April 26th, 2017
For the first time ever, I’ll be participating in Authors for Indies this year. This is a great event that I have always missed due to scheduling, not lack of love. What it is is, authors go to indie bookstores and help out–sell books, chat with customers, create displays, run event tables, whatever the booksellers need. This is a day for authors to give back to the many independently run bookshops that do so much to support us. It is also, from what I hear, a lot of fun.
I’mventuring out of my comfort zone in terms of the city, heading first to Etobicoke and A Novel Spot from 10:30 to 11:30 and then on the Bolton and Forsters Book Garden from 1 to 3. I’m looking forward to seeing these shops, both of which I’ll be seeing for the first time, some new parts of the GTA, and meeting lots of readers. Especially, I’m looking forward to talking about BOOKS, books other than my own. I’ll be recommending lots of great ones like Sex and Death edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs, The Weather Inside by Emily Saso, Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare and as many others as I can get people to listen to me for. I’ve also recently realized that I can SHOP while I’m in these stores, which is super-exciting. So it’ll be a very good day, as long as I don’t get lost (well, I’ll probably get lost but I’m leaving extra time–as long as I don’t get VERY lost).
In other news, I still have the Bibliobash tomorrow night, and tonight I will be gluing one of my shoes back together in anticipation–wish me luck. Yesterday was a lovely reading in Aldershot for Different Drummer Books with Kyo Maclear and Trevor Cole that was lots of fun. Yesterday also saw a lovely review of So Much Love by Dana Hansen in the Winnipeg Review, which I thought was so insightful and generous and thoughtful. My IFOA 5 Questions interview got posted, in anticipation of the May 10th event with Kerry Clare and Amy Jones and me! And my very silly answers to the Hamilton Review of Books’ Proust Questionnaire got posted, which is delightful event though I’m pretty embarrassed as to how much I talk about my cat.
I think that’s all the news for now…
April 24th, 2017
There was just a gorgeous review of So Much Love in the Globe and Mail on Saturday–I was really moved by the way the reviewer, Marsha Lederman, reacted to the book. And I feel incredibly lucky that my novel received such an attentive, thoughtful review.
Tomorrow I head off to the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens in Aldershot for Different Drummer Books’ Books and Brunch event with Kyo Maclear and Trevor Cole. That should be fun (and delicious)!
Then on Thursday I’ll be at the Bibliobash to benefit the Toronto Public Library. How great that a fun and fancy night out can also benefit one of my favourite causes. Great when that sort of thing works out.
April 21st, 2017
Oh, you guys, the Pivot at the Steady reading was so nice. Every reader was great (even me, if I do say so humbly–I lived up to the evening I think!) the host was great, everyone that I spoke to in the audience was great, the vibe in the room was great, even the temperature was great. I wish I went out to readings as often as I used to–it was about once a week, more or less, in my late twenties and I just went to anything my friends suggested or that sounded cool to me. Now 10 years later it’s less than once a month unless I am myself reading and I really miss it. Stupid increasing decrepitude.
BUT I am reading a lot these days in support of So Much Love and while that in itself is a lot of fun, it’s also wonderful in that it gets me out listening to all the talented folks who are on the bill with me at readings. Like Saturday night, for example, when I’ll be reading at the Toronto launch of the Making Room anthology with so many brilliant and talented women like Amy Jones, Ayelet Tsabari, Eleanor Watchtel and tonnes more. It should be an amazing night. If you can’t make it or don’t live in Toronto, you can still order the anthology, which is huge and amazing and well worth reading. $26 is a steal for a book that covers 40 years of female and feminist writing in Canada. I’m not all the way through yet but I’m just floored by the strength and diversity of the gathering.
Sunday will be a day off from me and my book, but if you miss me, you actually hear me on the radio talking about the only other thing besides books people ever want to talk to me about–my big crazy jaw surgery! I’ll be on Out in the Open with Piya Chattopadhyay at 11am on Sunday morning, 11pm on Tuesday, or you can listen online at the link above. It’s an interesting show concept, on personal transformation, and I’m looking forward to listening to all the interviews myself!
