Kingston WritersFest: A Flamin’ Good Time


Carrot Cake

Kingston WritersFest kicks off its fifth season on Sept. 25 at the Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront.

I like to attend several workshops and lectures each season. An absolute treat this year— the festival began a week prior, with a reading at Queens University by Jeanette Walls, Author of The Glass Castle. Her international best-selling memoir chronicles her nomadic childhood, which at times included homelessness. It was a great way to begin my literary feast prior to the festival launch events.

Kingston WritersFest welcomes sessions across a variety of genres and topics, including workshops on writing for the teen scene, tools for promoting your writing, storytelling, travel writing, true crime, screen writing, and more. Not to mention food events, such as the Book Lovers Lunch and Literary Treats.

According to the Festival website, over 300 published authors live in our region and several writers of international stature make their home in Kingston. The festival began in 2006, growing substantially over the years, and is recognized alongside some of the best literary celebrations in Canada.

Internationally celebrated Canadian Author, environmental activist, and inventor Margaret Atwood returns to the International Marquee. In 2009, she opened the Kingston WritersFest and this year, returns once again, to mark the fifth anniversary. Atwood is author of more than 40 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays.

The festival’s objective is to celebrate literacy in every genre and stimulate the creative impulse that contributes so much to the cultural vibrancy of our city.

Kingston loves to read and write.

In fact, in 1831 the first Canadian cookbook, The Cook Not Mad, was published here, in our city. It outlined the art of curing meats and vegetables, and offered miscellaneous important information for housekeepers, and general skills for basic cooking.

I’ve enjoyed many events at WritersFest, but the 2010 event named after this earlier publication, the ‘Cook Not Mad Sunday Brunch’ was the most memorable, not just for the engaging speaker, but also the activity surrounding it.

I love cookbooks. The art and design that goes into a carefully-planned cookbook is delicious. I equally love the experience of eating. Therefore, when WritersFest offered an event about food, (a cookbook author hosting a yummy brunch)—I was a moth to the flame. The event was held on the last day of the festival. Volunteers were beaming and relishing the success of another year, yet exhausted over the intense daily sessions. Nevertheless, I assure you—Sunday brunch was a firework-festival-ending, and a flaming good time, in more ways than one.

Cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan was being interviewed on the main stage, as we noshed on the first course. We absorbed her tales of creating simple, delicious, fuss-free food, kitchen stories with her son, and their shared love of cooking.

Later in the session, the brunch guests lined up for the tasty omlet bar set up at the back of the hotel dining room.  Full of giggles, the coffee and breakfast aromas tweaking our noses, we watched as the chef whipped up our individual breakfast requests.  Nattering away, I waited my turn,  (spilling my long-time dream of writing my own cookbook to a stranger), an alarm sounded, piercing the squawking room. The shocked foodie guests looked stunned when firefighters burst through the door, carrying axes, and the like.

The local uniformed heroes stood staring back at the crowd. Silence. Everything stopped, mouths gapping, then after what felt like a single beat, the room exploded—big, blubbery, hiccups of laughter.

Writers are known for their sense of humour. Such a scene could only appear funny to a group of quick-witted, food-loving story tellers .

All were in good spirits. Except the firefighters, who were not hailed for their heroic arrival, looking wounded as they scaulked away.

No flames or fire existed, but every precaution was taken to ensure all guests were okay, and the area was safe. The event barely missed a beat. Thanks to the staff at the Holiday Inn, and the Kingston WritersFest volunteers, a scrumptious breakfast was provided. The experience still lives on as one of the many flamin’ good times at the annual festival.

Join in the fun. It’s a good opportunity to connect with published authors, budding writers or those who simply love to read. Purchase tickets for the 2013 Kingston Writers Fest online at, or in person at the Grand Theatre Box Office at 218 Princess St, or by phone (613) 530-2050.

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