Archive for the ‘Canadian political novel’ Category

It’s shaping up to be a busy spring/summer…

Monday, January 30th, 2012

 

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!

Coming up…

  • Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 7:30 p.m.: A talk and reading at a book club in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
  • Thursday, February 9, 2012, 12:00 noon: A luncheon talk to the Ontario Bar Association, Toronto.
  • 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.
  • Saturday, 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.
  • Thursday, April 26, 2012, 1:00 p.m.: Talks to students at College Avenue Secondary School, as part of Woodstock Reads in Woodstock, Ontario.
  • Friday, April 27 – 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.
  • Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 2:00 p.m.: A talk, reading, and signing at a Women’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.
  • Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:00 noon: A talk and reading at a book club at St. Christopher’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 26, 2012, 12:00 noon: A talk and reading at a private book club in Scarborough, Ontario.

Phew… I’m tired… but no time to rest, the new novel and a busy autumn beckon…

CanLit is Sexy? Who knew…

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

CanLit is Sexy, an anonymous blog, has just popped up twisting the titles of selected Canadian novels in rather suggestive ways. Now, the National Post has jumped on board, too. Some of these are hilarious. Have a scroll through and perhaps suggest others. I’m honoured to have been included in this august list. Although, I figure with the word “laid” in the title, it was an easy call… (creepy photo of me too, which seems kind of appropriate under the cirsumstances.)

 

Five years later…

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

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:

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?

 

Just one more surreal TBLP moment…

Monday, December 26th, 2011

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…

Woodstock Reads chooses The High Road

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

I was thrilled to learn recently that The High Road has been chosen as the Woodstock Reads 2012 selection. I’m honoured and will definitely be making the trip down to Woodstock, in southwestern Ontario, whenever the organizers would like me to be there. I have such fond memories of my One Book One Community experience in Kitchener-Waterloo last year when The Best Laid Plans was that region’s selection. I look forward to meeting the readers of Woodstock sometime in the coming months. I’m grateful to the organizers for choosing THR and hope it’s still a popular choice after the community has read it! I’ll keep you all posted.

 

Quill and Quire on CBC-TV TBLP miniseries

Friday, November 25th, 2011

CBC TV mini-series based on TBLP

Friday, November 25th, 2011

 

I’ve been sitting on this news for a few months now, but it’s finally official. The Best Laid Plans is in development as a six-part mini-series to be aired on CBC television. Jian Ghomeshi made the announcement as part of the big reveal this week of the five finalists for this year’s Canada Reads crown. A hugh crowd was gathered in the atrium of the CBC Broadcast Centre. It was a great event, but I confess my heart was pounding as Jian told the assembled throng that The Best Laid Plans was headed for television. What a thrill.

The director/producer of the mini-series, Peter Moss, is a very experienced television and theatre veteran having adapted the works of others writers including Mordecai Richler and Timothy Findley. The writing team is in place and they are true professionals. I’m honoured to have the story in their hands. You’ll hear more about them and the cast when all of the pieces are in place.

Jian Ghomeshi announces the TV mini-series.

This all began back in the summer when Peter approached my agent, Beverley Slopen, and me to secure the film and TV rights to the novel. It’s incredibly exciting to contemplate the story coming to life on the small screen. I’ll get to stay involved in the project throughout as a “story consultant,” not so that I can jealously protect my work, but really just to indulge my curiosity about the whole process of adapting a novel to television. I think it’s going to be a fascinating experience. I couldn’t be happier about how it’s all come together. I”ll keep you posted as we cross certain thresholds in the production. But it’s going to take a while. We’re probably at least 18 months away from seeing Angus on television. Be patient, art takes time! Thanks for all your kind words since the news broke, and stay tuned…

Jian Ghomeshi had me stand up at the Canada Reads launch after announcing the mini-series.

My piece in the engineering magazine, The Voice

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Not every one of my friends and acquaintances knows that I actually have an engineering degree, and at one point in my life, planned to make engineering my career. Much has happened since my university days, but I still wear my iron ring with pride. A month or so ago, I spoke to a group of engineers about how I felt my engineering education prepared me for life as a political advisor, public affairs/public relations professional, and a novelist. Those of you who have read my first two novels will understand that even though I’ve never worked as an engineer, engineering is still a part of me. So when the editor of The Voice, the magazine of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, invited me to write a piece about my engineering education, I was very pleased to accept. You can read the article by clicking here, or on the graphic below, and scrolling down to page 14:

Steve Jobs helped make me a writer…

Friday, October 7th, 2011

In the two days since Steve Jobs passed away, there has been no end of worthy trubutes to an extraordinary visionary. Most of the eulogies have rightly focused on how he changed our way of life and how we interact with technology. He changed our world with the wonders he dreamed up in Cupertino, California, including the Mac personal computer, iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone, and most recently, the iPad. My debt to Steve Jobs extends a little further. Those who know me will agree that unlike my twin brother, Tim, I’m no crazed Apple fanboy. Tim is all Apple, all the time. But, in 2006, my life took a turn when I bought my first 1gig iPod, and discovered the world of podcasting.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved listening to CBC Radio. I learned so much from shows like The House, Sunday Morning, Morningside, As It Happens, Writers & Company, and of course the hourly newscasts. I was so interested in current affairs and politics back then that music would seldom be heard on the car radio. It was always the substance and depth of CBC. So when I first browsed through the podcast section of iTunes, I was hooked. Not only could I get my favourite CBC Radio shows whenever I wanted, but also podcasts from NPR , The Guardian, the BBC, the New York Times, Scientific American, and many others. For someone interested in books and the world around him, exploring the iTunes podcast directory was like visiting Disneyland. I immediatley subscribed to dozens of podcasts and considered having my ear buds surgically attached.

