Archive for the ‘Ian Ferguson’ Category

The 2010 Leacock Gala — A wonderful night

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

It was truly an honour to return to Orillia a few weeks ago for my third consecutive Leacock Gala to celebrate the winner of the 2010 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. I was asked to “emcee” the evening so I was a little anxious about it all. I need not have been. The Leacock community is so warm and welcoming that I was immediately put at ease at the podium. The winner this year is the hilarious Will Ferguson for his funny nonfiction book, Beyond Belfast, chronicling his walk around Northern Ireland in search of his family history. He is a very nice guy, just like his brother Ian, another Leacock winner, and as you might imagine, a very funny guy too. Will joined a very select group this year as one of only five three-time Leacock medalists. You might say he scored the Canadian humour hat trick. I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time with Will and with all the Leacock stalwarts in Orillia who do so much to stoke the fires of humour writing in Canada. As you might guess, Orillia and the Leacock Association have become very special to me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for what the Leacock Medal has meant in my writerly life.

Here I am trying to keep the trains running on time at the Gala.

And here’s a photo I’m very happy to have. Here are four Leacock winners and the President of the Leacock Association. (Left to right – Mike Hill, Leacock President, yours truly, 2008, Will Ferguson, 2002, 2005, 2010, Joseph Kertes, 1989, and Dan Needles, 2003)

Back cover design for The High Road

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Here’s an early peek at the back cover of THR. There may still be some minor tweaks to make, but you get the idea.

Will Ferguson wins the Leacock…again!

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Will Ferguson won the 2010 Leacock Medal last Thursday, his third. He is now the fourth writer in the history of the award to earn a trio of Leaocks. Very impressive. I would have been in Orillia for the announcement had I not been so fortunate to be in Cambridge for the announcement that TBLP had been selected for the Waterloo Region’s One Book, One Community program. Will won for his new book, Beyond Belfast. I’ve not read it yet, but it’s near the top of my list.

Writing and winning Leacocks run in the Ferguson family. Will’s brother Ian, won in 2004 for his wonderful book Village of Small Houses. I met Ian at last year’s Leacock Luncheon and have kept up an email coresspondence ever since. As well, Ian has provided a wonderful quotation that will appear on the back cover of The High Road (stay tuned to see the back cover design). I look forward to seeing him again soon. In June, I’ll get to meet Will as I’m the master of ceremonies for the Leacock Gala dinner.  Congratulations, Will, and I’ll see you in June to shake your hand!

The 2010 Leacock Medal finalists unveiled

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

This time of year always brings back vivid memories of March 27th, 2008. I was in Montreal on business, in between client presentations, when I discovered via Google that The Best Laid Plans had been shortlisted for the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. I thought I’d had a stroke. Seldom can we point to a specific instant when our lives are irreovocably changed. Not to be melodramatic about it, but March 27th, 2008, at about 12:30 in the afternoon, is one such instant for me.

Yesterday, in Orillia, Ontario, the 2010 Leacock Medal finalists were announced. It’s an interesting assembly of very funny writers, some better known than others. Will Ferguson, a two-time Leacock winner, and William Deverell, who was short-listed last year too, are joined by Kathryn Borel Jr., Glen Chilton, and Bill Conall.  It’s time for me to get reading! Incidentally, Will Ferguson is the brother Ian Ferguson, another Lecock winner and kind “blurber” for The High Road. Regrettably, I’ll not be able to be in Orillia for the luncheon at the end of April when the winner is announced, due to a prior book-related engagement of my own. But I’ll be there in spirit and I’ll definitely be in Leacock’s hometown for the Gala dinner in June. In fact, I’m the Master of Ceremonies for the event. I offer congratulations to all of the finalists.

Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy blurbs The High Road

Friday, March 12th, 2010

I’m very fortunate. First, the great and hilarious writer Ian Ferguson blurbed The High Road. Now, my ball hockey teammate, the amazing, Juno-winning, Blue Rodeo-founding, singer/songwriter Jim Cuddy, offers a wonderful THR blurb of his own. As I said, I’m one lucky writer. Both Ian’s and Jim’s contributions will appear somewhere on, or in, The High Road when it’s published in early September, 2010.

Here’s what Jim kindly wrote:

  • “It is a giant talent that can elicit so much fun from the dour world of backroom Canadian politics. Battling egos, smear campaigns, vigilante seniors and a dipsomaniac First Lady make for quite a romp up and down the Hill. MP Professor Angus McLintock, the never bending, free-thinking Scot, is the perfect foil for all that is inflated in the world of policy and polling. Doing battle with the prigs and prats that rule the halls of power has never been more enjoyable since…well, since The Best Laid Plans. Thought provoking and funny, here’s hoping there are more installments to come.”

