Monday, October 28, 2013

Surrey International Writers' Conference

Image: Bruce Hale entertains the crowd

The 21st Annual SIWC was a stellar conference, with many of the usual suspects. Among the new presenters was Simon Clews, who came all the way from Australia. He revealed how he transformed his PhD thesis research into a fascinating book. Also here for the first time was the hilarious California playwright, anthologist, and essayist Victoria Zackheim.

Zsuzsi Gartner, a 2011 Giller nominee, meditated on how "Mr. Google" is changing our brains. She told her story of going offline, then raised a question many have pondered but few have voiced: Why do so many contemporary toilets flush before use?

Perennial highlights were workshops given by regulars Anne Perry and Diana Gabaldon. Both have bestsellers now being filmed. As usual, Jack Whyte sang Glorious Mud in his best Scots accent, and Michael Slade hosted Friday night Shock Theatre.

The Sheraton Guildford catered delicious meals and Carol Monaghan was her brilliant best as MC. After four days of learning, networking and inspiration, the participants left singing. Literally. The final Keynote speaker, Bruce Hale, gave a humorous pep talk -- the kind writers need. Then he sang us a song to cheer ourselves on, and before we knew it, we were all singing along.

Conference Coordinator Kathy Chung and her team of planners and volunteers deserve kudos and accolades for planning this stellar 2013 incarnation of SIWC.

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