Archive for the ‘comic novels’ Category

Albatross was published one year ago

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-08-13 at 9.28.26 AM

It was one year ago, August 13, 2019, that Albatross was published and hit bookstore shelves across Canada. The very next day, I headed out west for the wonderful Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts and waited to see what would happen. The first week of novel’s life is always a bit nerve-racking for the author. You don’t really know how the book will be received. Will there be reviews? Will they be positive? And you don’t dare think about the bestsellers lists. But for Albatross, everything seemed to unfold in a very gratifying way. Readers seemed to like it. The reviews were positive. And lo and behold, in less than a week, Albatross was the #1 Canadian novel in the nation. I was flabbergasted and very happy.

Tweet re #1 bestseller 190820a

Now, one year later, Albatross has sold more copies in twelve months than my last novel, One Brother Shy, has in over three years (and it sold quite respectably). So I’m thrilled and very grateful to all the readers who helped make this happen. It’s been a great year for Albatross. May it continue. Onwards!

French Edition of Albatross to be Audiobook too

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-02-22 at 8.46.27 AM

 

My publisher in Quebec has just confirmed that they will produce an audiobook to coincide with the launch of the French translation of Albatross later this fall. I’m thrilled that French book lovers will be able to choose to read or listen to Albatross. My thanks to Les Editions De L’Homme, my literary agent, Beverley Slopen, and her Paris-based affiliate, Claire de Robespierre for making this happen.

Audiobook

I’ve finished the Operation Angus manuscript

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

3a book graphic

I started writing the manuscript for Operation Angus on March 27. With the Corona Virus cancelling every book-related event in my busy calendar since mid-March, I suddenly had much more writing time on my hands than I’ve ever had before. So I decided to seize the opportunity and commit all of that suddenly “found time” to writing. So 44 days and 90,627 words later on May 10, I wrote the words “The End” to close out the manuscript. It’s the fastest manuscript I’ve ever written, by a long shot. Of course, I spent about a year planning, mapping, and outlining the story and characters, yielding a 60-page bullet-point, chapter-by-chapter outline, so I could then write the manuscript in a sprint.

Since finishing it about a week ago, I’ve managed to go through the entire manuscript for the first of several passes at editing and polishing. This resulted in some trimming and some adding. Much to my editor’s chagrin, I’m more of an adder than a trimmer. But it does feel good to have taken this major step forward on the new novel. It’s not due out until next year, so I’m ahead of schedule. Now, a few trusted beta-readers are having a look at it, which might lead to some more editing. There remains lots to do. After I send it to my editor at McClelland & Stewart, the real editing begins. But for now, I’m happy.

Screen Shot 2020-05-16 at 2.12.36 PM

French edition cover reveal

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

As promised, here’s the cover for the French translation of Albatross, published by Les Éditions de l’Homme. They’ve based it on the McClelland & Stewart cover and it will be published sometime this fall. It was to happen next month, in May, but the Corona Virus has thwarted those plans. I’m really looking forward to this. Albatross is my first French translation. May there be more in the future.

Screen Shot 2020-04-23 at 4.44.20 PM

Guess who’s coming back?

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

3a book graphic

This has not been a closely-guarded secret. In fact, I’ve been mentioning it when asked at talks and readings for the last few months (back before the Corona Curse when I was still touring around). But I realized yesterday as I finished writing Chapter 1 of my eighth novel, that I’ve never formally noted it in this space. So here goes. The characters from my first two novels, The Best Laid Plans and The High Road, are returning in my next novel. That’s right, Angus McLintock, Daniel Addison, Muriel Parkinson, Lindsay Dewar, Bradley Stanton, and some new players are back in Operation Angus, the tentative title. It should be out sometime in 2021, likely the late summer or fall.

After having given nearly 1,000 book talks and readings since 2008 when The Best Laid Plans was published by McClelland & Stewart, the most common questions I field from readers are various versions of “When will you write another Angus novel?” I never closed the door on another “Angus novel” but to be honest, I never really had the intention of returning to the principled Scottish engineering professor with the unruly hair and beard. Okay, “unruly” is a profound understatement. But as the years passed and more and more readers asked about it, the idea of a third novel about Angus, his trusty sidekick Daniel Addison, and the rest of the gang began to sound more appealing. Well, now is the time.

The tentative title is Operation Angus, though that could change before publication. (After all, Albatross, the title of my last novel was an eleventh hour change just before publication.) I’d like to have “Angus” in the title to make it perfectly clear for readers that the accidental MP is back. The story is less a political satire and much more of a comic thriller. Without going into too much detail, Angus, now a Cabinet minister, and Daniel, while in London, stumble upon information about an assassination plot against the President of Russia set to unfold while he is briefly in Ottawa for a meeting with our Prime Minister. For various reasons, the intelligence is not considered credible (except by Angus and Daniel) and so the RCMP and CSIS don’t really pursue it. Angus and Daniel are left to uncover and thwart the assassination attempt pretty much on their own, supported by the quirky bunch around them. I should probably stop there.

