This was shot a few weeks ago but aired today on CBC Television as we get ready for episode 1 of The Best Laid Plans miniseries tomorrow night, Sunday, January 5th at 9 p.m. on the CBC national network. The more Canadians who tune in, the more likely it will be that the series will continue beyond these initial six episodes. (Yes, that’s a shameless request for an hour of your time Sunday night. Hope you enjoy it.)
Archive for the ‘Canada Reads’ Category
This past Monday, my wife Nancy, older son Calder, and I drove up to Ottawa to spend the afternoon on the set of the TV miniseries based on my first novel, The Best Laid Plans. I really didn’t know what to expect. You see, like most of us, I’ve never been on the set of a TV series. But the experience exceeded all of my expectations. Simply put, it was quite surreal. Having carried these characters around in my head for so many years, it was strangely exhilarating to come face to face with Daniel Addison and Angus McLintock. I never dreamed I might one day have lunch with Angus and Daniel. But this past Monday, that’s exactly what I did.
The photo above shows the wonderful Director/Producer of the miniseries, Peter Moss of PDM Entertainment. Bringing TBLP to the small screen was his idea from the start, and it will be his vision we’ll see when the miniseries airs in January, 2014, on CBC Television. The scene he is directing in the photo is when Angus confronts Dean Roland Rumplun about being assigned to teach English for Engineers yet again. It’s a great encounter.
We toured the set, met some of the 65 crew members, visited the wardrobeÂ truck, donned headphones to watch the shooting of a scene, and generally walked around on air for a few hours as what, for months, had been a nebulous concept took on concrete form before our eyes.
The miniseries has been brilliantly cast. Kenneth Welsh, a fine and respected actor takes on the role of Angus. Jonas Chernick will be a terrific Daniel. Jodi Balfour from Bomb Girls takes on the role of Lindsay. Barbara Gordon is Muriel, Raoul Bhaneja plays Bradley Stanton, Sarah Allen is Rachel,Â Peter Keleghan is Eric Cameron, Leah Pinsent is Petra Borschart, Sonja Smits is the Prime Minister, Mark McKinney is the Leader of the Opposition, and the amazing Eric Peterson plays Muriel’s protector in the seniors’ residence. What an amazing cast! I’m thrilled with this stellar lineup of Canadian talent.
Matt Code, the Associate Producer, actually showed us some footage shot on Parliament Hill last week from what they call the “dailies.” The scenes shot in Centre Block and particularly in the Parliamentary Library that we saw were nothing short of stunning.
Here are few more shots from our day on the set. I’m afraid I don’t yet have a shot of Angus, but as soon as I do, I’ll post it. It’s all very exciting.
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.
Next week, Chapter 8, as David tries to persuade his colleagues at Turner King that Landon is the perfect Citizen Astronaut.
The voiceover that opens each episode was provided by my friend, Roger Dey.
Your comments are always welcome, here on the blog, at iTunes, or via email to [email protected]
I happened to check BookManager last night and was surprised and delighted to see both The Best Laid Plans and The High Road still in the top ten Canadian Fiction bestsellers list. It’s been four years since TBLP won the Leacock Medal, and coming up to two years since THR hit bookstore shelves. I couldn’t be happier with how they’re still doing, all this time later. This unexpected longevity is another manisfestation of the Canada Reads effect. I certainly didn’t expect TBLP to be still so high on the list more than a year after the Canada Reads win, but such is the power of CBC’s annual battle of the books. With my third novel, Up and Down, due in bookstores on September 11, 2012, I’m certainly grateful for this good news.
