SFFWorld’s own KatG got the chance to talk with Canadian writer Caitlin Sweet, the author of the fantasy novels, A Telling of Stars and The Silences of Home. In this interview Caitlin discusses her current works and what we can expect from her next.
KatG: In your first fantasy novel, A Telling of Stars, a young woman witnesses the senseless slaughter of her family, sending her on a journey of loss, vengeance, and ultimately, hope. You’ve mentioned that this novel is in some ways a very personal story for you. Can you talk a little about how different aspects of your life may have influenced this particular work?
Caitlin Sweet: Thankfully, the senseless-slaughter-of-family part of the tale was entirely fictional; it was the underlying theme of loss and grieving that was extremely personal. When I started the book, I was 21 and attempting to deal with my first serious case of heartbreak, and nothing I was reading in fantasy seemed to reflect what I was feeling. There’s always a lot of talk, in genre circles, about how fantasy isn’t escapist, but in fact deals with The Human Condition – but I wasn’t reading anything about relationships that seemed real or resonant. I scribbled something in my journal like, “I want to write something frustrating,” and then I wrote “Jaele was six when she met Dorin”, and that was it: the beginning of the novel (though I had no idea it was going to be a novel). I wanted to try and capture the often ambiguous relationships we can all have: the ones in which one person never finds out exactly what went wrong, in which there are issues that are never fully understood, let alone resolved. So a difficult love, and the loss of it, was the first autobiographical element I wanted and needed to incorporate into the story.
It took me six years to write the book and three more to get back to editing it. During that time two of my closest friends became very sick and died: one of AIDS, in 1992, and the other of cancer, in 2000 (both of them were 30 when they died). That first death became central to the unfolding of Telling, and my friend became the character of Ilario in the story. It was an odd feeling: I’d been grappling with Jaele’s grief for years, and it had always felt very personal to me, but now I had my own, death-related grappling to do. Her needs and mine seemed to dovetail. I was working on the last draft of the book when my best friend died. She was already in the book, as Nossi, the graceful, passionate Alilan dancer. Again, there was a great deal of strangeness in this layering of fiction and autobiography, and it felt horrible, meaningful, redemptive, necessary, and sometimes distressingly self-indulgent.
So the novel was born and grew because of various events and relationships in my own life, and it was an incredible thing, to transform them into fiction – but that’s the point: there was a transformation. I stopped thinking, “Jaele’s me, and this is how I’d react to this situation” and “Ilario’s Brent, and Nossi’s Alison, and here’s how they’d deal with this” – because these characters had become their own people. I think it took a few years to get them lives of their own, but it did happen, and I’m sure that’s a good thing. It can be cathartic to write about your own life – but it can also make for an unsatisfying story for those who aren’t in your own life!
KatG: You can’t talk about A Telling of Stars without of course bringing up the language, with its poetic, vivid imagery and almost musical rhythms. This very vocal style reinforces one of the story’s main themes – the power, literal and symbolic, that storytelling can have to cause change. (The Alilan Tellers in the novel have the ability to tell a story and cause the listeners to experience the story as if they are in it, with all the corresponding emotions.) Was that a conscious choice, to make the language such a big part of the story, or did it just sort of evolve from the creation of the tale?
CS: This might sound disingenuous, somehow, but the language surprised me. The other two novels I’d written, as a teenager, were young adult fantasies told in a fairly “normal” voice. But once I realized that Telling was going to be a more narratively lush story, it did seem to fit with my thematic concerns. One of my earliest bits of first-draft marginalia (around page 26, handwritten) was “all you need is wonder.” I’d been so disappointed by much of the adult fantasy I’d been reading: the stories seemed like pure stereotype, related in careless, graceless prose. I wanted to try and recapture some of the wonder I’d felt reading the young adult fantasy I’d so loved. So I guess Telling‘s language sprang directly (if unconsciously) from this fairly vague intention.
Another point: I didn’t know until many, many months after I’d begun the book that it would have anything to do with storytelling. The Alilan didn’t appear until I was well into the story, and I hadn’t planned for them, really. The whole book grew very organically; I felt as if I was discovering Jaele’s world right along with her (I know this will horrify staunch worldbuilders, but there it is!). The prologue, which makes direct reference to the power of storytelling, wasn’t written until years later, when I was nearly finished. So the language may have been determined by a desire to evoke wonder, but it preceded the birth of the narrative-as-power theme. Perhaps my prose style was actually directly responsible for the evolution of this theme. After I figured out how poetic it was, I started reading each section I wrote aloud – either to myself or to my very patient and supportive sister.
