We’re nearly into autumn and literary festivals are in full swing.
Tickets are now on sale for 12th annual STARFest Readers Festival, featuring an exciting range of 11 authors telling different stories from many quarters. The first fireside chat is Sunday, Sept. 24 at St. Albert Public Library. The last is Wednesday, Nov. 1.
The list includes Ann-Marie MacDonald, Michael Crummey, Amy Jones, Jessica Johns, Rowan Jetté Knox, Melanie Gall, Michael Christie, Sharon Butala, Emi Sasagawa, Bianca Marais and Waubgeshig Rice.
Expect the variety to range from manatees and memoirs, Indigenous horror, small-town feuds, bar-brawling women, family sagas and mysterious medical conditions.
If there is a common thread between the authors, STARFest director Michelle Steinhusen believes they follow the trends in publishing.
“Publishers are putting out a great deal of Indigenous, horror and speculative fiction. Queer literature is also becoming more common. We’ve tried to represent a variety of what is being published in Canadian literature – feminist themes, books on aging, as well as books with a strong sense of place,” said Steinhusen
In addition, the literary festival introduces a one-woman musical show designed by St. Albert author and soprano Melanie Gall.
As a soprano and music historian, Gall first developed a one-woman show titled Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland & The Golden Age of Hollywood. It focused on the lifelong friendship and rivalry between two childhood actresses from Hollywood’s golden era. The show centres around 12 of Durbin and Garland’s most popular songs. It was a five-star hit and played internationally, including an off-Broadway run at the SoHo Theatre.
Building on the show’s momentum, Gall wrote a non-fiction book using the same title as her music show. It’s the largely forgotten story of how Durbin, a 13-year-old Canadian girl, influenced movie making, and how her early friendship with fellow ingenue Judy Garland turned into a competition for movie contracts.
While most readings attract 75 to 80 people, some past guests such as Chris Hatfield, Joseph Boyden, Terry Fallis and Will Ferguson have packed the Arden Theatre.
2023 ticket prices range from $7 to $15 and are available at www.starfest.ca. The exception is the Melanie Gall One-Woman Show. It is $34.95 at the Arden Theatre.
Below is the author lineup
• Sunday, Sept. 24 – Ann-Marie MacDonald introduces Fayne, a tale about science, magic, love and identity
• Tuesday, Oct. 10 – Michael Crummey discusses The Adversary, a dark novel set in Newfoundland about love and its limitations, the corruption of power and the power of corruption.
• Thursday, Oct. 12 – Amy Jones’ Pebble and Dove, a story about a dysfunctional family falling apart is brought back together by an aquatic mammal.
• Friday, Oct. 13 – Jessica John’s Bad Cree weaves a tale of love, loss, the violence of greed and the healing power of family.
• Monday, Oct. 16 – Journalist Rowan Jetté Know, formerly known as Amanda Jetté Knox, has published a memoir, Love Lies Here, a personal look at the transgender experience.
• Tuesday, Oct. 17 – Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland & The Golden Age of Hollywood concert at Arden Theatre
• Thursday, Oct. 19 – Melanie Gall enjoys a sit-down discussion about Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood with host Michelle Steinhusen.
• Saturday, Oct. 21 – Michael Christie’s Greenwood, a story about three generations reveals their personal conflicts and the source of their wealth.
• Monday, Oct. 23 – The Second World War and the suffering that accompanies family secrets are the foundations of Sharon Butala’s Leaving Wisdom.
• Friday, Oct. 27 – Emi Sasagawa’s Atomweight is a coming-of-age story of a young woman who fights and spars in the ring as a way to push away doubts about her family, sexuality and relationships.
• Sunday, Oct. 29 – In The Witches of Moonshyne Manor, Bianca Marais has concocted five octogenarian witches who have fallen behind payment on their house. It’s about to be repossessed until a young TikToker eager to pop the bubble of patriarchy assists them.
• Wednesday, Nov. 1 – Taking place in remote northern Ontario, Waubgeshig Rice's Moon of the Turning Leaves, follows Evan Whitesky a man escaping a mysterious cataclysm in the south.