Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Up and Down Update

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Yes, I know, I’ve been slow in getting back to the blog now that the final podcast episode has been uploaded. No excuses beyond a very busy schedule while still trying to shoehorn my day job around it all. But just to bring you up to date, the new novel, Up and Down, seems to be doing very well out of the gate. Two days after it was published, it debuted on the Globe and Mail Canadian Fiction Bestseller list at #7. It then went to #5 for the next two weeks, and was still hanging on at #8 this past weekend. As well, the Goodreads reviews seem to be very favourable. There have been a few formal reviews published in the Montreal Gazette, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, and the Saint John Telegraph Journal, with more to come, we hope. Finally, a number of book bloggers have added their voices and reviewed the novel, here, here, and here. In the middle of it all, someone sent me the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Canadian Fiction Bestseller List for the week Up and Down was published. What a shock when all three of my novels made the list. I grabbed a screen shot for posterity’s sake as I doubt this triple play will ever recur for me.(And I was right. The next week, The High Road had slipped off the list.)

Needless to say, I’m thrilled with these early signs that Canadians are enjoying Up and Down.

I’ve been on the road quite a bit lately promoting Up and Down including quick visits to Collingwood, Ottawa, Huntsville, Barrie, Orillia, Grimsby, Hamilton, Georgetown, Creemore, London, Ajax, and Aurora, and of course, there have been lots of gigs in Toronto. Later this week, I’m off for a 12-day swing through western Canada with stops in Victoria, Calgary, Turner Valley, Banff, Edmonton, and St. Albert. This will be my longest literary road trip to date. (I’m blessed with a very supportive family!)

I’m still working out how best to talk about Up and Down, and which sections to read at events. But, it’s coming. I figure I should have it sorted out by the time I’m back home towards the end of the month. What a happy whirlwind. Stay tuned and thanks so much for all the encouraging feedback. It means a lot to me, particularly with the new novel still so fresh on the shelves.

Up and Down podcast cracks the top 4 in iTunes

Monday, June 11th, 2012

The iTunes charts have always been a bit of a mystery to me, but I confess I do occasionally check them out. Even though I’ve only posted the first two chapters of the Up and Down podcast, it seems it has already managed to climb into the number four position on the iTunes Literature Podcast charts (yes, there actually is an iTunes Literature Podcast chart!). This is great news. Thanks to all the listeners who have already subscribed. Where will it be tomorrow? Who knows? But it’s nice to be up near the top on the strength of the first two chapters alone. Now, on to Chapter 3…

Up and Down: Chapter 2

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

In Chapter 2, David Stewart spends more time with his ailing mother, tries to build bridges to his colleagues at Turner King, and heads to Washington, DC for the big pitch to NASA.

Thanks for listening. Next week, Chapter 3, as the Turner King team makes their big presentation to the senior leadership at NASA.

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

Comments are always welcome here on the blog or via email at [email protected]

Behind Up and Down

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Between now and the launch of my new novel, Up and Down in September, I thought I might periodically share some thoughts on what led me to write this story. I wrote a piece for the Indigo Fiction blog that traces some of the roots of Up and Down. In particular, it reveals how I became a space nut at the age of nine. But there’s more lurking in the background. When you read Up and Down, and I hope you will, you’ll see that part of the plot turns on the steady decline in public funding to NASA. I understand the view that we should take care of what’s going on down here on earth before we commit tax payers’ dollars to space exploration. I don’t share that view, but I understand it. Here are a couple of videos that explain far more eloquently than I ever could, why exploring space is important, if only because it gives us much-needed perspective on our own planet and the problems we must confront down here.



Years later, TBLP & THR are still hanging in there

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

I happened to check BookManager last night and was surprised and delighted to see both The Best Laid Plans and The High Road still in the top ten Canadian Fiction bestsellers list. It’s been four years since TBLP won the Leacock Medal, and coming up to two years since THR hit bookstore shelves. I couldn’t be happier with how they’re still doing, all this time later. This unexpected longevity is another manisfestation of the Canada Reads effect. I certainly didn’t expect TBLP to be still so high on the list more than a year after the Canada Reads win, but such is the power of CBC’s annual battle of the books. With my third novel, Up and Down, due in bookstores on September 11, 2012, I’m certainly grateful for this good news.

Remembering Vicki…

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

My wife Nancy and I have been in a wonderful book club for nearly 20 years. There are about 15 or so of us, from all walks of life, and we meet the third Monday of each month. It’s something I look forward to month in, and month out. Vicki joined our book club, by my reckoning, about six or seven years ago. Her arrival was complete and utter serendipity. Melany, a charter member, was on a business trip when Vicki ended up in the seat beside her for the flight back to Toronto. They started talking about books and exploring an ever-growing patch of common ground, and by the time the plane landed, Vicki had learned the secret handshake and was welcomed into the fold. She brought the wonderful Vince, her husband, along with her. She was a lovely, warm, and intelligent woman who slipped into our midst like a friend we’d all known for years.  After a courageous battle with cancer, we lost Vicki this past August.

Soon after, Peter and Manjusha, longtime members of the book club, sprang into action to find a fitting way for us to honour what Vicki had meant to our humble monthly gathering of book lovers. They hit upon the perfect idea. Money was raised and other arrangements made, and on January 31, 2012, there was a grand opening. In Dhaberi, a small farming village in central India, a children’s library opened its doors for business. Vicki’s Library. The funds donated purchased 500 children’s books and will pay a librarian for two hours a day, to work with the children and check out their books. Our book club has pledged to keep the library open. I cannot think of a better way to honour a good friend who loved books and reading as much as Vicki did.

