Archive for the ‘Vancouver International Writers Festival’ Category

The Best Laid Plans: A Musical

Thursday, September 17th, 2015


It’s been four years in the making, but opening night is just two days away. This is the novel that keeps on giving. After the CBC Television miniseries, I never dreamed I’d be flying with my family to Vancouver for the premiere of The Best Laid Plans: A Musical. But we leave tomorrow morning. We’ll attend the preview Friday night, and then the official premiere on Saturday night. I’m giving a talk before the Sunday matinee and I’ll probably stay and watch it a third time.

I really must thank Peter Jorgensen, Katrina Dunn, Vern Thiessen, Ben ElliotAnton Lipovetsky, and the rest of the cast and crew for taking The Best Laid Plans from page to stage. I cannot wait to see the show that these talented theatre pros have mounted. Once again, I note how lucky and blessed I’ve been with my first novel that I never thought would ever see the light of day in print, let alone on television and now on stage. (That sound you hear is me counting my blessings.)

Here are some shots from an actual performance.




Here a shot taken last fall at the Vancouver International Writers Festival with Vern, Anton, and Ben.


Update: TBLP – the stage musical

Monday, October 27th, 2014
Vern Anton Ben Terry

Vern Thiessen, Anton Lipovetsky, Ben Elliott, and I


Yesterday, at the Vancouver Writers Fest, I had the honour of participating on a panel discussing the adaptation of my first novel, The Best Laid Plans to the stage as a musical. This has been underway for over two years, now. But it’s really happening. It will premiere in September of 2015 at the York Theatre, here in Vancouver. On the panel yesterday were Katrina Dunn, the Artistic Director of Touchstone Theatre, Peter Jorgensen, the play’s Director and head of Patrick Street Studios, Vern Thiessen, the Governor General’s Award-winning playwright who is writing the play, Ben Elliott and Anton Lipovetsky, the award-winning composers, and yours truly. It was quite an afternoon.

I had met Katrina before when we’d done the initial negotiations for the stage rights to the novel, but I’d never met any of the others beyond a few emails with Vern and Peter. I was thrilled to meet them all and get an update on their progress. Then we hit the stage for the panel discussion in front of a sellout audience. Katrina was the ring leader. I offered a general overview of the novel. Peter described a bit about the history of adapting novels as stage musicals. Then Vern talked about what he considered when adapting TBLP to the stage. Then the fun started. I read three excerpts from the novel that led beautifully into three scenes and three songs from the production performed by the two composers and a wonderfully talented local actor/singer. Remember, I had never heard these scenes or songs, so I was taking it all in for the first time while on stage in front of a large crowd. My heart was pounding. All of the songs and the dialogue leading to them were wonderful, compelling and powerful. At one point in the middle of the second song, I very nearly burst into tears. It was a love song sung by Angus to his recently deceased wife, and it was beautiful, haunting, and very moving.

Music is important to me. I’ve played guitar, written songs, and sung (not particularly well) since I was 17 years old. I played in a band in university. I think I have a sense of what makes a good song, largely because I’ve written quite a few bad ones. Ben and Anton are incredibly talented songwriters who seem to have a magical collaboration. In less than a year, when the show opens in Vancouver, I think you’ll agree that these songs will be with us for a very long time.

Much more work lies ahead, but this is really going to happen. And I think it’s going to be something special. And by the way, the hovercraft will part of the play!

Vern Peter Terry

Vern Thiessen, I, and Peter Jorgensen

Back from a great couple of days in Vancouver

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

I arrived on Vancouver’s funky and artsy Granville Island on Thursday afternoon for the 23rd Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival. The fun for me actually started in Toronto’s Peason airport. I was grabbing a bite to eat before my four and a half hour foodless flight when I struck up a conversation with a lovely woman from Edmonton sitting next to me at the bar. I was checking the festival schedule on my iPad when she asked if I were a writer. I replied in the affirmative (still thrilled to be thought of as a “writer”). She asked what I had written and I mentioned my two novels. Well the guy sitting next to her looked over and said “You wrote The Best Laid Plans? I loved that book!” He lives in the Kitchener Waterloo region and he and his wife had both read the novel for One Book, One Community (for me, the program that keeps on giving!). What a small world. It was quite surreal. He even took a photo with his cellphone to prove to his wife that we’d actually met. I have yet to stumble upon a subway rider reading one of my novels, but this little encounter came close. After some more lively conversationwith my two new friends, I had to dash to catch my flight.

