2018 was the fourth year for Limestone Genre Expo, Kingston’s only genre writing festival. I’ve been to the expo each year from its inaugural festival in 2015. The festival gets its name from the city’s moniker, based on the many heritage buildings constructed there using the local limestone.
In 2016 I was delighted to be the science fiction guest of honour. In 2017, the expo was held at the Saint Lawrence College campus.
This year, the expo was held at the Holiday Inn, right on the waterfront and literally a staggering distance from the Merchant Tap House, one of the greatest pubs and eateries of the town.
As before, the festival covered several of the major genres such as fantasy, science fiction, horror, romance and mystery, with representation by well-known authors in each. Organizers offered a triple track program from 10 am to 5 pm that included panels, informative workshops, readings, book launches, and novel pitch sessions with Bundoran Press.
Liz Strange and programming organizers had me in several panels throughout the two-day expo.
Panels I participated in and in some cases moderated included:
“Mental Health Representation in Fiction: More than Villains” with Michael Slade, Therese Greenwood, Ada Hoffmann, Matt Moore and Madona Skaff. I really enjoyed this panel discussion that explored our evolving perception and representation of mental health in story and in our real lives.
“Why Do We Love a Good Whodunit?” with Michael Slade, M. H. Callway, Katherine Prairie, Jim Napier, Melissa Yi, and Rosemary McCracken. The panel and I had fun with this discussion as bizarre real-life stories were thrown into this mix.
“What Makes a Great Hero?” with Kate Heartfield, Tobin Elliott, Theresa Greenwood, Kris Jacen, Donna Warner, and Douglas Smith. The panel debated what makes a hero, then anti-hero, then sad and terrible hero, then non-hero…and ultimately to the journey of our at times miserable but great hero.
“Dystopian Fiction: How to write when the world is falling apart” with Una Verdandi, Robin Timmerman, Brad Baker, Tapanga Koe, Hayden Trenholm and Ursula Pflug. In this rather passionate discussion, we debated the state and shape of dystopia in both the real world and the fiction world and how they inevitably bleed together for the writer.
“Women of Science Fiction” with Hayden Trenholm, Laura Baumbach, Ada Hoffmann, Tanya Huff, Tapanaga Koe, and Nancy Baker. Hayden emerged amid his female colleagues to astutely discuss the reason we are still discussing this topic.
I also sold a number of books, including Water Is… (a Margaret Atwood favourite), my journal and fiction writing guidebooks (The Journal Writer and The Fiction Writer), Reality Skimming’s Water Anthology, for which I was editor, and The Last Summoner.
One of the key charms of this small venue is that it still provides an intimate setting for great networking. I had a chance to meet many of my old friends and to make new ones. Thanks to Liz, Marlene and wonderful volunteers for another great writing festival!
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist, limnologist and internationally published author of award-nominated speculative novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books.