Novelist Marina Endicott enters stage right at the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival All-Star Reading on Saturday

Dim the lights, cue the brilliance

A new installment in Anne DeGrace's mini-series on writers at the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival.

Festival Tales

An Elephant Mountain Literary Festival Mini-series

In Marina Endicott’s book The Little Shadows, three young sisters tour the vaudeville circuit. It’s WWI Canada, and Aurora, Clover, and Bella are singing their way from one meal to the next as they navigate small town theatres and the sundry characters that lurk in the wings.

Marina herself will be on stage at Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s All-Star Reading on Saturday, July 11, 7:30pm at the Capitol Theatre. We won’t know what goes on behind scenes, because we’ll be in the audience. Lurking in the wings (or simply waiting for their cue) will be co-presenters Bob Bossin and Kate Pullinger for a three-act evening that’s sure to bring down the house in this very best of small town theatres.

There is a theatrical feel to Marina’s books, from the overt, such as the plot of The Little Shadows, to the subtle: characters who feel as if they are acting a part until their true selves are discovered, or simply in the way characters enter and exit the scene.

The dramatic qualities of Marina’s four novels—Open Arms, Good to a Fault, The Little Shadows, and most recently, Close to Hugh—make sense when you learn a little of the writer’s background.

Growing up in Golden, BC, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, Marina Endicott longed for the stage. She told Australia’s Booktopia blog that she was always “deeply in love with the instant, intimate magic of theatre.”

After spell of acting and directing in Canada, Marina was lured to England and the footlights of London, but the spotlight was elusive. She returned to Canada to a position as a dramaturge at the Saskatchewan Playwright’s Centre, not on stage, but working the magic.

But if that instant, intimate magic of theatre was initially intoxicating, “by the time I was thirty I’d recovered from that madness and wanted to be a writer, for the more sustained spell of fiction,” she admitted to Booktopia. She had always been a voracious reader, the first prerequisite.

It was a good move, both for Marina and to the rest of us voracious readers. Open Arms was shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award, praised by W.P. Kinsella for meeting “one of my major criteria for successful novels: three weeks after reading it I can still recall characters, scenes, and events.”

Good to a Fault won of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and was shortlisted for the Giller. The Little Shadows was shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award. Her newest novel, hot off the press this spring, prompted Globe and Mail reviewer Kerry Clare to write: “Close to Hugh feels more like a play than a book in its compression of time and space, connections illuminated between characters to create a web in the gossamer sense, in that connections are sometimes barely visible until they shimmer.”

The stage is never far in Close to Hugh, from the oft-punned Hugh (inject “you”), whose mother chose stage over son, to the teenaged kids who waft in and out of scenes uttering strains of dramatic dialogue from A Streetcar Named Desire and The Importance of Being Ernest (perhaps metaphors for the action at centre stage). It’s a matter of the writer writing what she knows—letting it inform the story as it finds its voice, its drama, and its inevitable shimmer.

Four panels on Saturday explore creative process and include local artists and thinkers along with our special guests. For the 11am the panel, The Gathering of Elements, Marina is joined by actor and singer Bessie Wapp and creative nonfiction author Rita Moir for a lively discussion. Come learn about the origins of brilliance—and then experience brilliance first hand in the second act, at the All-Star Reading at 7:30 at the Capitol Theatre. We promise an unforgettable cast of characters.

Footer: The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, which runs July 10 – 12 in Nelson and includes a 100-Mile Gala, All-Star-Reading, panel discussions, a youth storytelling workshop, and more. For information and tickets go to www.emlfestival.com.

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