Festival showcases homegrown tomes

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Wondering what 23 publishers, 300 authors, 50 bookstores, and 40 libraries will be doing in April?

They’re involved in Read Local BC, a month-long campaign initiated by the Association of Book Publishers of BC (ABPBC). From April 1–22, libraries and bookstores across the province will host 23 events, including author readings and writing workshops.

Ruth Linka, president of the ABPBC, said that “the great stories that are being told, the diversity, the wealth of amazing books that we have here in B.C.,” is the reason why the group fosters awareness and appreciation of local authors and publishers.

When I spoke to her over the phone, Linka was excited about the month ahead. “Every type of book . . . they’re all going to be represented in these events, so there’s something for everyone.”

Linka herself is an associate publisher at Victoria-based Orca Book Publishers, which focuses on literature for children and young adults. Before Orca, Linka co-founded Brindle & Glass Publishing Ltd. in Alberta.

Linka has always found Victoria to be supportive of readers, writers, and publishers, praising independent bookstores like Munro’s and Bolen Books, and the vibrant public library system, as integral to the local community.

B.C. residents may not be aware that the province produces over 800 titles a year. “We look further afield for our entertainment,” said Linka. “We’re wooed by what is exotic and from somewhere else.” But there’s a danger of homogeneity, and it’s important to support local writers so they don’t disappear.

Linka likens it to investing in local small businesses and farmers — local food, local business, and local books “to remind people of all the great things we have right in our own region.” Not only do local writers tell stories about our landscape, history and people, they strengthen a rich cultural tapestry.

“Similar to the 100-Mile Diet, people reading and buying B.C.-produced books significantly contributes to our local economy, both culturally and economically,” said Margaret Reynolds, executive director of the ABPBC, in a press release.

The first event of its kind, Linka hopes Read Local BC will expose folks to more than the author who lives down the street, expanding the community from cities like Victoria and Vancouver to all of B.C., “So that when you go to book club, or talk to a friend about a book, every once in a while . . . one of those books is a B.C. book.”

For beginning writers, involvement in the local community can be inspiring. Victoria hosts many events year-round, with authors from all over the world visiting. Information is always available at bookstores and public libraries. “Victoria certainly has a lot of opportunity for people who are interested as readers or writers,” Linka said.

As for Read Local BC, four events will take place in Victoria featuring a variety of writers and creators. All are free. Read Local BC culminates on April 22, B.C. Book Day, when publishers will present their work to MLAs in Victoria.


Poetry Without Borders
April 8, 7:30 p.m.
Munro’s Books, 1108 Government St.
with Patrick Friesen, Rhona McAdam, Inge Israel, and Beth Kope

Save-On Author Talk: The Power of Local Television in an Age of Big Media
April 11, 12 p.m.
Save-On-Foods, 3958 Shelbourne St.
with Diane Dakers

On The Road: The Art of the Fictional Travelogue
April 14, 7:30 p.m.
Munro’s Books, 1108 Government St.
with Margaret Thompson, Julie Paul, Aaron Shepard, and Charles Tidler

Read Local BC Authors for Kids & Tweens
April 21, 1:00–2:30 p.m.
Greater Victoria Public Library, Juan de Fuca Branch, 1759 Island Hwy.
with Lucky Budd, Sylvia Olsen, Penny Chamberlain, Carol Ann Shaw, and Ann Walsh

For more information on the events click here  or visit books.bc.ca