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2014 Workshop Presenters Bios

participating in the Blue Pencil CaféBelow is a list of speakers and a brief biography. Speakers participating in the Blue Pencil Café are indicated. Choose your three Blue Pencil authors and enter them on the registration form.

Carmen Aguirreparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféCarmen Aguirre
Carmen is a Vancouver ­based theatre artist who has written and co-written twenty plays. Her plays have been nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award (Toronto), four Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards (Vancouver), and The Siminovitch Prize (national).

Her first book, Something Fierce:Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter won the CBC Canada Reads 2012 and is a #1 national best seller. Carmen has over sixty film and stage acting credits. She is the only recipient of the 2002 new Play Centre’s Best New Play Award, the 2011 Union of B.C.’s Performers’ Lorene Gale Woman of Distinction Award and Langara College’s 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Gail Anderson-Dargatzparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféGail Anderson-Dargatz
Gail, whose fictional style has been coined as “Pacific Northwest Gothic” by the Boston Globe, has been published worldwide in English and in many other languages.A Recipe for Bees and The Cure for Death by Lightning were international bestsellers, and finalists for the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada. The Cure for Death by Lightning won the UK’s Betty Trask Prize among other awards. Both Turtle Valley and A Rhinestone Button were national bestsellers in Canada.

Gail teaches novel in UBC’s optional-residency creative writing MFA program and mentors writers privately through her website. For more, go to

Ann Erikssonparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféAnn Eriksson
Novelist and biologist, Ann Eriksson, combines a background in ecology with life experiences to create works of fiction grounded in nature and populated with compelling characters. Ann is the author of four novels: Decomposing Maggie, In the Hands of Anubis (Brindle & Glass), Falling From Grace —awarded a Silver medal for the 2011 Independent Publishers Book Awards— and High Clear Bell of Morning.

Passionate about the outdoors and a committed environmentalist, Ann embeds her fiction within an ecological and/or social context. A founding director of the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy, Ann lives on Thetis Island, BC with her husband, poet Gary Geddes.‎

David Essigparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféDavid Essig
David has performed at every major Canadian folk/roots festival and in concerts world wide for 43 years. David is one of Canada's finest interpreters of original, contemporary folk music. Always paying homage to his roots in Bluegrass and Country Blues, David uses these traditions to create timeless new songs.

David is highly respected as a thoughtful and intelligent songwriter, with Canadian folk standards like "Albert's Cove" and "High Ground" to his credit. His work moves from pieces as contemporary as today's news, to songs that sound as if they were rediscovered from old country blues 78's. These are songs that tell stories that will start you laughing and leave you crying. He sings original songs and has his own unique sound. His guitar playing is extraordinary; he is one of Canada’s finest slide guitar players. He has released 20 albums of his own music and produced over 60 albums by other artists including William P. Bennet and Fred Eaglesmith.

David’s first novel, Dancing Hand, was published in October 2013. Penguin Eggs recently called David “one of our most cherished touchstones for the Canadian way of life.” David and his wife, Milena, live on Sointula, BC.

Diana Gabaldonparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféDiana Gabaldon
Diana is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling Outlander novels, described by Salon magazine as "the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting "Scrooge McDuck" comics."

The adventure began in 1991 with the classic Outlander (published as Cross Stitch in the UK) ("historical fiction with a Moebius twist"), has continued through five more New York Times-bestselling novels--Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes—and presently has some seventeen million copies sold worldwide. An Echo in the Bone, to be released in September of 2009, is the seventh—but NOT the last!--novel in the series. The series, published in 24 countries and 21 languages, includes a nonfiction companion volume, The Outlandish Companion, which provides details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the novels. Gabaldon has also written several books in a sub-series featuring Lord John Grey (a major minor character from the main series): Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and Lord John and the the Hand of the Devils).

Returning to her comic-book roots, she has also written a graphic novel titled The Exile (set within the Outlander universe and featuring the main characters from Outlander), illustrated by Hoang Nguyen, to be published by Ballantine in Fall of 2010. Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters), and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Computers, founded the scientific-computation journal Science Software Quarterly, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney. Her awards include: 1992: RITA Award given by the Romance Writers of America in the category Best Book of 1991 for the novel Outlander and 2006: Quill Book Award in 2006 in the category Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror

Gabaldon’s new book Written In My Own Hearts Blood will be released in 2014.The Outlander Series for television began production in Scotland in October 2013.

Gary Geddesparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféGary Geddes
Gary has written and edited over thirty-five books, including seventeen books of poetry, as well as fiction, non-fiction, drama, translation, criticism and anthologies. His work has been translated into five languages. Before embarking on his literary career, he worked as a gillnet fisherman, loaded boxcars at BC Sugar Refinery, stocked shelves at Woodwards, worked as a fishing guide and drove a water-taxi.