My speaking/reading schedule has been quite intense of late and shows no sign of slackening as we head into the homestretch and the release of my third novel, Up and Down, in September. A week or so ago I started in Toronto on Monday, headed to Woodstock, New Brunswick on Tuesday, back to Toronto for Thursday, and then finished the week in Vancouver Island. Throw in a little fog and a wildcat walkout by baggage handlers and you’ve got the makings of one seriously busy week. Then this week, it was Brantford, Ontario for a great evening at their public library. Here’s a quick look back…
Woodstock Reads What Canada Reads
Last summer I was contacted by the board of the public library in Woodstock, New Brunswick. The Best Laid Plans had been chosen as their first town-wide reading program selection. They dubbed it Woodstock Reads What Canada Reads. I was thrilled and of course agreed to come out to Woodstock. Well, last week it was time to fly. My flight to New Brunswick was delayed early Tuesday morning by fog. I was to take off at 7:30 but wasn’t airborne until 11:30. This was quite unfortunate as it meant that the school visits I was to make in Woodstock had to be cancelled. I felt terrible about this as school buses were all arranged so that students from two schools could take part. Just my luck that a rare fog appearance in Toronto scuppered my school appearance in New Brunswick. I eventually made to New Brunswick’s first town where my hosts toured me through the beautifully restored Connell House, historical home to one of Woodstock’s founding fathers. I then had dinner in Woodstock’s beautiful L. P. Fisher Public Library, built in 1914, with the library’s board of directors. Lovely people and great food, too.
After dinner it was off to my talk and reading to an enthusiastic crowd waiting at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Centre. The local mayor and MP were both there to add a little lustre to the evening. We had a great time. My sincere thanks to Catherine Sutherland, Deputy Mayor, and her team for organizing a great event. I look forward to coming back to Woodstock sometime in the future. I managed to do a Skype video call with one of the student groups on Friday to try to make up for the fog-induced cancellation the previous week.
Words on the Water, Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC
On Friday of last week, I boarded another plane, this time bound for Vancouver. It wasn’t the fog that delayed my takeoff but a wildcat walkout by baggage handlers at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Instead of an 8:30 departure, we changed gates three times and lifted off the runway at 10:30ish. This meant that I missed my connection to Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Thankfully there was a later flight. I landed and made it to the hotel with an hour to spare before the opening of the Words on the Water festival. There were some wonderful writers at the festival. I met and spent some time with the very talented Gurjinder Basran whose first novel, Everything was Good-bye picked up a BC Book Prize among many other accolades and honours. My friend, Robert Wiersema was also there. He’s a wonderful writer and reviewer. I think he’s the funniest writer I know who seldom writes funny stuff in his books. It was great to hang out with him, as usual. As well, the funny, funny writer Susan Juby was also there talking about her hilarious novel, The Woefield Poultry Collective. The festival was very well attended and everyone, yours truly included, seemed to have a great time. For the Literary Cabaret on the Saturday night, Robert Wiersema and I read Robert Service’s amazing poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee. Lots of laughs. Thanks to Trevor McMonagle and his organizing crew for a memorable weekend in beautiful Campbell River.
Brantford Public Library Reading
This past Thursday, I was off to Brantford, Ontario for a talk and reading at the Brantford Public Library. Brantford will always have a special place in my heart. The day The Best Laid Plans won Canada Reads, I travelled to Brantford for an evening talk to a McMaster University Alumni group. I’ll never forget that day, or my trip to Brantford that night. Last week’s visit was just as memorable. Paula Thomlinson and her colleagues at the library had done a great job promoting the event so it was a packed room. It was nice to speak with former Liberal MPP and Brantford Mayor Dave Neumann whom I’d not seen for many years. I spoke, read, answered questions and signed books. Thanks Brantford!
Thank you Canada Reads! As I’ve noted before in this space, winning Canada Reads has been an extraordinary blessing. In case there are doubters out there, here is some more evidence to pound home my point. Bookmanager, a company that tracks book sales across the country, has released their topselling fiction list for all of 2011. I don’t mean the Canadian ficiton list, but all fiction, regardless of origin. As you can see, The Best Laid Plans came home in third place for the year. What a thrill. Again, I say, thank you Canada Reads.