KatG: Another interesting element of Telling is the sheer amount of dramatic action it contains. There are battles, earthquakes, storms, and the persistent pursuit of the heroine after one of her family’s killers across many lands. Was it a challenge to handle that many heavy action sequences and different cultures in what is a relatively compact story? What issues did you have to deal with when you were crafting scenes like the fight of the Alilan and the Perona, or the final explosive fate of the castle of Yagol?
CS: Because the story grew organically (that adverb, again), I didn’t know how long it would end up being, and I didn’t do any strategizing about where the battles and natural disasters would happen, or how I’d deal with them. I have to say, it’s very, very interesting (and rather gratifying!) that you refer to these as “heavy action sequences.” People often react so strongly (whether positively or negatively) to the poetic prose that they don’t comment on the plot; or, if they do, they refer to the whole book as a “quiet fantasy,” which makes it sound as if nothing much happens at all. I didn’t feel that differently about writing the action sequences than I did about the slower, more introspective parts – though I do remember being even more excited about the possibilities of the language, when it was applied to quick, complicated, often violent scenes. (“Lyrical violence” – another oxymoron?) The destruction of the fortress of Yagol was a particularly thrilling sequence to write; I saw it as an intensification of all the surreal, dreamlike, sensual stuff that had taken place there before.
Some readers have commented that the tone is too uniformly lyrical, and that the drama in the action scenes would have been heightened if I’d pared my language way back and made it stark, rather than poetic. This may be true – but it wasn’t something I thought about, while I was writing. There was a real flow to both plot and language, and it wasn’t until subsequent drafts that I started being analytical about it all.
You mention Jaele’s pursuit of the Sea Raider. This is the one plot element that most definitely demanded strategy, as it didn’t exist, originally. In the first draft, Jaele wasn’t following anyone: she was simply heading east, following the path Queen Galha had taken on her own quest for revenge. It was my wonderful first agent, Jeff Kleinman of Graybill & English, who told me the story needed more momentum, that Jaele needed a focus for her rage and a specific reason for the urgency of her journey. This was excellent advice, and it demanded a considerable amount of rewriting. The end of organicism! And my first inspiring, nerve-wracking experience of what amounted to professional editing.
KatG: So it may be a matter of reader expectations – that we expect hard action stories to have that leaner, 1940’s mystery style, rather than “lyrical violence.” Which is sort of funny, because I know I’ve read several fantasy novels that were supposed to be quite violent and fast-paced, and they turned out not to have a lot of hard action scenes after all. Whereas you have this intense chase with near miss encounters and stand-offs, which reminded me of “The Fugitive” or Stephen King’s The Gunslinger – you could almost hear the Clint Eastwood “Fistful of Dollars” music in the background. So your agent’s suggestion, which led you to develop this suspenseful central focus to the story and this great character, the Sea Raider, were you surprised at how well it tied into the conflicts between Jaele and Dorin? It seemed to really add strength to Dorin’s character without detracting from his mystery.
CS: Stephen King! Clint Eastwood! What fabulous, fascinating, unexpected analogies…
It was amazing how an actual, physical pursuit lent the story a whole new dimension, and how the character of the Sea Raider acted as a sort of doppelganger to Dorin’s. Dorin disappears and reappears during Jaele’s journey, just as the Sea Raider does. She pursues Dorin in an emotional sense, seeking his love, or at least understanding of his motives; she pursues the Sea Raider physically, in search of the same sort of understanding (though initially she thinks of this second pursuit as a matter of vengeance, only). For much of the book she’s very certain of the moral correctness of her position: she has to make Dorin stay with her; she has to find the Sea Raider and exact a just revenge. But closer to the end of the story, her certainty blurs a bit, then a bit more. The intersection of the Dorin/Sea Raider interludes are directly responsible for the entry of grey into her previously black-and-white world.
You mentioned Dorin’s air of mystery; the Sea Raider is an even more enigmatic character. That doppelganger element: they’re twinned Others whom Jaele (and readers) never really “gets.” But that shouldn’t matter: it’s their combined influence on her journey, and its ending, that’s ultimately important.
