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CBC Hosts at the International Festival of Authors

This past weekend, hosts from CBC Radio attended CBC Day at the International Festival of Authors and took part in readings, interviews and discussions throughout the day.

The Next Chapter's Shelagh Rogers chatted with Canadian acting legend Gordon Pinsent about his memoir Next. We sat down with the pair (who happen to be great friends) to ask them a few questions about writing and authors.

CBC Live: Gordon, after so many years of acting, what is the most rewarding aspect about writing a book?

Gordon Pinsent: Finishing it. For some unknown reason. I love the journey itself like a journey in life and I do love that. I can live in the moment to some degree but I still haven't completely mastered that so I look to the end. That is when I look forward to something... because you never know what this business will hold for you but I would say finishing, completing with great satisfaction

Shelagh, you've done some editing in novels, what do you find the most rewarding aspect about editing?

Shelagh Rogers: Editing's a hard job. It's given me so much more respect for the people who do the very great editing of the very great books in Canadian literature. I think the thing that has given me the most satisfaction in editing is that a couple of people have said 'You made my piece more muscular,' and I like that. That's actually how I want to be as a human being. I'd like to be more muscular too. But the fat has been trimmed and that's really thrilling that they still feel the jest of it is there. What they wanted to say is there but it's maybe a little bit stronger, more distilled. So, it's a tough job and I wouldn't want to do it all the time, that's for sure.

Being that we are at the International Festival of Authors, who would you say is your favourite author?

GP: Elmore Leonard. And I like him because I noticed the kind of writing he does thrills me beyond belief because he doesn't know where anything is going, he simply starts but he has it in his system to create wonderful, wonderful mysteries, wonderful books. I just love the nerves that it takes to write that way. He's never failed me.

SR: As the host of a Canadian book program, I wouldn't tell you if you gave me all the tea in China, all the sand in the desert, or a million Canadian dollars. I love the people I talk to and it would be like picking a favourite child. This is the answer I get from authors when I ask that question so now I'm using it myself.

Featured during the day were

Q's Jian Ghomeshi (1982), WireTap's Jonathan Goldstein (I'll Seize The Day Tomorrow) and Spark's Nora Young (The Virtual Self), who all read from their latest works, took questions from the audience and signed copies of their books.

We spoke to Jonathan and Nora about being radio hosts and authors, as well as their favourite novelist.

CBC Live: What have you found to be the biggest difference between writing a book and writing for your CBC radio show?

Jonathan Goldstein: It's different because when you're writing for the radio, you're casting a wider net. When you write a book, you can make a different demand on people's attention. When you write for the radio, people in traffic, yelling at the kids, you've got the figure that into it when you put something on the radio. The book, people are putting aside that time to concentrate on what you have to say so you can try more stuff.

Nora Young: The great thing about having a radio show is that it's so quick, so femoral and you can come back to ideas you've done before and revisit them. But at the same time, that sometimes leaves you with the desire to kind of sit with something and really work it through and present something as opposed to being finished as soon as possible. So that to me is the appeal of writing a book is to be able to wrestle with some ideas and present them in a more finished form.

Tell us who your favourite author is and why?

JG: I've got a lot of different favourite authors for a lot of different reasons. Who comes to mind? OK, since we're on the Yiddish writer subject I'll say I. B. Singer. I love him because his stuff is bizarre and uncanny and funny and also kind of fantastical, feels like it touches on the old country but there's also something kind of like modern about it to.

NY: José Saramago who sadly died a few years ago. People will know him from books like Blindness, The Double. He's just relentlessly challenging stylistically. He's famous, he writes in these long, long, long sentences that go on forever without any punctuation. But he's a beautiful writer.

Other CBC personalities such as Big City, Small World's Garvia Bailey, Quirks & Quarks' Bob McDonald, As It Happens' Jeff Douglas and Writers & Company's Eleanor Wachtel participated in the festival as hosts and interviewers of authors. We had the chance to also ask them who their favourite authors are.

CBC Live: As a book lover, who would you say is your favourite author?

Garvia Bailey: Junot Díaz because he speaks about an experience that is very close to my heart being an immigrant that came from the Caribbean when I was young but grew up here in North America. I think his experience and the way in which he writes that experience speaks to me, it speaks to a lot of people in the same boat. So, there's something about his writing that is direct and it feels like it's my experience as told through the words of a fantastic writer.

Bob McDonald: I was inspired as a kid by Arthur C. Clarke, a science-fiction writer because he did science realism. The stuff that he talked about was possible. It was just in the near-future. He didn't write about monsters and time warps and stuff like that. He talked about space stations and he talked about the future that I thought I would live by the time I got to the ripe old age I am now in the 21st century. A lot of the things that he wrote about have actually happened. Communication satellites, space stations, holidays in space and things like that. He inspired me and his works, even though they were written 50 years ago, they're still worth a read.

Jeff Douglas: You know, it's interesting. Robertson Davies for some reason. I don't know why that is. Maybe it is the time that I was reading him. I was reading him when I was in university in my early 20s and studying humanities at Dalhousie. While I was reading that, my imagination and his voice just completely synced up. I went through his canon, I would say, in about a year. So he always has just stuck with me as a favourite and whenever I'm walking around Toronto and end up on the U of T campus, I always just think it's so rich that the way he wrote, he always managed to pull me in and awaken that part of me.

Eleanor Wachtel: It's an impossible question to answer. I have so many authors whose work I adore and really been hoping they'd come out with something new. To re frame the question, I had been hoping when the Noble Prize was announced recently that it would go to a Canadian and it would go to a Canadian woman... and the Swedish critics polled all of the international critics and they chose Alice Munro as their favourite. So I would have been thrilled had Alice Munro won the Noble Prize so I guess that's the way I would answer that.

The IFOA continues until October 28. For more information about the festival including event schedules and tickets, head to the IFOA website.


CBC Day at The International Festival of Authors



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