With my role as resident blogger for Canada Reads winding down, I’ve started to look ahead to what’s coming up for me on the book front in the next several months. It’s going to be a very hectic, but fun, time. I’m on the road a bit (Moncton, Vancouver Island, Winnipeg, Moose Jaw, and Ottawa), which is always a bit of challenge given that I work fulltime. It means that I use a few vacation days to make it all work. It also helps that my colleagues here at Thornley Fallis are very supportive and understanding. Anyway, here’s what the sched through to the end of the summer looks like, though it changes day-to-day as new gigs come in. To see it all, click here, or on the Appearances tab up on the upper-left side of this blog. With my third novel, Up and Down, being released by McClelland & Stewart on September 16th, the autumn is filling up, too!
- Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 7:30 p.m.: A talk and reading at a book club in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
- Wednesday, February 1, 2012, 1:00 p.m.: Participating in an e-book signing with Wilfrid Laurier University Bookstore and Idolvine.
- Tuesday, February 7, 2012, 7:30 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the Heliconian Literary Lecture Series, Toronto.
- Thursday, February 9, 2012, 12:00 noon: A luncheon talk to the Ontario Bar Association, Toronto.
- Thursday, February 9, 2012, 6:00 p.m.: Fulfilling authorial duties at The Book Loverâ€™s Ball, Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Ontario.
- Monday, February 20, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk and reading at a private book club in Toronto.
- Monday, March 5, 2012, 4:00 p.m.: A talk to a CanLit class at Lakehead University that is studying The Best Laid Plans, Orillia, Ontario.
- Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk and reading at a private book club in Toronto.
- Thursday, March 15, 2012, 10:00 a.m.: A talk and reading at the Twin Lakes Probus Club in Orillia, Ontario.
- Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the L. P. Fisher Public Library, in Woodstock, New Brunswick.
- Friday, March 23 â€“ Saturday, March 24, 2012: Talks, readings, and signings at the Words on the Water Writersâ€™ Festival, Campbell River, Vancouver Island, B.C.
- Thursday, March 29, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk and reading at the Brantford Public Library, Brantford, Ontario.
, April 7, 2012, Time: TBD: A talk and reading at the Listowel Public Library, Listowel, Ontario.
- Thursday, April 12, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the Taylor Branch of the Toronto Public Library.
- Sunday, April 15, 2012, 1:00 p.m.: A reading and signing for the Writers & Friends, a fundraiser for Horizons of Friendship, Memorial Hall, Kingston City Hall, Kingston, Ontario.
- Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 11:00 a.m.: A talk and reading at the Gateway Probus Club in Collingwood, Ontario.
- Thursday, April 19, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk and reading at the Tweed Public Library, Tweed, Ontario.
- Friday, April 20, 2012, 1:30 p.m.: A talk and reading at a private book club in Bobcaygeon, Ontario.
- Friday, April 20, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at Dunsford United Church in Bobcaygeon, Ontario.
- Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 7:30 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the Township of Russell Public Library, Russell, Ontario.
- Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 6:00 p.m.: Fulfilling authorial duties at the annual Writersâ€™ Trust Politics and the Pen Gala, Ottawa, Ontario.
- Thursday, April 26, 2012, 1:00 p.m.: Talks to students at College Avenue Secondary School, as part of Woodstock Reads in Woodstock, Ontario.
- Thursday, April 26, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk, reading and signing for Woodstock Reads at the Woodstock Public Library, Woodstock, Ontario.
- Friday, April 27 â€“ Sunday April 29, 2012, Time TBC: Talks, readings, and signings at schools and other venues as part of the Frye Festival, Moncton, New Brunswick.
- Thursday, May 3, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing in Dundas for the Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale Federal Liberal Association.
- Wednesday, May 8, 2012, 10:00 a.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the Probus Club of South Muskoka, Bracebridge, Ontario.
- Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk and reading at a private book club in Toronto.
- Monday, June 4, 2012, 10:00 a.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the New Appleby Burlington Probus Club, Burlington, Ontario.
- Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the Innisfil Public Library, Cookstown, Ontario.
- Thursday, June 7, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the Literary Evening of the annual conference of the College Association of Language and Literacy hosted by Seneca College, Toronto.
- Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 2:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at a Womenâ€™s Probus Club in Collingwood, Ontario.
- Thursday, June 14, 2012, 10:00 a.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the Probus Club of Wasaga Beach, Wasaga Beach, Ontario.