KatG: Your second novel, The Silences of Home, is a prequel of the first, about the historic war of Queen Galha that figures as such an important myth in A Telling of Stars. Were you worried about how your fans would react in discovering that the actual events and people of that war were quite different from how they were portrayed in the myth? What did you want them to take away from Silences?
CS: It wasn’t until Silences was about to be published that I started to worry about the potential for negative fan reaction to its “backstory.” Until then I’d been so enraptured by the narrative possibilities of the myth/history collision that it hadn’t even occurred to me that others might not be quite so enraptured. My pre-publication worry didn’t last long, though. I really did (and do) believe that both novels are essentially sad stories that involve a certain amount of redemption, in the end – redemption of individuals, if not of societies (in the case of Silences). Yes, it may be a bit depressing to find out that the myth that so inspired Jaele was a fabrication – but it’s the fate of the characters themselves that’s the most important thing. And I don’t think that finding out about the fabrication should make Jaele’s quest any less important or true. Some readers have commented that they re-read Telling right after finishingSilences, and found that the first novel took on more layers of meaning for them. Which is wonderful.
However: while I don’t want my readers to get upset about the true nature of Queen Galha’s reign, I do want them to find the myth/history dichotomy provocative. A couple of readers have commented on possible political parallels in our own world – and although I never had any of these in mind while I was writing, it’s a reading I don’t object to. How do myths evolve? Who tells them? How does historical fact become legendary fiction? I know that reviewers and readers of Silences have asked questions like these, and I find this really exciting and satisfying.
KatG: If A Telling of Stars is your “Odyssey,” about one person’s quest, then The Silences of Home can be said to be your “Iliad,” focusing on a much larger cast of characters and an epic military campaign. What was involved in putting together a novel with that sort of broader scope? Was it always in your mind to tell Galha’s story?
CS: A Homer analogy, now! This one I get (whilst murmuring, “I am not worthy, I am not worthy”…).
I had no idea, when I wrote Telling, that there’d be a prequel. In fact, the whole multi-book fantasy industry was one of the genre elements I was rebelling against (ah, intemperate youth! I’m now considering a, er, multi-book scenario). One fairly slender novel set in Jaele’s world, and only one: this was my firm, fast intention, for a very long time. But years passed, and her world continued to demand my attention. I eventually found a loophole in my initial argument, and decided that dealing with events that had preceded Jaele’s life by centuries would be permissible. I can guarantee, however, that there will never be a sequel. Really!
Once I’d settled on a prequel, Queen Galha and her legend were particularly intriguing to me. At that point I believed the legend I’d created. Never once, during the ten years I spent writing, ignoring, then editing Telling, did I imagine that Galha was anything less than a heroic figure. However, I had no hesitation about ripping into the legend; in fact, I felt inspired and a bit giddy, doing so. I was also pretty daunted. Instead of a single point-of-view character, I had many; instead of an episodic journey that unfolded organically, I had a fairly complex structure that would have to be mostly figured out before I wrote anything. So I planned. I filled notebooks with scrawl: chapter layouts, diagrams, general notes on the world and the possible arcs of the various story-lines. I’m sure most writers do this as a matter of course, but for me it was an entirely new process. I did some of the planning before I started writing (i.e. a synopsis for Penguin), and a whole lot more when I was actually immersed. I got more and more confident as I went along, though a few sections in particular made me fibrillate a bit, when I knew they were getting close. One of these was the attack on Luhr. Once I’d written that part (which happens about a third of the way into the book), my confidence soared. The ending also made me nervous for about a month before I got to it – or, more accurately, to them. There were so many separate strands to tie up; some of my earlier insecurity returned as I tried to do that tying. But it worked – with the help of some long, long evening showers! (The best place for plot mulling.) And several of the endings surprised me, which was lovely; it was as if the characters really had taken on lives of their own (a concept I’d previously found kind of pretentious, when authors mentioned it).
Readers ask me which book was more satisfying to create. Telling was a real journey: very intense and long and often difficult. Silences was pure, unmitigated enjoyment. I loved writing each of them. I wonder how Homer would have answered this question? 😉
KatG: In Silences, many of the different races from Telling – the shonyn, the Alilan, the Sea Raiders — come together during a period of great upheaval and strife. Can you talk about some of these characters and the conflicts they have with one another?
