HALIFAX: Book lovers in the Strait area can look forward to an evening of storytelling to ring in the holiday season.
Several local authors will take part in a “Cape Breton Christmas Reading and Book Sale Party” on November 25 at the Fleur-de-Lis Restaurant in Port Hawkesbury from 7-9 p.m.
“I had been thinking it’s such a shame that Port Hawkesbury doesn’t have a bookstore anymore,” said Marjorie Simmins, author and organizer behind the event. “We were getting close to Christmas and I thought it would be fun if we had some sort of party that celebrated books and celebrated Cape Breton writers.”
Simmins said the family event will help local authors gain exposure and give the community a chance to meet the writers and stock up on local titles before the holidays.
“Writers always want to sell books and share their work,” she said. “We spend long hours by ourselves working away, but the idea is to share the work.”
Featured authors’ books will be available for purchase. Cathy-Anne Hillyard, general manager of Coles-Indigo in Antigonish will also run a booth at the event selling a variety of Canadian titles including children’s books and Christmas books.
Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton offered up her restaurant to serve as the venue for the evening.
“Basically everywhere we went people were enthusiastic, which says to me that people are very much for supporting our local writers,” Simmins said.
Many of the authors will be reading Christmas-themed excerpts from their own stories. Simmins’ husband, Silver Donald Cameron who will be helping to host the event, plans to read from his short story Hazel Cameron’s Christmas. The autobiographical tale recounts how Cameron and his young brothers schemed to bring home a new dog for Christmas against the wishes of their mother, Hazel.
Cameron, who has published 18 books, said reading has always been an important part of Christmas for him.
“As a kid, the wonderful thing about Christmas was that you got to open your Christmas books,” he said. “And then you got to spend the afternoon reading them. That was my idea of a perfect Christmas.”
Author Lesley Crewe of Homeville Cape Breton will also read from Christmas-themed stories inspired by her life.
“Real life tends to work its way into most of my writing. It’s everyday things, the ordinary moments, and I think people respond to that,” she said.
Crewe began writing novels when she was 50 and her first book was made into a film. She now has 10 books to her credit, including her newest title, Beholden. She is excited to take part in Sunday’s event.
“It can be a long process when you’re writing by yourself. It’s nice for us to be able to get together and spend time together,” she said.
The evening will also feature young husband and wife authors Sarah Faber and Oisin Curran of Southwest Margaree. Faber received a 2018 Atlantic Book Award for her debut novel All is Beauty Now, as did Curran for his book Blood Fable.
The group of writers will be joined by Halifax-based author Alexander MacLeod, whose debut collection of short fiction Light Lifting was shortlisted for the 2010 Giller Prize. MacLeod was born in Inverness and has strong Cape Breton connections. He is the son of the late Cape Breton author Alistair MacLeod.
“We were basically trying to stick with Cape Breton authors. We wanted to make an event especially for Cape Breton,” Simmins said.
If the response is favourable, Simmins hopes to host similar events in the future with other local authors.
Because space is limited, those interested in attending are encouraged to arrive before 7 p.m. Admission is by donation to Seasonal Services, which provides boxes of groceries to families in need during the holidays. Door prizes will also be awarded. For more information visit the event page, “CB Christmas Readings and Book Sales Party” on Facebook.