This morning, I did a talk and reading as part of Toronto’s Word on the Street Festival. Despite being first up in the morning, a modest crowd showed up including friends, family, and a group of students doing a school assignment. (Whatever fills the seats!) I thought it went well.
Archive for September, 2008
Thursday evening, Doug Gibson and I drove to Port Colborne for Readings at the Roselawn, a wonderful author series with over 300 subscribers. I had a great time and my hour long talk, reading, and Q&A went very well (at least it seemed to from my vantage point on stage).
Here’s what the Welland Tribune wrote in the Saturday edition:
Newcomer Terry Fallis and ‘Leacock-shock’
By LYNN PEPPAS TRIBUNE STAFF
Readings at Roselawn opened its 15th season with the 2008 Stephen Leacock Award-winning novelist Terry Fallis.
He’s relatively new to the Canadian literary scene. His debut novel, The Best Laid Plan
(McClelland & Stewart, September 2008) has just been released by the major publishing company, after Fallis self-published the political satire earlier.
Fallis, who just started his national book tour the day before at
Harbourfront Centre, told the crowd he “normally sat where you’re sitting,” and the opportunity to talk to large crowds interested in his novel was the ‘furthest thing from my mind a year ago.”
He called his surprise Leacock Award win the “Leacock-shock.” Fallis said he’d written the novel because it was on his “life list of things to do” along with parachuting and sailing on the Tall Ships.
He held an easy, informal banter with the crowd, punctuated with funny one-liners, such as the fact that he never fulfilled his Tall Ship wish because he could “get seasick in the Holiday Inn hot tub.”
He didn’t have high expectations of getting his novel published in the beginning, but was encouraged after releasing it first as a podcast and later as a self-published novel.
He’d tried to find an agent and publisher for the book but wasn’t successful until he’d been shortlisted for the Leacock prize.
The irony of it all, he said, was that his editor, Doug Gibson of M&S, was a friend and neighbour, but initially Fallis didn’t want to tax his friendship by having Gibson read his manuscript.
He called his publishing adventure “unorthodox,” and said he’d felt “charmed” by the last six months since winning the humour award.
When deciding what genre his novel would be, he said he’d chosen the “rookie writer axiom” to “write what you know.” In his that was Canadian politics.
He now runs his own public relations company, Thornley-Fallis Communications, in Toronto.
However, his background in both federal and provincial politics, which included working on Jean Chretien’s campaign, gave him “plenty of fodder for a satire in Canadian politics.”
He joked about never using his engineering degree from McMaster University, adding that his novel contained “many pieces from his past” including chess, a hovercraft and a character afflicted with Parkinson’s, all because he could write of them from his own experiences.
Fallis did note that not all of his novel came from experience, and he had followed advice from one of his favourite comic writers, Paul Quarrington, to write “that which make me uncomfortable.” Among these parts of his book were one incidence of S & M (sadism and masochism); he’d had to research that on the internet.
He credited his engineering background with giving him a very “mechanical” approach to writing, including dividing and outlining his novel into chapters of approximately 5,000 words each.
Fallis said he’d recently seen an interview with writer Philip Roth, who said a good day of writing for him meant getting a paragraph finished.
Because of Fallis’s full-time job in PR, he didn’t have the luxury of time on his side. A good day for him meant getting half a chapter down at one sitting.
After reading brief passages from his political satire, he took questions from the crowd. He said he felt it was “miraculous,” that he’d come to this point in his life.
“I’m truly grateful for what the Leacock award has done for me,” he said.
What a wonderful night it was. I enjoyed a leisurely dinner beforehand with the other two accomplished writers on the program, Fred Stenson and Andrew Davidson, the host of the event Geoffrey Taylor, and Alison Pick, a respected poet and writer who introduced the writers on stage. They are all warm and engaging people. Then we headed over to the event in the Brigantine Room. Fred and I sat in a dressing room of sorts backstage and signed books before we were all led out for the start of the reading. As the rookie, I was relieved to be going on stage first. I had quite a cheering section at the back that erupted when Alison introduced me. Thanks to my family, bookclub friends and ball hockey teammates who were there for moral support.
When I took the stage, I discovered that the bright (and I mean really bright) theatre lights meant that I could nothing in front of me. It was as if a black curtain had descended directly in front of the podium. It was a little unnerving as I like to make eye contact with an audience, which is difficult when you’re essentially blind. Nevertheless I made it through my 20 minutes with a few chuckles from the crowd. It seemed to go well. After Fred and Andrew read, we all signed books. It was a great way to begin the many speaking and reading gigs lined up for the coming months.
Thanks again all those who attended and to Frances Bedford for getting me on the program. Tonight, it’s Readings at the Roselawn in Port Colborne.
