Archive for the ‘CBC Book Club’ Category

My weekly literary podcast regimen…

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

In a circuitous and convoluted way, I owe at least some of my writing career to podcasting. How? Well, in early 2006, I bought my first iPod nano and loaded it up with, not music, but podcasts. I trolled through iTunes and discovered a treasure trove of content. I stopped listening to the car radio and never walked a block without my ear buds firmly rooted in their eponymous ports. Back then, I listened almost exclusively to shows about social media and public relations, my day job for the last 23 years. I was amazed at what I was learning while walking to work, or folding laundry, or shovelling snow. I rarely listened to music. Many of the shows to which I subscribed were homemade by fellow PR professionals. And they were good, and most of them still are. Four months later, in April of 2006, a colleague, David Jones, and I, started Inside PR, the first and still only Canadian PR podcast. We learned by doing. Each week we’d record a half-hour show about public relations, upload it to the internet, and field listener comments from all over the world. We did that every week for over four years and more than 200 episodes. It was a year ago that David and I passed the torch to new hosts, my co-founder Joe Thornley in Ottawa, Martin Waxman in Toronto, and Gini Dietrich in Chicago. Inside PR is still going strong, week in and week out, five years after we started it.

So where’s the connection to my writing? Well, it was co-hosting and producing Inside PR that gave me the idea to podcast The Best Laid Plans, chapter-by-chapter back in 2007. Were it not for the very encouraging response from podcast listeners, I may never have actually gone through with self-publishing the novel. So I owe podcasting a debt of gratitude. Since then, my weekly podcast listening has only increased. While I still subscribe to PR podcasts, I also listen to a raft of book-related shows. Every weekend, when I open up my iTunes, a whole new set of podcasts automatically download into my library and then into my trusty iPod Nano, the fourth one I’ve owned. Here are the bookish podcasts I listen to each week when walking to and from the office or riding the subway. All of these are available for free on iTunes:

All of these great shows keep me very well plugged-in to the book scene, with lots of author interviews, book reviews, and news about the publishing world.

On those rare days when I discover half-way to work that I’ve left our house without my iPod, I promptly turn around and walk back home to get it…

Unveiling TBLP as a Canada Reads Finalist

Monday, December 20th, 2010

CBC has just posted the video clip from the November 24th “big reveal” of the five 2011 Canada Reads finalists and their staunch defenders. It was an amazing day that I’ll not soon forget. Here’s the segment when Jian Ghomeshi introduced Ali Velshi (what a pro!)  and then me (it went downhill from there).

You can watch all of the Canada Reads authors and defenders on the CBC Book Club YouTube channel.

My CBC Book Club Podcast episode

Friday, October 1st, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from one of the literary producers at CBC Radio about coming in to record a segment of their great CBC Book Club Podcast (longtime listener, first time… guest!). So in I went to the CBC Broadcast Centre, slapped on the headphones, and answered a series of questions I’d been sent earlier in the week. It was kind of fun. Anyway, it was produced and posted today. Check it out if you like…

The great Ian Ferguson “blurbs” The High Road

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Ian Ferguson is wonderful writer and a very funny guy. I read his Leacock-winning book, Village of the Small Houses, some years ago, so I was thrilled to meet Ian at last year’s Leacock Luncheon. What a great guy. We’ve maintained contact via email and Facebook ever since. In a cool twist, Ian’s book and TBLP later shared 10th place on the CBC Book Club’s top Ten Books to Make You Laugh list last April.

When it came time to invite prominent Canadians to read the manuscript of The High Road and provide what they call in the publishing biz, “blurbs,” I thought of approaching Ian. He could not have been more gracious and readily agreed.

I was a little nervous when I knew the manuscript was in his hands. But he knocked me for a loop earlier this week when his official “blurb” arrived. Here’s what he wrote:

  • “In a perfect world, the federal government would establish a Ministry of Humour and put Terry Fallis in charge of that department.  THE HIGH ROAD is brilliantly written and hysterically funny.  You are cautioned not to attempt to read it in a public setting, since you will laugh – audibly - to a disturbing degree and many people will find this annoying.  Trust me on this.  And if you, like myself, enjoy reading in bed, be prepared for spousal banishment.  Apparently loud bursts of laughter make it difficult for your bed partner to fall asleep.  Who knew, eh?  Worth it, though.  Terry Fallis manages to top his first novel THE BEST LAID PLANS with this relentlessly enjoyable follow-up.  No small feat, since the original won the Stephen Leacock Medal .  Do yourself a favour and pick up this book, find a quiet place to read it, and enjoy…you will laugh out loud on almost every single page.”
Ian Ferguson author of VILLAGE OF THE SMALL HOUSES
How cool is that? Douglas Gibson and the team at McClelland & Stewart will likely use a portion of it to appear on the back cover of The High Road. The early suggestion is:
  • “In a perfect world, the federal government would establish a Ministry of Humour and put Terry Fallis in charge of that department.  THE HIGH ROAD is brilliantly written and hysterically funny. You will laugh out loud on almost every single page.”