April 18th, 2017
There’s a lovely starred review of So Much Love in the current issue of Quill and Quire by Josef Grubisic that is making me really happy. It is easy for sensitive writer to take even a positive review and get agitated about things we disagree with or feel aren’t quite accurate, but this review has none of that for me–how amazing! It’s online now and you can read it at the link above but I urge you to stay tuned–or pick up the print issue–because this issue of Q&Q contains another great review of a really wonderful book by an author I am VERY FOND OF. I’ll say no more.
In other news, I’m reading at Pivot at the Steady tomorrow night, with Shane Neilson, Erin Robinsong, and Kevin Connolly, which will be swell. I love Pivot, maybe most out of all reading series. Not just because I read at the very first night of Pivot, and for every book since, not just because it has always been amazingly curated even as a number of different folks have hosted it, all equally amazing in their own very different ways, and not just because everyone is always so nice there, the audiences so warm and supportive, the readers so interesting and engaged. But also because I met my husband there, in January 2009, when Kerry Clare brought me to hear Jessica Westhead read. I didn’t know Jessica either at that point and I now am lucky enough to count her as a friend, and a few weeks after that I was sitting alone at Pivot and a cool-looking couples set their coffees down on my table and we’re still friends too, despite the fact they now live on another continent.
But Mark is my biggest Pivot win and I’ll always be grateful to the series for bringing us together, even though that is corny and there are potentially 10 000 people on earth I could be happy with and perhaps I would have met one of them if I’d gone to a different reading. I don’t want to be married to those people. I only want to be married to Mark, and I am, and so–thank you, Pivot. See you tomorrow.
April 16th, 2017
Guys, a thing happened: So Much Love got shortlisted for The Amazon.ca First Novel Award. It is very nice to have my book noticed in this way, especially considering the calibre of the other books on the list–I’m thrilled that So Much Love was seen to be on the same level as these four impressive books (imagine being nominated for a prize and you thought all the other nominees were terrible? What an awful experience that would be!)
I like literary awards, though I know very well there are problems with the “prize-culture” that hovers around them. But it does seem like a pretty good thing to have a happy enthusiastic conversation about good books, celebrate them at parties, and give a few beleaguered, tea-stained authors a little bit of stardust. I’m delighted for myself but also for my publisher, McClelland and Stewart, and especially my beloved editor Anita Chong, who worked so hard on this book and believes in it so strongly. I am so lucky to have had (and to continue to have) such incredible support and I want the M&S gang to be rewarded for it. And maybe the attention around the nomination will help a few more readers to whom So Much Love would mean something find their way to it, which my ultimate goal this season.
I have been nominated for things before but not in a while, and not of this magnitude, if we judge magnitude by the size of the prize purse or the number of people who have been excited on my behalf about the nod. So I know from experience that it’s great that there’s over a month until the big party at the Four Seasons where the award-winner gets announced, so all five of us can bask in possibility until then. And I know it’s not just important to go around saying “it’s an honour just to be nominated” but to really mean it, because it *is* and why not enjoy the process, since I can’t control the result? I’m going to read the whole list, pick out a party dress, and truly enjoy the chance to meet the other authors and ask them about their work. And if rumour is correct, I’m going to eat a lot of excellent snacks.
If you’ve written to congratulate me, thank you–I’m hoping to cash in all those kind notes in hugs in the near future.
April 11th, 2017
Er, yes, sorry, it’s another post about me and my book. I’m just trying to keep the blog more or less up to date on So Much Love stuff while actually DOING all this stuff and also my 9-5 job, and that doesn’t seem to save much time for any actual creative work of any sort, even the little flights of fancy require for blog postery. I will get back to it, promise.
