This was shot a few weeks ago but aired today on CBC Television as we get ready for episode 1 of The Best Laid Plans miniseries tomorrow night, Sunday, January 5th at 9 p.m. on the CBC national network. The more Canadians who tune in, the more likely it will be that the series will continue beyond these initial six episodes. (Yes, that’s a shameless request for an hour of your time Sunday night. Hope you enjoy it.)
Here’s a very cool mini-documentary offering a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Best Laid Plans miniseries airing on CBC Television in January 2014.
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.
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 wardrobeÂ 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,Â 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.
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.
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…
Last week we received some very good news from the powers that be at CBC Television. After reviewing the six scripts written by the accomplished writing team of Susan Coyne and Jason Sherman, CBC has given PDM Entertainment the green light to start production this summer of the miniseries based on the first half of my first novel, The Best Laid Plans. CBC has asked that the series be ready to air in January 2014 before coverage of the Winter Olympics begins.
No word yet on casting but that will need to happen in the very near future along with location scouting and shoot scheduling and everything else that goes into creating a TV series. Fingers crossed and touch wood, but it seems that this might actually happen. (And it’s kind of cool to have it talked about in The Hollywood Reporter!)
I tend to remember when I’ve been asked to take all of my clothes off and pose for a photographer. It hasn’t happened that often. So I vividly recall the day Amanda Leduc and Allegra Young contacted me many months ago. They asked if I’d consider posing naked for a calendar in support of PEN Canada. My first thought was that if they were hoping to raise money, there were probably better ways than publicly releasing a naked photo of me. Still, they persisted. Then I asked who else was going to be in the calendar sharing in this, um, exposure. I was heartened to hear the names of all the stellar writers who had already agreed. Vincent Lam, Dave Bidini, Yann Martel, Angie Abdou, Miranda Hill, Trevor Cole, just to name a few. This might be fun. Then I confirmed that there would be no group shot. I’m not sure I could have handled that. (Hell, I’m not sure I can handle what I’ve already agreed to handle!) So I said yes. How could I refuse? PEN is a great cause, an important cause. Besides, how could I look Angie Abdou or Vincent lam in the eye the next time we met at a festival knowing they agreed to doff their drawers but I hadn’t. My decision was also made easier because the photo shoot wouldn’t be for months. It seemed such a long way off back then. Well, here we are in early March, and the lens cap is about to come off followed quickly by my clothes. Man, the months whizzed by.
Since January, I’ve been on a diet. DespiteÂ earning nicknames like ‘Ribs’ and ‘Bones’Â in my adolescence,Â for the last several years,Â I’ve been carrying around an extra 15 or so pounds. Okay, maybe 20. I’ve wanted to do something about it for years, but just never have. I can now report that the prospect of posing naked for a calendar was just the incentive I needed to start counting calories for the first time in my life. I’m not sure hearing a doctor say “You will have a heart attack in the next six months if you don’t lose 15 pounds” would have put me back on skim milk, but the Bare It For Books calendar certainly has. After seven weeks, I’m down nearly 12 pounds, and my triple chin is now a double. I’m hoping I’ll be a single, chin that is, by the time the photographer arrives. My friend Trevor Cole, Mr. February, lost 40 pounds(!) and posed with a strategically placed shovel, and I don’t mean resting over his shoulder. I’m not sure what I’ll use as my ‘prop of discretion.’ Perhaps a nearly-full-sized model of the space shuttle.
Of all the weird, wacky, and wonderful experiences this writing odyssey has granted in the last five years, and there have been many, none will be quite as weird, wacky, and I hope, wonderful as the great naked calendar caper. I really hope thatÂ down in the Annapolis Valley,Â my beloved mother-in-law does not plan to hang the calendar on her refrigerator.
Well, at least I’m Mr August. Most of Canada will be away on vacation that month and won’t be anywhere near a calendar. Probably wise.
CanLit is Sexy, an anonymous blog, has just popped up twisting the titles of selected Canadian novels in rather suggestive ways. Now, the National Post has jumped on board, too. Some of these are hilarious. Have a scroll through and perhaps suggest others. I’m honoured to have been included in this august list. Although, I figure with the word “laid” in the title, it was an easy call… (creepy photo of me too, which seems kind of appropriate under the cirsumstances.)
I’m more than halfway through my stint as this year’s Canada Reads resident blogger. Each week I’ve written a post for the Canada Reads site, which partly explains why I seem to be posting on my own blog less frequently lately. I’m enjoying the role after surmounting the weekly moments of anxiety as I try to figure out what to write about that week. Erin Balser at CBC Canada Reads has been very helpful in suggesting ideas for posts and has made my life much easier. In fact, she’s just done it again. Erin has created a page on the Canada Reads site that aggregates all of my posts to date. Thanks, Erin.
Not coincidentally, my final five posts will be about the final five books, tackling each one in turn, starting on January 4th.