Archive for the ‘Robert Wiersema’ Category

From one end of the country to the other…

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

My speaking/reading schedule has been quite intense of late and shows no sign of slackening as we head into the homestretch and the release of my third novel, Up and Down, in September. A week or so ago I started in Toronto on Monday, headed to Woodstock, New Brunswick on Tuesday, back to Toronto for Thursday, and then finished the week in Vancouver Island. Throw in a little fog and a wildcat walkout by baggage handlers and you’ve got the makings of one seriously busy week. Then this week, it was Brantford, Ontario for a great evening at their public library. Here’s a quick look back…


Woodstock Reads What Canada Reads

Last summer I was contacted by the board of the public library in Woodstock, New Brunswick. The Best Laid Plans had been chosen as their first town-wide reading program selection. They dubbed it Woodstock Reads What Canada Reads. I was thrilled and of course agreed to come out to Woodstock. Well, last week it was time to fly. My flight to New Brunswick was delayed early Tuesday morning by fog. I was to take off at 7:30 but wasn’t airborne until 11:30. This was quite unfortunate as it meant that the school visits I was to make in Woodstock had to be cancelled. I felt terrible about this as school buses were all arranged so that students from two schools could take part. Just my luck that a rare fog appearance in Toronto scuppered my school appearance in New Brunswick. I eventually made to New Brunswick’s first town where my hosts toured me through the beautifully restored Connell House, historical home to one of Woodstock’s founding fathers. I then had dinner in Woodstock’s beautiful L. P. Fisher Public Library, built in 1914, with the library’s board of directors. Lovely people and great food, too.

After dinner it was off to my talk and reading to an enthusiastic crowd waiting at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Centre. The local mayor and MP were both there to add a little lustre to the evening. We had a great time. My sincere thanks to Catherine Sutherland, Deputy Mayor, and her team for organizing a great event. I look forward to coming back to Woodstock sometime in the future. I managed to do a Skype video call with one of the student groups on Friday to try to make up for the fog-induced cancellation the previous week.


Words on the Water, Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC


On Friday of last week, I boarded another plane, this time bound for Vancouver. It wasn’t the fog that delayed my takeoff but a wildcat walkout by baggage handlers at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Instead of an 8:30 departure, we changed gates three times and lifted off the runway at 10:30ish. This meant that I missed my connection to Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Thankfully there was a later flight. I landed and made it to the hotel with an hour to spare before the opening of the Words on the Water festival. There were some wonderful writers at the festival. I met and spent some time with the very talented Gurjinder Basran whose first novel, Everything was Good-bye picked up a BC Book Prize among many other accolades and honours. My friend, Robert Wiersema was also there. He’s a wonderful writer and reviewer. I think he’s the funniest writer I know who seldom writes funny stuff in his books. It was great to hang out with him, as usual. As well, the funny, funny writer Susan Juby was also there talking about her hilarious novel, The Woefield Poultry Collective. The festival was very well attended and everyone, yours truly included, seemed to have a great time. For the Literary Cabaret on the Saturday night, Robert Wiersema and I read Robert Service’s amazing poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee. Lots of laughs. Thanks to Trevor McMonagle and his organizing crew for a memorable weekend in beautiful Campbell River.


Brantford Public Library Reading

This past Thursday, I was off to Brantford, Ontario for a talk and reading at the Brantford Public Library. Brantford will always have a special place in my heart. The day The Best Laid Plans won Canada Reads, I travelled to Brantford for an evening talk to a McMaster University Alumni group. I’ll never forget that day, or my trip to Brantford that night. Last week’s visit was just as memorable. Paula Thomlinson and her colleagues at the library had done a great job promoting the event so it was a packed room. It was nice to speak with former Liberal MPP and Brantford Mayor Dave Neumann whom I’d not seen for many years. I spoke, read, answered questions and signed books. Thanks Brantford!

The Sunshine Coast Festival was amazing…

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I’ve just returned from a few days in Brisith Columbia where I presented at the 29th annual Sunshine Coast Festival of  the Written Arts in Sechelt. It was a wonderful trip from start to finish. I arrived in Vancouver last Wednesday and spoke to an audience of about 100 at Simon Fraser University. I actually used a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate my talk and it seemed to go over very well. Lots of great questions, and several in the audience had brought their own copies of The Best Laid Plans and The High Road for me to inscribe. Always a great feeling.

On Thursday afternoon, I headed down to the harbour in downtown Vancouver to catch my floatplane for the Sunshine Coast. Yes, a floatplane. How cool is that? When I checked in, I asked what kind of plane we’d be taking and was informed we’d by flying in a six seater de Havilland Beaver. This was serendipity of the highest order. In my third novel, a Beaver floatplane plays a small but critical role. I’ve only watched YouTube videos of the Beaver, an iconic plane that opened up Canada’s remote reaches in the 1940s and 50s. And here I was about to fly in one. What a thrill. At the appointed hour, my fellow passengers, including the Governor General’s Award-winning non-fiction writer John Vaillant, and I dragged our bags across the dock to the Beaver. The pilot asked for a volunteer to ride up front in the co-pilot’s seat. I sprained my shoulder throwing my hand up in the air before anyone else. I crawled up into the co-pilot’s seat and donned the headphones the pilot handed me. What a ride. We flew the 25 minute trip at about 700 feet off the water so the scenery was unbelievable. The plane I was “co-plioting” (which means I touched nothing, but took photos with my BlackBerry and tweeted them the whole trip) was built in 1962. Yes, you read that right. We were flying in a plane that was nearly 50 years old. That’s how good and reliable a plane the Beaver is. Here are few shots.

The festival itself was wonderful. The venue was amazing and the audience of more than 300 book-lovers at each author appearance was very enthusiastic and full of great questions. I gave my hour long talk about my strange publishing journey on Fridayafternoon at 1:00. It seemed to go over well. (They laughed, they cried, and nobody left.) Afterwards, it took about an hour for me to sign all the books the audience had purchased. They sold out of both novels — a very nice problem to face. I got to meet and spend time with some great writers, which, other than meeting readers, is the best part of these festivals. It was so nice to chat with John Vaillant, Robert Wiersema, Zsuzsi Gartner, Sarah Selecky, Margaret Trudeau, Judy Fong Bates, Charlie Foran, Alex MacLeod, Susan Juby, Ivan Coyote, Anna Porter, Wayne Grady, and Merilyn Simonds. I also enjoyed the other authors’ sessions and made it to almost all of them.

Needless to say, I was very sad to leave BC, but eager to see my family after five days away.

While away, I did manage to keep up my writing on novel #3 on planes and in airports, and am pleased to report that I made it past the halfway-point in the manuscript. I’m enjoying the story and hope to write a few more chapters while we’re on our family vacation in Nova Scotia starting  next week. Stay tuned…