Jim Cuddy, Blue Rodeo

And just to pre-empt any doubters that I play ball hockey, let alone with Jim Cuddy backing me up on the blue line, here’s our team photo.
That’s Jim in the back row in the middle. I’m on one knee, probably still gasping for air, to the right of the goalie. The other guy on the left of the goalie, who looks a little like me, okay, a lot like me, is my twin brother Tim.

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.

McClelland & Stewart to publish The High Road

Sunday, December 13th, 2009


It’s official. The paperwork is done, and I’m thrilled to announce that next September, McClelland & Stewart will publish the sequel to TBLP, entitled The High Road. Even better, Douglas Gibson will again be my editor and publisher, under his own M&S imprint. There’s none better than he (he’s edited Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, W. O. Mitchell, and the long list goes on and on). I could not be happier.

I had always hoped that it would unfold in this way after M&S published TBLP, but in this uncertain climate, it’s never really done until the contract is signed. Well, the ink is now dry. I want to thank my wonderful literary agent, Beverley Slopen, who worked with Doug and M&S to make this happen.


DG Book

In the next few weeks, I’ll be doing some final tweaking to the manuscript based on Doug Gibson’s close editorial review. I’m pleased that there’s not much left to do on it and it’ll be done by early January. Then Doug and M&S take over. There’s cover design to do, layout, and cover copy, among other steps along the way. We’re also trying to gather some big names to provide endorsements of sorts that might appear somewhere on the front or back covers. So far, Jim Cuddy, the amazing singer/songwriter from Blue Rodeo, has agreed to “blurb” the novel. He said he really enjoyed TBLP, and who am I to argue? (If you’re wondering how I was able to connect with Jim, we actually play on the same ball hockey team. He’s a great guy and a stalwart defenceman too.)  As well, former Leacock Medal winner Ian Ferguson (another great guy — hilarious too — I’ve come to know since meeting him at last year’s Leacock Luncheon) has also promised to provide a quotation.  Of course, neither of these great Canadians has yet read The High Road manuscript, but here’s hoping they like it when they do early in 2010. Fingers crossed.

This news simply continues what has been for me, an extraordinary journey since I “went public” with the first episode of the TBLP podcast nearly three years ago, nine months before it was yet a self-published book. What a ride it’s been…

My first blurb…

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Another threshold crossed in my unexpected literary journey. I was directed to the Random House/Knopf Canada website today where I found Drew Hayden Taylor’s new novel listed. It’s due out in March. Drew is a very funny guy and an accomplished writer. I’ve shared the stage with him several times in the last year at various readings and authors festivals and I’ve always enjoyed our time together. The folks at Knopf Canada, his publisher, contacted me earlier in the fall to see if I would read Drew’s manuscript for his new novel, Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, and provide a suitably supportive sentence or two. I was thrilled to be asked. They sent me the manuscript and I thoroughly enjoyed his brilliant new novel.

A few weeks ago, I sent in my “blurb.” When I reached the website today, I saw that my comment is sandwiched between wonderful quotations from Joseph Boyden (last year’s Giller winner) and Ian Ferguson (2004 Leacock Medal winner). What amazing literary company I’m somehow now keeping. Very cool. As I read Drew’s manuscript, I couldn’t help thinking about a line my friend and fellow writer Mike Tanner kindly wrote to help promote TBLP before it was published. It seemed to fit how I felt about Drew’s writing. So I modified the sentiment but felt I owed Mike at least a footnote.

Drew Hayden Taylor blurb graphic

2009 Leacock Award Announced

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009


I travelled to Orillia this past Thursday to complete my year as the 2008 Leacock Medal winner in the very same room where it all started twelve months ago.  It was wonderful to be back in Swanmore Hall for the Leacock Luncheon.  I helped out during the presentations to the finalists and got caught up with the many friends I’ve made in the Leacock Association over the past year.  My congratulations to all of the short-listed authors and in particular to Mark Leiren-Young, the 2009 Leacock Award winner for his funny memoir of his early years as a reporter in the B.C. interior. Mark couldn’t attend the luncheon but he sent a brilliant surrogate in the form of former Leacock medalist, Ian Ferguson.  Ian was hilarious in accepting the award on Mark’s behalf and reminded us all that winning the Leacock is a life-changing event for any writer.  (Not that I needed any reminding of that.  It’s been on my mind daily for the last year.)  So, I’ve officially surrendered my sash as a Leacock Winner and pass it along to Mark Leiren-Young.  May he wear it well.

Here I am congratulating Jack MacLeod, author of  the short-listed novel, Uproar.


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…