Just in time for the season of giving, McClelland & Stewart is making a three-novel omnibus ebook available starting December 10th. It seems to be priced at $29.99 for The Best Laid Plans, The High Road, and Up and Down, all in one package. But wait, there’s more! They’re even including an excerpt from my upcoming novel, No Relation, due out in May, 2014. For those of you dedicated e-readers who might be finding a new Kindle, iPad, or Kobo under the tree in a few weeks, this might be a great way to go. The “e-bundle” is available through Amazon, Kobo, Indigo, and other online bookstores. Here’s the simple and clear cover art for what M&S is calling, an “e-bundle.” Happy Holidays…
I am feeling very lucky. I may just pick up a lottery ticket on my way home from the office. I found out late last week that Up and Down had been named the winner of the Ontario Library Association’s 2013 Evergreen Award for the best in fiction or nonfiction as voted by library patrons across Ontario. I’m honoured and thrilled. When the finalist list was announced last February, I was chuffed to have been included among so many wonderful writers. So I really wasn’t expecting to win (hence my lottery ticket purchase plan).
I do want to pay tribute to my fellow finalists and thank them for their wonderful books. I encourage you all to read these fine works. As well, I’m grateful to all of the library patrons who voted in the sixty different branches participating in the Evergreen Award.
A few weeks ago, Matt Code, the Associate Producer on The Best Laid Plans CBC Television series being produced by PDM Entertainment, contacted me and invited me to Ottawa to shoot a cameo appearance in a particular scene. I was nervous about it but decided it was one of those once in a lifetime/show off in front of your grandchildren experiences that I should not miss, butterflies or not. So up I went to play the role of a newly-elected MP. The scene was a reception in the Caucus Room. Peter Moss, the Director, conveyed his instructions to the group of us, and then we shot it… many, many times, from many, many different angles. It was quite a fascinating experience. Mercifully, I had no lines, but did have to shake hands with the Bradley Stanton character and then applaud enthusiastically when our fearless leader (played by Mark McKinney) arrived to address his caucus.
It was fun to be a part of it all and to spend more time with the wonderful actors who are bringing The Best Laid Plans to life for the small screen. Fear not, I won’t be packing up and moving to Hollywood any time soon. It was fun, but I think I’ll stick to my job in front my laptop. My sincere thanks to the whole PDM team for putting up with me in Ottawa. The big question now is will any of my appearance escape the cutting room floor. The jury is still out on that. The shoot is now over so it’s editing time. Episode one of the show is set to air Sunday evening, January 5, 2014.
In the photo below, we’re all getting a pep talk from the unseen Director, Peter Moss, just before shooting the scene. The great wardrobe team provided and installed the lapel pin I’m wearing to indicate that I’m an MP (…much easier than having to get elected.)
This past Monday, my wife Nancy, older son Calder, and I drove up to Ottawa to spend the afternoon on the set of the TV miniseries based on my first novel, The Best Laid Plans. I really didn’t know what to expect. You see, like most of us, I’ve never been on the set of a TV series. But the experience exceeded all of my expectations. Simply put, it was quite surreal. Having carried these characters around in my head for so many years, it was strangely exhilarating to come face to face with Daniel Addison and Angus McLintock. I never dreamed I might one day have lunch with Angus and Daniel. But this past Monday, that’s exactly what I did.
The photo above shows the wonderful Director/Producer of the miniseries, Peter Moss of PDM Entertainment. Bringing TBLP to the small screen was his idea from the start, and it will be his vision we’ll see when the miniseries airs in January, 2014, on CBC Television. The scene he is directing in the photo is when Angus confronts Dean Roland Rumplun about being assigned to teach English for Engineers yet again. It’s a great encounter.
We toured the set, met some of the 65 crew members, visited the wardrobe truck, donned headphones to watch the shooting of a scene, and generally walked around on air for a few hours as what, for months, had been a nebulous concept took on concrete form before our eyes.