Anyway, I did a fun Magic 8 interview for CBC Books that’s live now, and an interview with Jamie Tennant at CFMU in Hamilton that will air in a month or so. In a cool turn, Jamie had a column in the Hamilton Spectator when I was a teen and I thought he was just the coolest–it was really fun and sort of a dream to be interview by him. Really looking forward to reading his new novel, too–it’s called The Captain of Kinnoull Hill and it’s about a man considered to be the least likeable person in the Chicago music scene!!
Looking forward to May, I’m a part of a dream event at IFOA on May 10 reading and talking with the ever-excellent Kerry Clare about our respective books with the also-excellent Amy Jones as our interviewer and Sheniz Janmohamed as host. That one should be a really great evening–you should come! But even if no one comes, I think we’ll have fun on stage.
And this one is weirder, but also cool…I’m an honourary caption for the First Book Pongapalooza event on May 16 in support of literacy for First Book! Come out and play some Ping Pong and help kids learn to read!
April 5th, 2017
So I made it back from Vancouver safe but tired, spent a day sleeping and moving my car around, and then went out to Pickering for the delightful Festival of Authors. The weekend was more sleep and also taxes, and then on Monday I went out to Waterloo to visit the brilliant Claire Tacon‘s creative writing class. Claire’s students were engaged, thoughtful and well-read, and we spent a good hour together talking about writing in general and mine and theirs in particular before I got on the Greyhound home and passed out. Yesterday was the Toronto Review of Books We All Feel So Foolish reading, which was good fun and surprisingly packed–but with fellow readers Jessica Westhead, Heather Birrell, Mark Sampson, and Antanas Sileika, you can see why.
Today is a breather, thank goodness. But my CBC Magic 8 interview is posted, in case you’re curious about yet more of my thoughts.
Tomorrow I’m off to Hamilton to read at GritLit, Hamilton’s literary festival. My reading is at 9:30pm at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and is entitled The Disappeared, co-starring Ian Reid, but you should really take in any events at GL you can, as the whole weekend promises to be exceptionally good. I’ll also be on CFMU Radio with Jamie Tennant at some point tomorrow–that should be cool as well.
And then you get a break from the relentless RRing, and I will get some sleep and go back to talking about things other than myself and my book–which sounds just fine to me!
March 30th, 2017
Hello from Vancouver, where last night I read at the Incite series and yesterday was on the Global BC News at Noon. I find the clip pretty unwatchable, but apparently that is how people feel about seeing themselves on TV–most other people who have watched it think it’s fine (or have been too kind to tell the truth). It was very fun to do the interview with Sophie Lui and Squire Barnes, who were total pros and very good and making me feel both comfortable and smart–what good TV presenters do! I still can’t watch the clip, though.
I’ve discovered this lovely blog review at the Bookshelf blog by Andrew Hood. Andrew is an old friend whose work I deeply admire, so this was a delight to stumble across.
I also finished off a blog interview with Steven Buechler at Sea of Pacific Tranquility about So Much Love. I talk about how we are all know about crimes like the ones described in SML but we know about them in tiny ways, and most of us have the privilege of turning off the news when it gets distressing–but some don’t. The people who experience the crimes and their families don’t, and I wanted to use fiction and whatever empathetic imagination I possess to explore that world and that experience, an experience that doesn’t end.
It’s hard thing to get right–and I’m never going to capture the breadth of experiences in the world, because I’ve only written about a handful of characters and also because fiction is an art and what people think of art can be subjective–but just because I’m done the writing of the book doesn’t mean I can stop thinking carefully and deeply about the subject matter and how I present it each and every time I’m in public or online. I think I need to work on that.
Can you tell I’ve had some tough talks recently? Or have been spending too much time by myself perhaps? Or both? I have one brilliant sunny day left in Vancouver and then I’m going to come home and read at The Ontario Writers Conference Festival of Authors. And then maybe lie down for a little while.
