INSPIRE! toronto international book fair 2014


Jane and I with Elaine "Lainey" Lui of Lainey Gossip.

Jane and I with Elaine “Lainey” Lui of Lainey Gossip.

A few weeks ago I attended INSPIRE! The Toronto International Book Fair at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre. I attended all three days, and while I wish I could have spent more time roaming the booths, I did make it to some great talks featuring some inspiring (pun intended) authors. Here are some of the highlights and most stimulating quotes:

Day One: Friday November 14, 2014.“I don’t give a damsel” at INSPIRE Main Stage. <Lainey (of Lainey Gossip) interviews Gayle Forman, Sarah Mlynowski, Meg Wolitzer and E. Lockhart.>

“A feminist is someone who thinks of women as people.” – E. Lockhart

“Characters have to be believable.” – Sarah Mlynowski

“If the characters problem is a big problem and hard to solve, then the audiences are going to get invested in the character.” – E. Lockhart. “Likeability when you are writing for girls can get mixed up with relatability; something cuddly, insecure, vulnerable. It’s a feminist problem if those are the only way [the main characters] are relatable.”

“Be willing to let [your main character] be annoying. The reader has to hang in there. You have to let [the character] be what she actually is.” – Meg Wolitzer

“Loss is a powerful thing. There’s something about those moments when you’ve lost something -someone you love, or an essential truth- it’s an interesting place [to] begin a story.” –Gayle Foreman

“It doesn’t matter what kind of YA you read, [it means] you care about literature, you care about literacy, and you care about freedom of speech and expressions.” – E. Lockhart

Day Two: Saturday, November 15th 2015. <Margaret Atwood takes the stage (no further introduction needed). >

On Saturday of the book fair, my friend Jane and I saw quite a few interviews: Anne Rice, Lainey (of Lainey Gossip), Margaret Atwood and Sylvia Day (who was a real ‘character’ and has a huge fan base!). It was so entertaining to hear all of these amazing women talk about their craft. I was so enthralled by Atwood that I only recorded one quote down:

“One of the things is knowing the best place to stop.” – M. Atwood

It’s something we’re all taught as writers, yet when Atwood says it, it really sinks in.

Amanda Lindhout

Amanda Lindhout

Day Three: Sunday, November-16 2014. Inspiring Stories. <Lisa Genova (Still Alice) and Amanda Lindhout (A House in the Sky)>

This was the event that I was looking forward to the most. Not long ago, I posted about Lindhout’s A House in the Sky. It was one of the most inspirational (again with the puns!) stories I’ve ever read. Both women were incredibly interesting, and I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to hear them speak. I actually had the chance to meet Lindhout after the talk; she signed my book and told me to email her my A House in the Sky blog post. After meeting her, I was so overcome with emotion, I found my own corner of the convention centre and shed a few tears. Here is a little bit of what the women, primarily Lindhout, had to say:

“Fiction is the place where we can explore empathy.” – Lisa Genova

“It’s quite easy to believe, especially in your twenties, that nothing bad is going to happen to you, until it does.” –Amanda Lindhout

“I always thought ‘if something really bad happened to me, I don’t have the strength… you access the strength and courage that you never knew you had… I believe we all have that strength inside of us. You are always faced with the choice to give into despair or to nurture resiliency.” Amanda Lindhout

“It was not a stretch to see that these boys were victims and perpetuators of violence… it doesn’t make them innocent… but I can understand how these young men are created.” Amanda Lindhout

“It was important for me to find the inner goodness of these boys.” – Amanda Lindhout “Living a life of service… was the most important thing. And I thought about what that would be for me.” – Amanda Lindhout

“Because of what has happened to me, I feel like I found my purpose. I wake up in the morning and know why I’m here.” – Amanda Lindhout

“I suffered, there’s suffering all over the world…so what can we do about it?” – Amanda Lindhout

“Travelling fulfils a vital part of my being.” – Amanda Lindhout.

“There is so much beauty in the world to see. People are mostly good. And there is goodness everywhere, and that prevails.”


I’m going to ‘pull an Atwood’ and end my blog post with that beautiful quote.

Talk about inspiring.

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