At a press conference Wednesday morning, organizers of Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair presented a highlight reel of the considerable range of 400 authors programmed for talks, signings, panel discussions, and other attractions at the inaugural event on Nov. 13–16. Co-founder and executive director John Calabro said he hopes names like Margaret Atwood, romance author Sylvia Day, Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, and Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey will draw in the promised 50,000 patrons over “three days of book-inspired Christmas shopping.”
The attractions, planned by programming and operations director Nicola Dufficy (formerly the national festival director of Word on the Street), will constitute 300 hours over eight stages. In addition, exhibiting publishers will host authors of their own, which Inspire! staff have estimated at up to 1,000.
TIBF’s programming for children is particularly strong. A kidlit focus to the schedule on Friday, Nov. 14 caters to the many Ontarians who will be out of school on a scheduled PD day. In addition to Pilkey and Kinney, other kidlit authors include Canadian favourites Gordon Korman, Barbara Reid, Mélanie Watt, Ashley Spires, Kevin Sylvester, and all seven of Orca Book Publishers’ Seven: The Sequel series in their first joint appearance for the new books. Over in the Piller’s Culinary Zone, Julia, Child author Kyo Maclear will do a cooking demonstration inspired by the recipes of the American chef, while Piller’s will do a green eggs and ham cooking demonstration. Programming will also feature workshops and contests for kids and teens.
Among the Canadian names are Atwood, making her first Canadian appearance for her story collection The Stone Mattress, Quebec novelist Marie Laberge, poet and fiction writer Molly Peacock, fashion personality Jeanne Beker, A House in the Sky author Amanda Lindhout, former NHL player Theo Fleury, authors Alison Pick, Elaine Lui, and others.
For programming at the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literary Circle, Inspire! organizers partnered with a working group led by B.C. writer, journalist, and publisher Paul Seesequasis to develop a mix of “traditional and contemporary” storytelling. Participating authors include Lee Maracle, Joanne Arnott, Michael Kusugak, Edmund Metatawabin, Waubgeshig Rice, and others. Inspire! programmers also collaborated with the Branford, Ontario, bookstore Good Minds, the largest wholesaler of aboriginal books in Canada, to develop programming around indigenous writers.
The fair will also feature writing communities from around the globe, including Europe, South Asia, and the Caribbean. A Different Booklist, a Toronto retailer of black, African, and Caribbean literature, has collaborated with the fair to bring the Black Book Fair to the event.
Numerous other literary and publishing organizations have partnered with TIBF on unique programming – from the Toronto Public Library, which will present offerings from the “library of the future,” to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,* which will lead a presentation at the Spark Stage for books in romance, crime, and fantasy genres.
The event will also include an rights fair, as well as several break-away rooms for the industry to meet.
*Correction: Aug. 20: An earlier version of this story stated that the Science Fiction Writers of America will have a presence at the fair. The correct name is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.