Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Interviews, Recommendations, and More

Heather Birrell (Mad Hope) appears at Vancouver Writers Fest 2012

Video: For Fest2Fest, Heather Birrell talks about her short story collection, Mad Hope, and appearing at literary festivals.

Vancouver Writers Fest logo

As part of 49th Shelf's #Fest2Fest, Julie Wilson is speaking with authors across the country (and abroad) who are appearing at literary festivals to promote their latest books.

For all our #Fest2Fest updates, bookmark

Heather Birrell, author of Mad Hope (Coach House Books), will appear at the Vancouver Writers Fest.

For all details, go here.

This year's festival runs October 16-21, 2012.

Julie chatted via Skype with Heather about Mad Hope, traveling for literary festivals, and, eep, back to school for teachers! Heather teaches high school English. Pencils down! Time to watch a video!

Mad Hope

About the book: In the stories of Mad Hope, Journey Prize winner Heather Birrell finds the heart of her characters and lets them lead us into worlds both recognizable and alarming. A science teacher and former doctor is forced to re-examine the role he played in Ceausescu’s Romania after a student makes a shocking request; a tragic plane crash becomes the basis for a meditation on motherhood and its discontents; women in an online chat group share (and overshare) their anxieties and personal histories; and a chance encounter in a waiting room tests the ties that bind us.

Using precise, inventive language, Birrell creates astute and empathetic portraits of people we thought we knew—and deftly captures the lovely, maddening mess of being human.

Heather Birrell, author of Mad Hope (Photo credit Charles Checketts)

About the author: Heather Birrell earned enthusiastic reviews for her first short-story collection, I Know You Are But What Am I? Her work has been honoured with the Journey Prize for Short Fiction and the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, and has been shortlisted for both National and Western Magazine Awards. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Toronto, where she teaches high school English. Mad Hope is her newest collection of short fiction.

Visit her website at

About the Vancouver Writers Fest: For the past 25 years, the Vancouver Writers Fest turns reading into a community experience, bringing people together to share thoughts, explore ideas, and witness brilliant conversations.

The Festival is a celebration of story, told by authors, poets, spoken word performers, and graphic novelists.

For six days in October, this celebration takes place in the cultural oasis of Granville Island, and continues throughout the year with the Incite reading series at the VPL, special events with leading writers and the Spreading the Word education programs at Lower Mainland schools and in small BC communities.

Through Spreading the Word, the Festival can reignite a teacher’s passion for teaching, mesmerize a teenager who rarely looks up from her phone or engage a child who is a reluctant reader. Festival events can encourage discussion and reflection, and connect old friends and introduce new ones.

Ideas create books, but people create the Festival. The Writers Fest brings people of all backgrounds together—writers, children, adults, staff and hundreds of volunteers—all of whom love to read. They also love what reading represents: the stirring of ideas, the sparks of recognition, and the realization that we are all connected.

Follow them on Twitter as @VanWritersFest.

Comments here

comments powered by Disqus

More from the Blog