In the spring of 2006, I was so enamoured of podcasting that a colleague and I created Inside PR, Canada’s first podcast about public relations. My cohost, David Jones, and I recorded a half-hour show about our profession every week. And I mean every week. After more than 200 weekly consecutive episodes (if you do the math, that’s more than four years without missing a show), Dave and I finally surrendered our microphones to a new team of hosts including my friends Joe Thornley and Martin Waxman. So Inside PR lives on.

I know what you’re thinking. What does this have to do with making me a writer? Well, when I wrote my first novel, The Best Laid Plans, I spent a year in a futile search for an agent and/or publisher. Greeted with a deafening silence, I decided to build an audience for the novel on my own, and self-publish it. So in January of 2007, I began podcasting The Best Laid Plans, chapter by chapter, and made it avaialble for free on my website or through iTunes. In the absence of the very gratifying feedback I got about the podcast, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to go through with self-publishing my first novel. But the podcast version of The Best Laid Plans was very warmly received and still attracts new listeners every day, nearly five years after I began posting chapters.

After miraculously winning the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, I landed a wonderful literary agent and a publishing deal with McClelland & Stewart. Then the novel won the 2011 Canada Reads title and is now in its eleventh printing. M&S published the sequel, The High Road, in September 2010. It was a finalist for the 2011 Leacock Medal and is already in its fourth printing. I podcast The High Road too, just as I had my first novel. Finally, I’m two chapters from finishing the manuscript for my third novel, which M&S will publish in September 2012. I plan to podcast it as well.

Let me remind you of a sentence two paragraphs back. “In the absence of the very gratifying feedback I got about the podcast, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to go through with self-publishing my first novel.” That’s the Steve Jobs connection right there. Without the iPod, iTunes, and podcasting, it’s quite possible that The Best Laid Plans would still be a manuscript safely secreted in the electronic bowels of my laptop.

It’s been a surreal ride so far that may well have started when I bought my first iPod– that tiny perfect device born in the brain of Steve Jobs.

Everyday, I carry my iPod and my iPad with me where ever I go. I browse the podcast section of iTunes at least every other week in search of still more podcasts to feed my mind as I walk to the office every day. And late at night I’ll often be at my computer, working on a novel, as my iPod charges next to me…

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

 

Lovely Eden Mills…

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I spent a good part of the weekend in the picturesque village of Eden Mills less than an hour’s drive west of Toronto, for the 23rd annual Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. What a wonderful festival. I drove down on Friday night with the hilarious writer, playwright, and broadcaster Erika Ritter. We both read at the Gala dinner that kicked off the festival. The audience was large, warm, and welcoming. After the after-party, Erika and I drove back to Toronto. This was truly a commuting festival for me as I made three trips in all.

The book table at Eden Mills efficiently managed by the good folks at The Bookshelf.

On the Saturday, I drove back to Eden Mills for the Author Dinner on the beautifully landscaped grounds of a volunteer’s home. Festival founder Leon Rooke spoke, we were serenaded by an amazing guitarist, and we ate until we could eat no more (at least , I did). It was great fun and very relaxing to be among so many wonderful writers and festival volunteers. It was during the Author Dinner that I crossed another threshold in my writing career. All writers hit these milestones as you progress in your journey. You know what I mean, your first book, your first reading, your first prize, the first time you see someone on the subway reading your book, etc., etc. Well at the Author Dinner, I was named in my first ever writer Port-a-Potty tweet. I’m not sure what to make of it but I think it means I’ve somehow “arrived” even though I had just “gone,” if you know what I mean.

On Sunday, it was another enjoyable commute to Eden Mills in the company of Erika Ritter. My reading was at 2:30, at the Mill. It’s a beautiful outdoor venue on the side of a gentle grass slope that runs down into the river. It seemed to go well, although the allotted 20 minutes flew by. I signed books at the outdoor book store afterwards and chatted with readers, which is always a favourite part of any festival.

There was another great dinner Sunday night as the proceedings wound down. They must have served a dozen different kinds of pie for dessert. I may have had a piece of each one but I can’t really remember now. I think it’s possible that I was drunk on pie.

Over the course of  the weekend, I reconnected with lots of other writers and bookish people who I’d seen at other festivals and reading gigs including Drew Hayden Taylor, Robert Wiersema, Clare Hitchens, Andrew Pyper, Bill Deverell, Nino Ricci, John Vaillant and Alissa York. I also spent some time with writers I met at Eden Mills for the first time including the Booker longlisted Alison Pick, Sylvia Tyson, Dan Vyleta, Lorna Crozier, and Giller winner Johanna Skibsrud among others. It was my first time at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, but I really hope I get the chance to go back. My thanks to the more than 100 volunteers who made it all happen. Hope to see you next year…