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Swiss author gets the chance to meet her idol in Woody Point

Born in Switzerland, Bernadette Calonego has written two books drawing from her experiences living along the Northern Peninsula. She has always felt a deep connection to The Shipping News author Annie Proulx, and Calonego travelled to Woody Point last week to try and meet her.
Born in Switzerland, Bernadette Calonego has written two books drawing from her experiences living along the Northern Peninsula. She has always felt a deep connection to The Shipping News author Annie Proulx, and Calonego travelled to Woody Point last week to try and meet her.

WOODY POINT, NL - Bernadette Calonego has always felt a strong connection to The Shipping News author Annie Proulx.    

The Writers at Woody Point festival is known for creating a uniquely intimate and casual experience between authors and their readers. Here, author Susan Perly reads to festival attendees.

So when she got word that Proulx would be making an appearance at the Writer’s at Woody Point festival, Calonego knew she had to find a way down.
“It had been a dream of mine for a long time, because we shared so many connections,” said Calonego. “I had to go there and try to meet her.”
The parallels between the lives of Proulx and Calonego are notably distinct. Both writers came to the island from afar: Proulx being an American and Calonego, who now lives in St. Anthony for much of the year, was born in Switzerland.
But more importantly, both found a muse in the unique landscapes, lifestyles and personalities of the Northern Peninsula.
“I could understand her well because her description and reaction to the Northern Peninsula, how it affected her – the same thing happened to me,” Calonego said.
“When she came through the area something resonated within her. She said the hour she set forth on the peninsula she knew it was of the deepest personal significance.”
Calonego drew on her experiences living along the northern reaches of the island with her mystery novel Stormy Cove, published last year. Like Proulx, through writing a novel she expressed her connection to the Northern Peninsula.
When Proulx was signing books to festival attendees on Thursday, Calonego finally got to meet a fellow writer she had idolized in many ways.
But the moment Calonego had dreamed of so long did not exactly go as expected.
As she detailed the unique relationship they shared as writers and travellers of Newfoundland, Calonego says Proulx was unresponsive. Her publicist even tried to prevent Calonego from taking a picture. She says her efforts to make a connection to the author felt thwarted.
For a festival known for creating intimate and casual experiences between authors and their readers, it was not the ideal turn of events.
“I would have at least expected her to say something, but maybe my expectations were too much,” said Calonego. “I can understand how once you’re famous things get a bit complicated and everybody wants something from you, so I didn’t take it personally.”
Hopes were high for an author whose footsteps Calonego had tried very much to walk in, and although the pair did not hit it off, Calonego was still pleased to get a chance to meet Proulx.
“I had been looking forward to that moment for a long time,” she said.

kyle.greenham@northernpen.ca

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