Archive for the ‘One Book One Community Waterloo Region’ Category

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.


Canada Reads two weeks later…

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

I promise to write about something other than Canada Reads at some point in the not-too-distant future, but until then, my writing life is being profoundly affected by Canada Reads, and it just seems wrong, even ungrateful, not to record the experience. Before Canada Reads, The Best Laid Plans had been selling quite well, thank you very much. The Leacock Medal, the Waterloo Region’s selection of TBLP for its One Book, One Community program, and a raft of readings and talks at festivals, book clubs and libraries had pushed it well beyond “bestseller” status by early last summer. But Canada Reads has lifted it into an entirely new zone of popularity and sales.

Last week, the National Post’s Afterword blog reported that in the week following Canada Reads, sales of TBLP soared by nearly 700%. And then, last Saturday, more evidence arrived wrapped up in the thrill of seeing The Best Laid Plans, for the first time, on the Globe and Mail’s National Canadian Bestseller list at number three. I was so chuffed about it that I failed to notice until this morning that TBLP also appeared on the main Globe and Mail National Bestseller list (paper) for all books (Canadian or not!) where it checked in at number six. TBLP was also number one on the Toronto Star’s Reprint Fiction Bestseller List. What a wonderful way to start a long weekend!

TBLP has slipped slightly on this week’s G&M Bestseller lists but it’s still there. Finally, on an earlier page in the Globe and Mail’s Books section last Saturday, my wonderful publisher, McClelland & Stewart ran this great one third of a page ad.

My phone has been ringing off the hook with invitations to festivals, libraries, book clubs, and other events. Check out my Appearances listing to see how I’ll be gratefully spending my evenings and weekends for the next several months. Canada Reads clearly has enormous credibility and clout on the nation’s cultural landscape. And I’m the terminally thankful and still reeling beneficiary. What a ride…

Fond reflections on One Book, One Community

Monday, October 18th, 2010

About a month has passed since my whirlwind week in the Waterloo Region for the One Book, One Community celebrations, and it’s high time I wrote about it. It was such a thrill to have had The Best Laid Plans selected for OBOC this year, particularly in view of the amazing authors who preceded me, including Alistair MacLeod, Joseph Boyden, Lawrence Hill, Jane Urquhart, Nino Ricci, and Robert Sawyer. I almost felt like I was trespassing in such literary company. In addition to the launch news conference back in April, and the wonderful June Saturday bus tour organized by The New Quarterly, my time in the region in late September was, quite simply, amazing.

It began on a Monday evening at my good friend and staunch supporter Peter Nosalik’s beautiful home for a great gathering of book clubs from the Waterloo Region, along with our Toronto book club. Over 100 book clubbers enjoyed a perfect evening. I met so many wonderful people, read an excerpt from the novel, signed books until my pen ran dry, and ate till I could eat no more. Peter was an extraordinary host and I couldn’t be more grateful for all his efforts to make it a memorable way to kick off the OBOC week.

The next day was chock full of events including a talk at The Waterloo Record (big OBOC supporters!), a few media interviews, and the evening reading in the Rotunda of Kitchener City Hall. There was a large crowd and my talk and reading seemed to go well. I then signed books and fell into bed at the wonderful Walper Terrace Hotel, where they actually gave me a corner suite. Day two was just as packed and started with a TV interview. Then it was off to Elmira for a talk and reading at the local high school where Malcolm Gladwell is among the illustrious alumni. Then we drove to Waterloo for the evening reading attended by some 350 people, at First United Church. I was interviewed on stage by the Arts Editor of the Waterloo Record, Robert Reid, who posed excellent questions that were undoubtedly more thoughtful than the answers that followed. Then I read an excerpt or two, and the floor was opened for questions. The highlight of the night was when an older woman in the front row asked if I were writing a third novel. I replied that I was in fact working on a third, but that it was not a follow-on to The Best Laid Plans and The High Road. I then noted my intention to return to Angus and Daniel in the future, observing that they weren’t quite done with me yet. In a booming voice, the older woman shouted “Well don’t wait too long, I haven’t many years left!” I, and most of the audience, collapsed in laughter. It was a priceless moment. I signed books afterwards and chatted with everyone. A terrific night.

Like the first two days, Day three dawned with ideal weather. First, we visited Sir John A. Macdonald High School where I addressed a group of about 150 students. They asked great questions and made we feel very welcome. I was given a school scarf that I’ll wear with pride when the snow flies. That night, I spoke and read in Cambridge at the University of Waterloo ‘s School of Architecture. Again, a large, warm and welcoming crowd turned up with excellent questions. Lots of books were signed, and l spoke to many in the audience. A great night.

