Local authors “Meet and Greet” webinar a success

By Taylor McClure

The Knowlton Literary Association hosted its “Meet and Greet” webinar on Sunday introducing three local authors, Maurice Crossfield, Meghan Redmile, and Peter Turner and three poets Tanya Bellehumeur, Angela Leuk, and Carole Martignacco to audiences. Keeping things interesting, the Association decided to organize a gameshow-like webinar to keep things interactive and engaging for people. Since having to cancel their live literary festival for the past two years, the group has been organizing online activities for the community and plenty of events are being coordinated for the future.

“We thought at this point in time of Covid, people are very zoomed out and watching individual authors being questioned by an interviewer might not cut it at this point in time so we decided we have to make it different and fun,” said Lucy Hoblyn, vice president and treasurer for the Knowlton Literary Association.

Incorporating Wheel of Fortune and What’s my Line? the webinar served as a game show where the audience had the chance to ask questions to the local authors and poets depending on what category the wheel landed on. Popping up four lines from the artists books on the screen, the audience also had the chance to take a guess as to what line belonged to each particular author’s book or poem.

“We asked all sorts of questions. The first two authors, Maurice Crossfield and Meghan Redmile, they both landed on wild card questions so they got sort of questions like who would you invite to dinner if you had a choice of anybody in the world? Which is completely different than what an author is used to being asked. Or would you get along with your lead character? That was a great question. It was all sorts of fun questions like that,” mentioned Hoblyn.

Over 50 people participated in the webinar, which ended in breakout rooms with three poets and two authors. “We got a really fun and different insight into people’s writing and their upcoming books. Poor Peter Turner, he couldn’t get his sound working properly, but the other five were thrilled with it and loved the format. A lot of people said it was great fun and something completely different than what they are used to.”

Despite not being able to hold its literary festival live over the last couple of years, the group didn’t want to fly off the map.
“I think its extremely important, with these individual unique events, to keep the kettle on the boil because I think people would forget about it so quickly,” explained Hoblyn. “It was just in 2018-2019 that we were just establishing ourselves as a major literary event across Canada that people and authors have heard about and wanted to attend which was great. I think by doing these webinars and doing something different than the norm, it just keeps it in people’s minds and keeps it in the media.”

Their next online event will be a writer’s workshop taking place on March 26 and 27 with local author Isabelle Laflèche and plans for other online events are out on the table thanks to a grant from the English Language Arts Network (ELAN). “It’s a completely new world now and our plan, even when we go live, we are still going to livestream it. Part of that grant we received makes sure we have the technology to keep livestreaming these events so that people who have got to know us in the last two years can continue attend our festivals virtually.”

The group also received another grant to hire someone to oversee the organization of its literary festival and as they slowly build up their lineup of artists for the event in October, they have high hopes of going live. “We have actually a pretty good lineup for literary festival in October, including a local authors section, so we might be doing a live wheel that the authors can actually spin or something like that.”

In the meantime, its first live event is scheduled for April. “We found Bob McDonald so successful last year when he presented at our festival online that we are going to fly him over and he will be presenting at Knowlton Academy and Massey-Vanier High School where he will do a science production.”

Details for all upcoming events organized by the Knowlton Literary Association can be found at knowltonliteraryfestival.ca.

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