Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Calgary: Walls & Stories

If you are in Calgary this Friday, Nov 2, join me and Marcello Di Cintio and Naomi K. Lewis as we read from our latest books at Pages Books on Kensington.

The event, dubbed, "Walls & Stories," starts at 7:30pm and promises an eclectic range of material and styles. For more information, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bull Head Reviewed in Fernie Fix

Naturally when you set a book in a place you once called home, you are curious to know what residents and locals think of it. Here's a positive review published in Fernie Fix magazine by Angie Abdou in advance of my event in the town on Nov 3. I'm looking forward to continuing the discussion with Angie and others this Saturday night.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Into the Abyss Launches

My pal, Carol Shaben, launched her first book of non-fiction, Into the Abyss last night in Vancouver to a packed house. The launch caps a nearly 20 year journey for her to write the story; her patience in doing so was worth every second.

Her book is gripping, nicely structured, and gives emotional depth to a tragic story. She has skillfully imbued the book with humanity, generosity and respect for the men at the centre of it including a pilot, a cop, a criminal, and her father, a politician. It's a bestseller in the making and well deserved.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unsung CanLit Heroes?

The fine Canadian book discussion website, 49th Shelf, recently compiled an interesting list of books we should be talking about. BULL HEAD is one of the picks.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vancouver Writer's Festival

I'm looking forward to appearing at the Vancouver Writer's Festival in the following events this week:

Tues, Oct 16: Life Stories with John Burnside, Kim Thúy and Carol Shaben

Fri, Oct 19: All in the Family with Nancy Richler, J. Jill Robinson and Heather Birrell

Tickets are still available for both events. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where Men & Mountains Meet

On Saturday, Oct 13, as part of the Calgary/Banff Wordfest's Banff Distinguished Author Series, I will be opening for the sold out event featuring Martin Amis. It's my first official event in promoting BULL HEAD. Talk about trial by fire. As my wife says, it's like opening for Led Zeppelin.

I'm jeeped to hear Amis read from his latest novel, "Lionel Asbo", a wicked satire with a punchy protagonist that reminds me of Ignatius J. Reilly in "A Confederacy of Dunces" with a profane dash of Sebastian Dangerfield from J.P. Donleavy's "The Ginger Man."

Many moons ago, I lived in Banff and worked at the sadly defunct Banff Book & Art Den. To say I'm looking forward to returning to the town as part of this event is a grievous understatement. It promises to be a great night that also includes Deni Y. Béchard and Mohammed Hanif reading, excellent writers with distinct voices. Let it snow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Workshop with Lynda Barry

Last weekend I spent the day writing with 15 others. We all started with a blank page. If that sounds like hell, well, it was. Thankfully we were guided by the venerable, always illuminating, never a dull moment writer extraordinaire, Lynda Barry, which made it a great day. The event was hosted by the Vancouver Writer's Festival.

We had been forewarned to bring in at least 3 pens and 100 sheets of blank paper. Oh yeah, we had to turn off our electronic devices nor could we check them during our limited breaks. If we accepted these terms, then we were expected to write, and write we did. Bigtime.

It was worth every moment - we filled dozens of pages, wrote at least 10 stories and generated enough ideas to fill another notebook. In the process, I was reminded of the value of including "play" as a part of my process. That is, exploring all possibilities without questioning whether they were any good, whether any of my words could eventually be published, whether any of my ideas had any external value.

After working on my book for approximately 1/8th of my lifetime, I realized I had lost the tenuous connection between exploring ideas for creativity's sake and the process of discovering "the story". This was particularly evident during the recent edits of my book, a process akin to sticking pins in your eyeball, one that took most of this year. I often questioned my intent and process - was I working too earnestly charging towards publication? Had I lost my creative impulse? Was there any way to inject joy into my process while dealing with such dark and bleak characters?

Perhaps the answers to these questions was not flattering at times, and while I certainly learned a thing or two along the way, did I choose the right process for this book? It's impossible to say now. But what I do know is that I had become insular and closed towards my own process, for better or worse. It's what Andreas Schroeder once said is akin to "the closing of the fontenelle."

The intensive workshop was a great day to learn an alternate process, one that involved shelving the computer and returning to the basics: pen and paper and organized freewriting, open to everything. The day was a creative bootcamp that has bolstered me and gave me a much needed kick in the ass. I might have drained my beloved Highland Park 18 year old whisky at the end of the day, but my guns are re-loaded - it's time to get back to work.