Suddenly They Heard Footsteps

Storytelling for the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Canada’s best-known storyteller, Dan Yashinsky, lives his life as teller and listener, and shows how storytelling can and does create vital connections between individuals, communities and families.

In an age of instant messaging, entertainment systems and digital interaction, why is it that more and more people are being drawn to the art of oral storytelling? As Dan Yashinsky, one of Canada’s most well-known and beloved storytellers shows, an old tradition has become the new avant-garde. Storytelling is still very much alive in this digital age: it connects us to each other, to our communities and to our past. In fact, people are as hungry as they've ever been for the wisdom and solace of told stories. But they are also looking for stories that will speak to our post-modern, fractured, apocalyptic age.

Suddenly They Heard Footsteps is part memoir, part instruction, part cultural history, and includes tales that Dan has told to wide acclaim. By turns humorous, inspiring, instructive and philosophical, Dan shows us that, like love, stories mean the most the very moment we give them away.



I was once telling stories at a downtown arts centre when a restless group of kids stomped in. They were ten-year-olds from a Catholic school in a new housing development, and they came in munching potato chips and blowing bubble gum. One big boy with a cast on his arm had a well-practised burp. I...
Read More


“Yashinsky sows stories along the wayside as he explains how and why listeners are hooked, reveals the secrets of story hosts, and describes the extraordinary characters who have sparked the contemporary international revival of this most universal and durable of the arts. Yashinsky himself is one of those extraordinary characters. He gives us much to laugh at, provoke thought, wonder about, and remember and pass on. If the word awesome had not been rendered meaningless by trendiness, it would be the adjective for this book. As it is, spell-binding will do.”
—Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Dark Age Ahead

“If you can’t sit down for a cup of tea and a chat with Yashinsky, sitting down with this book is a close second.”
Winnipeg Free Press

Suddenly They Heard Footsteps is at once a polemic for storytelling and a personal memoir, a handbook for prospective storytellers and an anthology of tales from which the reader may borrow. It is a passionate work of deeply held belief….Readers will come away from Suddenly They Heard Footsteps with all the basic tools and the inspiration they need to try storytelling for themselves.”
Quill & Quire

“A melange of memoir, social history and how-to guide, Yashinsky’s love of the spoken word imbues the whole package with warm authority.”
The Toronto Star

“In celebrating the storyteller’s art, Yashinsky has tapped into a motherlode of universal need, the thirst for a story that shows us what it is to be human.”
Edmonton Journal