Published on August 23rd, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Author Kelly Robson On “The Word On The Street Toronto 2019” & Being A Nebula Award-Winner
A festival 30 years in the making, The Word On The Street Toronto has championed literacy and excellent Canadian writing since 1989, delighting audiences of all ages with author readings and featured programming alongside Canada’s largest open-air book fair. This September, the festival will return to Harbourfront Centre for a birthday party like no other, celebrating the past and future of Canadian literature with an exciting lineup of debut authors alongside perennial favourites, including Sharon & Bram, Cory Doctorow, Fonda Lee, Kelly Robson, Alicia Elliott and Kai Cheng Thom.
This annual, free event has grown to attract crowds of over 200,000 since its early days on Queen Street West, now taking over Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre for a fifth year. With more than 140 readings, panels, workshops, and other forms of literary-oriented entertainment, the critically-acclaimed festival is truly an all-ages-welcoming celebration of the written word.
To learn more about The Word On The Street Toronto, I spoke with aforementioned participating author Kelly Robson. Robson is a Canadian science fiction, fantasy and horror writer. She won the 2018 Nebula Award for “Best Novelette” for her novelette A Human Stain and was nominated for the Nebula Award for “Best Novella” in 2016 for Waters Of Versailles and in 2019 for Gods, Monsters And The Lucky Peach; Versailles also received the 2016 Prix Aurora Award for “Best Canadian Short Fiction.”
2018 was a big year for your career. Is there an accomplishment you are most proud of?
Kelly Robson: So many terrific things happened in 2018! Having my first book come out has to be near the top of the list, but since I really like surprises, winning the Nebula was the highlight of the year. I really didn’t expect it. The Nebula Award is voted on by the membership of the Science Fiction Writers of America, and I really didn’t think the majority would vote for a Lesbian Gothic Horror story. But they did! The announcement hit me like a ton of bricks.
2019 finds you being part of The Word On The Street. How did that opportunity come about?
Kelly Robson: I’m not sure! I’ve been attending the Word On The Street in Vancouver and Toronto for years, so being invited as an author is a huge honour.
Do you know any of the other authors who are involved with Word On The Street?
Kelly Robson: So many! My wife L.X. Beckett will be there, along with several good friends: Fonda Lee — an ex-pat Canadian who lives in Oregon — and Kate Heartfield and Derek Kunsken who are both from Ottawa.
What will you be doing as part of Word On The Street?
Kelly Robson: I’m on a panel called Imagination Architects: Building Worlds from Words, which is about world building in fiction. A lot of people think world building is just for science fiction and fantasy but it’s really important for all genres, and is essential for verisimilitude. It’s going to be a great panel!
Word On The Street aside, what is coming up for you career-wise?
Kelly Robson: I’ve just gotten back from the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, where my book Gods, Monsters, And The Lucky Peach was up for a major award. I’m still jet-lagged! And in October I’ll be a guest of honor at Can-Con, The Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature in Ottawa. Can-Con is a terrific convention, and I have been attending every year for quite a while.
When not busy with work or writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Kelly Robson: I love to travel, and I adore art galleries. I’m lucky enough to live around the corner from the Art Gallery Of Ontario so I consider it my personal art collection.
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Kelly Robson: My wife and I saw The Weepies in concert here in Toronto last year, which was stupendous. Not quite a concert, but we often attend the Nerd Girl Burlesque shows — huge fans. And again, not quite a concert but last week in London we saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe. It was a technicolor dream, and so funny; they played every line for laughs.
Finally, Kelly, any last words for the kids?
Kelly Robson: Read read read! There’s nothing like reading — it’s a movie in your head!