Posted by: Feet Banks
It was a dark and stormy night. I was drinking whiskey alone and watching raindrops run like tears down the lounge’s over-sized window pane. Or was it window PAIN?
“Who does a girl have to sleep with to get some snowfall around here?”
I didn’t even see her standing there but instantly, I was in love…
Fear not, there will be much better writing than that on display at the 12th Annual Whistler Readers and Writers Festival. Set for October 18-20, 2013 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler the festival brings 30 authors from across Canada together for a cozy weekend of workshops, panel discussions, featured readings and book launches.
“People still read and buy books,” says Whistler author and festival founder Stella Harvey. “The way our festival is growing testifies to that and we try to mix it up and keep all age groups involved. It seems like once people come experience the intimacy of being here and meeting the authors in such an amazing setting, they keep coming back.”
One of those authors is Robin Spano, a crime fiction author making her inaugural trip to the Whistler Readers and Writers fest. Robin is no stranger to Whistler though, her latest book Death’s Last Run is a murder mystery/political thriller set right here in our quiet mountain town. The Insider caught up with Robin at her home in Lions Bay to talk about reading, writing and the perils of Whistler’s literary underworld.
Whistler Insider: You wrote a “whodunit” mystery story set on the slopes of Blackcomb and in Whistler Village. How did that come about?
Robin Spano: It all started when I was up there snowboarding and I heard some guys talking on the gondola. I think one guy was local and the other was an Aussie and the way they spoke and interacted it just sounded like fun, like an endless party. I knew I wanted to send a character there.
Insider: How familiar did you have to get with Whistler’s landscape and culture?
Robin: When I was in my twenties I worked in a resort town in Muskoka, Ontario. For this book I took a lot from that social scene that I knew. It’s similar to Whistler but not as affluent. Then I would travel up there for an afternoon every couple of months to listen to people talking, that was the biggest bit. I love snowboarding so I don’t count that as research.
Insider: Was it a challenge to set a murder story in such a small town where everyone knows everyone?
Robin: It actually helped because the story was a bit of a “closed room” mystery. The smaller you can make the group of suspects the more you can learn about them and meet the killer. My first two books were set in larger cities and I had to hone in on a subculture. Whistler helped make that easier and it was more realistic that everyone would be interconnected.
Insider: During your “non-research” on the slopes did you end up with a favourite mountain or zone?
Robin: I like Whistler the most. I like the blue and green runs, just put my music on and cruise the hill.
Insider: We hear a lot of doom and gloom in the media about the death of literature, the extinction of magazines, the bastardization of the English language through texting and twitter, the kids' attention spans decreasing…etc etc. And yet the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival is 12 years old and bigger than ever. What are your thoughts on the state of literature in Canada?
Robin: I don’t believe in the doom and gloom. As long as there is a culture there will be writers for that culture. Life evolves and changes, we don’t talk like we did back in Charles Dickens’ time and yet we are still intelligent creatures. I write short chapters and that might be playing a bit to the Twitter audience but writing is reaching into yourself so you can reach readers and I don’t think the human psyche will ever change so much that writing will become obsolete.
Whistler Readers and Writers Festival features 14 events including a conversation with CBC radio superhost Jian Ghomeshi and Giller Prize-winning author Will Ferguson. Robin Spano will be speaking at the Crimes of Fiction panel with four other celebrated writers of crime and mystery. Whistler Insider editor Feet Banks will moderate the discussion and admission includes lunch. Download a PDF Festival Guide here or get tickets, schedules, information and accommodation at Whistler.com and the best place to buy books in Whistler is always Armchair Books in the Village Square.