CS: In Telling, Jaele (and therefore the reader) ends up with pretty incomplete knowledge of the peoples she meets, because of the episodic nature of her quest, and her own limited perspective. One of the things I enjoyed most about writing Silences was fleshing out some of these peoples. I finally got to see the Alilan, shonyn and selkesh (Sea Raider) societies from within, via point-of-view characters. Like Nellyn, a shonyn man who falls in love with Lanara, a Queenswoman sent to his riverside village to instruct young shonyn. And Alea and Aldron, Alilan Tellers who have known each other since they were children. Leish and Mallesh, selkesh brothers who end up leading their people across the Eastern Sea, driven by dreams of conquest. I was fascinated by the ways these pairings played out. Nellyn’s from a society that has no concept of change or linear time; Lanara’s from a society that exalts history and the recording of it. Alea is a powerful but obedient Alilan Teller, while Aldron’s power is wild and dangerous and forbidden. Leish hears the songs of far countries (for the selkesh, every living thing, including the earth itself, has a particular song) but has no desire to follow them with boats and weapons, as his ambitious brother Mallesh does. So there’s conflict between the members of these pairs from the very beginning – but when they all come into contact with each other, the personal conflicts become both more intense and more political.
A few other extremely important characters: Princess Ladhra, only child of Queen Galha, whose death is what drives the legend Jaele knows, so many years later. Baldhron, a scribe who loves the Princess, hates the Queensrealm, and knows some potentially devastating secrets about both. And of course the Queen herself – but I won’t give away anything about her!
KatG: You seem to have a fascination with different cultures and how they impact people and events, a common interest among epic fantasy writers. Your new project in the works I understand directly tackles that topic, looking at conflicts between a more artistic, peaceful island kingdom and a harsher, very militant empire. Without giving too much away, what might we find in this new tale?
CS: Hmm…what to give away…
A love triangle! A princess in disguise! Pirates and a very unusual sort of treasure! (Enough of the exclamation points, now.) Ancient, elemental creatures: some with beaks, talons, and fur, and others with scales and fire-throwing eyes. Societies with drawn maps; societies with “mind-maps” that sketch the geological makeup and movements of the earth. People who believe in fate; others who believe only in the inscrutability and inevitability of change. Priests who fly; priestesses who delve. Volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. A partial list!
This new story has been inspired by the Bronze Age history of the Mediterranean – so my islanders may (rightly) strike readers as vaguely Minoan, while the mainlanders may remind them of Myceneans. I’ve also used elements of Greek myth – namely, the harsh tale of Atreus, King of Mycenae, his Cretan wife Aerope, and his brother Thyestes, with whom Aerope has an affair. Despite my historical and mythological sources, the book(s?) won’t be straight historical fantasy, or alternate history. I don’t intend to depict, with any great degree of fidelity, archaeologically precise details of the Bronze Age. This may annoy the more literal-minded among my readers; I hope it will be absorbing for most.
But you know, plans are funny things. I’ve written 40,000 words of this next story, and lo and behold, there’s another story nagging at me too. This has never happened to me before. I don’t know which will demand to be told first. My readers will just have to wait a few years to find out!
KatG: No, wait, we want to see the first one! Sounds like the mix you do so well – natural disasters, suspense and unusual cultures. I know that your dad was a professor and scholar of ancient myths – did that influence your interest in societies and legends? Or perhaps your work as a doula (childbirth assistant)? What would you say are your sources of inspiration?
CS: It’s difficult to isolate sources of inspiration, sometimes (creative soup’s jammed with ingredients, many recognizable and many not!) – but you’ve hit on a few of my major ones. My dad always told me stories; I remember being about five, lying in the dark listening to his voice. These stories could be divided into two genres: Greek mythology, and “Into the Woods”. The first genre is self-explanatory – though I should mention that my dad attempted to remove many of the grisliest bits, at least until I was a bit older. Despite this censorship, I definitely got the gist of the tales: feats of strength, battles of wits and wills, jealousies, loves and hatreds, both human and divine. When I was a teenager, I fastened on Alexander the Great as my creative and historical obsession; I’m sure this was a natural extension of my earlier exposure to Greek myths. And they continue to inspire me now, as my answer to question #8 should indicate!
