Maritime Canada Author Events

Scrolling through Facebook this morning, I came across a notice from my favourite author, Diana Gabaldon. She’s coming to the Atlantic Provinces IN A FEW DAYS!! I didn’t know this and I’m gutted because she’s going to be speaking and signing in Halifax on Wednesday and it’s already sold out. Crap.

Anyway. For fans of hers and for fans of Canadian authors in general, this weekend, April 29-30, she will be at The Frye Festival in Moncton, New Brunswick.  From their website “The Frye Festival is Canada’s only bilingual international literary festival and the largest literary event in Atlantic Canada. The Frye Festival offers the best of local, Canadian and international authors, including children’s authors, graphic novelists, storytellers, poets, playwrights, spoken-word artists and more.”

I wish I had known about this before now. I likely would have made plans to go and see Ms. Gabaldon and I know I would have enjoyed the opportunity to find some great Canadian authors and books. This festival has been going all week and has featured a few other authors that I know of and have read, Wayne Grady, Zoe Whittall, Ami McKay and Madeleine Thien. I must make a note somewhere to remind myself to check out this festival and the authors that will be attending next year. I have a friend in Moncton where I can stay. Not sure if my husband would be interested but he’d go anyway, if I wanted to.

Ms. Gabaldon is appearing on Sunday, April 30 at the Delta Beauséjour at 1 p.m. Details here on ticket prices and how to get them.  She will also be at the grand opening, the Soirée Frye, with three other authors, including Madeleine Thien (Do Not Say We Have Nothing, excellent book btw).  Saturday afternoon, she’s lecturing at a conference about Imagination and the Writing Life but that is already sold out.

Then she’s in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on Monday, May 1 doing a reading, Q&A and signing for Reading Town  in conjunction with the National Reading Campaign, at the Delta Prince Edward hotel at 7:30. Tickets are $15 plus tax and available at Bookmarks. I don’t know the status of sell out, you can contact: 902-566-4888 or e-mail at

Her last stop is in Halifax at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Wednesday, May 3 but as I mentioned, that event seems to be sold out according to the ticket purchase site.  You could contact the Dalhousie Arts Centre box office at (902) 494-3820   or 1-800-874-1669 in case of returns or last minute tickets that weren’t picked up perhaps.

IWD: Favourite Women Authors

Meeting Diana Gabaldon

Today is International Women’s Day, so I’m told. It may be as good a time as any to write a few notes on some of my favourite female authors. Number one on the list is Diana Gabaldon. She’s been on the top of my list since I discovered her very first book in 1990, Outlander. I love her style of writing and her characters and their stories are well researched, well written and thoroughly enjoyable. Her ongoing saga tells the story of Jamie and Claire Fraser and their family.

Minor spoilers if you’ve never read the books are included in this paragraph: Nurse Claire Randall “fell” through the standing stones in a stone circle in Scotland to find herself in the mid 18th century during the Jacobite Uprising where she met Jamie Fraser. They fell in love and married. Claire’s healing abilities served her well but also, on occasion, got her into trouble where women that could heal were sometimes suspected of being witches in that time period. During the series of books (8 so far), Claire returned to the future just before the battle of Cullodden but when she discovered Jamie didn’t die in the battle, found a way to return to him. Her daughter, Briana, also has the ability to travel through the stones as does Briana’s two children. (I’m covering a lot of ground here!)  Over the years, the Frasers end up in pre-Revolution America in West Virginian mountain country but get tangled up in the War of Independence.

There’s so much more detail, of course, with adventures galore, villains, heroes and everything in between. Diana has also written a few spin off books and stories about a secondary character, Lord John Grey. The books are in the process of being made into a television series on the American network Starz. The first two books have been aired so far with season three following book three coming later this year. Some people find Diana’s books have far too much detail in them but fans of the books wallow in every word! The television series pulls out the best of the books and keeps to the storyline very well with some differences that are inevitable due to the logistics of film/visual storytelling. Her website has excerpts from her books including the one she is currently writing and there is news and appearance schedules when applicable.

As you can see from the photo, I’ve met her (two or three times, actually) when her book signing tours have landed in Halifax. She’s very interesting and a real joy to listen to. She’s intelligent and funny and warm. She really seems to appreciate her fans and all the support they’ve given her over the years.

I could go on and on about Ms. Gabaldon but I was meant to write about other favourite authors as well.

I couldn’t talk about female authors without mentioning Canada’s Margaret Atwood. She really has become the First Lady of CanLit over the past forty years. She writes fiction, poetry, short stories and recently, she’s authored a graphic novel, working with the artist to create Angel Catbird. I own the first volume and I think the second one is due out soon. Her books span a variety of types of fiction though many have a sci-fi Dystopian theme. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of her best known books and has been filmed once already. A new series is due out later this year, debuting at the end of April in a 10 episode series on the American network Hulu. The most outrageous thing is that there is no apparently Canadian debut for this series based on a classic Canadian book. Not that I’ve heard , yet. And they wonder why people continue to download illegally or buy proxy VPN services to circumvent the restrictions between countries.

