Writers and Editors Network of Toronto (WEN) welcomed guest speaker Joseph Kertes, award-winning author and founder of Humber College’s creative writing and Comedy programs. The October monthly meeting was held at the Canadiana Restaurant in Toronto and offered opportunities to members and guests of networking over a buffet breakfast, with the guest speaker’s talk reserved for the grand finale.
Kertes talked about his latest book, The Afterlife of Stars, released in 2014 by Penguin Canada. The book draws from his personal scars of fleeing the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 when he was not yet five. He shared with the audience graphic and traumatic memories of seeing Hungarian soldiers hanging from lampposts, and of one in particular who seemed to be looking straight into his little boy eyes even though he was already dead. Kertes admitted that he was inspired to write The Afterlife of Stars as a tribute to his own family’s struggles in fleeing the revolution to reach Austria after crossing minefields in the dead of night with bombs going off all around them.
Kertes’ first novel, The Winter Tulips, won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. He has also written two children’s books, The Gift and The Red Corduroy Shirt, both of which received critical acclaim. His novel, Gratitude, won the Canadian and U.S. National Jewish Book Awards for Fiction.
Trading insightful writing tips with his audience, Kertes said that the first draft is usually a journey in self-discovery. He also said that a book is best written when it is ready to write itself. The talk was wrapped up by a Q and A round.
WEN’s monthly meetings provide an ideal environment for writers, editors, or anyone with a love for the written word to refine their talent, learn from guest speakers, and network with like-minded people.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.