The miniseries has been brilliantly cast. Kenneth Welsh, a fine and respected actor takes on the role of Angus. Jonas Chernick will be a terrific Daniel. Jodi Balfour from Bomb Girls takes on the role of Lindsay. Barbara Gordon is Muriel, Raoul Bhaneja plays Bradley Stanton, Sarah Allen is Rachel, Peter Keleghan is Eric Cameron, Leah Pinsent is Petra Borschart, Sonja Smits is the Prime Minister, Mark McKinney is the Leader of the Opposition, and the amazing Eric Peterson plays Muriel’s protector in the seniors’ residence. What an amazing cast! I’m thrilled with this stellar lineup of Canadian talent.
Matt Code, the Associate Producer, actually showed us some footage shot on Parliament Hill last week from what they call the “dailies.” The scenes shot in Centre Block and particularly in the Parliamentary Library that we saw were nothing short of stunning.
Here are few more shots from our day on the set. I’m afraid I don’t yet have a shot of Angus, but as soon as I do, I’ll post it. It’s all very exciting.
This happened a while ago, but the news was just released today. I’ve signed a two-book deal with McClelland & Stewart, under the Douglas Gibson Books imprint. Doug Gibson will still be my editor. My fourth novel, No Relation, is written and edited, and is already in M&S’s hands for copy-editing, layout, and cover design. It will be published in May, 2014. It’s possible I’ll actually have my fifth novel written by then, (he says, optimistically) as I’m now deep into the planning stages of it, and hope to have started writing the manuscript by the end of the year. It’s tentatively called Poles Apart. (I’ll write more about novel #5 later in the summer, when the story is more fully developed.)
It’s an honour to be with McClelland & Stewart for my next two novels. My gratitude to my agent Beverley Slopen, and the great folks at M&S, Ellen Seligman, Doug Gibson, Bhavna Chauhan, Kristin Cochrane, Anita Chong, and of course my tireless publicist, Frances Bedford. Onwards…
On January 5th, 2013, I recorded on this blog that I had officially started writing the manuscript for my fourth novel, No Relation. Well, I’m thrilled to report that two days ago, my editor, Doug Gibson, passed along the final manuscript to McClelland & Stewart for copy-editing and proofreading. In other words, the book is essentially finished. (WooooHoooo!) Last week, I went through Doug’s minor but thoughtful and very beneficial suggested tweaks to the manuscript. It’s a better book and it’s in better shape thanks to Doug’s insights and experience. So for the time being, it’s now out of my hands.
If you’re thinking that six months is not a long time to write a novel, do not be deceived. Writing the manuscript is the very last step in my particular writing process. In the preceding six to eight months, I’ve been carrying around the whole story in my mind, developing it, changing it, putting it back the way it was and then changing it again, refining the plot, developing the settings and characters, and eventually drafting a 50-70 page chapter-by-chapter outline to guide me in writing the manuscript. In other words, by the time I get to the actual crafting of sentences, I know everything there is to know about the novel, from start to finish. So at that stage, the writing itself is, thankfully, relatively straightforward and efficient. It just requires that I put my ass in the chair long enough to bang out 100,000 words, preferably in the right order. But you’ll eventually be that judge of that.
Finishing No Relation liberates my mind to start mapping out my fifth novel. I’ve had an idea simmering in my brain-pan since last December. I think it’s almost ready to see the light of day. (You don’t want to be inside my head for longer than seven or eight months!) So I hope to start wrestling novel #5 into shape so I can start writing it as early as the fall. Onwards…
Tomorrow, June 25th, the American edition of Up and Down hits bookstores south of the border. The new cover is quite similar, but eliminates the Canada Reads reference across the top of the Canadian version, and replaces the Marc Garneau blurb along the bottom with a lovely comment from U.S. broadcasting superstar, Ali Velshi. I think it’s a very clean and compelling cover. But then again, I’m biased. The book itself is a more traditionally-sized trade paperback, without the French flaps and the funky, unevenly cut pages. This version will also be available in Canada, replacing the original higher-end edition, starting tomorrow. Here’s hoping it triggers a sales resurgence here at home.
