Monday, January 17, 2011


On January 22, Ann Birch was the featured speaker at the Arts and Letters Club luncheon in Toronto. She talked about the challenges of writing historical fiction. "People tell you to write about what you know," she said, "but what if you're dumb enough to write about what you don't know?"

Ann gave her audience a glimpse at the research she had to do to bring Upper Canada to life, circa 1837. For example, for Chapter Two of her novel "Settlement", she read a 500-page tome on moose-hunting in the 1800s, the book propped up against her computer and flanked by a cup of strong coffee and a large glass of limoncello.

Ann followed her talk with a quiz for her audience on some of the facts that she had to research. Were there paper patterns for dressmaking in those long-ago days? Did the insane have their own mental hospital for treatment? What did the maidservant do with the contents of the chamberpot? The winner of the quiz, Jane Schmidt, who got eight out of ten answers correct, received a free copy of "Settlement".

Ann's upcoming February talks are as follows:

Wednesday February 2: "Making the Case for Historical Fiction" at Swansea Historical Society, 95 Lavinia Avenue (Swansea Town Hall), Toronto, 7:30-9 p.m. Everyone welcome.

Thursday, February 24: "Meet the Author" at the Brentwood Book Club, Runnymede Public Library (upstairs room), 7-8 p.m.