Archive for the ‘Terry Fallis’ Category

Eleven years later…

Monday, January 8th, 2018

2017-2018 change represents the new year 2018, three-dimensional rendering, 3D illustration

Yes, I know, I’m a little tardy with my annual end-of-year post counting my blessings over the preceding twelve months. I have no excuse. There are just as many blessings to enumerate, but the holiday break ended up being just that, a break. For some reason I could not muster the wherewithal to sit down at my computer. (Given that my last post on this humble blog was in August, you may wonder just how long my “break” was.) Anyway, I made similar “progress” on my seventh novel, If at First You Succeed. Bu I’m pleased to report that my sedentary ways are behind me and I am emerging from the holiday haze!

So, a few days behind, let me reminisce about what a happy year 2017 was as part of celebrating the eleventh anniversary of this blog:

  • Part of January 2016 was dedicated to persuading other writers I know and respect to read the manuscript for One Brother Shy, and offer their old pal Terry a positive blurb for the then new novel. I was thrilled when Joe Kertes, Gary Barwin, Susan Juby, and Steve Patterson all kindly agreed. No money changed hands. You can find their lovely comments gracing the back cover of One Brother Shy.
  • I taught my eight-week Humour Writing course early in the year for the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing program. Always fun.
  • In February we lost Canadian treasure and three-time Leacock Medalist Stuart McLean. We weren’t ready. When my first novel won the 2008 Leacock Medal, in my impromptu acceptance remarks, I thanked Stuart’s two main characters from his classic Vinyl Cafe stories, Dave and Morley, for having a particularly quiet and uneventful year. I did that because I suspected that had Stuart released a new collections of stories that year, I would not have won. I was interviewed for the CBC story when news of Stuart’s passing broke.
  • I gave 83 book talks in 2017, down somewhat from my high-water mark of 142 a few years ago. But it was wonderful to visit parts of my city, province, and country I don’t get to very often. Highlights would include a ten day tour of the Gulf Islands off the coast of BC in April, a lecture to the Hamilton Association of the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art, a “Google Talk” at Google’s Canadian headquarters, a keynote address at the Women in Nuclear conference, along with festival appearances in Gananoque, Wakefield, River John (Nova Scotia), Eden Mills, Lunenburg, Westport, Whistler, Stratford and Toronto (IFOA). I even Skyped in to a book club in Kinshaha in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • In July I was thrilled to be invited to join the faculty of the famed Iceland Writers Retreat running for a week this coming April. I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland.
  • In November, I spoke at the launch of the One Brother Shy Daisy audio version for the CNIB. It was such a wonderful hosted at The Hub, a CNIB community “hub” in Toronto.
  • I added to my writing obligations in 2017 when I became the humour columnist for Legion Magazine as well as a columnist for Leaside Life magazine. Both of these will continue in 2018.
  • In November, I spent a week sequestered in a hotel in Collingwood working on my seventh novel, If at First You Succeed. I’ve finished my chapter-by-chapter outline and have just started the manuscript. McClelland & Stewart expects to release the novel in the spring of 2019.

So it was an eventful and wonderful year in my writerly life.

Looking ahead, I’ll be doing more traveling in 2018 with writing-related trips already planned for Iceland, Yellowknife, and Woody Point (Newfoundland), with a few dozen appearances already booked. As well, I should have my seventh novel, If at First You Succeed, finished by the summer. I’m about to start teaching my eight-week Humour Writing course again for the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing program. So life is full and good, and I couldn’t be happier. Onwards!

 

My Maclean’s piece about Trump’s demise

Monday, August 28th, 2017

The folks at Maclean’s asked a few writers to speculate on how the Trump presidency might end. Here’s what I came up with.

Mcleans headline

A two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, Terry Fallis is the award-winning author of six national bestsellers, including his latest novel, One Brother Shy, all published by McClelland & Stewart.

It’s really not part of my job description, but no one else will do it. And there is a certain logic to it, I guess, given that I’m the one closest to him—physically, I mean. But I should earn even more danger pay than I already get for this little add-on to my duties.

“Mr. President,” I whisper to the massive lump lying alone in a massive bed. His snoring sounds a lot like an industrial wood-chipper, or three. “Mr. President, it’s time to get up.”

“Whaaaaadaaaaayishit?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. President, I didn’t quite get all of… um… any of that.”

