May 19th, 2017

Hometown proud: Get Lit and the Glanbrook Gazette

Way back when I was a teen, I used to read the Generation X column by Jamie Tennant in the Hamilton Spectator. We was one of the very few cool people I had located in my immediate surroundings, though we never met in that period, and I really liked the column. I thought someday perhaps I could be cool too and then I would know cool people who wrote newspaper columns and perhaps even become one of them. I was really disappointed when the column ended in 1994, and just utterly delighted when Jamie reappeared on my radar this year as a different kind of cool person, a novelist and literary journalist for the show Get Lit on CFMU in Hamilton. He interviewed me when I was in Hamilton last month and it broadcast last week–if you weren’t in Hamilton to hear it, you can listen as a podcast anytime. It was really a great interview not only because of my teenage admiration but because of the close reading and thoughtful questions Jamie brought to the table (microphone). So much fun!

I also got interviewed by the extremely local paper for the little town I am from, The Glanbrook Gazette, which was also delightful. It’s owned by Sachem now, but is still for and about the teeny community I’m from. So charmed to be mentioned there.

And not really related to the hometown stuff, but just another thing of mine to come out lately is my 49th Shelf list of Good Books for Hard Times, which is of some of the funny books I read while I was writing So Much Love. SML was a long hard project and it was good to read some more light-hearted things while I was doing it, every now and again. Might be a good list to pick up if you, too, feel like a project is getting to be a bit too dark for you.

And hey, happy long weekend!

April 26th, 2017

Authors for Indies, the Winnipeg Review, some fun interviews

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 11th, 2017

Me in May

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

Onwards to Hamilton

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

Ongoing adventures

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.

January 3rd, 2017

A tiny bit of buzz!

While I wait patiently for the 1000 things to come rolling in (hint!) I can tell you about the tiny bits of buzz that are floating around regarding So Much Love, a novel that will be out and available in actual stores to actual readers in just over two months. Terrifying.

I mean great, very exciting, it is just that I am a little nervous. Anyway! There is a print review in the most recent issue (winter) of Maisonneuve, which I subscribe to and was reading on the treadmill when all of the sudden, there was my book cover! I was NOT expecting that three months before publication. It’s just a couple hundred words and mainly summary–I’ve squinted at it for a long time and can’t be certain if the reviewer liked it or not but it is still very nice to be mentioned! The review isn’t online, but if you read it in print, please let me know what you think.

Also! I did a short interview with the wondrous Kerry Clare, with whom I’d be happy to chat for no reason, but this was actually for a little piece in University of Toronto Magazine, which is lovely.

And that, at two months and 11 days to publication, is what’s going on. Kind of lovely, really!

October 6th, 2016

Stuff going on

It has been so long since I had multiple things going on, writing life-wise, I can’t even remember. Years, probably. But this is good stuff, guys, so it was worth the wait:

Emily Saso’s fascinating new novel The Weather Inside came out in September, and is blurbed by me (and Bradley Somer). If you click on the book link you can even find me being quoted down near the bottom of the page, calling the novel “heartbreaking and hilarious.” So you should probably buy it!
–my short story “How to Keep Your Day Job” (aka the most successful thing I ever wrote) is being included in Room magazine’s 40th anniversary anthology, which is a lovely honour from a lovely magazine, and a thrill to be included with so many other brilliant women (if you click the link you see a partial list). Maybe you should buy that one too?
–I did a short interview with Danila Botha, author of the For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, which you should buy (there may be a theme here. Anyway, the interview was part of Danila’s tenure as writer in residence at Open Book, and I was thrilled to be included. This also constitutes the first press my book has gotten since its deal announcement back in 2014, and it’s really really really exciting and scary. If you’d like to read the interview, it is posted here.

See, I told you–excitement!

March 25th, 2013

A couple nice discoveries

Did you know there’s websites that review literary journals? Me neither, but there are and it’s pretty cool. Like New Pages, which reviewed the issue of Freefall Magazine that I was in, and a bunch more great stuff too. Neat!