The Westjet crew are always a little more laid back than on Air Canada. My favourite line from the flight attendant leading us throught he pre-flight emergency procedures was “If you would give us your undivided attention for the following safety demonstration… we’d be shocked.” Nice one. The flight was uneventful and we landed on time in Vancouver. I was met at the airport by Andrew, a friendly festival volunteer, and we jumped in his car for the drive to Granville Island. They really treat you royally at VIWF. I checked into the beautiful Granville Island Hotel, the headquarters for the festival, signed in at the authors’ registration table, picked up my author’s kit, and set out in search of food. I was starving after the long flight. I grabbed a bite at a local restaurant and mapped out my thoughts for my two panels the next day. Despite the time change, I decided to go to one of the evening sessions. Authors can attend any session for free, space permitting. So I sat in on a session called “Old Friends” with msytery/thriller writers Linwood Barclay, Gail Bowen, and scotsman Quintin Jardine. It was all about the challenges and glories of writing recurring characters, book after book. Hence “Old Friends.” I thoroughly enjoyed the session. Listening to Quintin Jardine’s thick Scottish brogue made me realize what a terrible, pseudo-Scottish accent I give to Angus when I’m recording the podcast or doing a reading. Oh well. I’ll keep working on it. Still on Toronto time, I was exhausted by the end of it and even skipped the authors’ hospitality suite in the hotel to head directy to bed.

Thursday morning, after breakfast, I attended a session called “Raw Material” with four very well known writers: Jack Hodgins a brilliant Canadian novelist I’ve enjoyed for years; Charlotte Gray, the award-winning non-fiction writer who penned Reluctant Genius, the wonderful bio of Alexander Graham Bell; Terence Young, a very talented short story writer; and Don McKay, a celebrated Newfoundland poet. I was already familiar with Hodgins and Gray, but I was really happy to be introduced to views and works of Terence Young and Don McKay. They discussed how they found and used the “raw material” that they eventually shaped into their award-winning works. It was very interesting.

Then it was time for the first of my two panels/readings: “Day Job.”

The point of the session was to explore how our day jobs influenced our writing, for better or worse. A good crowd showed up and the moderator, Ian Weir, author of the great novel, Daniel O’Thunder, did an admirable job drawing us out and keeping the discussion lively. We all read a selection from our novels before Ian led us into conversation and then opened the floor for questions.

Later on in the evening, it was time for my second appearance for a session called “Funny Guys.”

Ken Finkelman was supposed to join us but in the end was unable to make it out to Vancouver. It was nice to renew contact with Drew Hayden Taylor, with whom I’ve read on several occasions in the past couple of years. I blurbed his novel, Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, which was just shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. A very funny guy, Charlie Demers, a local stand up comic and author, hosted and moderated the discussion. He did a wonderful job and had clearly done his homework by reading all of our books. Anosh Irani was concerned beforehand that his novel isn’t really that funny, and was never intended to be. But in fact, both he and his novel were hilarious. As usual, we all read first before diving into a discussion about humour writing. Afterwards, we answered audience questions, signed books, and generally chatted up the crowd.

Later on that night, I attended the musical tribute to Paul Quarrington featuring his band, Porkbelly Futures, and Dave Bidini. The music was fantastic, but it was also sad without Paul there to enjoy it too.

I had such an amazing time at the festival. There’s something about being immersed in the world of writers and readers that made the few days I was there, memorable and fun. I also got to meet and speak with a number of big name writers including Steven Galloway, Camilla Gibbb, Kathleen Winter, Dave Bidini, and Charles Foran. For the most part, I remained calm when meeting these literary superstars. I even got to have lunch with the 2009 Leacock Medal winner, my friend Mark Lerien-Young and his other half, Rayne.

While it’s nice to be back home, it sure was great participating in the Vancouver International Writers Festival.