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Creative Writing Students Learn from Renowned Authors

October 23, 2013
Creative Writing

For the second year in a row, The School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing program paired with the International Festival of Authors to present Backstage IFOA, which ran from October 28 to November 1st. This exciting course was designed to give students a chance to work on their own projects as well as attend literary events to broaden their understanding of the creative process.

Joseph Boyden

Students enrolled in the unique Backstage IFOA course received creative writing tips from award-winning authors, mingled with literary greats, and shared their work with fellow students.

Backstage IFOA students got up close and personal through intimate Q&A sessions with authors, including:

  • Joseph Boyden, nominated for a 2013 Governor General’s Award for his best-selling novel The Orenda and winner of the 2008 Giller Prize for Through Black Spruce

  • Eleanor Catton, nominated for a 2013 Governor General’s Award and winner of the Man Booker Award for The Luminaries

  • Paul Harding, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for his debut novel Tinkers

  • Sam Hawksmoor, author of acclaimed sci-fi thrillers The Repossession and The Hunting

Students came from a variety of backgrounds including experienced writers and those new to the field. For Dayani Godamunne, the experience was eye opening. “Coming from a finance background with absolutely no creative writing experience, Backstage IFOA was a fabulous opportunity to get an understanding of the literary world. Hearing from Eleanor Catton and Joseph Boyden about their approach to writing was a real high point for me.”

students with Eleanor Catton

Eleanor Catton (fourth from left) with students from Backstage IFOA

Abdullah Choksi has recently started his writing journey and found that “Backstage IFOA helped me skip many steps on the ladder towards publishing my book. I was meeting with top authors like Eleanor Catton and Margaret Atwood, along with their agents and publishers. This is a great course to take if you want to make your presence known in the world of writing.”Instructor David Layton agrees that the course is immensely valuable for emerging writers. Layton says “What makes Backstage IFOA such a rare experience is the access it provides to publishers and agents. You attend award ceremonies, talk to agents and go to the opening night party where you can informally meet with writers, agents and publishers. Apart from anything else, it’s a lot of fun.”

The School of Continuing Studies thanks the writers who came to the Backstage IFOA classroom to share their wealth of knowledge with our budding writers, and we are already looking forward to the 2014 International Festival of Authors.

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