Archive for the ‘Canadian political novel’ Category

Update: TBLP – the stage musical

Monday, October 27th, 2014
Vern Anton Ben Terry

Vern Thiessen, Anton Lipovetsky, Ben Elliott, and I

 

Yesterday, at the Vancouver Writers Fest, I had the honour of participating on a panel discussing the adaptation of my first novel, The Best Laid Plans to the stage as a musical. This has been underway for over two years, now. But it’s really happening. It will premiere in September of 2015 at the York Theatre, here in Vancouver. On the panel yesterday were Katrina Dunn, the Artistic Director of Touchstone Theatre, Peter Jorgensen, the play’s Director and head of Patrick Street Studios, Vern Thiessen, the Governor General’s Award-winning playwright who is writing the play, Ben Elliott and Anton Lipovetsky, the award-winning composers, and yours truly. It was quite an afternoon.

I had met Katrina before when we’d done the initial negotiations for the stage rights to the novel, but I’d never met any of the others beyond a few emails with Vern and Peter. I was thrilled to meet them all and get an update on their progress. Then we hit the stage for the panel discussion in front of a sellout audience. Katrina was the ring leader. I offered a general overview of the novel. Peter described a bit about the history of adapting novels as stage musicals. Then Vern talked about what he considered when adapting TBLP to the stage. Then the fun started. I read three excerpts from the novel that led beautifully into three scenes and three songs from the production performed by the two composers and a wonderfully talented local actor/singer. Remember, I had never heard these scenes or songs, so I was taking it all in for the first time while on stage in front of a large crowd. My heart was pounding. All of the songs and the dialogue leading to them were wonderful, compelling and powerful. At one point in the middle of the second song, I very nearly burst into tears. It was a love song sung by Angus to his recently deceased wife, and it was beautiful, haunting, and very moving.

Music is important to me. I’ve played guitar, written songs, and sung (not particularly well) since I was 17 years old. I played in a band in university. I think I have a sense of what makes a good song, largely because I’ve written quite a few bad ones. Ben and Anton are incredibly talented songwriters who seem to have a magical collaboration. In less than a year, when the show opens in Vancouver, I think you’ll agree that these songs will be with us for a very long time.

Much more work lies ahead, but this is really going to happen. And I think it’s going to be something special. And by the way, the hovercraft will part of the play!

Vern Peter Terry

Vern Thiessen, I, and Peter Jorgensen

A behind-the-scenes look at the TBLP miniseries

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Here’s a very cool mini-documentary offering a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Best Laid Plans miniseries airing on CBC Television in January 2014.

On the set of the TBLP TV miniseries: Surreal

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Peter Moss (blog)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 wardrobe  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,  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.

The scripts have been written by two revered Canadian writers, Susan Coyne and Jason Sherman. The story could not be in better hands.

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.

With Jonas Chernick (Daniel)

With Jonas Chernick (Daniel)

Peter Moss directing Jonas Chernick in Centre Block on Parliament Hill

Peter Moss directing Jonas Chernick in Centre Block on Parliament Hill

 

Getting set up to shoot the scene in Dean Roland Rumplun's office.

Getting set up to shoot a scene in Dean Roland Rumplun’s office

 

Yes, Angus gets his own trailer

Yes, Angus gets his own trailer

 

In the wardrobe truck

In the wardrobe truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CBC “green lights” TBLP TV miniseries

Sunday, March 10th, 2013



Last week we received some very good news from the powers that be at CBC Television. After reviewing the six scripts written by the accomplished writing team of Susan Coyne and Jason Sherman, CBC has given PDM Entertainment the green light to start production this summer of the miniseries based on the first half of my first novel, The Best Laid Plans. CBC has asked that the series be ready to air in January 2014 before coverage of the Winter Olympics begins.

No word yet on casting but that will need to happen in the very near future along with location scouting and shoot scheduling and everything else that goes into creating a TV series. Fingers crossed and touch wood, but it seems that this might actually happen. (And it’s kind of cool to have it talked about in The Hollywood Reporter!)

 

 

A wonderful story from my Orangeville gig

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

This past Sunday, I joined two other Leacock winners, Trevor Cole and Dan Needles, friends both, at Theatre Orangeville for an afternoon of laughs celebrating the legacy of Stephen Leacock. It was a wonderful afternoon before a soldout audience of nearly 300. At the book signing thereafter, a couple approached me and pulled out a photograph (below) of Norris “Cubby” Burke, age 93. He lives in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and served in the RCAF as a radio operator. He’s an avid follower of politics and public affairs. The couple with whom I spoke at the event are friends of Norris. Some time ago, they thought he’d enjoy my first novel, The Best Laid Plans and so they sent him a copy. It was so gratifying to learn that he loved the book so much, he carries it with him on his daily walks around the beautiful  village of Knowlton, where he lives. You can see it in the basket below.

But that’s not the whole story, lovely as it is so far. The kicker is that his late wife, Angeline Hango, won the third Leacock Medal for Humour back in 1949 for Truthfully Yours. I have a copy in my Leacock collection, and it is very funny. Apparently after this recognition, she never wrote again. It’s wonderful to have even a slight connection with the author of a Leacock Medal-winning book from more than 60 years ago.

Heading to Winnipeg later in June…

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

 

On June 18th, I head out to Winnipeg for a couple of events. The first night I’ll be doing an on-stage interview with a popular local CBC Radio host, Terry MacLeod at the famous McNally Robinson Grant Park flagship store. I’ve heard so much about this independent bookstore and look forward to a fun evening. I gave a talk and reading at the sadly now-gone McNally Robinson Toronto store a few years ago shortly before they unfortunately closed their doors. I hope my appearance had nothing to do with its demise shortly thereafter.

Then, on June 19th, I’ll be giving a public lecture as part of the annual conference of the Canadian Engineering Education Association at the University of Manitoba. This is the real reason for my trip to Winnipeg. I am an engineer who has never practiced professionally but who believes my engineering education informs nearly everything I do. So I’ll be prattling on about how my years studying engineering at McMaster have shaped the rest of my life, including my writing, even if I’ve never actually worked as an engineer. I wrote a piece about this for an engineering magazine that should give you a sense of what I’ll be talking about in Winnipeg. I encourage any and all to attend.

 

Years later, TBLP & THR are still hanging in there

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

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.

From one end of the country to the other…

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

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!

TBLP was Canada’s #3 novel in 2011

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

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.

My first virtual e-book signing…

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

This was kind of neat. Margaret Atwood has a stake in a company called iDolVine that has created software and a social networking site that allows authors  to meet virtually with book lovers, and then inscribe their ebook  remotely. I tried it out yesterday for an event organized by the bookstore at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, while I was sitting in my office here in Toronto. It all worked very well. A steady stream of customers (well it was steady for a few minutes!) sat down in the hotseat and pulled on the headset so we could chat for a few minutes through cyberspace. Then at what seemed like the appropriate moment, I inscribed the cover of my second novel, The High Road using a stylus and a tablet computer. Then I hit the “Send” button and the electronic image was sent to the customer’s email address. I’m told that when the system is fully developed, the inscribed cover of the novel will actually be embedded directly into the customer’s ebook stored in his/her online library, whether it’s with Kobo, Kindle,  iBooks, or other ebook services. Slick!