As for the “Into the Woods” genre (with apologies to Stephen Sondheim!): my father didn’t only interpret age-old tales for me – he created his own. These featured two rabbits named Jimmy and Louise, who, after the requisite “once upon a time,” would always hop into a forest for an innocent bit of exercise. Inevitably, the pastoral interlude would take on ominous overtones. Dad would say, with great and sonorous solemnity, “And then they came to a part of the forest they’d never seen before” – and I would wriggle and squeal and try to guess what happened next. Sometimes my input was requested, or simply given: “They saw a carousel!” “A castle!” Funny: my father has always said my desire and ability to tell fantastical stories amaze him, since they’re so alien to him – but I think his Jimmy and Louise tales prove otherwise.
I’ve been a doula for a few years now, and a mother for a few more. My involvement in labors and births has been a source of general inspiration; an elemental, existential, ultimately creative kind of thing. But it’s also had a direct impact on the writing of one of my books. In A Telling of Stars, I tried to tackle some themes that I thought had been mistreated, or carelessly treated, in a lot of mainstream fantasy: love and loss, death, grief. In The Silences of Home, I felt the same sort of need with respect to birth. Obviously this doesn’t have the same sort of scope as the themes I dealt with in Telling, but it was still important to me. For years, and especially since having my own children and helping other women have theirs, I’ve been annoyed by the unrealistic way in which childbirth is depicted in books and films. Even when birth is the focus of a particular storyline, it’s dealt with in a perfunctory way – a get-it-over-with-and-move-the-story-along way (just as deaths are sometimes treated, in fiction). Once I realized that one of my characters in Silences was going to have a baby, I knew I’d have to try and write the birth carefully. I have to stress that I didn’t set out thinking, “OK, I’m going to jam a birth scene in here somewhere because I want to.” It was a necessary part of the story, not a gratuitous one. Anyway, I’ve been thrilled with the response: a few readers have thanked me for the birth sequence (which, by the way, isn’t graphic – a reassurance for all the men currently feeling squeamish and uncomfortable and thinking, “Oh man, no way I’m going to read that book…”).
Other sources of inspiration…music. Big, romantic stuff like Brahms and Beethoven; smaller romantic stuff like Enya and Loreena McKennitt. And get this: the Star Wars soundtrack. The Obi Wan/Force theme at the very end of “The Empire Strikes Back” makes me want to move to Tatooine and write until my fingers fall off (I can’t believe I just revealed that). Although I don’t listen to music while I write any more, as I used to, I still find it incredibly evocative. (Here’s a synthesizing anecdote: I used to play trombone in a community orchestra. The last concert I played was a pops concert, featuring the Star Wars soundtrack. I was nearly three months pregnant with my first child, and had recently finished the first draft of Telling. A harmonic convergence!).
That had better be it for inspiration! Thanks to everyone who had the patience to read all this… 😉
KatG: So what has it been like, being a Canadian author out in the wild, wide world of fantasy publishing? Have you had interesting encounters with fans? What would you like to see happen in fantasy fiction in the future?
CS: I have a wonderful publisher in Penguin Canada — but they’re not really a genre publisher (Guy Gavriel Kay, Jack Whyte, R. Scott Bakker and I are their only adult fantasy authors,) as opposed to a U.S. publisher like Tor Books that puts out a dozen sff titles a month. My books are available in other countries like the U.S. and the U.K. through Amazon and other online booksellers, but I don’t yet have a regular publisher in those countries. We’re working on changing that. Even so, I’m having a great time as a Canadian fantasy author. I’ve managed to attend some of the sff conventions, which do indeed make you realize just how wide (and wild!) the genre business is.
At one of the readings I did after Silences came out, I noticed a guy sitting in the front row with a stack of my books. Now, I only have two books out – meaning he had about five copies of each. I was reading with two other Penguin authors; front-row-guy actually napped during these readings. By the time I did mine, he was awake; in fact, he was scribbling on little bits of paper. He came up to me during the autograph-signing portion of the evening, his pile of books precariously balanced. “Could you please sign these,” he said, “but not personalized – and could you write these phrases…?” The phrases were what he’d been scribbling on the bits of paper; they were the first and last sentences of Telling, and the first and last sentences of Silences. Being the nice, accommodating person I am, I transcribed my own sentences into the books in which they already appeared, probably not hiding my bemusement very well. Before he turned to go he said, “I think you’re a great talent.” Turns out he was a book dealer; I’ve since found descriptions of the “unique, one-of-a-kind” inscriptions online. He’s charging way too much for the books, too! But at least he thought I was worth it, I guess.
