Eden Mills Writers’ Festival–2013

It’s hard to believe the Eden Mills Festival is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. This annual literary picnic does not disappoint, even when the weather fails to co-operate. As the temperatures dropped and the rain fell yesterday, jackets were donned and umbrellas were opened, but very few people left the grounds.

Inspired by such internationally acclaimed writers as Linwood Barclay, Andrew Pyper, Cathy Marie Buchanan, David Bergen and Elizabeth Ruth, I also welcomed the opportunity to sit in on up-and-coming writers from the MFA program at the University of Guelph. I was impressed by the passionate and evocative voices of the 2013 Guelph Poetry Slam Team and not surprised to hear they are the current provincial slam champions.

Linwood Barclay photographed by Patricia Anderson

Linwood Barclay photographed by Patricia Anderson

Andrew Pyper photographed by Patricia Anderson

Andrew Pyper photographed by Patricia Anderson


A Spectacular Second Act

cathymarieFor the longest time, Cathy Marie Buchanan hesitated to call herself a writer.

With her impressive credentials, BSc in Biochemistry and an MBA, Buchanan obtained positions in finance and marketing at IBM. During her academic years, however, she steered away from anything that reminded her of the less-than-stellar performance in Grade 13 English. A self-proclaimed poor speller, she avoided all essay-based courses. It wasn’t until much later that she stumbled upon evening classes in creative writing.

In spite of the late start in her forties, Buchanan wrote and launched two highly acclaimed novels: The Day the Falls Stood Still and The Painted Girls. Both books have been enthusiastically received and reviewed in Canada and the United States. The Painted Girls has been optioned for a TV series with the CW Network.

At last night’s reading (Guelph Public Library), she discussed the historical background behind the two novels and gave us insight into her writing process.

While listening, I realized why she has been described as the perfect author.

Her painstaking research takes six months to complete. Glimpses of the well-disciplined scientist are evident in the descriptive detail; she leaves very few stones unturned. After reading numerous texts and essays about Marie van Goethem, the girl behind Degas’ famed sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, Buchanan went to Paris to complete the last phase of her research. She walked the streets that Marie walked, sat in on a class of fourteen-year-old ballet students, and attended a ballet.

The actual writing of the first draft and the final rewrite each took one-and-a-half years. An improvement, she joked, over The Day the Falls Stood Still which took two-and-a-half years to rewrite.

She may have left the corporate world behind, but she still maintains her professionalism. To this day, she works Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, and disciplines herself to write before visiting Twitter and Facebook.

A spectacular second act and inspiration for all of us!