Here’s a shot of the new library just before the doors officially opened. On the white banner above the children you can make out Vicki’s image. We all miss Vicki dearly, but we know she’d be thrilled with how we chose to remember her.

CBC TV mini-series based on TBLP

Friday, November 25th, 2011


I’ve been sitting on this news for a few months now, but it’s finally official. The Best Laid Plans is in development as a six-part mini-series to be aired on CBC television. Jian Ghomeshi made the announcement as part of the big reveal this week of the five finalists for this year’s Canada Reads crown. A hugh crowd was gathered in the atrium of the CBC Broadcast Centre. It was a great event, but I confess my heart was pounding as Jian told the assembled throng that The Best Laid Plans was headed for television. What a thrill.

The director/producer of the mini-series, Peter Moss, is a very experienced television and theatre veteran having adapted the works of others writers including Mordecai Richler and Timothy Findley. The writing team is in place and they are true professionals. I’m honoured to have the story in their hands. You’ll hear more about them and the cast when all of the pieces are in place.

Jian Ghomeshi announces the TV mini-series.

This all began back in the summer when Peter approached my agent, Beverley Slopen, and me to secure the film and TV rights to the novel. It’s incredibly exciting to contemplate the story coming to life on the small screen. I’ll get to stay involved in the project throughout as a “story consultant,” not so that I can jealously protect my work, but really just to indulge my curiosity about the whole process of adapting a novel to television. I think it’s going to be a fascinating experience. I couldn’t be happier about how it’s all come together. I”ll keep you posted as we cross certain thresholds in the production. But it’s going to take a while. We’re probably at least 18 months away from seeing Angus on television. Be patient, art takes time! Thanks for all your kind words since the news broke, and stay tuned…

Jian Ghomeshi had me stand up at the Canada Reads launch after announcing the mini-series.

Speaking of Leacock…

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

My mother-in-law was sorting through some photographs the other day and came across these two shots taken a few years ago when we visited the Leacock home on the shores of Brewery Bay in Orillia, Ontario. If you’re ever in the area, it’s well worth a visit to the beautiful home Stephen Leacock built as his refuge. Leacock wrote many hilarious works on the desk at which I’m seated below. The home has been painstakingly restored with many of the very items and artifacts that adorned the home when the man himself lived there. You can learn more about the Leacock home and museum here.

Speaking gigs a plenty…

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

I’ve been very busy in the evenings and weekends with readings and speaking gigs and am really enjoying them. I know I’ve written about it before, but I’m always struck by how rewarding it is to spend time with readers who have really enjoyed the novels. It’s a pleasure to talk with them and answer their questions about the novels. If you’re interested in seeing just how busy I am these days touring around with both books, have a look at my Appearances page. I just thought I’d provide an update on a couple of my recent readings.


A few weeks ago, my younger son, Ben, and I flew down to Halifax for a reading I was doing at the Keshen Goodman branch of the Halifax Public Library. We had a great time and had the chance to visit family as wel. My wife’s family lives in the Annapolis Valley and drove in for the reading. As well, in a spasm of pure serendipity, my twin brother Tim and his wife Melanie were also in Halifax visiting their daughter and son who both attend Dalhousie. I joked from the podium that I had more family attending my Halifax reading than I’d ever had in any hometown Toronto reading. The crowd in Halifax was wonderful. Many of them had already read both novels and they kindly laughed in all the right places during my talk and reading. They videotaped my talk so if any of you suffer with any kind of sleep disorder, clicking on the graphic below ought to help you out.

My brother, Tim, also took a few shots during the signing. Here’s one of them:

Pelham and Fort Erie

Last week, I drove down to the Niagara Region for an afternoon reading at the Pelham Public Library and then on to Fort Erie for a library reading there in the evening. Both events were wonderful with very enthusiastic audiences, who showed up in great numbers. At each stop, I spoke for a while about The High Road, and then read a few sections that I thought were particularly relevant in the midst of a federal election campaign. There were great questions posed afterwards and I was even able to answer some of them. After the Fort Erie reading, I bought a Coke at a nearby convenience store and listened to the Blue Jays game on the radio to help keep me awake for the drive back to Toronto. There are plenty more readings coming up, including the Georgina Public Library in Keswick tomorrow, and the Port Hope Public Library on Saturday.

When I arrived in Pelham, a few people had brought copies of the previous weekend’s St. Catharines Standard. It was a bit of a shock to see the front page of the Arts section. Click here or on the photo to read the article:

Here’s a shot taken just as my talk/reading at the Pelham Public Library got underway.

M&S creates a cool poster for book stores

Friday, March 18th, 2011

I’m one lucky author. Check out this poster that will soon be hanging (I hope) in bookstores across the country. My publisher M&S has created it and it appears that CBC and Canada Reads are in the play on it too. My twin brother, Tim will be pleased with the poster. If you look closely, you’ll see his photo credit in the bottom left corner of the author shot.

We’re clearly still in the Canada Reads afterglow, and this poster is just one manifestation. I have dozens of speaking and reading gigs upcoming so it’s going to be a very busy spring and summer. But you’ll never hear me complain about my schedule… I couldn’t be happier…