Authors Doug Saunders, Frances Itani, Lee Maracle and Terry Fallis headline 2017 Whistler Writers Festival 

Arts News: Leanna Hutchins joins Whistler Reads; Barbed Choir gears up for fall

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A host of award-winning writing talent is coming to Whistler for the 17th annual Whistler Writers Festival.

In all, 60 authors and publishers have confirmed for the festival, which runs from Oct. 12 to 15.

The Globe and Mail's international-affairs columnist Doug Saunders, whose book Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough was published in 2017, headlines, along with Frances Itani, author of Deafening (2003), and Sto:Lo First Nation poet and author Lee Maracle, whose book My Conversation With Canadians will be released this fall.

Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour for his books The Best Laid Plans (2008) and No Relation (2014) is also attending.

Other confirmed authors include this year's writer-in-residence for Whistler, Caroline Adderson, plus Monia Mazigh, Briony Penn, Shari Ulrich, Miji Campbell, Barbara Gowdy, Helen Humphreys, Drew Hayden Taylor, and Michael Harris.

The festival opens with the sketch and performance competition Comedy Quickies at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

The theme for the festival is "risk-taking," with participants reflecting on immigration, love, hate and many other risky topics.

"The writers we have secured for this year's festival have all taken incredible risk in their writing, whether by challenging the status quo or illuminating difficult subjects," said Stella Harvey, artistic director of the Whistler Writers Festival.

"We have multiple award-winners, acclaimed international journalists, leading Indigenous writers, Order of Canada recipients, bestsellers, and renowned poets, among others. All of them have contributed, through their risks, to the canon of Canadian literature, as artists, commentators and creators."

There will be events specifically for book clubs, as well as workshops for aspiring, emerging and experienced authors, such as workshops on writing for young readers and writing memoir. 

The popular day-long publishing workshop will also return.

The festival guide will be released and tickets go on sale on Aug. 14 at

Festival passes to all (reader and writer) events are $440, while passes to all reader-only events are $198. Most workshops and events will take place at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

Hutchins joins Whistler Reads

Leanna Hutchins has joined Whistler Reads as the organization's new program administrator.

Her role will be to develop programing, liaise with the resort's literary, business and non-profit community, and plan events.

A Whistler resident, Hutchins previously worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Founder Paula Shackleton is taking a break to run her family farm in the B.C. Interior.

Barbed Choir returns

For those who think singing favourite Top-40 tunes should be a group effort, Barbed Choir is returning in the fall.

The first gathering takes place on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Whistler Public Library, and continues on Oct. 15, 29, Nov. 12, 26, and Dec. 10.

No experience required, just a love of singing.

For more information, visit



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