2018 Cabot Trail Writers Festival

Call (902) 224-5231 to purchase tickets over the phone.

Tickets (to all events except workshops and Festival Book Club) can also be purchased at the door of the event or in person at the Craft Shop of the Gaelic College, which is open 7 days a week, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can be reached by phone at (902) 295-3441.

2018 Festival Schedule

Opening Night with Host Jared Bland: Readings by Our Festival Authors
Friday, September 28, 2018 • 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.           Doors Open
                          Hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, bookstore

7:20 p.m.           Welcome
                          Readings: Joanne SchwartzOisín Curran, Phonse JessomeShalan Joudry

8:30 p.m.           Break
                          Cash bar, bookstore, hors d'oeuvres and book signings

8:50 p.m.           Readings: Sharon BalaLinda Spalding, Madeleine Thien

9:30 p.m.           Hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, bookstore, book signings and mingling with friends and authors


A Day Between the Covers: Workshops, Conversations & Music
Saturday, September 29, 2018 • 9:15 a.m. – 11 p.m.

9:15 –                Fiction Workshop with Oisín Curran
10:45 a.m.         
Fictional Confabs: Writing Literary Dialogue
                          Most fiction is an authorial monologue. But as a game of make-believe, it often features conversations.                                  How do we deal with dialogue when it's inside the monologue of fiction (technically, philosophically,                                      creatively)? In this workshop we’ll look at a range of literary examples, talk them over and try some out.

11 a.m. –              Workshop for Kids Ages 7+ with Joanne Schwartz
12 p.m.           Sea, Sky and Submarine Mines: Exploring Place and Time in Town is by the Sea
                           Taking a close look at the story, we’ll unearth a bit more about the boy’s family and the town’s history.                                   Where we live has a lot to do with what happens in our town. What are the words the boy uses to                                         describe his town? Using those words, and some of your own words, write something about where you                                 live.

11 a.m. –            Fiction Workshop with Sharon Bala
12:30 p.m.         
On Crafting Characters
                          How do we create characters who, as E.M. Forster says, “vibrate”, who feel as real as you and me? And                                  how do we translate those imaginary friends and enemies, antagonists and protagonists, onto the page?                              These are the questions we will explore and answer in this workshop.

11 a.m. –           Nonfiction Workshop with Phonse Jessome
12:30 p.m.       
Nonfiction: Hook, Line and Sinker
                         How to recognize the hook in you story that will grab readers. Learn to unravel the narrative line properly                             to keep them reading. And finally how to set the sinker that will keep them securely loyal to you as a                                     storyteller. There will be brief assignments, so participants should bring a notebook and pen.

1 – 1:45 p.m.    Festival Book Club with Linda Spalding
                         A new festival feature event, free to the first 25 registered Festival Book Club participants who sign                                     up. Meet Governor-General's Award-winning author Linda Spalding at an intimate breakaway session as she                           discusses her novel A Reckoning, our 2018 Festival Book Club selection, and answers your questions about                             the book and what inspired her to write it.

2:00 p.m.       Heard in the Highlands
  A guided outdoor stroll among the changing colours of the forest surrounding the Gaelic College,
featuring performances by Mi’kmaw musician and storyteller
Shalan Joudry and Sons of Membertou singing
drum group. Please dress for the weather and meet at the junction of Mackillop Road and the Cabot Trail, just
east of the Gaelic College entrance. In case of rain, performances will take place in the sheltered outdoor
 performance area at the rear of the Gaelic College campus.

3:15 p.m.        The Spark: Where Ideas Begin
                       A Conversation with Phonse JessomeJoanne Schwartz, and Sharon Bala

4:30 p.m.       "The Pram in the Hall": Is Parenthood the Enemy of Art?
                      A Conversation with Oisín Curran, Shalan Joudry, and Linda Spalding

6:00 p.m.       Dinner and a Reading from Once Upon an Island: Traditional Tales from New Cape Bretoners

7:30 p.m.       Readings & a Conversation with Madeleine Thien and Linda Spalding

8:45 p.m.       Musical Performance
                     Live music by violinist Jacques Mindreau

9:45 p.m.       Cape Breton Sights & Sounds
                    Jacques Mindreau and Paul McNeill’s unique juxtaposition of recorded music with video projections of Cape                       Breton sights and scenes provides a perfect background for book signings and conversations with old friends                          and new.

Festival Close: Conversations, Brunch & Songs
Sunday, September 30, 2018 • 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

9:00 a.m.       Doors Open
                     Bookstore; coffee, tea & treats

9:30 a.m.      île du Cap-Breton | Cheap Breatainn | Unama’ki: In Other Words
                     A Reading & Conversation in Four Cape Breton Languages with Catherine MartinLewis MacKinnon,                                   and Gabriel LeBlanc.
This special event will feature readings in Mi’kmaw, Gaelic and Acadian French, followed by a multilingual                               discussion (moderated in English) about the history and future of those languages and cultures on this island.