My interactions with real fans, though, have been altogether heart- and ego-warming, actually, rather than particularly humorous! One kind of author-fan interaction I really enjoy happens at my readings. I’ve discovered, thanks to the conventions I’ve attended, that I love readings. Love them. Inevitably, while I’m glancing up from the book, in mid-declamatory flight, I’ll see that several members of the audience have their eyes closed. This freaked me out a bit, at the first few readings I did – but not for long. These same fans would approach me afterward and tell me how transported they’d been while I read – kind of a once-upon-a-time, childlike feeling. So I now enjoy glancing up and seeing the closed eyes. I also enjoy the post-reading chatting. At the Ad Astra Con in 2004, after I’d read the prologue of Silences, a listener in the back row of the audience stuck up her hand and said, “I think you just melted my brain – but in a good way.” Definitely my favourite response thus far in my reading career!
One other lovely exchange I had occurred at the Aurora Awards banquet in Montreal last year. A Telling of Stars had been nominated, and I’d hopped on the train to be at the ceremony (any reason to be in Montreal will do, but this was an especially cool one!). I was standing outside the Dealer Room with my friend and fellow genre author Karin Lowachee (nominated that year for Burndive) when a man came up to me with his hand extended. He was Yves Meynard, the prolific and highly acclaimed French-Canadian author; he’d been on the jury of the Sunburst award that year, and so had had to read Telling. He told me how wonderful he’d found it, and took a copy out of the bag he was carrying. He told me that he didn’t usually ask for author signatures, but really, really wanted me to sign his copy. I obliged, all flushed and flustered. That was definitely the highlight of the Aurora experience (because no, I didn’t win!).
In April of this year, I finally entered the online world by launching a website (www.caitlinsweet.com) and a forum here at www.sffworld.com. I’ve been incredibly gratified by the response. I’m hearing from readers all over the place; I’m able to answer their questions directly, and engage in some pretty inspiring, provocative discussions about fantasy in general, and my own books in particular. I’ve found out that there are a number of Americans who order my books through Bakka-Phoenix, Toronto’s only sf/fantasy bookstore. And at Torcon I met some Brits who took Telling back to the UK with them and promptly told all their friends about it; I found this out via one of their blogs, and an Amazon.uk review. So perhaps this is the right place to thank said readers and online respondents – and you, KatG, for putting together this fabulous interview!
As for what I’d like to see in fantasy fiction in the future: publishers and readers continuing to embrace all sorts of different manifestations of the genre. Epic fantasy, dark fantasy, medieval fantasy, magic realism, historical fantasy: there are so many vibrant, exciting, challenging sub-genres within the genre, and they deserve a wide and varied readership. A related hope: that the genre won’t be limited too much by perceptions of “market demand” (i.e. “people only want to read epic trilogies now”, or “no one wants to read epic trilogies now.”). Because, really, fantasy, even more so than other forms of literature, should be about unlimited possibilities and open minds.
I’m with you there! I think that sums it up nicely. Thank you, Caitlin, for taking the time to talk about your work with us.
A reminder: Caitlin Sweet’s “lyrically violent” fantasy novels A Telling of Stars and The Silences of Home, are available from Penguin Canada and can be bought through on-line booksellers or very possibly in your local bookstores (worth checking out, especially if you’re in Canada.)
She also has a website — www.caitlinsweet.com – and a message board discussion forum in the Official Authors Forums section of SFFWorld. I personally am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next. Check out all the authors in the SFFWorld Official Authors Forums and up-coming SFFWorld interviews with these and other sff authors.
Later Addendum (from Caitlin): I just wanted to let readers of my sffworld interview know that I gave incorrect information in my final answer. The Aurora Awards are not juried; author Yves Meynard was a juror for the 2004 Sunburst Award: www.sunburstaward.org. My mistake had nothing to do with my familiarity with and admiration of the award, and everything to do with my lack of brain cells (as the few I have are currently dedicated to writing. I think.).
Please do check out the link; Canadians and non-Canadians alike will be impressed by the winners, nominees and jury members. Caitlin.