He rolled over in the dimness—the light in the room, I mean—and I saw poking from beneath the sheets a whoosh of golden hair that looked like the Statue of Liberty’s torch, only brighter.

“What day ish it?”

“It’s Thursday, Mr. President.”

“No, no. You know what I mean,” he croaked.

“Oh right, sorry Mr. President,” I replied as I carefully calculated the right response in my head. “Um, Mr. President, it’s Day 547, I mean, 547 of 1,460. So that leaves, um, 913 to go.”

A small orangey fist emerged from the sheets and hammered the mattress four or five times accompanied by a noise that I wouldn’t have believed was created by a human had I not been standing right next to him.

“Aaaarrrrrhhllooooooooowshhhh!”

“It’ll go quickly, sir,” I soothed, as I’d been instructed to by his fourth Chief of Staff. “But you really should get up. You’ve got a 10 a.m.”

He pulled down the sheets, mercifully to just below his chin. His hair went madly off in all directions but I could see his shining eyes and a look of hope flashed on his face like a pulsing neon restaurant sign.

“Is it golf? Is it a 10 a.m. tee time?”

“Um, no sir. Sorry. I really wish it were, but you’ve got a meeting in the Oval with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

“Frickelangeloooo! I hate those guys. I just can’t. I won’t. It’s too much. That’s it. It’s over. My schedule is friggin’ HUGE. It’s crazy! Yesterday, there was a meeting booked for 9 in the morning. Nine! It’s a disaster! You can’t tell me that Obama started his day at 9 friggin’ o’clock.”

“Um, Mr. President, 9 is kind of early. but it isn’t really that early. Most people, well at least some people, are at their jobs by 9.”

“More fake news. You’ve been brainwashed. It’s still friggin’ dark at 9. Maybe I could golf at that hour, maybe, but working like a job, uh-uh, forget about it,” he sighed. “Geez, I haven’t worked this hard since…”

I waited as he studied the ceiling.

Still, I waited.

“Mr. President?”

“Shhhh! Hang on, I’m thinking,” he said holding up his hand and scrunching up his face. “Hmmm, I guess I’ve never worked this hard. And it’s gotta stop. Now.”

“Yes sir.”

“What’s your name again?”

“Austin, sir. Trevor Austin.”

“Are you my butler or something?” he asked.

“No sir. You fired him four weeks ago,” I replied. “I’m Secret Service, on your personal detail.”

“Well, you’re fired,” he said. “Wait, Secret Service? To protect me?”

“Yes sir.”

“Okay, you can stay.”

“Thank you, sir,” I sighed. “So what do I tell the Joint Chiefs of Staff? I don’t think you can quite get there for 10 o’clock.”

“Tell them to ‘make breakfast great again,’ have an Egg McMuffin, and I’ll see them at noon, maybe.”

“Sorry sir, but the schedule says you’ve got a call with President Putin at noon.”

“The Vlad-man! He’s a good guy. A little short. But a good guy. And he agrees with me that Transformers should not be in the military.”

“Sorry, sir?”

“My announcement last year that Transformers can no longer serve in the U.S. military,” he explained. “Oh yeah, and neither can Alec Baldwin or Melissa McWhat’s-her-head.”

“Mr. President, I think you may mean transgender, not transformers.”

“Whatever. I was watching the new Transformers movie last night on my Presidential iPad. Beautiful flick. Loved it. You seen it?”

“No, sir,” I replied. “Um, sir, what about the Joint Chiefs?”

“Cancel it and tell…Mike…you know…my VP, to see me. I’ll be right here thinking about stuff. Great stuff. Beautiful stuff.”

“Yes sir.”

“Hey, before you go, can you show me your gun again?”

I pulled it out and held it up so he could see it, again.

“Can I hold it?” he asked, “Pleeeeease.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. President, I’m not permitted to surrender my firearm to anyone,” I explained. “It’s for your own protection.”

He nodded.

“Yeah, okay. I get that.”

___________________

The Joint Chiefs weren’t happy. And Mike Pence was in for the shock of his life, even though the President had severely depleted his VP’s capacity for shock. Mike Pence already felt shocked out. But he wasn’t. Not quite.

When I slipped back into the presidential bedroom, or what we in the Secret Service call the POTUS Pad, the President was sitting up in bed wearing a fluffy terrycloth robe with the Presidential seal on one side and the Trump corporate logo on the other. He was leafing through Sports Illustrated. It was the same issue he’d been “reading” for several weeks already, the annual swimsuit edition.

