I spent a considerable amount of time at Harbourfront this week, considering that it’s not even the International Festival of Authors yet. I was there for the Canadian Writers’ Summit, a very well-organized and well-attended conference attracting writers, publishers, teachers, and all those who are in the business of words.
On Saturday morning I spoke on a panel with Anne Giardini and Nicholas Giardini about editing Startle and Illuminate: Carol Shields on Writing. Anne and Nick edited the collection of Carol’s writing advice, and I edited them, in turn editing Carol Shields, definitely a career highlight. Nick is Anne’s son; Anne is Carol’s eldest daughter; and my publisher, Anne Collins, in addition to being Carol Shields’ longtime editor is a bit of a mother figure for me; so we jokingly called the experience of creating the book “The Joys of Working with Your Mother.” The tent was filled with people, all the chairs taken, with the audience standing about three or four rows deep at the back. We had several engaged questions and the talk sparked some interesting conversations afterward. I always enjoy seeing Anne and Nick, and all told we had a lovely time.
The Canadian Writers’ Summit in Toronto kicked off Wednesday night at Harbourfront. My dear friend Carol Shaben presented journalist Mohamed Fahmy with the Writers’ Union of Canada Freedom to Read Award. Fahmy, of course, is the Canadian journalist, formerly of Al Jazeera, who was held in an Egyptian prison for a year. He is currently working on a book about his experience, which Random House Canada will publish this fall.
Last weekend I headed out to The New Farm, an organic farm in Creemore, Ontario. I’m editing a book about the farm called, appropriately enough, The New Farm. It’s a memoir by Brent Preston, about how he and his wife quit the rat race in Toronto to become farmers—despite knowing next to nothing about farming. It takes the pulse of the good food movement ten years on, and shows how organic farming can offer a sustainable livelihood for families.