10:30 a.m.    Break
                     Bookstore; coffee, tea & treats

10:50 a.m.     Writing History: Confronting and Imagining the Past in Fiction
                      A Conversation with Linda Spalding, Madeleine Thien, Sharon Bala            

Noon            Brunch

1 p.m.            Songs & Stories with Old Man Luedecke

2:30 p.m.      Closing



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Madeleine Thien

is the author of the story collection Simple Recipes, which was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, a Kiriyama Pacific Prize Notable Book, and won the BC Book Prize for Fiction; the novel Certainty, which won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award; and the novel Dogs at the Perimeter, which was shortlisted for Berlin’s 2014 International Literature Award and won the Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2015 Liberaturpreis. Her most recent novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her novels and stories have been translated into twenty-five languages, and her essays have appeared in Granta, The Guardian, the Financial Times, Five Dials, Brick and Al Jazeera. Her story “The Wedding Cake” was shortlisted for the prestigious 2015 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. The daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants to Canada, she lives in Montreal.

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Linda Spalding,

Kansas-born Canadian fiction and nonfiction writer, often explores world cultures and the clash between contemporary life and traditional beliefs. Her 2012 novel, The Purchase, won the Governor General’s Literary Prize for Fiction that year. Spalding is also well known for Who Named the Knife(2007), the true story of the murder trial of Maryann Acker, a teenager sentenced to life in prison for a murder committed while on honeymoon in Hawaii. Spalding, who served on the jury, tracks down Maryann 20 years later in order to reexamine the murder and the question of Maryann’s innocence. Spalding’s most recent novel is A Reckoning, a sequel to The Purchase released last September. Spalding lives in Toronto with her husband, Michael Ondaatje, her dog Jasper and her cat Jack.

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Shalan Joudry

is an oral storyteller, hand-drum singer/songwriter and poet from the traditional district of Kespukwitk (southwest Nova Scotia). After years of weaving ecology, raising children, and teaching performing arts to youth, she now lives and works in her community of L’sitkuk (Bear River First Nation) with her family. Shalan’s first book of poetry, Generations Re-merging, speaks to the disconnect and reconnect to culture and landscape. In schools and on the stage, Shalan uses her theatrical background to bring Mi’kmaw legends to a new generation of listeners, as well as recounting personally crafted stories that follow Mi’kmaw storyweaving custom.

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Phonse Jessome

is an award-winning Canadian Journalist and bestselling author. He has covered some of the biggest stories in Canada and abroad over the past thirty-five years. His book Murder at McDonald’s was lauded as one of Canada's best true crime titles. Somebody's Daughter takes readers inside the deadly world of human trafficking. Jessome lives in Halifax, where he is now taking decades of experience covering crime into the field of crime fiction.

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Sharon Bala

lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. She is a member of The Port Authority writing group. Her first novel, The Boat People, has spent 10 consecutive weeks on the Canadian bestseller lists and was a 2018 CBC Canada Reads finalist.

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Oisín Curran

grew up in rural Maine. He received a BA in Classics and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University (where he was the recipient of a national scholarship and a writing fellowship), and a diploma in Translation (French to English) from Concordia University. He is the author of Mopus (2008) and was named a “Writer to Watch” by CBC: Canada Writes. His new novel, Blood Fable, was a Globe & Mail pick for Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2017, and won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize. Curran lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, with his wife and two children.

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Jared Bland

is the publisher of McClelland & Stewart, and a vice president of Penguin Random House Canada, where he works with a broad range of authors such as Margaret Atwood, Linda Spalding, Michael Ondaatje, Omar El Akkad, Sharon Bala, and many more. Prior to joining M&S, he was the Arts editor of The Globe & Mail. Additionally, he’s worked as a senior editor at House of Anansi press, and was the managing editor of The Walrus magazine. He was born in Springfield, Illinois, but both his father and his partner are from Antigonish County. He will host the 2018 Cabot Trail Writers Festival.

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Old Man Luedecke

is the real thing, a modern-day people’s poet and traveling bard and balladeer. He’s played around the world to a loving and increasing fan base, and won two Juno awards in the process. He has recorded more than a half dozen albums, including Tender Is the Night (which won Album of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards), Domestic Eccentric, and most recently, One Night Only! Live at the Chester Playhouse. The singer-songwriter and banjo player lives in Chester, Nova Scotia.

