Archive for the ‘Bill Gaston’ Category

Two years later…

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Exactly twelve months ago today, I wrote a post on this blog entitled “One year later…“  The year before that, on December 26, 2006, I keyed in my Visa card number in the appropriate spaces on the iUniverse website and signed up to publish TBLP.  So in my post one year ago, I was reflecting on what an eventful year 2007 had been for me in my nascent life as a weekend writer, which culminated in the release of TBLP in September 2007.  Here’s a brief excerpt from that post exactly twelve months ago:

December 25th, 2007

“…One year later, my novel is widely available online. One year later, TBLP has won the (iUniverse) Editor’s Choice and the Publisher’s Choice honours. One year later, my podcast audience is still growing, and by the comments, still loving the story. One year later, I’ve had a successful Toronto launch and my first book signing. One year later, TBLP has aired on Radioropa, a leading European satellite radio network. One year later, every reader review, and the more formal published reviews have been so positive that most days, I tend to walk a few feet off the ground. One year later, more people have bought TBLP than I could ever have dreamed.”

I was clearly very happy one year ago as you can read.  Who knew that this year would be even better?  I had no idea that 2008 would bring such wonderful developments for me on the literary front.  Let me pick up where last year’s post left off:

December 25th, 2008

Two years later I was shocked and honoured to win the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.  Two years later I was thrilled to join the group of authors represented by the Beverley Slopen Literary Agency.  Two years later, Doug Gibson and McClelland & Stewart have published TBLP making it available in bookstores across Canada.  Two years later I’ve had the thrill of doing readings and speaking gigs at writers festivals with some of Canada’s finest writers including Joseph Boyden, Fred Stenson, Andrew Davidson and Bill Gaston.  Two years later, I’m nearly finished outlining the sequel to TBLP and almost ready to start writing again in earnest.

I certainly don’t mean for this to sound self-congratulatory in any way.  In fact, this is not a litany of accomplishments but rather a counting of blessings.  I write this with an almost overpowering sense of gratitude and a heaping helping of disbelief at my own good fortune.

Two years later, I’m drawn inexorably back to a phrase I blurted out in my impromptu Leacock acceptance speech last April, to describe how I felt about my surprise win.  It remains for me the most apt description, not just of the Leacock shock, but of the whole year.  2008 has been a head-on collision of shock and joy.

And looking ahead to 2009, it’s back to late nights with my laptop, trying to do it all over again with the sequel.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…

Day Two of OIWF

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Here’s my second post from the Booklounge Insiders’ Blog about the Ottawa International Writers Festival.

I had a wonderful day at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on Sunday. At 2:00 p.m., Sarah Dearing chaired our panel on Canadian literature. Bill Gaston started things off with a wonderful reading from his new novel, The Order of Good Cheer. I read next. The crowd was very kind and laughed in all the right places. Then Stephen Henighan read from his book of essays, The Afterlife of Culture. With all four of us on the stage, Sarah Dearing posed questions to drive a discussion on the state and future of our literary culture. I was a little intimidated by the topic but the discussion flowed with several questions from the floor as well. After 90 minutes (that seemed more like a half hour), we moved to the foyer to sign our books.

After our session, literary comet Joseph Boyden, hot off of his Giller shortlisting, read from his new novel Through Black Spruce, to a packed house. CBC radio personality Laurence Wall adroitly moderated the session. Beyond the moving reading and insightful discussion, the highlight of the session had to be Joseph Boyden performing three different moose calls (I kid you not!). The line up at Boyden’s signing table after the session snaked around the foyer and almost certainly left him with a swollen pen hand.

The final session I attended brought together three amazing writers for a reading and discussion. South African Booker nominee Damon Galgut read from The Imposter, Amitav Ghosh read from his Booker nominated novel, Sea of Poppies, and then Kenneth J. Harvey read from his epic masterwork Blackstrap Hawco. What a thrill to hear these three celebrated authors.

I spent the evening choosing my selections for a reading I’m doing at the Ottawa Public Library tomorrow (Monday) and sifting through some great memories of a wonderful OIWF weekend.

Click here for a great photo shot by John MacDonald, an Ottawa-based freelance shooter who also writes.

My first Ottawa International Writers Festival

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

I wrote this blog post for the Insiders’ Blog and thought I might as well cross-post it here.

Appearing at readings and writers’ festivals is still a new and wondrous experience for me, as is bearing the surreal label of “writer.” If you’d have told me six months ago that this past weekend I’d be reading and on a panel, as a “writer”, at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, I’d have suggested reassessing your medication. Yet here I am.

I arrived in Ottawa by train on Saturday and met fellow writer and panelist Stephen Henighan, author of The Afterlife of Culture. Good guy. Smart guy. We checked in at the Delta and then headed over to the National Archives building a couple of blocks away on Wellington Street where the festival has been unfolding all week. We made it in time for a a reading and discussion with prolific writer Bill Gaston, Giller-winning novelist David Bergen, and the much celebrated author Rawi Hage recent recipient of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. What a line-up. These wonderful writers read powerful pages from their new novels. To coin a phrase, “the audience was listening.”

After the session, Stephen and I helped ourselves to some dinner laid on for festival staff and authors. I learned that tofu can actually look exactly like beef bourguignon and I was reminded why I remain an inveterate meat-eater. I’m looking forward to our panel discussion on Sunday afternoon. Stephen Henighan, the aforementioned Bill Gaston and I will each read from our books, and then we’ll be led in discussion by award-winning novelist Sarah Dearing on the current state of Canadian literature. Yikes! I expect I’ll be doing a lot of sage head-nodding punctuated by the odd “agreed” and “exactly.” A friend has also suggested that I consider “steepling” my fingers in a thoughtful pose. Good advice. Stay tuned…