Come say hello and help say goodbye

Sorry it’s been so quiet around here. I have chronic tendonitis in my left wrist and typing is painful for more than a few minutes at a time. Which sucks when you know you should be writing. Or doing dishes, hanging out laundry, cleaning the fridge, or doing a proper yoga flow.

Anyhow, a quick note about an event happening this week about which I am very excited. The Halifax Public Library is about to open a wonderful new Central Branch in downtown Halifax. The building is amazing, daring, bold, and yet welcoming. I cannot wait to go there, read there, hang out on the rooftop patio there. But first, the Spring Garden Road Memorial Branch must be put to bed. As I contemplate its closure I think about the way it welcomed me to Halifax in 1996, the respite it provided me from the confusion of my life back then, the steady workspace, the comforting smell of the old books and the old men I wrote amongst. When I began to write Homing, it offered itself as an obvious setting, so much a symbol of Halifax is it to me. So I am very sorry to see it go…and beyond proud to have been invited to help say goodbye.

On Thursday at noon, I’ll read from Homing on the library lawn (kind of a dream come true, to be honest) and then answer any questions you might have. I’ll sign books afterward…and there’s a guest book of sorts there for people to leave their memories of the building in, too. It’s a free event, and I hope you’ll come down and say hello, and goodbye.

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In the club

Last night, I went to talk to a great group of readers in Dartmouth. I don’t know what they call themselves. In the Globe and Mail, they were called Halifax Book Club, when ringleader Skana Gee emailed the paper’s new book club section to say her group was reading Homing.

Anyhow, they were great. They had high quality snacks, and even higher quality questions and remarks. It’s always a treat to meet a bunch of readers. I never fail to be amazed at how much they find in my book to like. It is humbling and strange and awesome.

It was equally strange, though, to be unable to answer some of their questions about specific moments in the books, or specific sentences or even characters’ names. It’s been so long now since Homing and I parted ways, that I am starting to lose the details, I think. I am so on to the next one that Homing is receding in the rear view mirror. Though talking about it again with a group for whom the story is so fresh was really, really great.

If I were to make a frequently asked questions section, for sure at the top of the list (SPOILER ALERT) would be “Why did the bird have to die?”

Why, indeed.

Hey, if your book club is reading Homing and would like to have me round to drink a glass of wine and try to answer your questions, or just generally, jovially, tell you about the long strange process of writing the book…get in touch! I’d be happy to drop by.


Is this thing on?

A few weeks ago, I had several glasses of wine with good friend and great writer Amy Stewart. Together, we made a list of things I really should be working on. Top of the list: web presence.

So here I am now.

Seems to me it would be good form here to link to Amy’s page…but whaddya know, she doesn’t have one either. No matter, she’s about to become big, once that novel of hers comes out…then she’ll HAVE to get a page. And I’ll drink as much wine as I need to with her in order to convince her to get on it, already.

In any event. This is about me, not Amy.

My book, Homing, flapped its wings and flew off to its own life some time ago…My publisher tells me a reprint may soon be necessary, which is lovely news. The book’s reach continues to astonish me, considering it has had exactly one critical review, and an online one at that.

But a couple weekends ago, there it was in the Globe and Mail, just the title, submitted by Skana Gee, whose bookclub is reading it this month. And last week I received by email a copy of a thesis written by Jen Campbell, a student at Saint Mary’s University, who argues that my little book and I are part of the third wave of Atlantic Canadian literature, worthy of being written up in a thesis (which is currently blowing my mind like you can’t believe). And it still sells briskly at Frog Hollow Books, god love their handselling souls.

In fact, tomorrow night, I’ll go hang out with Skana’s bookclub, to talk to them about the book, and more importantly, to listen to them talk about it. I am equally terrified of and thrilled by these meetings. I’ve visited three other bookclubs, and it is always fascinating. They think I am a much better writer than I do. I guess that’s par for the course. But it really brings home to me the reality that a piece of art is never finished until it is received by someone.

Lots of other stuff coming up over the next few weeks and months. I’ll be moderating a panel for first time novelists at Atlantic Book Week in Halifax on April 14th, and then hosting the Atlantic Book Awards the following night.

On April 23, my colleague Tara Thorne and I will launch our brand new night of writers reading. We call it Porkpie, because we love the sound of the word. It’s happening at The Company House at 7pm, and we’re really excited about it. More details on that as they become available.

And then April 30, I am reading with Carla Gunn at the aforementioned Frog Hollow Books.

Lots more coming up in June and through the summer, but more details on those events some other time.

Meanwhile…work continues slowly but surely on Fallsy Downsies. It’s a wonder I manage it at all, frankly.