Novelist Kate Pullinger brings literary innovation to the All-Star Reading (with Bob Bossin and Marina Endicott) on Saturday

COLUMN: Literary intersections and other miracles

Our columnist Anne DeGrace is happy that Novelist Kate Pullinger will be in Nelson for the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival soon.

It’s a little-known fact that people have been stowing away in the wheel wells of airplanes for more than six decades. The first recorded stowaway, a young man travelling from Portugal to Brazil on a DC-3 in 1947, survived. Most don’t.

In Kate Pullinger’s 2015 novel Landing Gear, Yakub hopes to fly to America from Dubai and pays a man to tell him how to climb into the cargo hold from the wheel well of a commercial airliner. But there is no secret door, and Yakub spends the flight freezing and terrified until the landing gear descends on airport approach and he is released — and lands on the roof of Harriet Smith’s car in a London supermarket parking lot. Miraculously, he survives.

It’s a great story inventively crafted; it’s also about the ways in which lives intersect, and how we survive. Sometimes miraculously.

How perfect: Elephant Mountain Literary Festival is where the lives of readers and writers intersect — and worlds collide, creatively speaking. It’s the landing place for thought, discussion, inspiration, and occasionally even miracles. So it’s the perfect place for a writer like Kate to land for a weekend, where ideas take flight.

Kate is one of our special guests at Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, July 10 to 12 in Nelson. Her multi-media presentation combines reading from her novel with a screening of her digital project called Flight Paths, part of EMLF’s All-Star Reading on Saturday, July 11, 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre.

Kate was born in Cranbrook but now lives in London, where she is professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University. She won a Governor-General’s Literary Award for her novel The Mistress of Nothing, and she’s written another eight books of fiction plus the novel treatment of Jane Campion’s haunting film The Piano. She’s also an outside-the-box thinker, experimenter, and finder of intersections.

In addition to Flight Paths, a “networked novel” created in collaboration with worldwide participants, she co-created Inanimate Alice, a series of multimedia novels. She was lead writer in the 24hr Novel Project, which set out to write a complete novel in (yes) a mere 24 hours through a 10-writer collaboration. And she is co-creator of The Breathing Wall, experimental fiction that responds to the reader’s rate of breathing — a concept so innovative that it almost leaves me breathless.

Last year, Kate worked with novelist and theatre-maker Neil Bartlett on a project called Letter to an Unknown Soldier. Inspired by a statue at London’s Paddington Station that depicts a World War I soldier reading a letter, the project asked: if you could write the letter that this soldier is reading, what would you say?

Members of the public — 22,000 of them — did just that in a “digital war memorial” commissioned by 14-18 NOW, a group dedicated to World War I commemorative centenary art commissions.

At the All-Star Reading, Kate’s flight path intersects with award-winning novelist Marina Endicott and author and former Stringband musician Bob Bossin — more about these two in columns to come, or get a sneak peek on the festival website.

Tickets are available for the All-Star Reading at the Capitol Theatre box office. The All-Star Reading is included with your EMLF Gold Pass to all festival events, or you can pick and choose your tickets and get presenter profiles and more information at

In addition to the All-Star Reading there’s the Friday night 100-Mile Gala featuring local writers paired with Creston wines, four Saturday panel discussions on the creative process with special guests plus local creative movers and shakers, a pre-festival writing workshop with Fred Wah, a youth storytelling workshop, a Sunday brunch, and no reason whatsoever to stow away. Just come.


Elephant Mountain Literary Festival runs July 10 to 12 in Nelson. Future columns will cover Saturday panels and profile special guests Bob Bossin, and Marina Endicott. For information and tickets go to

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