“Ivanka could totally be in here. No problem. Done deal,” he said, waving around the magazine.

“Yes sir,” I replied. “Mr. President, Vice President Pence is here.”

“Fan-friggin-tastic. It’s about time. Send him in and maybe get me some kind of breakfast sandwich with sausage and cheese. Lots of cheese.”

I headed to the White House kitchen as the Vice President slipped into the room.

“Hi Mike,” I heard the President say. “Buckle your seatbelt.”

_____________________

Three days later, you can see me on television, standing behind and to the left of the President, as he and Vice-President Pence stood at the lectern in the Rose Garden. My darting eyes shielded by sunglasses, I surveyed the gobsmacked faces of the press corps. There was no teleprompter and no speaking notes. Never a good sign.

“My fellow Americans, I took office 18 months ago when America was in serious trouble. It was a disaster. Since then so much beautiful stuff has happened, and all of it good for the country. I promised to win the election against that mean woman, Hillary Clinton, and I did. I promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and well, we were almost there before John McCain and those two witches killed it. But that’s not my fault. I promised to create more jobs in this country, and just look how many different people have worked on my staff since then. Lots of jobs. The best jobs. I’ve stood up for America on the world stage. All the other leaders love me even more than that Justin Trudel guy. It’s fantastic. I promised to make America great again, and I have.

“So my job is done here. I changed America and it’sgoing to continue to change. And I did it in a year and a half. So I want to give someone else the chance to ride this wave now that I’ve done the heavy lifting. So I’m stepping down as of, well as of right now, and my trusted Vice President, Mike Spence…”

“Pence!” the Vice President hissed from the corner of his smiling mouth just loudly enough for everyone in the Rose Garden to hear, and several who weren’t.

“Pence, Mike Pence, will take over as President according to the Constitution of the United States. So, over to you, Mike. Don’t you mess up all the good work I’ve done. Get that wall built. And give my best to the Boy Scouts because I won’t be speaking at their big jumbalay thingy this year, you will be. And they love me. They really do. You should have seen them last year. It was beautiful. Okay folks, write whatever the hell you want, I am out of here as soon as Marine One is warmed up.

“God bless America and God bless me.”

Toronto Star Reviews One Brother Shy

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Note: Several plot spoilers in this review 

TorStar logo

Twins reunite in quest to find father in One Brother Shy

In One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis, the search for family is also a tale of self-discovery.

Aficionados of novelist Terry Fallis’s fiction could be forgiven for thinking his new novel, One Brother Shy, might be the kind of comic turn that has earned him two Stephen Leacock Medals for Humour. But they’d be wrong. Although one central character’s somewhat chippy personality has its amusing moments, the book is more psychological whodunit than side-splitting farce. The book is also something of an ode to one of the most unique emotional bonds a human can experience — the ineffable connection shared by identical twins.

But at the narrative’s outset, the shy, diffident and, yes, chippy Ottawa-based Alex MacAskill has no idea he was separated at birth from his much more sophisticated London-based twin brother Matt Paterson. Resolving the mystery of their separation and discovering the father they never knew keeps the novel humping along at a breakneck pace.

The action begins with the death of Alex’s mother and two pictures she leaves behind as a mysterious legacy. One of them shows a man, seen only from the shoulders down, cradling two newborns in his arms. The pictures contain a clue that would be critical to tracking him down: an odd tattoo on the left arm. But Alex initially has more pressing business: finding his twin who’s out there — somewhere.

Alex possesses a useful skill to aid and abet his sleuthing. A brilliant code writer, he’s developing state-of-the-art facial-recognition software, so faster than a speeding hard drive, Alex quickly discovers his bro is a successful tech entrepreneur in London and seemingly his polar opposite, emotionally, psychologically and experientially. Or is he?

A compelling subplot in One Brother Shy is the impact of a humiliating trauma Alex experienced as a 15-year-old aspiring high-school actor. After spiking his Coke with a Viagra-like pill, two bullies lower a dazed, naked — and tumescent — Alex onto the stage of his high-school Christmas pageant and the ensuing video — “ARCHangel” — became the Internet’s first viral sensation. Humiliated, Alex retreats from life, going emotionally AWOL for the next decade, until he meets his twin.

