The Book That Changed Your Life: Robyn Harding

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      The Word Vancouver festival is gearing up for its 2017 edition with a huge and inclusive lineup of authors, appearing at venues around town from September 19 to 24.

      We asked a group of these acclaimed writers to tell us about their most memorable reading experiences. Which books shaped their imaginations early on? Which ones taught them the power of the written word?

      Here’s what local author and screenwriter Robyn Harding told us. The latest in her wide-ranging bibliography is the internationally published domestic drama The Party. She’ll be talking about the book at 2:05 p.m. on September 24, on the Suspension Bridge stage outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      When I was eight years old, I was a flower girl in my aunt’s wedding. As a thank-you gift, she gave me a copy of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. It was so fantastical, but somehow so real. I vividly recall the scene where James crawls into the peach for the first time. I could feel the peach flesh on my knees, I could taste the juice as he licked the walls of his fruity tunnel.

      Even though the characters were a grasshopper, a centipede, and an earthworm, they came to life. There were a few pencil illustrations that were just enough to set my imagination running wild. I still have that copy of the book. And while I’ve never written anything in that fantasy vein, Roald Dahl inspired me with the magic of his words.