2024 Festival:
October 21–27

52. Debut Fiction

52. Debut Fiction

Each year, this event showcases authors you may not have heard of but whose debut fiction is buzzworthy—and likely appears on some of the biggest prize lists in the country. That is to say: you heard them here first, folks! William Ping draws on elements of magical realism, autofiction, and satire in his moving, inventive Hollow Bamboo. Métis academic and storyteller Michelle Porter has published nonfiction, but A Grandmother Begins The Story is her first novel and a national bestseller. And, Chelsea Wakelyn’s What Remains of Elsie Jane is a heartbreaking and darkly funny portrait of a woman unravelling in the wake of tragedy. Discover these remarkable voices. Moderated by Tara McGuire.

Event Participants:

Tara McGuire

TARA MCGUIRE is a former broadcaster whose first book Holden After & Before — Love Letter for a Son Lost to Overdose, a hybrid work in memoir and fiction exploring grief, motherhood, and the overdose crisis (Arsenal Pulp Press), was recognized by The Walrus as one of the best books of 2022 and is a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Chatelaine, The Globe and Mail, Geist, Room, Montecristo, The Tyee, and on CBC Radio. She holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia’s School of Creative Writing and is a graduate of The Writers Studio at Simon Fraser University.

William Ping

WILLIAM PING is a Chinese-Canadian writer from Newfoundland. After completing his Master of Arts at Memorial University in 2020, he was named a Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies. He received the 2022 Cox & Palmer Creative Writing Award as well as the 2021 Landfall Trust. His debut novel, Hollow Bamboo, which he wrote for his master’s degree, received the Award for Thesis Excellence from the English department. His work has previously been featured on the CBC, in Riddle Fence, and in the anthologies Us, Now and Hard Ticket.

Emerging Authors presented thanks to the support of RBC

Michelle Porter

MICHELLE PORTER is the descendent of a long line of Métis storytellers. Many of her ancestors told stories using music and today she tells stories using the written word. She holds degrees in Journalism, Folklore, English, and a PhD in Geography. Her academic research and creative work focus on home, memory, and women’s changing relationships with the land. Her most recent book, Scratching River, a memoir exploring the meaning of her Métis heritage through her older brother’s life story, was published by Wilfrid Laurier Press in April 2022. She’s also published a book of creative nonfiction about her great-grandfather, a fiddler from the Red River, called Approaching Fire (shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Award 2021) and a book of poetry, Inquiries, (shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award). Michelle has won numerous awards for her poetry and journalism and her work has been published in literary journals and magazines across the country. Currently she is teaching creative writing and Métis Literature at Memorial University. She is a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation and she lives in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Chelsea Wakelyn

CHELSEA WAKELYN is a writer, musician, and mother to two lovely, eccentric humans. She has an MA in Health Leadership and has spent most of her adult life working in health care, both on the front lines as a mental health worker and behind-the-scenes in quality and process improvement. She is now a project manager collaborating on public health strategies to mitigate the drug poisoning crisis. She lives on Vancouver Island.
Emerging Authors presented thanks to the support of RBC.