On the positive side, her novel Alias Grace is going to be a mini-series and will air on CBC in Canada in addition to Netflix in the US. Another recent book, The Heart Goes Last, is going to be filmed as well. It seems like the world at large is finally realizing the gem that we always knew we had here in Canada.

Some years ago, I discovered a series of books about witches in the modern world. The author’s name is Debora Geary. She wrote well over a dozen of these charming little books, filled with a community of strong women who were the hearts of their families and friends. Their abilities varied from fire, water, earth and air, with different witches having different strengths. Not just women, but some of the men and boys were also witches with abilities as well. One small boy will prove to be the most powerful of them all and it’s a challenge to raise a little one like that! It really does take a village! The books are only available on Amazon Kindle and this page on her website gives you more details on the series.

Anyway, I was gutted when she gave up writing about witches a few years ago but she’s still writing under the name of Audrey Faye. I haven’t read any of her newer series but a couple of them seem to be more science fiction and fantasy  and I think I would probably like them just as much. Her books are “clean”, that is, no swearing, no sex (though it’s alluded to among the happy couples). If you were concerned, you would have none were you to give them to your teenagers, though I think they’d appeal more to girls than boys but everyone’s different.

That’s pretty much my top three but I enjoy books but quite a few women. In random order: Anita Burgh, Penny Vincenzi, Miriam Toews, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Fiona Walker, Sharon Kay Penman, Alice Hoffman, Hilary Mantel, Emma Donoghue, Susanna Kearsley, Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Frances Itani, Maeve Binchy, Barbara Erskine, and Val McDermid.

The Book Was Better


The Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon, now a tv series called Outlander on Starz

Lots of movies and some television series are based on books. “Based on”, that’s the key word. Many times the movie takes an idea from a book and builds a whole new thing. Books generally contain so much detail that a movie can never fit everything in so naturally, it feels like a book is far superior to a movie.

When the author sells the rights to their work, what happens to make the end result  is pretty much out of their hands but sometimes an author is lucky to be allowed to write the screenplay. I’ve even been aware of a book that was written *knowing* it would be then made as a tv mini series and the series written by the book’s author.  It baffles me, then, when events in a book are completely changed for the movie. If the author knew they’d be writing the screen version, why didn’t they write the story to match in the first place? The specific book I’m thinking about is a sequel to Gone With The Wind, called Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. The mini series had major changes which didn’t enhance the story at all. Boggles the mind.

I’m sure most writers try to be as faithful to a screen adaptation as they can. Changes always have to be made and things have to be left out because they don’t always work in the visual version or the budget might require it. Most of the time, you never know what goes into adapting a book for the screen and why.

Two years ago, my absolute all time favourite series of books was turned into a tv series. Or, at least, the first two books have been turned into series, so far, with the third book/series in production now, I think. The author is Diana Gabaldon and the series is the “Outlander” series. It’s difficult to nail down the genre really. It is superb historical fiction with a time travel element and romance and adventure. The first book, Outlander, was published in 1991 and there are currently 8 books in the series, two companion books and a few “spin off” books about a secondary character. The historical period is the late 18th century, starting in 1743, just before the Jacobite Rising in 1746 and following through to the events before, during and after the American War of Independence.

Ms. Gabaldon has had much interest over the years but wanted to make sure it was in good hands and the producers at the Starz tv channel in the US have taken it on board and ran with it. She has been closely consulted along the way though she has no actual final say in things. She did get the opportunity to write an episode and she had a cameo appearance in another one. She’s been great at keeping the fans informed and often explains *why* things are different book-to-movie which is really great. You get a bit of insight into the production of it. I still hear people complaining that the books are better and yes, yes they are, but I also really love the series and since I understand why things have been changed, I can take the series for its own merits. The changes haven’t been too jarring so far and the interpretations have worked very well, I think.

It still doesn’t mean that I always accept a movie or filmed adaptation’s changes. Sometimes they just don’t make sense to me and sometimes a really interesting or seemingly important part of a book is dropped or changed and it is upsetting when you do love the book. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that was better than the book aside from possibly added special effects that were jaw dropping.

I could go on and on about various movies and books specifically but I think I’ll leave those for future posts. There will likely be another blog post about Outlander at some point, as well!

How do you feel about book-to-screen adaptations? Do you dread them? Are you often pleasantly surprised? Can you accept changes to the story? Which ones have been done well or not?