If all goes to plan, I should have a completed manuscript ready for my editor at M&S, Bhavna Chauhan, by the end of August. Now back to Chapter 2.

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 9.16.11 AM

This is the simple table I use when writing my novels to help me keep track of word count and sometimes to make me feel good about my progress or daunted by what remains. Right now, it’s more of the latter.

After 7 months, Albatross still a Canadian bestseller

Friday, March 20th, 2020

This afternoon, on a lark, I checked back in with Bookmanager, where you can find all of the books in Canada ranked according to the previous week’s sales. Bookmanager provides the bestsellers lists for several major media outlets including CBC Books. I confess that in the weeks following the launch of my novels, I usually check the Bookmanager rankings every half hour or so! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration.) But Albatross has now been in bookstores since last August so I haven’t checked the numbers for quite a while. But I just did, filtering for “Canadian” and “fiction.” What a lovely surprise it was, in these bleak days of social distancing and self-isolation, to see that Albatross remains among the top twenty bestselling Canadian novels some seven months later (albeit at number twenty). Chuffed. Now back to our regularly scheduled hand-washing and crowd-avoidance. Stay safe, all.

BookmanagerMarch 2020

Covid 19 cancels lots of upcoming events

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

corona virus

The worldwide spread of the Corona Virus or Covid 19 is arguably the greatest threat to human life that our generation has confronted. I hope everyone is following the guidance health professionals are providing including social distancing, hand washing, no face-touching, and self-isolation. That is the only way we’ll emerge from this crisis and eventually return to our normal lives. Not surprisingly, many of the engagements I had scheduled in the coming months, including upcoming festivals in Quebec City, Gananoque, and Hamilton have been cancelled along with other events like local talks and readings. A visit to Thunder Bay has also been postponed. I’ll miss participating in these but let there be no doubt, cancelling them was the right call and in everyone’s best interests. So I’ve updated my Appearances page and I’ll continue to do that as more events are likely to fall away in the coming weeks and months. Stay safe everyone.

French translation of Albatross coming in May

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-02-22 at 8.46.27 AM

 

I’m thrilled to report that a French translation of Albatross will soon be released in Quebec. Les Éditions de l’Homme in Montreal secured the North American French language rights late last year. I’ve been working with the translator in the last month and the plan is to release the French edition in May. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with for the cover. This is actually the very first French translation I’ve ever had, hence the “I’m thrilled.” Here’s hoping it leads to more. My thanks to my tireless literary agent, Beverley Slopen for her work in making this happen. I’ll release the cover when it’s all been decided. Stay tuned. À tout à l’heure!

McMaster unveils gifts created by engineering grads

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Picture1

T’is the season! The engineering faculty of my beloved alma mater, McMaster University, recently released a list of eclectic holiday gifts all created by Mac engineering graduates. They kindly included Albatross. I loved my years at McMaster and have been fortunate enough to maintain ties with my university in the more than 35 years since I graduated (yikes!). I’ve said it before. Had I not gone to McMaster, I’m not sure where I’d be today, or who I’d be.

Lorne Rubenstein Reviews Albatross

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

The great golf writer, Lorne Rubenstein, recently reviewed Albatross for SCOREGolf. I’m grateful. Here’s his take on the novel.

 

Web

 

Book Review: Albatross

By: Lorne Rubenstein

It’s sometimes said that when somebody is playing their best they have no swing thoughts — not a one. It’s see the shot, feel the shot, register the target, and swing. Golfers covet this revered, albeit rarely achieved, “zone.” Adam Coryell, the hero of Terry Fallis’s imaginative new novel Albatross, plays that sort of golf — always. It’s his natural state. It’s his gift. No wonder his teammates on his high school golf team refer to him as a “golf freak.”

Adam knew nothing about golf and hadn’t touched a club when Bobbie Davenport, his homeroom teacher during his senior year of high school, met him. She was a nine-time club champion at the Ladies GC of Toronto, and on her way to perhaps dominating the LPGA Tour. But a back injury thwarted her.

Terry Fallis bookBobbie was now the coach for the high school golf team. Adam was an aspiring writer, who, as she learned, needed literature to live. She was an avid reader and taught a course called Writer’s Craft. Adam took it. He soaked it up. He wanted to learn to write. Writing would always mean more to him than golf. Not even close.

Meanwhile, Bobbie was keenly interested in learning what sport people were best suited to play. She had read the work of Ingemar Gunnarsson, a Swedish biomedical engineer and kinesiologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia. He had written a paper called “Body Type Analysis for Predictive Innate Pinnacle Proficiency (PIPP) in Major Sports,” published in the Scandinavian Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Medicine. His inspired hypothesis was that “every human being, regardless of athletic inclination, has a body that is suited to perform competently in at least one sport, and often more.”

