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Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts to honour publishing milestone

Panel to mark Harbour Publishing’s 50th anniversary, broadcaster tapped for keynote lecture
Author and broadcaster Gregor Craigie will deliver the annual Rockwood Lecture at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts.

With the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts poised to launch ticket sales on June 3, the annual celebration of Canadian literature has released its full lineup of presenters.

The 2024 event is Aug. 15 to 18 at the Rockwood complex in Sechelt. 

This year’s event shines a spotlight on book culture around the Salish Sea. A panel discussion with publisher Howard White, broadcaster Grant Lawrence, and festival founder Betty Keller will mark the 50th anniversary of Madeira Park-headquartered Harbour Publishing. All three will be interviewed by Roberts Creek-based writer Andreas Schroeder.

Two serial authors from the Coast — David Roche (Standing at the Back Door of Happiness) and Marion MacKinnon Crook (Always on Call) — are also on the lineup.

“There’s just so much talent on the Sunshine Coast,” said festival director Marisa Alps. “There are many more authors I could have invited. It says a lot about the talent on the Coast that we are able to feature so many local writers.”

Local musician Simon Paradis will appear with author Kara Stanley to perform and discuss questions addressed in Stanley’s book The Pain Project. After Paradis sustained life-changing injuries in an accident 15 years ago, Paradis and Stanley have collaborated on a series of memoir and musical works. Folk musician Jill Barber will also perform at the festival’s closing concert. Three-time Juno winner Barber was named best producer of the year at this year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Renowned anthropologist Wade Davis, a resident of Bowen Island, is set to discuss his latest essay collection (released last month): Beneath the Surface of Things.

The 42nd annual festival will have a pronounced emphasis on Canadian journalism and political commentary. CBC current affairs host Gregor Craigie is slated to deliver the annual Rockwood lecture.

“Housing is such a crucial issue for the Sunshine Coast and for the country at large,” said Alps. “In Gregor’s book [Our Crumbling Foundation] he’s interviewed people from all over Canada and has many different types of case studies in the book that are really enlightening. He comes up with solutions and hope in dealing with the crisis.”

Columnist Naomi Klein will be interviewed by Mo Amir, the host of the political talk show “This is VANCOLOUR.” Another regular CBC presenter, playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald, is due to discuss her latest novel, Fayne. Bestselling journalist Shelley Wood will appear concurrent with the release of her latest book, The Leap Year Gene.

Laughter is on the agenda, as regular CBC The Debaters guest Deborah Kimmett prepares to present her new book, Window Shopping for God. Comedian Brent Butt, who headlined the TV series Corner Gas, will appear with his debut novel, a thriller titled Huge. Humourist Susan Juby, who released the homicidal rib-tickler A Meditation on Murder this year, will make the trip from Vancouver Island.

“Last year when I was going through our audience surveys, one of the recurring comments that came up was that people really appreciated some of the humorous events,” added Alps. “We can’t forget all the troubles in the world but laughing and finding joy in living is very important.”

The festival sustains its track record of highlighting Indigenous writers. Presenter Waubgeshig Rice, of the Wasauksing First Nation, is the author of four books; poet Jess Housty has mixed Heiltsuk and settler ancestry. Housty will appear alongside award-winning poet Lorna Crozier, who will share her meditation on grief and loss, After That. Squamish Elder Sam George will reflect on his experiences at St. Paul’s Indian Residential School in North Vancouver, as documented in his book The Fire Still Burns.

Megan Cole, representing the BC and Yukon Book Prizes, plans to interview a pair first-time authors: Langley-based Carly Butler and Vancouver resident Tara Sidhoo Fraser. 

Other featured writers include novelist Catherine Hernandez, investigative reporter Sarah Cox, Nova Scotia novelist Charlene Carr, and Giller Prize finalist Kevin Chong.

Tickets and full author biographies are available by browsing to