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Author writes Northern tales

Alix McNaught
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 16, 2008

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - As part of the third annual Northwords Writers Festival, held in Yellowknife June 12 to 14, there were readings, open mics and workshops given by Northern and guest writers. One of these writers was Richard Van Camp.

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Northern writer Richard Van Camp performed at the Northwords Writers Festival. - NNSL file photo

An accomplished writer of books for both children and adults, fiction and poetry, Van Camp has participated in the festival since its inception and is serving as the president for the board this year.

"I'm just in awe of the talent we're bringing up this year," he said. "We're bringing in the crème de la crème of aboriginal and Canadian authors."

The theme for this year's festival was Our History Through Stories.

"It's about honouring where you're from," said Van Camp, who was born and raised in Fort Smith.

"I write about Northerners and where they're at today, walking in two worlds," he said, referring to people embracing both traditional and modern culture.

In addition to writing his own books, Van Camp also worked as a script writer and cultural consultant on the television series North of 60 for two seasons.

He recently wrote a baby book, which is being given out to every baby born in British Columbia this year.

He has also written novels, collections of short stories, poetry and children's stories.

"You name it, I can write it, because all the genres boil down to storytelling," said Van Camp, who said he started off as a storyteller.

"I became a writer when I was 19, and I realized no one was telling my story."

It took him five years, but Van Camp wrote his first novel, The Lesser Blessed, which he described as a love story and confession.

The Lesser Blessed is the coming of age story about a 16-year-old Dogrib boy, and may soon be turned into a movie by First Generation Films.

"I want it shot up in Fort Smith and Behchoko, if we get funding," he said,

He added it would cost $5 million, it would be a six-week shoot and require 60 to 90 people.

Van Camp is hoping to put out a casting call in the near future.

In addition to serving as president, Van Camp also performed during the festival, leaving his piece selection until getting on stage.

"I rarely ever know what I'm going to do till I get there. It's all about instinct; it depends on the audience," he said, reflecting on poem and story selections.

In addition to a collection of short stories he has been working on, Van Camp's new novel Blessing Wendy is set to come out next year.