The festival of the Written Arts
The past few days have been the coronation of a year long dream. Participating to the Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt, BC, a sunny town on the ocean just a short ferry ride from Vancouver, has been a rewarding and inspiring experience that I would like to share with you for the next five weeks.
I attended five of the twenty-one events available and I will introduce you each one of the writers I listened to, talking about their novels and what impressions I took home from the encounter.
Choosing five out of twenty-one events was no easy task, I eventually picked writers whose books were significant for my writing career, at this moment focusing on women empowerment and mainstream novels, not belonging to any specific literary genre.
Today I would like to speak about the first writer I picked: her name is Aislinn Hunter and she's a well known Canadian writer who is hopefully about to be worldwide famous. Aislinn is a charming woman with interesting experiences to share, a deep sensitive soul and a remarkable writing style. Pretty much everything she has written in the last 15 years has been nominated for, or won, a significant literary award. Her first novel, Stay (2002) has been chosen to become a feature film. During her lecture Aislinn read an extract from her new novel, The World Before Us, inspired by the wonder of how we react to tragedies that don't belong to us in the first person but happen in our peripheral world.
The World Before Us
When she was just fifteen, smart, sensitive Jane Standen lived through a nightmare: she lost the sweet five-year-old girl she was minding during a walk in the woods. The little girl was never found, leaving her family, and Jane, devastated. Now the grown-up Jane is an archivist at a small London museum that is about to close for lack of funding. As her one last project, she is searching the archives for scraps of information related to another missing person–a woman who disappeared some 125 years ago from a Victorian asylum. As the novel moves back and forth between the museum in contemporary London, the Victorian asylum, and a dilapidated country house that seems to connect both missing people, it unforgettably explores the repercussions of small acts, the power of affection, and the irrepressible vitality of everyday objects and events.
Losing a loved one
There are different types of grieving and everyone grieves in their own way. When we lose someone we love we feel a present absence of the person, their presence is still lingering around us, it is a palpable presence. On the other hand, we could feel their absent presence, the void they left in our life.
Struck by an acquaintance's tragedy, Aislinn asked herself how she could somehow help the world, and she decided to do so by writing.
Curios facts on Aislinn and my personal opinions
I was attracted by some weird reading that Aislinn mentioned, she said to get ideas for her book she read a collection of journal entries from in-patients of a psychiatric asylum. It made me want to try some random reading myself to see if I get the idea for my next novel plot.
The name of the characters in Aislinn's book are famous poets she loves: Blake, Elliott and so on. That's quite a risky choice, I feel in my novels I would rather invent specific names myself.
Aislinn mentioned butterflies in a museum: perfectly beautiful but stuck to the wall with a pin in the stomach. It made me think of how I want to live and let my body show the signs of a life lived to the full. My journal reads: Love yourself but don't become a slave of beauty.
---- o ---- o ---- o ---- o ---- o ---- o ---- o ----
A note to my Italian followers:
In a few weeks I will publish my Italian blog on Creative Writing with book reviews of Italian authors and my future novels (hopefully). The decision of switching from English to Italian when I write comes from the awareness that the mother tongue is and will always be more linked to my feelings and memories, both basics necessity of writing good books.
Have a good novel!