Eden Mills Writer’s Festival

I should have talked about this sooner, but I was waiting for photos to arrive from my good friend Karen. Here they are!

I attended my first ever Eden Mill’s Writer’s Festival this month, and it was a wonderful and interesting experience. For those of you who have never been, it is an experience. Eden Mills is a very small community of about 300 people – there isn’t enough community space to actually hold a festival as large as this one, so the townspeople actually open their homes, backyards, and streets to the festival goers.

I read in the stunning staircased back garden of a family, with the river as a back drop, and the author’s green room (where it seems everyone couldn’t stop talking about Moffat’s new series “Sherlock”) was literally the living, dining room, and kitchen of someone’s house. I felt awful for not taking off my shoes.

The evening before the festival there was a lovely catered event for the authors, where we huddled under tents in the rain and too joy in the splutting bonfire and champagne. I met the clever Clare Hitchens, the volunteer in charge of the YA section, and the geek-tastic author Erin Bow (whose book Plain Kate just came out and I devoured in about five hours).  Erin was a Fringe author previous, like I was this year – that means, authors who are not yet widely published. Though, it was nice to hear me be introduced with “Author of the soon-to-be-published”. That sent a little thrill up my spine, I tell you!

Back to Erin – we spent the night talking because our first conversation went like this:

Erin: When does your book come out?
Me: April, 2010
Erin: 2010?
Me: 2011. I keep doing that. I don’t know why.
Erin: It’s a time travelling book.
Me: Actually, it is! There is some time travel.
Erin: Really! Where does it take place?
Me: Around here, this area of Ontario, and a bit in London and Cardiff
Erin: Oh, that explains it. There’s a rift in time and space under Cardiff.
Me: I know. No Jack Harkness in my book though, sadly.

Yay for stealth!geeking.

I also found out later that Drew Hayden Taylor was at the party, and I’m sort of glad I never got introduced to him because I think my brain might have fallen out of my ears or something. I love that man’s work; “Toronto at Dreamer’s Rock” is one of my favourite plays ever.

On Sunday morning my parents and I went to the festival grounds, and enjoyed hearing Drew Hayden Taylor and a few other fabulous readers at the First Nations site, and I got to have a chat with Ira Nayman. Then by sheer coincidence, I ran into a woman that I haven’t seen since I was a musical theatre brat in highschool, and we had one of those squealing conversations about “oh, how you’ve grown up!” and “wow, a book!” and “you got remarried, where are your kids now? Professional actors, cool!”

When it was time for me to read, I was given the marvellous surprise of having two of my cousins and one of my aunts show up unexpectedly! One drove down especially for my reading and then had to whip back up to Sauble Beach to work. If you don’t know where that is, it was at least a two hour drive.

I think it went very well. I read one of the more literary sections of the book, very introspective and character driven, and made a joke at my father’s expense about how this was the first time he’d ever been forced to suffer through any of my work. He turned all red and the whole audience looked at him and I had to try not to chuckle too loudly.

I feel I did a great job. I was very happy with the reading, and I really enjoyed listening to the other two Fringe readers as well.

The reading was followed by icecream, talking to friends who had also come to see the reading, and discussing an art piece I have comissioned for the launch from mixed media assemblage artist Eric Allen Montgomery.

It was a wonderful day, the sun held out, and I got to hear one of my favourite Canadian writers read his own work.

Great time this year and I will go back in an instant. Thank you Melinda Burns adn the Fringe Readers group, the adjudication committee, and to the Eden Mills Festival and the people of Eden Mills itself.

JM FreyEden Mills Writer’s Festival