- Monday, June 18, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at McNally Robinson Grant Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: A talk and signing at the Canadian Engineering Education Association annual conference, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:00 noon: A talk and reading at a book club at St. Christopherâ€™s Church, Burlington, Ontario.
- Thursday, July 5, 2012, 10:00 a.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at the Midland-Huronia Probus Club, Midland, Ontario.
- Thursday, July 19 â€“ Sunday July 22, 2012: Talks, readings, and signings at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
- Thursday, July 26, 2012, 12:00 noon: A talk and reading at a private book club in Scarborough, Ontario.
- Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 7:00 p.m.: Keynote at the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Ottawa Convention Centre, Ottawa, Ontario.
Phew… I’m tired… but no time to rest, the new novel and a busy autumn beckon…
Time to look back on my writing year, as I’ve done annually since starting this blog back in January, 2007. It was another year of counting my literary blessings. Here are a few highlights that made 2011 such a memorable year for me:
- I did 95 talks and readings over the course of the year, a pace of nearly two each week. I travelled to Vancouver, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast, Calgary, Banff, Halifax, Ottawa, and all through Ontario.
- In early February, The Best Laid Plans, due largely to Ali Velshi’s stellar advocacy, snared the 2011 Canada Reads crown. This put TBLP on the bestsellers list for much of the year and even dragged The High Road on to the list in its wake.
- In June, I started teaching at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing program. I developed, and have now twice taught, a five week course on how to build an audience for your writing.
- In July, TBLP was the only novel included in the twelve books shortlisted for the Best Canadian Political Book of the Last 25 Years honour compiled by the Samara Foundation and The Writers’ Trust.
- In late October, I finished the manuscript for my third novel, tentatively entitled Up and Down, and in November, passed it along to my wonderful editor and publisher at M&S, Douglas Gibson.
- Also in November, CBC announced that it is developing The Best Laid Plans as a six-part television miniseries.
- In December, the City of Woodstock announced that The High Road had been chosen as the official Woodstock Reads 2012 selection.
- Finally, to close out the year, Margaret Atwood “tweeted” very positively to her nearly 289,000 followers after reading The Best Laid Plans.
As you can see, it was a very happy fifth year in my life as a writer. I am one, very grateful novelist.
Looking ahead, there’s more excitement coming in 2012. First and foremost, my third novel will hit bookstore shelves in September. Beyond that, who knows?
A few weeks ago at the Writers’ Trust Gala, I chatted for a few minutes with Margaret Atwood. Yes, Margaret Atwood. If you’d told me three years ago that in November of 2011 I’d actually be speaking with Margaret Atwood, I’d have scoffed until I had no scoffs left to offer. I’m still amazed that I managed to construct complete sentences and not fall down throughout the brief but memorable (for me) conversation. Margaret (I dared not use “Peggy,” which I assume is reserved for closer acquaintances) left me flabbergasted when she said that several audience members at a reading she’d given recently in Picton, Ontario had suggested strongly to her that she read both of my novels. She went on to note that they were so eager to ensure her compliance that the titles of my first two novels were dutifully written down on a piece of paper and given to her lest she forget them. As she conveyed this miraculous story, I did my best to plaster a modest smile on my face even as what felt like a hockey game broke out in my stomach and my heart rate soared into the red zone. I thanked her and let her move on to the throng of fans gathering on the periphery of our conversation. I then sat down for a moment to… well, to recover. Eventually I collected my wits that were strewn about me on the floor, stood up, and ventured into the reception. It was a lovely night, but my brief exchange with Margaret Atwood was certainly a highlight.
Our encounter came back to me this morning when I opened Twitter on my iPad to get caught up on all the news. Of course I’m one of Margaret Atwood’s nearly 289,000 followers. I had to sit back down again when this Tweet passed through in my Twitter stream:
I guess she kept that piece of paper from Picton. What a thrilling way to close out a wonderful year in my still fledgling life as a writer. Well, twelve hours later, I’m still sitting down. Tomorrow I may try to stand up, but I don’t want to rush it…