The organizers of STARFest shot for the moon this year, and it paid off with a stellar lineup of authors.
Put on by the St. Albert Public Library, the St. Albert Readers Festival – or STARFest, for short – is another chance for book lovers across the Capital Region to get up close and personal with some of their favourite writers. And this year, which will be the festival’s fifth, the lineup is bigger and better than ever, with astronaut Chris Hadfield, The Book of Negroes author Lawrence Hill and reigning Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, Sean Michaels, paying a visit.
“We’re very excited. Last year, we thought it was one of the biggest we could do, but this year, it’s just bigger and better,” says festival director Heather Dolman. “To have the quality and calibre of authors we have visiting us for the festival is just amazing.”
Indeed, the literary luminaries STARFest is able to attract speak volumes about just how much the festival has grown since its inception in 2011. “We’re limited now only by the sizes of the rooms we have available to us here,” Dolman says.
The festival had initially approached Hadfield about attending last year, but the stars didn’t align. This year, though, they teamed up with the Arden Theatre to bring the Canadian astronaut in as the main attraction, with a second show added at the Arden Theatre after the first sold out.
“We decided to do it in the Arden and make it a more intimate experience with him,” Dolman says. “There are a lot of people who are still very interested in having the opportunity to meet with him and listen to him.”
Meanwhile, Michaels – who won the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his debut novel Us Conductors – will be talking about the research that went into his book, which is loosely based on the life of the inventor of the Theremin. Organizers were able to bring him to the festival through the daughter of a regular St. Albert Public Library patron.
“These things come together in the strangest ways sometimes,” Dolman says. “But we’re glad that they do.”