Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Of shoes and ships ...

…and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.

I said to Bev at dinner tonight, I hope it’s teaming rain tomorrow, then I can stay in and write all day. I paused, then said: I hope it’s warm and sunny tomorrow, then I can go out and work on my wall (a stone wall that I’d like to finish before it snows). How lucky am I, how incredibly lucky! Nearing seventy and there’s so much to do. A new novel, a new wall. The idea is to make them both seem inevitable, like they’ve been here, in the world, forever.

Downtown Bookstore: Owen Sound

On October 17th I sat in the window of the Downtown Bookstore, almost literally, and Hazel Lyder, the congenial and energetic owner, served coffee while I chatted with people, and sold some books. It was a wonderfully warm and intimate event. My brother Steve and his wife, Janmarie, arranged for me to be there. Among those turning up, a dear old friend, Jack Morgan, and his wife Linda, whom I’ve known almost as long, appeared on the scene. Jack and I lived next door to each other in residence at Huron College, UWO, in 1958. We’ve known each other fifty years, plus. Now, does he remember every name in our corridor? Let’s start with Winston Nelson, from British Guiana, who was on the other side of my room, due north. When you’ve known someone so long, it’s hard to believe you don’t remember the exact same things. Linda was great at the event, answering questions and promoting; she should be working for Dundurn Press. Jack, of course, knows what I’m writing about, even when I’m not always too clear, myself.

Writers Reading: Westport

October 25th found Bev and I in Westport, Ontario. It’s a town to remember. We parked and wandered down a few inviting sidestreets, looking for a place to eat before the reading, which was to be held at the Westport United Church. When we passed people they would nod, some said hello, everyone smiled. What a beautiful, gracious, congenial town. And the reading, organized by Stillwater Books and the charming and enterprising Steve Scanlon, along with the Westport Arts Council, represented by Norman Peterson, Brin Jones, and others, was a mega-success. I led off the program, followed by the irrepressibly entertaining Mary Jane Mafini. After a break for the fifty or sixty members of our audience to refresh themselves, Barbara Fradkin talked and read from her powerful, Ottawa based, novels, followed by Giles Blunt, who likewise talked and gave a great performance, doing a theatrical reading from No Such Creature. It was a balanced afternoon, fun for us as writers, and, I think for the organizers and attendees, alike.

Prime Crime: Ottawa

Next Saturday, October 31st, I’m doing a signing as the guest of Linda Wiken at her bookstore on Banks Street. If anyone in Canada knows Canadian mystery novels, it’s Linda. It should be a good time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Owen Giving Thanks

My grandson, Owen, is in grade three and lives in Vancouver (with Simon and Charlie, and their mom and dad, Laura and Fred). When I read his essay, saying thank-you to his parents, I was overwhelmed. He's one lucky boy, but his parents are even luckier. Putting this on my blog is my own way of sharing and saying thanks!

Thank you for transportation. Thank you for giving me food. Thank you for giving me a shelter. Thank you for taking work off and stay home when I am sick. thank you for buying me toys. Thank you for letting me have sleepovers and play dates. Thank you for playing with me when I am lonely. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for having birthday parties for me. Thank you for helping me with my homework. Thank you for making me feel safe. Thank you for buying us a Christmas tree. Thank you for taking me places. Thank you for buying me clothes. Thank you for helping me on things I don’t know. thank you for helping me learn things. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for giving me soccer and field hockey lessons. Thank you for getting me sports equipment. Thank you for getting me a Nintendo Wii. Thank you for gettign me a computer. Thank you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Thank you for dropping me off at school. Thank you for taking me to restaurants. Thank you for taking me to markets. Thank you for helping me be a better person. Thank you for giving me the name Owen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Graves Matter

It’s been quite a while, now, since The Hamilton Spectator has published a column by Don Graves, one of the premier critics in the country, and the only reviewer of note to focus on Canadian mystery titles. Recently in the Word on the Street festival in Toronto I sold quite a few books. Almost every sale was to a reader of either Margaret Cannon in The Globe and Mail or Don Graves in The Hamilton Spectator or on The Spectator’s website. Mystery novels have huge sales in Canada and, although often ignored in favour of so-called “literary” writing, some of negligible significance, they need and deserve a sound critical representation. Graves provides this, not just for Hamilton but for the whole country. I’ve never met the man and, yes, I have received good reviews from him, but even if I hadn’t I would continue to check him out for advice on what to read and how it might be read. Let’s hope his absence is of short duration.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Westport: Writers Reading October 25th

The Second Annual Writers Reading event, sponsored by the Westport Arts Council and Stillwater Books is being held on Sunday, October 25th at Westport United Church between 1:00 and 5:pm. I'll be reading in very good company. Giles Blunt will be there. I've never met him but I'm a fan. The irrepressible Mary Jane Mafini will also be reading, along with Barbara Fradkin, another very highly regarded mystery writer I haven't met. If you're in the area, drop in. It should be a great afternoon.