Ian Ferguson author of VILLAGE OF THE SMALL HOUSES

I had to sit down after reading Ian’s kind words. I’m humbled and honoured that he would be so supportive. Here’s a shot of Ian and me at last year’s Leacock Luncheon in Orillia.

Writers I revere: Paul Quarrington

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


I first read King Leary, Paul Quarrington‘s 1987 Leacock winning novel, shortly after it was published, and then proceeded to read everything else Quarrington has written before and since.  I loved King Leary.  Its mix of humour and pathos is masterful.  And, it’s about hockey!  Sports figures in a number of Quarrington’s earlier works that I also thoroughly enjoyed including Logan in Overtime and perhaps my favourite of his books, Home Game.  In fact, I recommended Home Game during my recent  interview with Hannah Sung of the CBC Book Club.  But Quarrington is no one-trick pony. His fiction ranges from sports, to the early days of the movie business in Civilization, to life in a small town in The Life of Hope, to the story of a drugged out and freaked out rock icon in Whale Music (1989 Governor General’s Award), to the world of Las Vegas magicians in The Spirit Cabinet, to storm chasers in Gavelston.  His latest book is The Ravine and is his most autobiographical novel.

Quarrington’s uncanny ability to make you laugh one moment and then break your heart in the next, is a gift that has always kept me turning the pages.  His humour is never gratuitous but is fully embodied in the story he’s telling. He creates characters that, while larger than life and sometimes even picaresque,  are fully realized and ready to step off the page.  There’s a John Irvingesque feel to his writing yet Quarrington is never derivative.  He’s an original. I confess that while I have loved all of his novels, I think I enjoyed his earlier offerings most of all.

I have collected first editions of his novels, including his very first, The Service, published by Coach House Press in 1978.  A high point of the last year for me, was driving to Grimsby with Paul, having dinner with him, and then sharing the stage with him as we both read from our novels at the wonderful Grimsby Author Series.  What a thrill.  As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Paul dutifully inscribed my first editions of his novel that I lugged in a backpack.  Nice.

Paul also writes nonfiction, screenplays, and music.  A man of many talents.  If you haven’t yet read a Quarrington novel, do yourself a favour and pick one up.  Then get ready to read the others…

Here we are signing at the Grimsby Author Series. This photo accompanied an article in Niagara This Week.


TBLP back on the iTunes charts

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009


Who’d have thunk it!  Nearly two years after the final episode of The Best Laid Plans podcast was posted, it’s reappeared on the iTunes Arts and Literature charts at #17.  I figure my GlobeBooks essay and the CBC Book Club’s Top 10 Books to Make You Laugh list last week have had a hand in pointing new listeners to the podcast, and that’s wonderful news.  I still believe strongly that the podcast is a great driver of awareness and ultimately book sales.  So it’s a thrill to see it back up in the top 25.  Happy listening…

TBLP cracks CBC Book Club’s top 10 funny books

Thursday, April 30th, 2009


Wow! What an honour.  There are some wonderful books on this list.  Barney’s Version is among my favourites.  I know this list wasn’t generated through elaborate market research, but I figure any time you’re on a list with A Confederacy of Dunces, it’s a good thing.

In a cool twist of fate, I was in Orillia today for the announcement of the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and I had a chance to meet Ian Ferguson, with whom I share 10th place on this CBC funny book list.  He was there representing the winning author, Mark Leiren-Young.  Ian is a wonderfully funny guy, as you might expect from a guy who won the 2004 Leacock Medal.

Update (May 9, 2009): The CBC Book Club has now released the alphabetized Long List from which the top 10 were drawn.

Here’s a shot of Ian Ferguson.  Arguably not his best side… nor mine for that matter…


CBC Book Club contest asks a question…

Saturday, April 25th, 2009


I’ve been a die-hard CBC Radio listener since childhood when my mother would tune in from dawn to dusk in the kitchen.  My brother and sister and I listened to “The World at 8:00” before heading off to school in the mornings.  Then, home again shortly after noon, our lunch would be accompanied by the Radio Noon and the farm reports.  Finally, we’d hear “The World at 6:00” as dinner simmered on the stove. When I’m not listening to podcasts, many of them CBC podcasts, you’ll still find my radio set to CBC.  So it’s been a real thrill to do the occasional TBLP-related interview with my favourite radio network.  I discovered this morning online that Hannah Sung, who leads the CBC Book Club, has actually made me contest fodder for the coming week.  Very cool.  As for the answer to the contest question, you’ll need more than Goldfinger’s laser to get me to talk…

TBLP on CBC Radio Book Club

Monday, April 20th, 2009


Over at the CBC Book Club webpage, Canadians have been invited to submit favourite funny books.  Towards the end of the month, a list will be compiled and released.  As part of the CBC Book Club’s celebration of humour, I did a brief interview with host Hannah Sung.  You can listen to the interview here.  In f act, if you listen closely in the early going, you might even be able to hear my cell phone ring before I frantically turned it off while trying to sound intelligent at the same time (a challenge at the best of times!).  In my conversation with Hannah, I’m asked to recommend a funny book.  I suggested The Home Game by Paul Quarrington, a favourite novel from a favourite writer.  Anyway, feel free to head over to the CBC Book Club blog and add to the comment string to submit your favourite funny books.