Posts Tagged ‘Terry Fallis’

New Year’s Resolutions…

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

happy-new-year-graphic

Tis the season for new year’s resolutions.  For many years, a mainstay of my annual list of resolutions had been “get started writing the novel.” I took that one off my list in 2006 as I tweaked and fiddled with what was essentially a completed manuscript for TBLP.  But here we are on the eve of 2009 and I’m finding myself resurrecting “get started writing the novel” for this year’s list.

So here, in no particular order, are a few new year’s resolution I’ll be trying to keep:

Write the sequel to TBLP. I’m nearly done the rather detailed outline for the sequel to TBLP so it will soon be time to start the writing.  I’m excited yet filled with trepidation at the prospect.  I’m not sure how long it will take, but I’m on it!

Add more meaningful content to this blog rather than just littering it with every minor new development in the life of TBLP (I may find it interesting that libraries are ordering TBLP but I’m hard-pressed to expect anyone else to find it compelling reading!).  So, with this in mind:

  • I’ll blog a little about how I approach the task of writing.  I’m always interested in the how writers actually tackle the act of writing.  And I really mean the more practical aspects of it.  Do they write in the morning?  Do they write in long or short time spans?  Do they write in the kitchen?  How do they start?  Etc. etc.   I’m still feeling my way on this but I think I’ve learned a couple of things from writing TBLP.
  • I may also offer some observations on the broader topic of writing in general, and humour writing in particular. This will likely veer into questions of technique rather than just dealing with the more practical issues like  laptop versus pen and pad, kitchen versus home office, etc., noted above.

Continue to do whatever I can to promote TBLP. Since the Leacock shock in the spring, I’ve been quite busy with readings and speaking gigs at various writers festivals.  It’s been a new but very fulfilling and enjoyable experience for me.  And, I think that book sales are higher because of those events.  Even though M&S published TBLP in September, I think there are still appearances and talks and readings that I can do keep the name of the novel out there.

Spend more meaningful time with my wife and two sons,  despite returning to a heavier evening and weekend writing schedule.  We’re a very busy family.  But being a busy family doesn’t mean we can’t be busy together.  It takes planning and patience, but nothing is more important.

Make 2009 a strong year professionally (i.e. my day job!). I derive great satisfaction from my work as a PR professional.  I work with some wonderful people, clients and colleagues alike.  We have a great PR firm in Toronto and Ottawa and we’re doing some very interesting and innovative work for our clients.  I want that to continue and grow even more.

So here’s to a wonderful and memorable 2008 and a happy and healthy 2009.

McClelland & Stewart to publish TBLP

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008


I’m certain I’ve now exhausted my lifetime allocation of good fortune. Yesterday my wonderful agent, Beverley Slopen, confirmed that McClelland & Stewart will publish TBLP as one of its fall releases. M&S is the heavyweight Canadian publishing house with a long and rich history. What’s more, Douglas Gibson, yes the Douglas Gibson, will not only work with me on the manuscript, but the novel will actually be published under his prestigious imprint, Douglas Gibson Books. To me, this outcome is kind of like aiming to win the high school track meet, but instead ending up going to the Olympic Games and bringing home a gold medal. Doug is probably the most respected editor/publisher in the country having worked closely with some of Canada’s and the world’s leading literary lights including Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, and W.O. Mitchell to name but a few. I am over the moon.

As the Globe and Mail article below mentions, there is some irony in this most welcome outcome. Doug and I are actually friends, because our respective wives are close friends. I’ve so enjoyed the times the four of us have spent together. When you’re a passionate reader and weekend writer, nothing is more enjoyable than listening to Doug’s wonderful stories from his illustrious publishing career. It was a discussion with Doug three or four years ago about three-time Leacock Medal winner Donald Jack that ultimately got me off the couch and writing TBLP. Until last week, I’d never really spoken to Doug about my novel. I can only imagine how often he is accosted at parties or conferences by writers hoping that he’ll review their manuscripts. So I chose not to talk about my writing with Doug so as not to complicate the wonderful relationship we have. But after the Leacock Medal, Beverley Slopen did make an approach and the publishing deal was consummated yesterday. I could not be happier and I’m so looking forward to working with Doug.

The M&S edition of The Best Laid Plans, with new cover and interior design, will be launched this fall. I’m counting the days…

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.

Love this headline…

Monday, May 5th, 2008

I am going to stop posting media coverage.  It does seem kind of self-congratulatory but I love this headline so much.  It’s pithy, to the point, and oh so accurate.  This story appeared on the front page of the wonderful Orillia Packet & Times on Thursday, May 1st, the day after the Leacock luncheon.

TBLP #1 on the iTunes chart

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

The power of a little media coverage. On a lark, I checked iTunes this morning and was shocked (for the second time this week) to find the TBLP podcast sitting at the number one spot (Arts and Literature). Certainly a Leacock halo effect. I grabbed a screen shot as I don’t imagine it will stay at these lofty heights for long. Bizarre to be ahead of the New York Times Book Review podcast, which is one of my “must listen” podcasts. Just another surreal aspect to a surreal week.

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

D. GRANT BLACK

May 3, 2008

THE BEST LAID PLANS

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:

EDITORIAL

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!