Posts Tagged ‘Leacock Medal’

TVO’s Steve Paikin blogs about TBLP

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Back in February 2007, Steve Paikin, the outstanding host of The Agenda, TV Ontario‘s great nightly public affairs program, was kind enough to interview me about the then unpublished TBLP. Here’s the blog post Steve wrote in the wake of the Leacock Medal announcement:

The Funniest Book In Canada

Back in February of 2007, I interviewed a political wise guy named Terry Fallis. Terry has been around the block in the political world. He now plies his trade at an eponymously named consulting firm.

But once upon a time, he was one of those back room boys who worked for politicians and tried to get them elected.

He’s a smart guy and figured there must be a funny book somewhere inside him, given all of what he’d seen in politics.

So he wrote a book, set on Parliament Hill, and followed the travails of a once naïve, now a bit too cynical back room boy who’s seen too much of politics’ seamy underbelly.

His book is called The Best Laid Plans and Terry rolled it out in unusual fashion.

Once a week, he downloaded a chapter of his work into podcast form on his website. He narrates the action himself. He did it this way because no Canadian publisher would print his work. Not a one.

So rather than wait for that, Fallis got the book into the readers’ hands with the newfangled technology so many of us are using these days. And what do you know: he ends up winning the Stephen Leacock prize for humour.

While the credit is all Terry’s, I take a certain amount of pride in saying we were the first program to interview the author, when, quite frankly, no one was beating his doors down to give him any attention.

Video Thumbnail So, to see and hear my conversation with Terry Fallis from last February, about his own political history, and his successful political novel, watch this web-exclusive video and enjoy.

Thanks Steve. You were there at the beginning and I’m grateful.

The Globe Review (…I can breathe again)

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, reviewed TBLP today in its wonderful Books section. My stomach has been in knots since I learned today would be the day. I can breathe again. It’s not bad:

More satire, please, we’re Canadian


May 3, 2008


By Terry Fallis

iUniverse, 257 pages, $21.95

A few years ago, CBC-TV foolishly cancelled Snakes and Ladders, a political dramedy set on Parliament Hill. The appetite for more Canadian political intrigue, especially with a satiric bent, is still there. But where do you find it in novel form?

First-time novelist Terry Fallis knew there was an audience. So he penned The Best Laid Plans and shopped it around to Canada’s publishers, but was not offered a book deal. So the tenacious Fallis self-published his 2007 book of fiction through iUniverse.

Fallis also submitted his own book to the judges of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. And this week, The Best Laid Plans won the $10,000 prize, beating out such A-list authors as Will Ferguson and Douglas Coupland.

This self-published wonder should be a cause for concern for the decision-makers at Canada’s faltering publishing houses about what should be jumping out of their slush piles, into print and on to national market.

The Best Laid Plans is not the best book of political satire I’ve read, but it’s amusing, enlightening – and Canadian. It deftly explores the Machiavellian machinations of Ottawa’s political culture, from the grassroots level in a fictitious federal riding during an election campaign, to the Wizards of Ottawa who operate the levers behind the curtain. This is a great platform to create satire that verges on parody.

Fallis, a former Ottawa backroom player who now runs the Toronto PR firm Thornley Fallis, is all too familiar with how the federal political game is played. The Best Laid Plans is written in first person through the eyes of the main protagonist, Daniel Addison, a 32-year-old former speechwriter to the leader of the Liberal opposition.

It’s immediately clear that Addison is a mouthpiece for Fallis’s own political views and the failings in Canada’s Parliament. This is how he starts his prologue: “I could take no more. With the backroom boys still driving Machiavelli’s motor coach, I was just a helpless, hapless passenger as they tossed the public interest under the wheels yet again. Just to be sure, we stopped, backed up, and rumbled over it once more. It was time to bail out. … On Parliament Hill, the pendulum of power swings between the cynical political operators (CPOs) and the idealist policy wonks (IPWs). It’s a naturally regulating model that inevitably transfers power from one group to another – and back again.”

