Archive for the ‘Bhavna Chauhan’ Category

Cover reveal for Albatross

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

As promised, here is the cover design for my seventh novel, Albatross, to be released on August 13th. The goal of any cover is to reach out from bookstore shelves, grab readers by the lapels as they walk past, and force them to take a closer look. I think this cover scores very well on the old “eye-catching” meter. Breaking up the word Albatross using the hyphen is unusual and I hope makes the cover a little more arresting than if the word had been displayed in the usual fashion.

As for symbolism, the cover leans on the “gilded cage” metaphor. My narrator, Adam Coryell, is blessed or cursed, depending on your perspective, with unmatched natural ability at golf. This grants him fame and fortune beyond any sane person’s wildest imagination. Yet he is not happy in his life. Not to put too fine a point on it, Adam’s golf prowess “imprisons” him in a gilded cage. The novel tells the story of how he found himself in the cage, and how he escaped.

I’m very happy with the cover, though I know it will not appeal to everyone. Here’s hoping it does its job and catches bookstore browsers’ eyes starting in mid-August. My thanks to my editor, Bhavna Chauhan, and the design team at McClelland & Stewart (Penguin Random House) for coming up with this. It was not a straightforward design challenge.

Albatross Final Cover

 

The new title of my seventh novel is: Albatross

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

A few weeks back, I promised to unveil the new title for my seventh novel, due in bookstores on August 13. The original title I’d come up with was If at First You Succeed. I liked the wry little twist on this common phrase. But it is a mouthful. My editor, the wonderful Bhavna Chauhan at McClelland & Stewart (Penguin Random House) and I agreed that it was worth considering some other title options that were a little pithier and punchier. I’ve always liked titles that have at least two different meanings, even if the reader doesn’t understand the second meaning until later in the novel. One Brother Shy and Poles Apart are two examples of titles of mine that, I hope, take on additional meaning for the reader as the story unfolds.

So with all of this in mind, the title for my new novel is Albatross. Without giving too much away, this word has strong connections to the story but in two different contexts. This is not a novel about golf, but the game does play into the story. In golf parlance, an albatross is that rare and wonderful event when a player shoots three below par on a hole. In other words, if a golfer holes her second shot on a Par 5, she would be said to have scored an “albatross.” I’ve scored many birdies (one below par on a hole) in my less-than-stellar golfing career, and one lonely eagle (two below par on a hole). But I have never come close to landing the elusive albatross. So in one sense, the word albatross reflects the rare talent for golf that the narrator in my novel possesses.

albatross on scorecard

But there is a completely different meaning for the word albatross (I mean beyond the literal sea bird definition). Back in 1798, the English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote a very long poem called The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In the poem, an albatross seems to bring good weather and favourable winds to a ship that was threatened by the ice of a winter storm. When a sailor shoots the albatross with a crossbow, the ship’s fortunes change for the worse. For his crime, the sailor is forced to hang the dead albatross around his neck as punishment.

albatross-around-your-neck

This second meaning of the word albatross – the bearing of guilt or a burden – becomes a powerful reflection of the narrator’s life when his golfing prowess becomes a burden or the albatross around his neck.

When I suggested the alternative title, my editor, and according to the legend, everyone else at Penguin Random House, thought it was short, punchy, clever, and perfect. Who am I to argue?

So when the novel hits bookstores in August, the title will simply be Albatross.

I should soon be able to share the cover design, but not quite yet. Stay tuned!

Editing If at First You Succeed

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

blue pencil

I’ve been working closely with my editor at McClelland & Stewart, Bhavna Chauhan, to edit the manuscript for my seventh novel, tentatively known as If at First You Succeed. It’s been tough slogging but the novel is much better now than it was before this editing stage. I should have the revised manuscript back to her in the next few weeks, and we’ll see how she likes it. I’m enjoying the process and we’re both staying focused on making this the best book it can be. We’re still on track to be published in August 2019. Stay tuned.

If at First You Succeed is finished

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018


Ball in hole

It’s always exciting to finish the manuscript for my next novel. It’s such a journey to cook up an idea, create the characters, map out the story, and then write the novel. There is a moment of sheer relief when you type the words “The End.” I say “a moment of sheer of relief” because the journey isn’t nearly over yet. My twin brother Tim is almost always an early reader (along with my wife, Nancy), and he’s already nearly finished it. As usual, he’s had some sound editorial suggestions, most of which I’ve already executed. But still, there is a certain satisfaction at making it this far.

You’d think on my seventh novel that it might be getting easier. But I’m hard-pressed to say this novel was any less challenging than the six that preceded it. In fact, I encountered a rough patch on this novel that I’ve never experienced before. When I’d written the first half of this manuscript, I read it over before digging in to write the second half. For the first time in my writing life, I just wasn’t satisfied with what I’d written. It just didn’t feel quite right. I wasn’t happy with it.

So after thinking long and hard about the story, I made some changes. I performed some surgery on the first half that may have lengthened the novel a tad, but I hope also makes it a faster read. Seems like a contradiction, but it’s not. After recovering from this surgery, I barrelled ahead with the second half and finished it last week. I’ve now gone through the entire manuscript one more time, fixed some small things, and made the solid edits my twin bro proposed.

Now it’s off to my editor at McClelland & Stewart, Bhavna Chauhan, and the editorial process begins afresh. I’m sure she’ll have some helpful suggestions at various levels of the story that will make this a better novel. But, we’re getting closer. This post is just my way of pausing for a moment, and feeling good about finishing the manuscript, at least for the first time. I’m sure I’ll be “finishing the manuscript” a couple more times before it’s well and truly ready for your favourite bookstore. As far as I know, we’re on track for its release in August 2019. Seems so far away.

Onwards…

manuscript