Take five writers and tell them to mainly discuss one topic, and you’re still going to hear subject matter ranging from the Avro Arrow to man stalking tigers to a Czechoslovakian family’s experiences on the eve of the Holocaust.
Friday’s Truthtelling discussion panel held at the Mae Wilson Theatre with writers Esi Edugyan, John Vaillant, Allan Fotheringham, Keith Ross Leckie and Alison Pick passed by in (what seemed) sheer moments, due to the vast topics brought up by each question offered from moderator Dave Margoshes.
“All of us are storytellers and are interested in telling the truth... who tells the truth more accurately, the non-fiction, the fiction writers or poets, that’s what we’re going to try to get at,” Margoshes offered to the panel.
“My novel is set in various time periods... and I’m trying to capture a sort of jazz speech and I have to admit a lot of it is invented speech,” Edugyan said when Margoshes brought up the difference in literal and literary truth.
Edugyan is referring to her novel, Half Blood Blues, winner of the 2011 Giller Prize, focusing on Paris during 1940, when a jazz musician is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again.
Pick, author of, Far to Go, won the Canadian Jewish Book Award for her fictional telling of a Jewish family during the lead-up to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939. “The truth I was trying to get at was an emotional truth and the process of writing for me.”
Leckie, Vaillant and especially Fotheringham have spent their collective time in the realm of non-fiction and journalism. “To find the truth is the one and only reason for a journalist’s work,” Fotheringham offered on the subject. “Even when you say Stephen Harper has the personality of a dead seal?” Margoshes asked, (referring to a quote made by Fotheringham earlier in the day). “It’s the truth, Fotheringham replied, to a round of laughter and cheers from the theatre.
Fotheringham’s most recent work is his memoirs, Boy From Nowhere – A Life in Ninety-One Countries.
“Is writing entertainment a risky buisness?” was Margoshes’s question for Leckie, who has written the screenplays for, The Avro Arrow, The Halifax Explosion and The David Milgaard Story. “I always felt I wanted to embellish a story and make it more entertaining.”
Leckie’s latest work, Coppermine, is an adventure, romance, murder mystery and trial based on a true story.
Vaillant’s most recent book, The Tiger, is an award-winning bestseller, and he discussed how information gathering will help shape the outcome of a story. “People remember things differently, so you interview different people talking about the same event... different features will stand out for them.”
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