Geddes is known as one of Canada’s best political poets, having been singled out for this honour by literary critic George Woodcock in the late 1960s, whose claim graced the back cover of many of Geddes' books. Geddes has explored human rights issues in places such as Chile during its dictatorship, in Nicaragua during its civil war, and in Palestine and Israel after the Oslo peace accord. Currently he lives on Vancouver Island, with his wife Ann Eriksson, dividing their time between Victoria and French Beach.

His publications are legion..too many to list here! Awards: E.J. Pratt Medal and Prize for Poetry (1970).National Poetry Prize, for The Acid Test (1981). Canadian Authors Association Literary Award, poetry (1982). America's Best Book Award, Commonwealth Poetry Competition, for The Terracotta Army (1985). Writers' Choice Award (1987).National Magazine Gold Award, for Hong Kong (1987).Archibald Lampman Award (1989). Arvon International Poetry Competition, short list (1993). Poetry Book Society Recommendation, UK, for Active Trading (1996). Gabriela Mistral Prize from the Government of Chile (1996). Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence in British Columbia (2008).

C.C.Humphreysparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféC.C.Humphreys
Chris was born in Toronto, and raised in the UK. He is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer and novelist. He has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. Favorite roles have included Hamlet, Caleb the Gladiator in NBC’s Biblical-Roman epic mini-series, ‘AD – Anno Domini’, Clive Parnell in ‘Coronation Street’, and Jack Absolute in Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’. He has written nine historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, The Jack Absolute Series, and Vlad. His most recent novel is about Shakespeare’s fight choreographer, Shakespeare’s Rebel and his new one, Plague, (July 2014) is a thriller set in London 1665.

He has also written a trilogy for young adults The Runestone Saga. A heady brew of Norse myth, runic magic, time travel and horror, the first book in the series The Fetch was published in North America in July 2006, with the sequel, Vendetta in August 2007 and the conclusion, Possession, August 2008. They are also published in Russia, Greece, Turkey and Indonesia. His latest Young Adult novel, The Hunt of the Unicorn was runner up in the recent M Awards, Victoria BC. He is translated into thirteen languages.

He has recently signed to write two books for Century in the UK and Doubleday in Canada. Plague and Fire are tales of religious fundamentalist serial killers set against the wild events of 1665 to 1666, London. They will be published in 2014 and 2015. Chris lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with his wife and young son.

Shelagh Jamiesonparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféShelagh Jamieson
Shelagh Jamieson is Director of Publishing and Communications for the Factors Group. In addition to overseeing corporate communications, she is managing editor of Mind Publishing, the company’s book-publishing division. She is a member of the Editors’ Association of Canada and has been involved in writing and editing for over 20 years, primarily within the natural health product industry. Shelagh is a UBC graduate, and has studied at the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing and the Sauder School of Business.

In addition to her passion for words, she is an avid gardener, loves to travel, and enjoys photography.

Ursula Maxwell-Lewisparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféUrsula Maxwell-Lewis
Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is a former South African journalist. She has worked as a writer and public relations professional in Africa, Britain, and Canada for various airlines, including Air Canada. In 1996 she established a community newspaper,The Cloverdale Reporter. Black Press News Group purchased it in 2008. She is Director Emeritus of the Surrey International Writers' Conference, has served on the national and provincial boards of the Travel Media Association of Canada, and is currently co-chair of the Society of American Travel Writers (BC chapter). Ursula is a freelance writer-photographer tweeting about life from @YouTravel

Carolyn SwayzeCarolyn Swayze (accepting pitches)
Carolyn Swayze is one of Canada’s top literary agents, representing fiction and non-fiction.

She has also worked as a a lawyer, a freelance writer, (humour, business, and literary fiction), and a novelist (a genre mystery published in 1977 in the US and a literary novel, publication of which was aborted when the Canadian publisher declared bankruptcy in 1984).

Howard Whiteparticipating in the Blue Pencil CaféHoward White
Howard was born in 1945 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was raised in a series of camps and settlements on the BC coast and never got over it. He is still to be found stuck barnacle-like to the shore at Pender Harbour, BC.

He started Raincoast Chronicles and Harbour Publishing in the early 1970s and his own books include A Hard Man to Beat (bio), The Men There Were Then (poems), Spilsbury's Coast (bio), The Accidental Airline (bio), Patrick and the Backhoe (childrens'), Writing in the Rain (anthology) and The Sunshine Coast (travel). He was awarded the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History in 1989. In 2000, he completed a ten-year project, The Encyclopedia of British Columbia. He has been awarded the Order of BC, the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award and a Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Victoria.

In 2007, White was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has twice been runner-up in the Whisky Slough Putty Man Triathlon. Harbour Publishing recently purchased Douglas & McIntyre.

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