I have been a librarian since 2005 – and I have been a bibliophile for far longer than I care to admit -- so for me having an evening celebrating the literary and publishing talent of Saskatchewan is the equivalent of the buzz one hears at several author readings combined into one. A room of twenty people talking about a specific author before and after an author reading is about having several conversations – either talking about previous works in anticipation of the reading (as well as catching up with friends and neighbours) to after the reading as soon as the Q & A session is over.
The writing and publishing of a book is a painstaking and often lonely process that combines creativity with that of a business model in order to provide a final product for Saskatchewan readers. The relationship an individual has with a book is also a solitary exercise. The reader is actually engaging in an act of receiving and interpreting the story as told by the author. Therefore, an author reading serves to bring together readers in a community setting. It is also a rare moment when an author directly engages with her reading public and vice versa. The author reads a part of her work, explains her creative process, and answers questions about character and plot lines. Not only does the community benefit from having a relationship in person with an author they admire the author also engages her reading public in a way that goes beyond the solitary process of writing. Interpretations by readers may stimulate new ideas for future work as well as point out observations about a character in the work the author herself has not considered. Relationships between authors and readers are developed.
Over the years I have hosted author readings by Saskatchewan writers as varied as Arthur Slade whose Young Adult books are of Saskatchewan Book and Governor General Award winning-calibre; to Gail Bowen whose mysteries have a national and an international following; to poet Louise Halfe, whose vivid prose entrances; to James Daschuk, whose work is part of the national conversation about Indigenous rights. Books can entertain, inform, or even provoke the reader. Ulimately, the best authors engage their readers.
I am looking forward to being in the company of Saskatchewan’s talented writers, publishers, and most importantly, eager readers at the 2020 Saskatchewan Book Awards on Saturday, April 25, 2020, at the Conexus Arts Centre, in Regina. I hope that many Saskatchewan readers will join me in a celebration of Saskatchewan literary excellence.