Did you know there’s university courses on arts journalism? Me, neither, but there are and they’re amazing–I would’ve taken Ryerson’s Writing in the Arts course in a heart had it been available when I was in school. It wasn’t, but I did a short interview with a student named Julia Brunke for one of her assignments in the course and it cheered me up…read it here if you’re interested.

November 19th, 2012

Meme Update

When I posted my Next Big Thing interview answers, I tagged a couple fine gentlemen to do the next round, and they have kindly complied. Please see Jeff’s responses and Andrew’s responses for more insight on books you might be reading a few years from now.

Other lovely folks playing this reindeer game include Julia and my very own Mark. Lots of good reading out there…and more to come!

November 13th, 2012

The Next Big Thing–10 Question Interview

This is a fun internet meme that’s going around where writers talk about what they’re currently writing. Shari Lapena wrote an interesting one and tagged me in the process. So follow the link to read hers, then look below to read mine.

 

What is your working title of your book?
So Much Love

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I don’t know. It’s one of those sticky ideas that I’ve had for a decade and never written successfully, despite many attempts. Over the years the events and characters have become pretty solid in my mind. I don’t know really where they came from–it feels like asking, “When did you first find out about your parents?” I don’t know what makes me think this time it will work, but I hope I’m right! If not, I guess I can walk around with all these people in my head for another few years.

What genre does your book fall under?
Literary fiction, I guess, for want of being anything else.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Uhhh…really? I feel like most actors are way more attractive than the folks I’m writing about–not that they’re ugly, just…normal? I guess this is why I’m not a casting director. Ok, an honest attempt–man, there’s really too many characters in this book.
[20 minutes of earnest googling later]
Guys, this is giving me hives! I feel like a skeeze looking at someone’s photo with my head cocked and thinking, “Well, if she was 10 years younger…” I actually googled “First Nations actors” and then just decided to junk the whole thing. Utter fail. Sorry.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Um…it’s the story of a guy obsessed with women who have been the objects of violence…and also the story of those women. That’s not a very good description, actually. Sometimes I just think it’s a set of stories, each about a different kind of love. Those two sentences sound like two entirely different books. I’ll keep working on it.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? My agent is the lovely Samantha Haywood at Transatlantic Literary Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What makes you think I’ve done that? I’ve been working on this version of the book on and off for a year and a half and I’m *maybe* 2/3 done the first draft. Of course, it’s stories, so the individual pieces are pretty polished (I hope) but the overall structure of the book is still in process.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I thought the structure of the book was fairly unique until I read A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, both of which won the Pulitzer, National Book Award, etc., which weren’t things I was necessarily planning on So Much Love doing. So then I was sad. I’m all right now, but I going to avoid Olive Kitteridge, which everyone says is another book in this category that would make me feel bad about myself (they don’t say the last part, but I infer).

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Again, it was a long time ago so I don’t 100% remember. There are a couple other books that map this territory that I felt didn’t do it right, so that was probably a factor. Len Klimstra is definitely my most Updike-ian character, so there was probably inspiration there. As well, this is a book about people reading, at least to me it is. The characters live in and around and through books in profound and silly ways, something that has really helped me to understand them. So books inspired this book, I guess–not just their contents but their physical book-ness, too.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Two of the stories have just been published, in the most recent issues of PRISM international and The Rusty Toque.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

So, honestly, I couldn’t find 5 people. I don’t want you to think that this is because I’m a loser with almost no friends (well…) but this meme has been around for a while, especially in Toronto where most of the people I know live, so it was hard to find folks who wanted to do it that hadn’t already. I’m glad to be exporting this to other cities, and if I only have two meme-buddies, at least they’re pleasingly exotic in their non-Toronto-ness:

Jeff Bursey
Andrew Hood

Have at it, guys–looking forward to reading!

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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