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Joanne Schwartz

was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her first picture book, Our Corner Grocery Store, illustrated by Laura Beingessner, was nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She is also the author of Pinny in Summer, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, and Town Is by the Sea, illustrated by Sydney Smith, which was a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book. Joanne has been a children’s librarian for more than twenty-five years. She lives in Toronto.

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Jacques Mindreau

makes music for the soul and human spirit. His new solo project, Electro Jacques Therapy, uses violin and lyrical voice to combine new sounds that seem otherworldly into vocal and string orchestrations that breathe in the ether. Jacques has performed and toured with countless musicians all over Canada and the world. He also composes music for film, dance, and now theatre including the feature documentary Modified, a story about the impact of GMOs on society and the critically acclaimed play, One Discordant Violin, an adaptation of a Yann Martel story. Jacques is the co-founder of the bands Krasnogorsk, Beautiful Wild Animals and OQO. He currently lives in Cape Breton where he co-hosts the annual Margaree Harvest Festival in October.

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Paul McNeill

is passionate about the creative process and the critical role of storytelling and collaboration in the quest for social change. From 2010-17, Paul was a creative producer at the National Film Board of Canada where he was responsible for a slate of social impact documentaries, auteur animations and interactive educational projects. Prior to his time at the NFB, Paul was an independent film producer and writer with work that included both feature-length and short-form drama.

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Sons of Membertou

is a Mi’kmaw singing drum group from Membertou, Nova Scotia. Darrell Bernard Sr. (Sr. Drum Keeper) started the group with only four singers: Mickey Herney, Terry Marshall, Graham Marshall and himself. The Sons of Membertou have performed traditional and contemporary music both nationally and internationally, and in 2017, they performed at the 100th anniversary ceremonies of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France. The group has grown and changed over the years and has become a highly respected drum group within the Mi’kmaw community.

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Catherine Martin

is a member of the Millbrook First Nation in Truro, Nova Scotia, an independent producer, director, writer, facilitator, communications consultant, drummer and the first woman Mi’kmaw filmmaker from the Atlantic Region. Catherine’s award-winning documentaries include the animation film Little Boy Who Lived with Muini’skw (2004), the NFB film The Spirit of Annie Mae (2002), and Spirit Wind (2000). Catherine is the past chairperson of the Board of Directors for Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the first co-chair of Dalhousie Indigenous Black and Mi’kmaq Law Program, and the past chair of Society for Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry. She was recently awarded the Women In Film Award for her Contribution to the film industry in Canada. She teaches communications and fine arts for University College of Cape Breton in Mi’kmaq communities. She was been awarded the Order of Canada 2017.

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Gabriel LeBlanc

is an educator and school administrator who has been greatly appreciated by his students and colleagues throughout his more than 30-year career teaching elementary and high school in the public school systems. A proud Acadian and well- known storyteller, he is passionate about the oral traditions of the Acadians from his region. Born in Petit de Grat (Isle Madame), Nova Scotia, Gabriel wrote Mon Isle Madame so that the oral traditions of his people are never forgotten. | Gabriel LeBlanc est un éducateur et un administrateur scolaire qui a beaucoup été apprécié par ses éléves et ses collègues au cours de sa carriére de plus des trente ans d’enseignement à l’élémentaire et au secondaire dans les écoles publiques. Fier acadien et raconteur reconnu, passionné par la tradition orales des acadiens de sa région. Natif de Petit de Grat (Isle Madame) en Nouvelle-Écosse, Gabriel a écrit « Mon Isle Madame » pour que les traditions orales de son peuple ne soient jamais oubliées.

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Lewis MacKinnon

was born in Inverness, Cape Breton, to a father who is a Gael and is a Gaelic speaker and a mother who is Acadian and is a French speaker. He was raised on the Nova Scotia mainland in Antigonish County. In 2011, he was named the poet laureate to the Royal National Mòd in Scotland. He works to advance Gaels’ language, culture and identity in Nova Scotia, Canada and internationally. He lives with his family in Middle Sackville near Halifax. | Rugadh Lodaidh MacFhionghain ’s an t-Sìthean, Ceap Breatuinn, do athair a tha ’na Ghàidheal is aig a bheil a’ Ghàidhlig agus do mhàthair a tha ’na h-Acadianach is aig a bheil an Fhraingis. Chaidh a thogail air tìr-mór na h-Albann Nuaidhe ann an Siorramachd Antaiginis. Ann an 2011, chaidh a ainmeachadh mar bhàrd dhan Mhòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail an Albainn. Tha e ag obair gus cànan, cultur agus aithne nan Gàidheal an Albainn Nuaidh, an Canada is gu h-eadar-nàiseanta a chur air adhart. Tha e a’ fuireach còmhla ri’a theaghlach ann an Sackville Mheadhanaich teann air Haileafacs.