Early January is traditionally when I take a reflective look back across the preceding year and give thanks for all the good fortune that still seems to be trailing me around in my now ten year old life as a novelist. I do find it hard to believe that a decade has elapsed since I started this blog and began podcasting my first novel, The Best Laid Plans. A decade! If you’d told me back in 2007 that ten years later McClelland & Stewart would be publishing my sixth novel, One Brother Shy, I’d at least have scoffed if not collapsed in hysterics. Yet here we are.
2016 was another eventful year in my writerly life:
- I slowed down a bit more on the readings, signings, and talks front. I logged 75 appearances, down from over a hundred in 2015. This wasn’t really a conscious decrease, but just seemed to work out that way. (It’s of course possible that people are growing tired of me.) However, I did seem to travel to a few more exotic locales including visits to Whitehorse, Galiano and Pender Islands, Cape Breton Island, and, of all places, the United Arab Emirates.
- A new edition of No Relation with a new cover, was released in January, 2016.
- In March, after months of planning, plotting, and other outlining alchemy, I started writing the manuscript for my sixth novel, One Brother Shy. (I’ve just reviewed the final galleys and the novel will be released on May 30, 2017.)
- In May, Margaret Atwood (yes, that Margaret Atwood) invited me to be the dinner speaker at a gala she and her husband, Graeme Gibson, host every year to raise funds for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. It was a great honour to have dinner with Margaret, to be introduced by her, and then to sign books alongside her afterwards.
- In the spring, I was honoured that Poles Apart was long listed, and then named a finalist for the 2016 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. In June, my friend Susan Juby justly won the Leacock Medal. I was thrilled for her and to be among the finalists.
- In June, I signed another two-book deal with McClelland & Stewart to cover One Brother Shy and whatever my seventh novel will be called (the leading title contender right now is If at First You Succeed). I’m very happy to be with the M&S family at Penguin Random House.
- In July, I finished writing the manuscript for One Brother Shy. There followed a few months of editing, copy-editing, and proofreading to get it ready for release this May.
- In September, under the heading of “cool things I only ever got to do because I decided to write novels,” I sat down for coffee with Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter, the Academy Award nominated actor, Mariel Hemingway. She was lovely in every way. I look like a complete idiot in the photo but console myself with the knowledge that no one will be looking at me for long in that shot.
- November was an unprecedented month of travel for me, though only one stint of the voyage was book-related. I happily spent time in New York, Orlando, Paris, and the aforementioned United Arab Emirates. I was in UAE for the Sharjah International Book Fair. I spoke at the American University of Sharjah and then, likely for the one and only time in my life, sat on a panel at the book fair where the language was Arabic and I was given headphones for simultaneous translation. It was a fascinating experience.
I think that about wraps up the highlights of another busy year. I’m hard at work planning my seventh novel as we head into 2017 and hope to be writing the manuscript by the time One Brother Shy is released in May. In March, I’ll be starting to podcast One Brother Shy, chapter-by-chapter, as is my practice. It’ll be available as a free download on iTunes and this blog. I also have some travel coming up later in the spring with a seven day reading tour of the Gulf Islands off BC’s west coast. I’ll also likely be teaching my Humour Writing course at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies starting later this month.
Happy New Year!