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Vancouver already has a yearly writers’ festival—October’s aptly named Vancouver Writers Fest—but it was Calgary that Sandra Wickham looked to when she decided to start a new one. “I’ve been going to conventions and conferences since 2008 and was especially impressed by a Calgary event, When Words Collide, and wanted to do something similar here in B.C.,” Wickham says. “I’m using their festival as our model for Creative Ink.”So, just what exactly is that model? It’s a community-oriented one, for starters. The three-day event is more intimate than larger writers’ festivals, and while Creative Ink Festival functions as a conference for writers, it’s also targeted (and priced) to bring in fans as well. “We’re trying to create something affordable that’s accessible to pros and amateurs with a warm, welcoming, and fun environment,” Wickham says. “We want it to be a place to not only learn more about your craft, but to also network with people in the industry and make new connections.”As a result, the festival will be a mix of what you’d find at a professional conference as well as a fan-oriented convention. The days are packed with panels and presentations for writers of all stripes, along with workshops and pitch sessions. But for readers with no writerly aspirations, there will also be readings, artist displays, and an expo of people peddling books and art (expect a lot of fantasy and science fiction, a scene in which Creative Ink has many of its connections). A panel at last year’s single-day, test-run Creative Ink FestivalPopular paranormal author Carrie Vaughn, illustrator Galen Dara, and Canadian science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer will be this year’s two guests of honour and keynote speaker, respectively. (Full disclosure: I will be there as well to speak on two panels and promote my Vancouver-inspired dark fantasy novel, Terminal City.) In all, it’s a more ambitious program than last year’s, when Creative Ink beta-launched.“I held a one-day event in 2015 to promote the weekend-long 2016 event, so this year is really our launch,” says Wickham, who for 11 years promoted one of the biggest bodybuilding and fitness competitions in Canada. “I’m just as passionate about the literary and arts world,” she says. According to Wickham, last year’s one-day event went well and people have helped spread the word for 2016’s larger-scale offering. Even then, she says, “since we are a brand new festival, we really have no idea how many people will come out. We’re building a great event for those who do.”When: May 6-8 | Where: Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre | Price: $70 before April 21, $80 at the door