Tonight’s the night and my butterflies are already exhausted from abdominal flying. I’m reading at Harbourfront as part of their International Readings program and will be sharing the stage with Andrew Davidson and his debut blockbuster novel, The Gargoyle, and Fred Stenson and his new novel, The Great Karoo. What wonderful and respected company I’m suddenly keeping. I’ll be having dinner with them in advance of the reading and will bring my own copies of their novels to be signed (ever the star-struck literary fan!).
The Harbourfront reading marks the official launch of the M&S edition of TBLP now the books are starting to appear in bookstores across the country. (I just walked into a local big box bookstore in downtown Toronto and there it was. Very cool.)
I’ll be back here to post about the event. I’m also getting ready for another author night called “Readings at the Roselawn” in Port Colborne, about two hours south of Toronto. It’s a sold out author series with 300 subscribers! I’m the one and only author on the bill tomorrow night to kick off the season. So I assume that some of my current butterflies bear the Harbourfront logo while others carry the Port Colborne brand.
Welland Tribune Story
The next part of this adventrue has well and truly started…
McMaster will always be a special place for me. I spent six years there earning a mechanical engineering degree and immersing myself in student politics. My McMaster experience led directly to my pursuit of politics after graduation and stints on Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park. Jumping ahead, the first official book event I did was a launch and signing at the Mac bookstore Titles last October, thanks to the support and efforts of Mark Leslie Lefebvre a writer and blogger who works there. So it’s fitting in a way that on October 29th, just over a year later, and what a year it’s been, I’ll be back at Mac presenting TBLP to the Mac Reads Book Club. Who says you can’t go home?
If you’ve been here before, you’ll have noticed that this blog has now been completely redesigned to match the new cover of TBLP and to make it more convenient and functional for the visitor. I love what my colleagues at 76Design have done under the leadership of Aimee Deziel and Jordan Boesch. Thanks for the great work! This blog started off strictly as a podcast blog when I released TBLP one chapter at a time as an audio podcast back in January 2007. Well, you can still find the podcast and the show notes that went with each episode if you click the “Podcast” button on the black bar above. All of the podcast episodes have been aggregated there so you don’t have to wade through other posts to find them. The same goes for the media coverage I’ve posted and written about. Check out the “Media” button for that. As well, you’ll be able to see what book-related speaking/reading gigs I have coming up by clicking on the “Appearances” button. Finally, you’ll be able to read the Prologue and Chapter One of the novel to whet your appetite for the rest of it. Just click the “Read Excerpts” button. Of course, you can buy the novel online by clicking on the retailer of your choice in the masthead.
I’m thrilled with the new site and hope you find it a little easier to navigate. As always, your comments are welcome right here on the blog.
No this isn’t an April Fool’s joke, though I feared it might be when my wonderful publicist Frances Bedford proposed it. On April 1, 2009, I’ll be sharing the stage with fellow Leacock winner Paul Quarrington for a reading as part of the respected Grimsby Author Series. I’d have been thrilled to be in the same room with Paul Quarrington, let alone on the same program. Without getting too maudlin, I’ve been a diehard Quarrington fan for many years. I’ve mentioned before in this blog (I think) that I’ve collected first editions of all of Paul’s novels (years before I started writing TBLP), including his rare first novel The Service. King Leary and The Home Game are among my favourites. I’ve actually met Paul a couple of times though I suspect I conducted myself like a gushing fan and I’m sure he will not remember (which may not be a bad thing). He’s a friend of Mike Tanner, another novelist with whom I play ball hockey (well, Mike plays, I just run around and try to check him in an exhausting exercise in futility).
I’m looking forward to all of the readings and speaking gigs that have sprung up for the coming months, but April 1, 2009 will be special. I hope Paul won’t mind signing an armload of his books from my library…
Well, we’re almost there. I’ve was informed today that McClelland & Stewart started shipping TBLP to bookstores on September 8th, this past Monday. Delivery normally takes about seven days for retailers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and about 14 days for the rest of Canada. So the M&S edition of the novel should start appearing on bookstore shelves sometime next week.
As for online, Amazon seems to have it in stock, ready to send off.
You’ve seen the new front cover already in an earlier post here but here’s a first look at how the spine and back cover will appear when the M&S edition of TBLP is released on September 23rd, 2008. I really like what award-winning book designer (and novelist!) Scott Richardson has developed, and renowned publisher/editor Doug Gibson has writen for the backcover . Very exciting.
My friend and editor/publisher Doug Gibson dropped by unexpectedly tonight bearing the first copy of the M&S edition of TBLP. What a thrill it is to hold it. It’s much thicker than the original iUniverse version. A much better “package” in every respect. I’m over the moon. If the forces that be at M&S are happy with it, they’ll start shipping to bookstores in the coming days.
I posted when my author copies of the original version of TBLP arrived almost exactly one year ago. Here’s the post from September 6th, 2007. My how my writerly life has changed in twelve short months. What a ride.
Here’s a shot of Douglas Gibson and me, neither of us really looking our best, minutes after he arrived to deliver the first copy.