Wordfest happy to break the rules in creating major author events

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Another 14 participating authors will be revealed in the coming weeks.

“25@25 is something that could only happen online,” Youngblut said. “I can guarantee you it’s the best collection of Canadian writers ever assembled.”

Since the pandemic began, WordFest has been a leader in offering unique online events, with 20,000 people watching 24 author events. This fall, the festival will launch its broadcast brand, Imagine on Air, which will host Thursday night conversations with major authors.

They include Thomas Homer-Dixon on Sept. 10; Swedish author Fredrik Backman on Sept. 12; short-story writer Zsuzsi Gartner on Sept. 24; David A. Robertson on Oct. 1; New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult in conversation with Margaret Atwood on Oct. 8; and Ghana-born, Alabama-raised Yaa Gyasi on Oct. 15.

Recently announced was an Oct. 18 event for controversial journalist and columnist Barbara Amiel, a.k.a. Baroness Black of Crossharbour DSS, will talk about her new memoir Friends and Enemies. While Brooks native Harnarayan Singh, from Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi, will launch his memoir One Game at a Time: My Journey From Small-Town Alberta to Hockey’s Biggest Stage on Oct. 3. He will be interviewed by Ron MacLean, and former NHL goalie Kelly Hrudey will also be involved.

“I think for a lot of people, the transition between live and COVID has been to take what you were doing and make it virtual,” Youngblut says. “We didn’t want to do that. We want to create a true broadcast channel, which was something we had in mind even before COVID. We knew we wanted to be able to create shows sharing authors and ideas. This just accelerated that.”

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