It’s hard to believe, but eight years after writing my first blog post in this space, it’s time for my annual look back across the past year to reflect on how fortunate I’ve been in my writing life:
- It was a very busy year on the talks/readings front. I gave 142 talks and/or readings in 2014, up from 137 last year. So much for my attempt to slow down a little bit. Again, my annual refrain, my deep appreciation for the patience and forbearance of my wife, Nancy Naylor, and our two sons, Calder and Ben. I truly believe these gigs are important in the never-ending quest to sell books, which, in turn, allows me to write another. My travels took me from Halifax to Vancouver, Sault Ste. Marie to Mexico City, and dozens of ports in between.
- Starting in January, CBC Television aired the six-part miniseries based on my first novel, The Best Laid Plans. I loved it, and many others did, too. It pulled some very strong viewership numbers, but the travails at CBC, starting with the loss of Hockey Night in Canada, mean that, alas, there won’t be a second series. But we’ll always have six! I also enjoyed my brief cameo appearance in the final episode, though my phone has not been ringing off the hook for auditions.
- At some point in the year, I can’t remember when, I became the 2014-2015 writer in residence for Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton. This isn’t that onerous an undertaking, but I’ve enjoyed my time at the school working with the students.
- In late February, I launched the chapter-by-chapter podcast of my fourth novel, No Relation. As usual, I posted one chapter each week until it was finished. You can find the podcast versions of all of my novels on iTunes.
- It was a surprise and an honour to receive the L.W. Shemilt Distinguished Alumni Award from McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering in May.
- In May, my fourth novel, No Relation, hit bookstores and opened on the Globe and Mail Bestsellers list where it stayed for many weeks. I’ve been on the road promoting it ever since.
- Great progress has been made on the Touchstone Theatre/Patrick Street Productions collaboration to develop a stage musical based on The Best Laid Plans. A few of the songs were unveiled at a sellout special session at the Vancouver Writers Fest this past October. They are wonderful. The stage musical will debut in September 2015 at the York Theatre in Vancouver.
- In the fall, I developed and taught the Humour Writing course at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. I teach the eight week course again starting in May, 2015.
- I have just finished the manuscript for my fifth novel, Poles Apart. The last couple of chapters were written in Paris during a welcome vacation visit my wife and I made in November. We now move to the editing phase, as well as cover copy and design. It is slated for release on October 6, 2015. I’ll start to record and post the podcast version of Poles Apart sometime in July.
I’m sure I’ve missed some happenings from 2014, but I’m already focused on 2015 (I still can’t believe I just wrote 2015.). Looking ahead to July, I’ll be one of the writers on an Adventure Canada trip up the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As well, I’ll be participating in several literary festivals in various Canadian cities including Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and Eastport, Newfoundland. And my fifth novel, Poles Apart will hit bookstores in early October. Many thanks for all the support I’ve received from readers around the country. I’m grateful. Onwards and Happy New Year!