March 27th, 2017
From Josée Sigouin
307. Jazz instrumentals
308. Kekou’s dark chocolate-ginger sorbet
309. Riding a bike in a breezy dress on a sizzling day
310. Plain Greek yogourt mixed with cranberry sauce
311. Rediscovering an obscure song from decades ago
312. Banana sices dressed with fresh mint
313. Nina Simone
314. Cold-brewed green tea
315. Breakfast on the balcony
316. Mozzarella melted on a hot-cross bun, with a side of apple
317. A riot of colours – garden, painting, collage, fabric, etc.
318. Clementine sections dipped in Greek yoghourt & pumpkin seeds
319. Melody Gardot
320. Beets – the redder, the better
321. Night-scented stocks
322. Ataulfo mango slices sprinkled with Thai basil flower buds
And from me, because why not:
323. Seeing anybody learn anything brand new (but especially a cat)
324. Succeeding at paperwork
327. spumoni ice cream
328. going to bed when you’re really tired
329. finding something I thought I’d lost
330. how Lily Tomlin looks better and better as she ages–maybe that will happen to us all?
March 25th, 2017
Oh boy. We had the launch party on Wednesday evening and despite me being pretty intense about the whole thing–I showed up over an hour early “just in case,” and then when everything appeared to be fine went out to dinner with friends but didn’t eat–it was really a lovely, loving evening. The M&S publicity staff did a great job setting up a party with wine and cheese and books and chairs for all who wanted them, and my brilliant editor Anita Chong made a lovely speech where she put the brilliance all on me (lies!) I was truly touched by how many friends, old and new, came out to wish the book well on its journey into the world. It was pretty great to have my family there, and as a special favour I had asked my in-laws to extend their vacation in Toronto half a week to be there too, and they did it, and even baked me a cake. And my brother- and sister-in-law even managed to get my niece there for part of the evening, no mean feat with a two year old. I laughed, I didn’t really cry too much, there was a lot of gorgeous cheese, and I received many hugs. It was intense, but great–and then some friends drove me off to finally get some food and I kind of slowly and gently collapsed. One cannot do too many evenings like that in a lifetime, but I’m glad this one happened happened.
Then I spent Thursday evening frantically working on the lecture I gave Friday at Laurentian University (Barrie campus) on the women in media/gender studies themes in my novel. They are most certainly there, but it is not necessarily a novelist’s role to pull them out or identify them, so it was a bit challenging to talk about my process with the book and stay in line with the the syllabus’s goals, but the class seemed to go well and I certainly enjoyed talking to the youth, so we’ll count it a win.
I’m taking this weekend off from book stuff, but on Tuesday I fly to Vancouver for more. Wednesday is a “media day,” in which I do interviews around Vancouver. Since those are local outlets, I don’t know that I’ll be able to share any of the results here, but if I can, you know I will. Then that evening I am very much looking forward to returning to the Incite reading series presented by the Vancouver Writers Festival and the Vancouver Public Library, where I’ll be reading with Janet McNulty and Lori McNulty. Hooray!
After spending Thursday frolicking in Vancouver (please don’t rain) I’ll be back in Toronto Friday morning to prepare for my Friday evening event at the Ontario Writers’ Conference Festival of Authors. That is in Pickering, suburban friends–please stop by if you are free. I have to admit that tickets–available on the site–are a bit pricy at $20, but I will try to make it worth your while. Also, I hear there are snacks.
After that, I plan to collapse or else start living in my car in order to defend it from being towed as my parking lot is being torn down and my poor car is homeless. This is really not your concern but is taking up a lot of space in my brain! ANYWAY, elsewhere on the internet there was a nice blog review of So Much Love posted today at Literary Hoarders and yesterday a lovely interview I did with Brad de Roo went up at Canadian Notes and Queries. That one was one of the most thoughtful and well-read interviews I’ve done in recent memory, and it was a real pleasure as a challenge to answer Brad’s questions–I hope you enjoy it.
Things promise to calm down soon–well, by the end of April anyway–and I will make an attempt to talk about something other than myself/my book in my next blog post but really, all this attention for SML is pretty thrilling and I am most certainly grateful for it.