(L to R) Maxime Raymond Bock, Deputy Director Christine Saratsiotis, Alissa York and Shari Lapena
“From the taxi that brought me from the airport to Thessaloniki, I looked into the distance, in the heat, at dark, undulating mountains, at stocky houses under ochre sandstone shingles, wondering what surprises awaited me in a country of which I knew only a few philosophers, and the somewhat intricate families of its mythical gods. I looked for points of reference that might draw me closer to these unfamiliar parts, and I was excited to come speak about a literature that, I suspected, would be equally as unfamiliar.”
—Maxime Raymond Bock
This past May, our director, Geoffrey E. Taylor and deputy director, Christine Saratsiotis, took three Canadian authors to Thessaloniki, Greece for the Thessaloniki International Book Fair as part of our International Touring programme. Upon their return, we asked Maxime Raymond Bock, Alissa York and Shari Lapena about their most surprising travel experiences and general perceptions of Canadian literature in Greece.
Michael Mirolla discusses writers who’ve influenced him and why he enjoys writing short stories in our Five Questions series. Mirolla will be launching his new short story collection, The Photographer in Search of Death, on Tuesday, January 30th at 6:30 pm with fellow Exile Editions author Martha Bátiz (Plaza Requiem).
IFOA: In a recent interview with Christine Cowley, you referred to the collection as speculative fiction. Tell us a bit about how The Photographer In Search of Death fits the description?
Michael Mirolla: I see “speculative fiction” as a description that encompasses a number of fictions (magical realism, surrealism, meta-fiction, science fiction). What they have in common is the idea that they are creating worlds rather than simply inhabiting them. Thus we get “what ifs” rather than “whats”.
They are also fictions of ideas rather than simply interactions between humans. To me, the best of these are those that can combine ideas with human interactions. That is, thoughts with a heart. I hope that, in a small way, The Photographer works towards achieving that aim and thus can fit under the speculative fiction umbrella.
by: Amy Jones
The Delegate Programme is an opportunity for local authors and journalists to enrich the level of discussion at select events throughout the International Festival of Authors. Amy Jones—author of We Are All in This Together—wrote about her experience as an IFOA 2017 delegate and for her, the Festival became a community for writers.
In the six years I lived in Thunder Bay, I never missed a Lit on Tour event that came to town. Every year, it was the event I looked forward to the most—the chance to see writers I admired, to meet up with other book lovers, to attend master classes taught by CanLit superstars, to talk about writing and reading and all things literary.
When November rolled around, we all bundled up and headed out to the Prince Arthur Hotel or the Airlane or the Thunder Bay Art Gallery to see Jane Urqhart, or Ania Szado, or Alexander MacLeod, or Michael Winter. It felt like we had a community; it felt like we were part of something. And for myself at the time, an aspiring writer living in a city that seemed worlds away from the rest of the writing world, that meant everything.
We asked Becky Masterman five questions (and a bonus!) about what inspired A Twist of the Knife, how she got into writing crime novels, and how she approaches suspense. Masterman will be at an IFOA Weekly event with Emma Dibdin on Wednesday, November 15th. Andrew Pyper, Author of The Demonologist, will moderate the conversation.
IFOA: What inspired the story for A Twist of the Knife?
Becky Masterman: My agent Helen Heller, who is based in Toronto, told me of a Canadian case that had haunted her for many years about two children being taken from their home and their bodies never found. That began to haunt me too. What if, I thought, you were convicted of killing your children but were innocent? Waiting on death row wondering if they’re somehow still alive and you can’t get to them and help them?