Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

    Stella Leventoyannis Harvey was born in Cairo, Egypt and moved to Calgary as a child with her family. In 2001, Stella founded the Whistler Writers Group, also known as the Vicious Circle, which each year produces the Whistler Writers Festival under her direction. Stella is a fiction writer whose short stories have appeared in The Literary Leanings Anthology, The New Orphic Review, Emerge Magazine and The Dalhousie Review. Her non-fiction has appeared in Pique Newsmagazine, The Question and the Globe and Mail.  She currently lives with her husband in Whistler, but visits her many relatives in Greece often, indulging her love of Greek food and culture and honing her fluency in the language. Her first novel, Nicolai's Daughters was published in 2012 with the Greek translation published by Psichogios Publications of Athens. Her second novel, The Brink of Freedom was published in 2015.


    Wednesday, October 14

    Whistler, BC

    Mountain FM

    Stella Leventoyannis Harvey was interviewed by Mountain FM about her new novel, The Brink of Freedom
    (MP3 file, 6:05)

    Download the MP3 clip

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    CBC’s North by Northwest sits down with Stella Levantoyannis Harvey

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    Stella Harvey's novel, The Brink of Freedom offers a space to understand the refugee crisis through the eyes of fictional characters.

    She sat down with the CBC's North by Northwest to talk about her latest novel, The Brink of Freedom, which drops the reader right into the current day refugee crisis on the shores of Greece, a topic that resonates close to home for Harvey because of her Greek heritage.

    "It's a way to reconnect to that heritage, to try to understand it and get close to it," she said. The novel centres around several characters including a refugee couple from India with their sickly son, a Greek police officer, a Romani couple and a Canadian aid worker.

    "It was really trying to understand what the issue was. We hear the numbers. Last year in 2015, of the million people that came and were seeking asylum in Europe, just over 850,000 came via Greece. Close to 4,000 people died in the Mediterranean. It's hard to capture what that means," Harvey said.

    Harvey was in Greece most recently during the height of the economic crisis in 2012. She immersed herself in the conflict of the country to better understand the situation. She organized the trip through the Greek consulate in Vancouver before she left which helped her gain access to refugee processing centres and government officials.

    "By the time I left Canada, I had appointments booked in Athens. The Greek government was totally open, everyone wanted me to understand the situation," she said.

    "That was the most important thing. I really felt like they wanted to see the success of the book. They wanted to see me succeed."

    During that time, she witnessed a change in the Greek people who she remembered as famously hospitable. Racism and the rise of the far right party, Golden Dawn, skewed her initial impression of her native country.

    "By the end of the writing of the book, I had totally changed my mind, because I saw quite a lot more than hospitality.

    "People who have very little, going out and helping their fellow man, Syrians, other refugees, et cetera, come off boats and provide food and do whatever they can. My opinion changed considerably."

    The Brink of Freedom deals with how Westerners approach foreign aid. The character of the Canadian aid worker exposes the divide between what many believe is the right way to help, and the impact those actions have on emergencies such as this.

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    Thank you to Stella Harvey from The Red Cross

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    The Red Cross sent Stella Leventoyannis Harvey a beautiful thank you card after she donated a portion of her book sales of The Brink of Freedom to them for their efforts to provide essential relief items and services to the refugees in Europe. "Stella, I am writing today to simply say "thank you." Because of you, we are able to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people in Canada and abroad. Thank you for your recent donation to the Refugee Crisis and for believing in the importance of our work. Shelby N. Red Cross Volunteer. "

    Stella Leventoyannis Harvey, Pique News Magazine, Authors in Schools program

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    Authors in Schools program expands Whistler Writers Festival program to run this spring with local scribes The Sea to Sky region's secondary school students will soon be able to befriend an author — and with them a multitude of characters, stories and experiences. Authors in the Schools — a program created by the Whistler Writers Festival — has been expanded to bring writers and their books to high schools from Squamish to Mount Currie. It will run from January until May, says organizer Rebecca Wood Barrett. What the program delivers is all in its name. The authors tell the youngsters what it is like to be a writer, describe the creative process and inspire students to tell their own stories. "The aim is to show there is value in the students' own lives and in their stories," says Wood Barrett.The project is very hands on, meeting with teachers, giving presentations at times that fit. The program will depend on the needs and flexibility of the schools, with the festival working around the semester system. "Then the teachers work with the students as they see fit," says Wood Barrett. The two local authors selected to take part are Pemberton's Katherine Fawcett and Whistler's Stella Harvey. The three-year-old program has until now run concurrently with the writers festival, in October. Canadian award-winning authors Richard Wagamese and Joseph Boyden have previously participated. "We evolved into having two programs," says Wood Barrett. "The first is with our big guest authors who can present at the festival, but also come into the schools. Joseph Boyden... was excited about going into schools and talking to the students. "It organically grew into having local authors in the schools as well." They have previously included children's author Sara Leach and non-fiction writer Sue Oakey-Baker. The impact that mountain guide Oakey-Baker, author of memoir Finding Jim, had on pupils is clear, says Wood Barrett. "She really connected with some of the young guys in the class who were interested in going into the backcountry. She was able to talk to them about risk... she told them how to assess risk for themselves," Wood Barrett says. They aim to extend the program to elementary schools in 2017, depending on authors' availability and suitability, and what books are coming out. "It's a flexible program and partly depends on the funding we get," says Wood Barrett. The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and Telus have funded the program. Harvey, who is also the executive director of the writers festival, will be discussing her newest novel The Brink of Freedom, which looks at how Greece has experienced the refugee crisis. Telus is funding a pilot project in which Harvey will work with students in one class on the theme of the refugee crisis in Greece. She will discuss her research and how she wrote the book. The students will then write stories based on what they've learned. The stories will then be collected and shared digitally.

    Shaw TV Feature - Stella Leventoyannis Harvey - The Brink of Freedom

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    With her father born in Greece, Whistler author Stella Harvey has traveled to the Mediterranean country at least a dozen times. However with both an ongoing economic and refugee crisis plaguing the popular tourist destination, Stella's last few visits have been to uncover the truth of its people which can now be read in her book 'The Brink of Freedom.' Shaw TV spoke to the passionate writer about some of the shocking conditions she witnessed while overseas as well the special memories and people she met people she met that will stay with her for a lifetime. Watch the clip here:


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    Excellent news! Signature Editions has officially sold the translation rights to two of our well-known backlist titles: the French translation rights to Linda Leith’s non-fiction book, Writing in the Time of Nationalism (2010), sold to Leméac Éditeur of Montréal, and the Greek translation rights to Stella Leventoyannis Harvey’s first novel Nicolai’s Daughters (2012), sold to Psichogios Publications of Athens. More information will be forthcoming on the release of these translations in the coming months.

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