Once reunited, the twins go in search of their father, an odyssey that takes them to Putin’s Moscow with its vestiges of Soviet-era spooks and memories of the 1972 U.S.S.R.-Canada hockey series. Eventually, they succeed in finding their dad, but that is not the book’s emotional crescendo, IMO. That transpires when shy, taciturn Alex, the one-time aspiring actor, rediscovers himself by “playing” his brother, sidelined by laryngitis just before a make-or-break corporate dog-and-pony show. But had his twin tricked him into undergoing an emotional catharsis? Alex, confrontationally: “You never lost your voice, did you?” Matt, cryptically: “I lost mine, you found yours.” Now that’s identical twin love.

One Brother Shy is a charming, affecting book with perhaps one little caveat: Fallis’s tendency to tie up all plot lines with the precision of a daytime soap. A small quibble, perhaps.

Robert Collison is a Toronto writer and editor.

Iceland Writers Retreat next April!

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Logo-IWR

What a thrill to be invited to serve on the faculty of the 2018 Iceland Writers Retreat next April. I’ve known other writers who have attended this wonderful and respected retreat and they rave about it and the country. I have wanted to visit this special place for many years now, not just because of the very distinct literary strand that runs through the Icelandic culture, but also because of the 1972 World Chess Championships in Reykjavik, when Bobby Fischer Defeated Boris Spassky (yes, I’m a bit of a chess nerd, though you’d never guess from my play). I’ll be leading two workshops, sitting on a panel, giving a couple of readings, and doing anything and everything I’m asked to do, beaming all the way.
 
The stellar faculty for the 2018 retreat includes famed novelist Allice Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize winner Hilton Als, New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul (who I listen to each week on the Book Review podcast), two decorated Icelandic writers, and others. Registration is now open for the retreat. Why not consider joining us?
reykjavik_cnt_18nov09_iStock_b_1

Global Television appearance

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

I was lucky enough a couple weeks ago to appear on Global Television’s popular national morning show. I was a little nervous though I hope it doesn’t show. (To watch it, click on the graphic below.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Brother Shy is a #1 Canadian Bestseller

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

What a thrill it was to discover this morning that One Brother Shy has ascended to #1 on the CBC Books Canadian Fiction Bestsellers list. This is wonderful news and I’m grateful to everyone who has supported this novel including readers, booksellers, and my great team at McClelland & Stewart.

CBC Bestsellers June 17

Update:

According to the Telegraph-Journal,  One Brother Shy also seems to be doing well in New Brunswick. Thank you New Brunswickers!

NB Bestsellers List (June 23).PNG

One Brother Shy: Chapter 16

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Chapter 16 image

Welcome back to the final chapter in the podcast edition of One Brother Shy, my sixth novel.

In chapter 16, there are changes afoot at Facetech, and Alex makes some important life decisions.

Of course, your comments on One Brother Shy are always welcome here on the blog. You can also follow me on Twitter (@TerryFallis) or send me an email to [email protected]

I’m grateful for the support shown for the podcast. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. The novel has now been published by McClelland & Stewart (Penguin Random House) and is available in Canada wherever books are sold.

The voiceover that opens each episode of the podcast belongs to my good friend, Roger Dey.

Typewriter2 (The End)

One Brother Shy on The Morning Show

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

The Morning Show

It was fun to appear on Global Television’s The Morning Show earlier today to talk about One Brother Shy. The butterflies in my gut kindly flew in formation. (Click on the photo or the link to watch it.)

One Brother Shy: Chapter 15

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Chapter 15 image Chateau Laurier bar

Welcome back to the podcast edition of my sixth novel, One Brother Shy.

In Chapter 15, Alex makes some progress with Dr. Wendy Weaver and then meets the mysterious girl in the red dress he’s been searching for since 2005.

Of course, your comments on One Brother Shy are always welcome here on the blog. You can also follow me on Twitter (@TerryFallis) or send me an email to [email protected]

The voiceover that opens each episode of the podcast belongs to my good friend, Roger Dey.

I love independent bookstores!

Friday, June 9th, 2017

I’ve had so much support from independent bookstores since beginning this writing odyssey more than a decade ago. And it continues. It seems One Brother Shy is being well-received by customers and staff of independent booksellers. I’m deeply in their debt and cannot thank them enough.

Independent Bestsellers List (June 4)