Ed Griffin, the powerhouse behind the Surrey International Writers Conference, has died.
Griffin, who had been battling cancer and had recently had a stroke, died from complications of the latter event on Thursday night at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
A former priest, American city councillor, and social worker, Griffin also had a deep passion for writing.
In the early 1990s, he went to a writers conference in Seattle and thought Surrey could easily support such an event.
In 1993, he started the first Surrey International Writers Conference (SiWC). With about 100 people showing up to the first year’s event, the numbers grew steadily and now amount to thousands.
It is now one of the most popular writers conferences in North America.
Once that was off the ground, Griffin focused on his own writing career.
In 2001, he completed his first book, titled Beyond the Vows. The main protagonist, JP Lacey, is a priest conflicted by his calling and a world mired in injustice. That priest was based on Griffin’s life.
For almost a decade prior to writing that book, he was going to Matsqui Prison to teach inmates the art of writing. He also convinced SiWC speaker and renowned author Diana Gabaldon to do the same when she visits.
Griffin went on to write a popular hit Prisoners of Willowaw, about 300 prisoners released onto Adak Island, in the Aleutians off Alaska. Besides being a rich description with well-developed characters, Griffin managed to use it as a critique of our current prison system.
Griffin once said if there’s a theme to his life and his books, it’s a fight for social justice.
The family is planning a party in his honour, as per Griffin’s request. A date and place has not been chosen yet.
Griffin is survived by his wife Kathleen, son Kevin, daughter Kerry and sister Joy.
Griffin was 78.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a bursary fund for prisoners http://www.edgriffin.net/bursary.html