I have no idea how the novel will be received by American readers, or whether there will be deep penetration in bricks and mortar bookstores, although there was a nice Publishers Weekly review that may help. Time will tell. But it’s exciting to test another market. It’s also a bit early to know if I’ll be visiting the U.S. anytime soon to promote Up and Down. In the meantime, my fingers are crossed. Feel free to cross yours as well.
This past Monday evening, I was emceeing the 2013 Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards at the Toronto Congress Centre. It was wonderful meeting, and having dinner with, the legend Alice Munro, and spending time with Will Ferguson, one of the nicest and funniest (he’s a three-time Leacock Medal winner) writers we have in this country. Much to my surprise, I was actually a finalist for the 2013 Author of the Year award alongside Alice Munro, Will Ferguson, and Nancy Richler.
I spent a good part of the night shuttling from backstage to the podium, introducing each award and the resepctive presenters. When it came time for the Author of the Year category, I was quite happily backstage as reigning CBA President, Mark Lefebvre (who writes as Mark Leslie), took the stage to rip open the envelope (yes, they actually do the whole “…and the winner is…” routine) and announce the lucky name. Fortunately, I was backstage at the time, fully expecting to hear one of the other stellar writers’ names called, when Mark distinctly read my name. It took me a moment to find my jaw on the floor, it was quite dark backstage, before I wobbled back onto the stage. I thanked the many independent booksellers with whom I’d worked over the preceding five years, paid tribute to my wonderful publicist at Random House, Frances Bedford and my literary agent, Beverley Slopen, and offered my deep appreciation to my editor and friend, the incomparable Douglas Gibson. Finally, I just closed by saying that there had never been a more grateful recipient of this honour. Then gathering myself, I switched back into emcee mode with my knees still knocking, noted that we were “now returning to regularly scheduled programming,” and introduced the next award. Then I darted backstage to hyperventilate until I had to return to the microphone to welcome the next presenter and generally keep the trains running on time. Believe me, I was very thankful for the distraction of my emcee duties. As I said in my closing remarks, when I think back, years from now, on the 2013 CBA Libris Awards, I suspect I’ll remember very little about my duties as emcee.
Winning Author of the Year was indeed a shock. But the honour really should be shared with my patient and indulgent family. You see, I’ve done a lot of talks and readings in the last few years. There were 130 last year, and I seem to be on a higher pace this year. I truly believe that this is how you sell books in this country, and better the odds that you’ll get to write and publish a next novel. But it is not without sacrifice. I haven’t been there for as many family dinners and weekends as I would have liked. The load at home unavoidably shifts to the shoulders of my wife, and two sons. I’m very grateful that they have accommodated the demands of my writing life, on top of everything else that comes with having a family. None of this would have happened without their support. Somehow, I will try to make it up to them…
I’m not quite sure how to process this, but it seems I’m a finalist for the Canadian Booksellers Association Author of the Year Libris Award. It’s an annual honour handed out by the independent booksellers to a “Canadian author of an outstanding literary work published in the previous year that makes a significant contribution to Canadian culture. The work must combine readability with strong sales. The author should be one who has offered strong support to the bookselling industry.” (There are lots of other Libris award categories but the graphic above just shows the first two.)
I certainly wouldn’t have thought I’d be a candidate for this, particularly when the other names in the running are Alice Munro, Will Ferguson, and Nancy Richler. (Since my great editor, Douglas Gibson, also edits Alice Munro, he’s quite excited about it all.) I have traveled the province, and sometimes the country, for readings, often supported by wonderful independent booksellers, but still, this is most unexpected. Needless to say, I’m shocked and thrilled at the same time. The awards are announced at a big dinner on June 3rd at the Toronto Congress Centre. I was actually the Emcee for this dinner last year. I don’t expect to be going anywhere near the stage this time around, but it sure is nice to be in such fine company on the shortlist. Perhaps I’ll get to meet Alice Munro. Now that would be cool…