After finishing his PhD on the side, Addison leaves his speechwriting job for a chance to become a tenured English professor at the University of Ottawa. But he owes one more favour to his Grit overlords: Find a Liberal candidate to run in the upcoming federal election against an entrenched Tory incumbent.

Addison’s lame-duck candidate is Angus McLintock, an indifferent 60-year-old Scots immigrant and professor of mechanical engineering. While the other characters are believably drawn, especially the Liberal leader’s obnoxious executive assistant, I struggled with McLintock, who seemed nothing more than a caricature when he was introduced.

McLintock is The Simpsons’ Groundskeeper Willie with a PhD. His pedantic tendency to correct people on proper English usage is odd since he speaks in a Scots dialect that sounds as if he just stepped out of an 18th-century Robbie Burns poem: “Aye, I cannae argue with you. Feel free to remind me what it feels like to face a rabble like that the next time me confidence clouds me judgment.”

Eventually, I came around, as the character developed into a chess-playing, hovercraft-building political rebel.

That Fallis’s political satire has won the Leacock could signal a sustained return of the go-for-the-jugular social and political satire missing in Canada these days.

D. Grant Black is a Saskatchewan journalist and editor who has considered self-publishing for his satire project.

Phew! I can certainly live with this…

Editorial in the Orillia Packet & Times

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

A friend passed this on to me this afternoon. What a lovely editorial in today’s Orillia Packet & Times:


A Wonderful Orillia story for the nation

Sometimes big things come in little packages.

Such is the case with the Stephen Leacock Associates.

On Wednesday, this small group of hard-working, dedicated volunteers brought national attention to Orillia in announcing the 2008 Leacock Medal For Humour award winner. The news, coming from Swanmore Hall right here in Orillia, was picked up across the country.

Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans, was named the winner of this year’s medal. That was an important moment for the Orillia group as well, in that it underlines the impact the medal has on the publishing world. The publishers of best-selling authors like Will Ferguson and Douglas Coupland rush to have the Leacock Associates seal placed on book jackets as soon as the five finalists are announced, and the stamp of the medal of humour on any cover is a major help in promoting and selling a book.

But the story of Terry Fallis may best illustrate the authority of the medal. His offering was self-published. When his book was named among the top five in Canadian humour for 2008, he almost immediately began to hear from agents and publishers. Winning this medal could well launch another bright light in Canadian letters.

Not bad for a little place like Orillia.

Anchored by the wisdom of people like Pete McGarvey in preserving and promoting the Leacock home as a museum, and upheld by the ongoing strong performance of the museum under current curator Fred Addis, the Leacock legacy is alive and well in this city.

Most of the credit for that goes to people like those who work away in relative anonymity to care for and build upon one of the truly great stories of this community.

Congratulations to you all.

Kind of makes me want to move to the wonderful and picturesque town of Orillia, home of Stephen Leacock.

Globe and Mail on TBLP and the Leacock

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

As my wife Nancy and I were driving home yesterday from Orillia where the Leacock Medal luncheon was held, James Adams of the Globe and Mail called my cell phone.  We did a quick interview as I tried to drive down highway 400 while still floating off the ground.   Anyway, here’s the result:

Stay tuned.  I’ve been informed that the official Globe and Mail review of TBLP will run this Saturday (gulp).

The Leacock Medal… what a thrill…

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

I’m at a loss for words. It’s been quite a day. Thank you all for your support throughout this little journey of mine.

Here’s the news release. Here’s the CBC story. And here’s some video from the actual event.

There’s a whole weekend of celebrations in June. I’m starting to work on my speech already. Time for some sleep… if I can…

TBLP in the Toronto Star

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I’m sure my 15 minutes must soon be up. Because of the Leacock Medal shortlist, the Toronto Star ran a nice piece in the Sunday Star this past weekend. They even teased the story on the front page of the Entertainment section. I’d done the interview and photography last week. I’m amazed at how many people have e-mailed me in the wake of the article, including some who have said that they’ve ordered the book. Every little bit helps!