I would be remiss were I not to comment on the utterly amazing meals I enjoyed during OBOC. If we weren’t driving to a media interview, reading, or high school event, we were almost certainly sitting in a great restaurant. I was treated royally and enjoyed outstanding meals throughout the week. I likely gained ten pounds! The food was only surpassed by the company.

My sincere thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make OBOC happen. I am so grateful. The list is long, and I know I’ll forget someone (my apologies!), but my thanks go to Katherine, Sharron, Sheila, Peter, Rebecca, Liana, Christine, Bronwyn, Bruce, Betty Anne, Angela, and many others who made OBOC such a memorable week for me. And of course the booksellers and sponsors are so important to making it all happen. So my thanks to the Waterloo Region Record, the Canada Council for the Arts, the bookstores in the region, and all of the public libraries that worked so hard. It was truly an honour to be part of a program that fosters a love of the written word. It is a noble and important cause and I was just thrilled to be involved.  You all made me really feel like I an honourary citizen of the Waterloo Region. Thank you all so much.

How surreal…

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

I’ve been blessed to have many wonderful and utterly unexpected experiences through my writing. I’ve spoken and/or read at nearly 100 events, from bookclubs to writers festivals, public libraries, to conferences. But I’ve never ever had my mug take up space on the front cover of a magazine… until now. I can only describe it as surreal, and hope that the photo doesn’t put readers off their lunches on the off-chance the mag is lying on the table next to theirs.

I’m floored and flattered that the Kitchener Public Library would take such a risk with their publication. This is all part of the amazing regional reading program, One Book, One Community, that chose The Best Laid Plans as their 2010 selection. By the way, my twin brother, Tim, actually took the photo. When I look at it, all I can think of is what a gigantic and still-growing forehead I have! (One mouse click on my head, and you can read the magazine.)

I’m realling looking forward to spending quite a bit of time in the Waterloo Region in late September for all the OBOC festivities. It won’t be long now…

Doing Word on the Street in Kitchener & Toronto

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Sunday, September 26 is going to be one busy day for me, but happily so. I’ll awake that morning in Florida, where I’ll be attending a family event. Then I’ll board a 7:30 a.m. Delta flight out of Tampa, change planes in Atlanta, and land in Toronto at about noon (please let me not be delayed!). I’ll then leap into our minivan, which will be parked at Pearson Airport, and drive, of course observing all speed limits, to Kitchener for their Word on the Street celebration. I’ll be reading from The High Road, which will be in bookstores by then, at about 2:30. After signing any books that audience members might purchase (Christmas will be but a few short months away!), I’ll dash again for the minivan and blast back to Toronto. You see, I’ll be reading at the Toronto Word on the Street festival at Queen’s Park at 5:30, pending any traffic travails. Two countries, two readings, and two Word on the Street festivals. A busy but fun day.

Wow! More signs of the power of OBOC…

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Sitting at the office this morning I saw the following OBOC Tweet fly by on Twitter. Very cool. Here’s hoping that library users actually like TBLP when they get it in their hands…

One Book, One Community really works!

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

It is truly wonderful to have had The Best Laid Plans chosen as the 2010 One Book, One Community selection in the Waterloo Region. Here’s some tangible evidence of the power of this program to mobilize an entire region to read the chosen book. Here are the “hold requests” in the three major public libraries in the region (Kitchener, Cambridge, and Waterloo). I’m not sure what surprised me more — that each library had ordered so many copies of TBLP, or that so many people had put it on “hold” to read. As for book sales, reports are that TBLP is selling briskly in local bookstores as well. If the past few years are any indication, by the time I head to Waterloo for three days of readings and related events in September, several thousand Waterloo residents will have read TBLP. What an honour…

Nice piece in the Cambridge Times

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Other than my rather crazed look in this photo, alongside Leah McQuire, Event Coordinator at Queen’s Square Library in Cambridge, Ontario, this is a very nice article in the Cambridge Times from last week. Thank you One Book, One Community!

TBLP radio interview on CKWR in Waterloo

Friday, June 25th, 2010

A few weeks ago, I did a radio interview with Waterloo librarian and CKWR Monday Night with the Arts contributor Alannah d’Ailly. This was related to my One Book, One Community good fortune. It was a phone interview so the sound quality on my end is not always great, but you get the idea. Many thanks to Alannah and CKWR for the interview.

A great TBLP day in Waterloo with TNQ & OBOC

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Last Sunday I spent an amazing day in Waterloo participating in a series of events organized by Bruce Johnstone in conjunction with the respected literary journal, The New Quarterly, and One Book, One Community. I had a blast and it’s always wonderful to spend time with book lovers. They’re my kind of people. My deep appreciation to Bruce, Kim, Ed, David, Karen, James and everyone else who had a hand in making this such an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday. I look forward to seeing you all in September at the OBOC events.