I was hooked. I’ve often wondered whether another, say, Tiger Woods, might be lurking out there. Maybe he’s playing the wrong sport, in that he’s not suited for that sport but could be ideally suited for golf. You never know. Is it a matter of luck that one finds the sport that is exactly for him or her? Is there a Tiger out there skating on some frozen pond in Saskatchewan when he should be playing golf? Is a potential Brooke Henderson practising hours a day on some tennis court, to little avail because she’s a natural golfer but doesn’t know it?

How to find out what to do? Dr. Gunnarsson developed a series of bodily measurements, such as the length of one’s fingers and the distance from one’s waist to the top of the head. This generated a calculation called a Gunnarsson number. It took him 15 years to come up with the algorithm that led to his conclusion. I’ll quote one of the relevant paragraphs in Fallis’s novel, as Davenport related the results to the young man who had no idea he should be playing golf.

“His algorithm involves a series of body measurements that, when evaluated as standalone benchmarks and more importantly as a series of ratios, can be mapped against the projected optimal numbers for about 27 different sports, all based on elite athletes whom Dr. Gunnarsson has studied using an advanced computer modeling method. His optimal numbers represent an extrapolation into uncharted territory.”

I’ll say. Adam Coryell’s Gunnarsson number is 99.2, the highest the scientist has ever seen. He’s never come across an athlete with a score higher than 89. With such a number, an athlete need only let his body “do what it naturally wants, and you will be rewarded by peak athletic performance in your particular sport.”

Given the gift, the athlete need not practise. Adam is already a perfect golfer, as long as he doesn’t interfere with his ability. That’s why he thinks about anything but golf while competing. “The only thing I can do is make my game worse,” he says.

This raises the provocative question of agency, a concept that comes up regularly in Fallis’s appealing novel and that is at the heart of the book. If a person has nothing to do with his gift, if a person doesn’t have to work to improve, is it truly theirs? Can he or she feel good about any accomplishments?

Fallis is a Torontonian who has won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour twice. He wrote six novels before he took on the vagaries of golf in Albatross. The title works in two ways, as golfers who read the book will soon appreciate. An albatross in golf is that rare feat of making a two on a par 5, or (yes, it happens) a one on a par 4. That’s double the pleasure: a hole-in-one and an albatross.

Then there’s the textbook definition of “albatross,” as in thinking of a problem in one’s life as an albatross around one’s neck. It’s a burden, and you might feel guilty for carrying it. That’s Adam. His exquisite talent for golf takes him to the highest levels of the game. He wins the NCAA Championship while attending Stanford University on a golf scholarship; Stanford, naturally, where Tiger Woods went to college and won everything. He finishes second in the 2017 Masters as an amateur.

He’s still an amateur when he wins the 2018 Masters, with Bobbie caddying for him. He turns pro and wins his first tournament on the PGA Tour. He wins the Memorial. He becomes unimaginably wealthy and buys a magnificent condo at Yonge and Bloor in Toronto. Life is good. Or is it? Adam is the most anhedonic golfer you have ever met between covers, or probably anywhere. He takes no pleasure from his multiple victories and fast rise to fame.

“I’m just saying, I haven’t really won those tournaments,” Adam says to Bobbie, “my one-in-a-billion physical shell won them. I am not responsible. I have no agency, no control. I’m just along for the ride.”

Fallis, a recreational golfer since he was in grade eight, takes the reader on quite a ride. Adam’s future turns on some surprising plot twists and developments — including a love interest — that kept me thinking about control, agency, letting go, and identity. These are serious matters, but Fallis keeps things light and fluffy and fun. This is a meringue of a novel.

While reading, I was somehow reminded of the two comic pieces Stephen Leacock wrote about golf. He called one The Golfomaniac and the other A Lesson on the Links: The Application of Mathematics to Golf.

Is the latter an early Gunnarsson approach that will stir the golfomaniac in those of us devoted to the art and science and mystery and misery of the game? Leacock calculated that “there are 50 disturbances” that could ruin his character Amphibius Jones’ game, each showing up once every 10 days. Leacock wonders, “What chance is there that a day will come when not a single one of them occurs?”

Fabulous. I wrote a piece about Leacock’s golf stories for the long-gone United States Golf Association magazine, Golf Journal, in 1994. Leacock’s calculation was that the day when not a single disturbance would affect Jones’ game “comes to about once in 2,930,000 years.” So goes, ahem, the Leacock number.

And now we have the Gunnarsson number. A friend told me about Albatross during dinner a while ago, and I went right out and bought myself a copy. Put the book on your gift list this holiday season. Have some fun. That’s what golf is all about, isn’t it? It’s a gift to all of us, even if our Gunnarsson numbers would barely register. Oh well.