June is going so fast. I suppose it’s to be expected when you have a full-time job and write books on top of it. On this note, and as mentioned earlier, I’m setting my sights on Winnipeg, Manitoba as the next stop on my (very gradual) book tour.
McNally Robinson Booksellers is, I understand, a gorgeous location for a both a book retailer and a public reading. I will be joining David Lee, author of the YA book The Midnight Games, for a reading and a follow-up conversation with Chadwick Ginther and S.M. Beiko. This is happening on the 6th of July – mark your calendars.
I look forward to visiting Winnipeg and meeting new people. I hope you are able to make it out!
My debut novel, THE SOCIETY OF EXPERIENCE, has made the longlist for the 2016 Sunburst Awards! It’s with such esteemed company as Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last, Andrew Pyper’s The Damned, and Giller-winner André Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs. The shortlist will be announced in early July. I’m very happy to have SOE receive this sort of attention, and grateful. I’ll keep you posted on whether it makes the cut!
I have two new gigs lined up over the next few months. I have to say that my visit to Ottawa was wonderful — everyone involved, organizers and audience alike were very friendly and great people to chat with (in case you were curious, or thought these were terribly serious affairs). If you’ve been thinking of making it out, it would be great to see you at either of the next two events.
June 10th @ The Belljar (2072 Dundas St W, Toronto)
I will be reading from The Society of Experience as part of a launch for indie musician Kyp Harness’ debut novel, Wigford Rememberies. We will be joined by poet Mark Sampson, reading from his new collection, Weathervane. Details of the event can be found here. Authors’ books will be sold via Another Story Bookstore.
July 6th @ McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg, MB)
I will be joining the ChiSeries once more, this time for my first reading outside of Ontario! Also reading that night will be David Neil Lee — we will be joined in conversation by Chadwick Ginther and S.M. Beiko. Details can be found here. I haven’t been in Winnipeg before so I’m really looking forward to it.
Speaking of Ottawa, the people at Silver Stag Entertainment managed to tape my reading. I normally can’t stand the sight of myself reading (or hearing my voice), but it ain’t bad. The audio quality is a little rough, as you can overhear bar patrons in the room next door, but I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy!
Lastly, I’m hoping to announce a brief Alberta tour that will be happening in September. It’s in the planning stages, so fingers are crossed!
I’m going to be interviewed on CIUT’s literary program, HOWL, hosted by Nancy Bullis, this Tuesday (March 15). I’ll be speaking about The Society of Experience, writing, and whatever else comes up. We’ve got an hour, so I’m curious to see how this goes. I’ve never done radio before, so I look forward to the experience! The first thing I’ve learned is that THEY DON’T ALLOW COFFEE INTO THE STUDIO, which is…well, something I’m going to have to deal with, considering the show starts at 10pm.
If you’re interested in listening-in, the show is located on the local Toronto FM dial at 89.5, and is streamed live via various sources. Wish me luck!
I planned to get up at 6am and go for a run, despite the forecast noting a windchill of -16C. What happened is that, because I’d played my first indoor soccer match of the year the previous night (I headed-in the game equalizer) my better sense woke me up and I switched off the alarm on my smartphone at 4am to get some rest and heal my muscles.
Ingrid’s radio alarm went-off at 7:26am. It was the usual: CBC Radio One’s Metro Morning broadcast. But something seemed off. For one thing they were talking a lot about David Bowie. But, I thought, he just had an album out on Friday so it didn’t surprise me. And then it dawned on us that his name was being used in the past tense. I distinctly remember them playing Sound and Vision, a song I would never imagine Metro Morning otherwise playing.
I didn’t want a Canadian or journalistic perspective. I didn’t want to hear about how “strange” Bowie was. I didn’t want to hear the inevitable and inevitably earnest interview with astronaut Chris Hadfield. We spent the rest of the morning listening to BBC Radio Six which had put together a very thoughtful program, including reminiscences from musicians and Bowie collaborators. We went about our morning routine – namely, drinking coffee and reading the Globe and Mail – but it seemed like we weren’t paying attention to anything but the radio. I eschewed social media. I did not want other people’s words in my head, I didn’t want to find myself summarizing my feelings about Bowie’s passing in the sort of facile way that social media can render even the most heartfelt words. I didn’t even want to write that I was avoiding social media. I wanted none of it.
We had some breakfast and I finished some email correspondence for my practice. And then I went for a run. I needed to, even though this was probably the first time I’ve ever stepped out in plain daylight to do so (note: seeing your shadow is weird when you’re running). It was neither my fastest nor most laboured 10k. My head wasn’t really focused on anything, expect for maybe some of the songs BBC Six had been playing: songs plainly inspired by Bowie (Down Here by John Grant), songs which had plainly inspired Bowie (1-2-3 by Len Barry).
Lou Reed was the musician/performer who most likely kept me from killing myself when I was a teenager. His voice came through the speaker and consoled me in its plain cadence, and hinted to me of an alternative universe that I could only dream of seeing back then, living in the suburbs as I did; darker, sure, but more real. I don’t know if David Bowie saved my life but he made it infinitely more interesting and colourful, pulling influences out of his sleeve like a Harlequin-magician and transforming them into a succession of mesmerizing and artistically inspiring songs intended for a wide audience. He largely succeeded because he stayed ahead of trends. Both of them are gone, and while I may have felt more gutted about Reed’s passing, Bowie – whose songs, cool and fragile, rollicking and romantic, I sang to myself regularly – was another artist I had communion with, as do we all with those who deeply influence us when we feel alone.
I am proud to put new works out into the world. My short fiction piece, There Is This Thing Of You, is something I’ve been polishing for a number of years and I’m happy that it found a home with the online literary journal The Rusty Toque.
While it’s free to read, please consider donating to The Rusty Toque if you like what you see (and please check out the other great authors – like poets Madhur Anand and Eva H.D.)
I was contacted by rob mclennan (he spells it lowercase, and who am I to argue with this?) to take part in his ongoing 12 or 20 (second series) Q&A. He asks some great (and sometimes challenging) questions about writing, the process, and influences. Any writers out there might find this interesting. Please enjoy.
I was recently assigned the task of answering the Proust Questionnaire for Open Book Toronto. While Proust himself did not conceive of this battery of eclectic, often personal questions, it carries his name (for more on the history of this, go here).
So, if you would like to know my favourite colour, what makes me miserable, and what my favourite virtue is, please have a look.
I cannot believe how the stars aligned for this, but Harper’s Bazaar – a massive, Hearst-owned fashion and lifestyle magazine – put out a list of their Top 15 “must-reads” for the fall of 2015. And I’m #11. Along with Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Patti Smith, Isabel Allende, David Mitchell, and I’ve lost my mind. It’s the only debut novel on the entire list (and the third Canadian title)!