Paula Saunders grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. She is a graduate of the Syracuse University creative writing program, and was awarded a postgraduate Albert Schweitzer Fellowship at the State University of New York at Albany, under then-Schweitzer chair Toni Morrison. Her Festival book, The Distance Home, was recently longlisted for the Center of Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She lives in California with her husband. They have two grown daughters. For More Information Reviews of The Distance Home: “Saunders debuts with a penetrating and insightful deconstruction of a Midwestern family” – In Publishers Weekly “A grim, haunting parable of split child-rearing in which the dark blots out much of the light” – In Kirkus Reviews “Saunders skillfully illuminates how time heals certain wounds while deepening others, and her depiction of aging is viscerally affecting” – In the New York Times Interviews and Articles: “Aggression seemed to be a necessary push-back against so much worry and concern, both economic and personal” – In Lit Hub “Set in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the 1960s, The Distance Home tells the story of psychological trauma in a seemingly normal, working-class Midwestern family” – In BookPage
Tender, searing, and unforgettable, The Distance Home is a profoundly American story spanning decades—a tale of haves and have-nots, of how our ideas of winning and losing, success and failure, lead us inevitably into various problems with empathy and caring for one another. Join its American author Paula Saunders for a special three-course dinner, created in her honour by the chefs at Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and an evening of unfiltered conversation for the mind and soul. (Not included in Festival pass.)
Shelley Youngblut connects smart, funny people with life-changing ideas as the CEO & Creative Ringleader of Wordfest. In partnership with the Calgary Public Library, she is transforming Alberta’s oldest library into a vibrant arts and culture hub.
Shelley created her first magazine, VOX, while studying English at the University of Calgary, and her 20-year-career culminated in a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 from the Western Magazine Awards. She was the founding editor of the award-winning Swerve magazine and has created magazines for ESPN, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Nickelodeon and The Globe & Mail. She is also the author of three sports books, published by Hyperion in New York.
A former pop culture correspondent for ABC World News Now and Canada AM, she is unconventionally opinionated on CBC Calgary’s Eyeopener and also part of a weekly urban advice column. The mother of identical twins and a perfect dog, she wishes she could sing, win more at Texas Hold ’Em and bring Patti Smith to Calgary.