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.