Here’s a shot of me reading a few passages selected by Ed Jernigan as part of his fascinating talk on how we educate engineers.

Here’s the report of the primary orgnaizer, Bruce Johnstone, as presented on TNQ’s The  Literary Type blog:

One Book, One Best Laid Plan Bus Tour

Well, we laid out our best plans for this year’s New Quarterly bus tour and, lo and behold, they worked! We were a small but engaged group of readers and political junkies who gathered on Saturday morning (19 June). The bus part of the tour was not  onerous this year as all stops were in Waterloo, which allowed us lots of time for  sessions throughout the day. Here’s how things panned out.

Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans (TBLP), set off early from Toronto to join us for the day and was right on time and excited to meet some of his readers directly. We were a mixed group as usual and included a young man in Grade 10 who was already a fan of Terry’s (he was a delight to have along). Our first stop was WLU’s Paul Martin Centre where Dr. David Docherty, poli sci prof and frequent commentator on politics for CBC, greeted us. Terry was up first. He regaled the group with the story of his self-publishing adventure. It’s a wonderful story of low expectations and unexpected serendipity, which resulted in a win of the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, and the emergence of a new Author (capital A) on the Canadian letters scene. Terry told the tale with great humour and humility. It’s the perfect Canadian story.

Next was Dr. Ed Jernigan, engineering prof  and visionary at the University of Waterloo. There’s a theme that runs through TBLP about the educating of engineers. This is a topic with which Ed is very familiar. He titled his talk “Educating Engineers and The Educated Engineer”. He was passionate in his critique that we are forcing students into finer and finer specializations (undergraduate programs these days offer as many as a thousand distinct majors) and not providing a broader education that better prepares them for the fast-changing future and a richer life (in many respects). Ed interwove his ideas with readings by Terry from TBLP that underlined his points. I think this session provided a whole other perspective on the role of the university and the dangers of over-specialization. Oh, and how naturally effective the Engineer as Renaissance man can be as a politician.

Our last speaker for the morning was David Docherty. David covered off current life in our political Mecca, Ottawa. I guess I shouldn’t get too political myself here, so I’ll just say that it was an excellent summary of some of the weaknesses on all sides of the political spectrum. It was noted that Terry will have no lack of fodder for future stories. During David’s talk, Karen Redman, former Liberal Party Whip, joined us and added well-timed comments, including a list of specific statements that cannot be uttered in the House. These were very telling and funny.

Off to the Huether Hotel for vigorous conversations and terrific food in a private room. I don’t know if we would have drowned out those watching the World Cup football matches, but it sounded like we could have been close.

We headed off to the University of Waterloo’s Coutts Engineering Hall for the remainder of the afternoon, arriving at the session where planning only amounts to an idea. How it plays out is another matter. We had planned two debates following the format of the CBC Radio show The Debaters with its tag line of “mixing fact with funny.” Terry was our moderator.

First up were David and Karen. They had chosen the proposition that Parliament is too small. David argued for the affirmative first and Karen countered. They did an amazing job, laying out some very funny perspectives. Current parliamentarians would have been  jealous. Terry polled the audience who judged each side by applause. Shockingly, it was a tie.

James Gordon, the politically active folksinger, had joined us at UW and was ready for the second debate with me as his opposition. James had proposed, “A majority of young people today still cling to the consumerist/oil-driven culture that their parent’s generation fostered, and are reluctant to do the work necessary to make our society and our planet more sustainable.” Yikes! James went first in the affirmative and had a beautifully laid out set of arguments delivered with great gusto. Terry came over to me , put his arm around my shoulder and said I could quit now. In the best political tradition I carried on, trying to build on some shaky ideas. Incredibly, my arguments held some sway and Terry announced another close tie. Methinks some other political shenanigans were going on!

The final part of the day was musical. James Gordon and his guitar delighted us with politically charged songs for the last hour of our day. He sang ‘Kelvinator’ from his Appliance Suite (wink, wink) and had the group singing along in the best folk tradition. He told the stories behind the songs and had very important ideas to express about our current challenges, especially in terms of the environment. I think he made a number of new fans.

Back to the bus and everyone dispersing. I think this was one time when a short bus trip was appreciated. It had been a day packed with ideas and conversation. Thanks to Terry, David, Ed, Karen, and James for making it such a delight. We’ll see where the bus takes us next year…


Bruce Johnstone, TNQ/ OBOC