McClelland & Stewart has added a little flourish to the cover art for the next printing of The Best Laid Plans to tie it in to the upcoming CBC TV series. Here’s the result:
Archive for June, 2013
On January 5th, 2013, I recorded on this blog that I had officially started writing the manuscript for my fourth novel, No Relation. Well, I’m thrilled to report that two days ago, my editor, Doug Gibson, passed along the final manuscript to McClelland & Stewart for copy-editing and proofreading. In other words, the book is essentially finished. (WooooHoooo!) Last week, I went through Doug’s minor but thoughtful and very beneficial suggested tweaks to the manuscript. It’s a better book and it’s in better shape thanks to Doug’s insights and experience. So for the time being, it’s now out of my hands.
If you’re thinking that six months is not a long time to write a novel, do not be deceived. Writing the manuscript is the very last step in my particular writing process. In the preceding six to eight months, I’ve been carrying around the whole story in my mind, developing it, changing it, putting it back the way it was and then changing it again, refining the plot, developing the settings and characters, and eventually drafting a 50-70 page chapter-by-chapter outline to guide me in writing the manuscript. In other words, by the time I get to the actual crafting of sentences, I know everything there is to know about the novel, from start to finish. So at that stage, the writing itself is, thankfully, relatively straightforward and efficient. It just requires that I put my ass in the chair long enough to bang out 100,000 words, preferably in the right order. But you’ll eventually be that judge of that.
Finishing No Relation liberates my mind to start mapping out my fifth novel. I’ve had an idea simmering in my brain-pan since last December. I think it’s almost ready to see the light of day. (You don’t want to be inside my head for longer than seven or eight months!) So I hope to start wrestling novel #5 into shape so I can start writing it as early as the fall. Onwards…
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.
This past Monday evening, I was emceeing the 2013 Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards at the Toronto Congress Centre. It was wonderful meeting, and having dinner with, the legend Alice Munro, and spending time with Will Ferguson, one of the nicest and funniest (he’s a three-time Leacock Medal winner) writers we have in this country. Much to my surprise, I was actually a finalist for the 2013 Author of the Year award alongside Alice Munro, Will Ferguson, and Nancy Richler.
I spent a good part of the night shuttling from backstage to the podium, introducing each award and the resepctive presenters. When it came time for the Author of the Year category, I was quite happily backstage as reigning CBA President, Mark LefebvreÂ (who writes as Mark Leslie), took the stage to rip open the envelope (yes, they actually do the whole “…and the winner is…” routine) and announce the lucky name. Fortunately, I was backstage at the time, fully expecting to hear one of the other stellar writers’ names called, when Mark distinctly read my name. It took me a moment to find my Â jaw on the floor, it was quite dark backstage, before I wobbled back onto the stage. I thanked the many independent booksellers with whom I’d worked over the preceding five years, paid tribute to my wonderful publicist at Random House, Frances Bedford and my literary agent, Beverley Slopen, and offered my deep appreciation to my editor and friend, the incomparable Douglas Gibson. Finally, I just closed by saying that there had never been a more grateful recipient of this honour. Then gathering myself, I switched back into emcee mode with my knees still knocking, noted that we were “now returning to regularly scheduled programming,” and introduced the next award. Then I darted backstage to hyperventilate until I had to return to the microphone to welcome the next presenter and generally keep the trains running on time. Believe me, I was very thankful for the distraction of my emcee duties. As I said in my closing remarks, when I think back, years from now, on the 2013 CBA Libris Awards, I suspect I’ll remember very little about my duties as emcee.
Winning Author of the Year was indeed a shock. But the honour really should be shared with my patient and indulgent family. You see, I’ve done a lot of talks and readings in the last few years. There were 130 last year, and I seem to be on a higher pace this year. I truly believe that this is how you sell books in this country, and better the odds that you’ll get to write and publish a next novel. But it is not without sacrifice. I haven’t been there for as many family dinners and weekends as I would have liked. The load at home unavoidably shifts to the shoulders of my wife, and two sons. I’m very grateful that they have accommodated the demands of my writing life, on top of everything else that comes with having a family. None of this would have happened without their support. Somehow, I will try to make it up to them…