-written (and co-directed) an award-winning film for the National Film Board. She brings her new book The Break as she talks with local audiences.
Joy Fielding follows after when she stops by to introduce All the Wrong Places, her new novel about online dating gone awry. David Bezmozgis then comes to offer his short-story collection called Immigrant City before Emma Donoghue arrives to talk about Akin, a funny and heart-wrenching story of an old man and his great-nephew dealing with a painful family history on a road trip. Donoghue will be hosted by Alberta Senator Paula Simons, a favourite among STARFest-goers.
Award-winning journalist Linden MacIntyre comes with the non-fiction The Wake, the story of the devastating 1929 tsunami that struck Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula. Amy Jones arrives next, bringing her wit and wizened wisdom to Every Little Piece of Me about the very public friendship between a reality TV star and a rock musician.
By this point, the STARFest schedule gets fast and furious with individual author events happening every day from Oct. 15 to 28: Brian Francis with Break in Case of Emergency; Anne Bokma and My Year of Living Spiritually; Fran Kimmel and No Good Asking; Shandi Mitchell with The Waiting Hours; Ann Hui and Chop Suey Nation; Waubgeshig Rice with Moon of the Crusted Snow; 13-year-old Abu Bakr al Rabeeah (along with his teacher Winnie Yeung) with this year’s Canada Reads-finalist Homes: A Refugee Story; and Jean Teillet and The North-West is Our Mother.
There is one special event tucked in among all of those astonishingly good authors. Host Diana Davidson stands at the head of table with a panel of Alberta authors who are involved with the Book Publishers Association of Alberta’s Read Alberta eBooks project. Look for Lauren Carter (This Has Nothing To Do With You), Wendy McGrath (Broke City), Randy Nikkel Schroeder (Arctic Smoke), and Michelle Kaeser (The Towers of Babylon) to talk about making Alberta-published eBooks available to readers across the province and the Prairie Indigenous eBook Collection, which just launched this January. It’s the first of its kind in Canada and includes more than 200 titles from publishers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Visit ReadAlbertaeBooks.ca for more. That event takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
“We’re proud to bring world-class authors to St. Albert through STARFest, and it’s gratifying to see how the community embraces this festival,” said library CEO Peter Bailey. “The library delivers a wide range of quality programs to St. Albertans year-round, but STARFest is our most high-profile – it draws attendees from all across the metro Edmonton region and beyond.”
Tickets range from $7 to $15 each. They can be purchased at the library’s customer service desk, by calling 780-459-1530, at the door, or online at Eventbrite. Visit STARFest.ca for details.