I’m settling into my Visiting Fellow post at the University of Chichester. Everyone on campus has been extremely welcoming - I’m very happy to be here! While the majority of my time is reserved for research and writing, I have been getting to know the university community and doing a couple of guest lectures. Tonight, I had the opportunity to do a reading and talk for the Creative Writing MA class. (Thanks very much for having me in to visit the class!). Also, tonight was my First Reading in England. Quiver begins with Dani and Maria meeting up (for the first time in awhile) in London, and most of the main narrative takes place in England – it was very cool to do a reading of the novel here in England. Thanks again to the students, and to the MA program, for having me in to speak. I look forward to the year ahead of this fellowship!
I’m currently in the UK – settling in here to take up a Leverhulme Fellowship for the year (more on that later) – but on the way from Halifax to London, I had the chance to stop over in Iceland for a day – beautiful. A few Icelandic photos!
As I mentioned in my previous post, from Jan. 16-19th I had the opportunity to go on a reading tour of the Maritimes. First stop was UNB Fredericton – where I did my M.A. – it was wonderful to be back and see friends and to read at my old university. From there I went on to UPEI in Charlottetown, St. F.X. University in Antigonish, and St. Mary’s University in Halifax. I had a great time at every stop – thank you very much to everyone who came out to the readings! The audience questions and discussions were thoughtful and challenging, and it was wonderful to meet and talk to people after the readings. A HUGE thank you to Ross Leckie at UNB – my M.A. supervisor and mentor and organizer extraordinaire – for setting up the tour. Also, thank you very much to all the hosts along the way – Richard at UPEI, Douglas at St. F.X., and Brian and the readings committee at St. Mary’s (Alex, Jennifer, and Stephanie for the amazing intro; also Deborah for the transportation!).
Reading tours usually involve a few unscheduled adventures. Acadian Bus Lines were on strike, so I rented a car (a teeny Fiat) and drove myself to each destination. The car came with a GPS that took me (quite literally!) down a garden path on PEI. I have had good experiences with GPS before, but this one seemed a bit shady from the beginning. When I arrived on the Island, I disregarded what it was telling me in favour of Richard’s directions on how to get to the CBC (where I was scheduled for an interview on Mainstreet.). On my the way off the Island, however, I decided to follow the GPS route – it started taking me on a “scenic” route, but I thought, “oh, I have quite a bit of time to make it to Antigonish, and it will be fun to see another part of the Island. Besides, it’s GPS, I’m sure it knows where it’s going.”
The GPS took me down a road that started to go through the woods. But the road seemed well-travelled and on the map it looked like I was heading in the general direction of the bridge, so I thought “Oookay, I’m sure I’ll get there.” But then, the road went further into the woods. There were no houses. There was more and more snow:
Still, there were tracks of other cars, and it wasn’t long before I was supposed to turn off this road so I decided: forge ahead. But then, I went down a big hill (for a Fiat without winter tires) that I knew the car wouldn’t be able to get up again. Oh dear. I thought: there better not be a big uphill ahead or I’m in serious trouble. About a kilometre later: there was a steep, and curvy uphill section. The little car would not make it up the hill. I was stuck between two hills in the middle of the woods.
So I got stuck entirely due to my own very poor judgement of following the GPS down a snowy road through the woods, while driving a teeny Fiat. I take full responsibility for this very stupid course of actions. But I was stuck and I needed to get to Antigonish for the reading that night, so with one small, delicate bar of reception on my cell phone I called a tow truck. I explained my predicament to the driver, Mr. D- – - -. who told me, “Well, you shouldn’t have gone down that road.” I agreed with him fully. But when I asked if he could possibly send out a truck, he said again, “You shouldn’t have gone down that road. Maybe you can walk out and find a farmer with a tractor.” Clearly, he was not impressed with my stupid decision to follow the GPS down the snowy road.
So I tried another tow truck service – Shaw’s Towing – and they were extremely nice even though I got stuck due to my own poor judgment. They sent out a truck, rescued me, and got me on the road in time to get to Antigonish:
Thank you Shaw’s Towing! After I got out of the woods I put the GPS in the trunk and used the radical technology of a map.
Happy 2012! The new year promises to be an eventful one, reading and writing wise – I’m looking forward to doing my first readings of the new year during my upcoming tour of the Maritimes. Starting on January 16th, I’ll be making stops in Fredericton, Charlottetown, Antigonish, and Halifax (more details on the Events page).
I did my M.A. at UNB and lived in Fredericton for almost two years. The program was challenging and I learned and grew a lot as a writer during that time; a version of my thesis went on to become my first book, a collection of poetry titled Sway. I also had a great thesis supervisor and mentor, Ross Leckie, who has organized this upcoming tour through the Maritimes – thank you Ross, and looking forward to seeing everyone in Fredericton on the 16th!
In other adventures, once I finish this tour in Halifax, I’ll be heading across the pond to England (via a stopover in Iceland). I’m taking up a Leverhulme Visiting Fellowship at the University of Chichester for 2012. But first – looking ahead to the Maritime tour with great excitement!
Quiver is included the Globe and Mail’s “Globe 100: the Very Best Reviewed Books of 2011,” along with lots of other fabulous books – check out the list!
Also, here’s a picture from the New York launch, with Melissa Major and Chris Stevens, the other artists involved in the event:
The next day, the three of us headed to Coney Island for a sunny afternoon by the sea. It was (barely!) warm enough to wade in the water.
We went for a stroll on the boardwalk, and I decided to have some Coney Island clams, because I generally love to eat things that come from the sea. But this was my first encounter with raw clams:
Turns out, they aren’t at all the same experience as their bivalve oyster cousins. Fortunately, that little birdie in the corner of the photo, along with some seagulls, DID think the clams were delicious and were happy to partake of them.
After the clam adventure, Chris impressed Melissa and me with his ability to do a lot of chin-ups on the beach “gym” bars. His skill attracted the attention of professional bodybuilder and Mr. Junior USA 1975, Ken Jones, who very kindly offered to take off his shirt and pose with us ladies on the boardwalk:
All in all, an excellent afternoon!
If you’re in NYC tonight, come out to the upper lounge of Solas - I’m reading along with Chris Stevens and Melissa Major. This event is the “Seduce and Destroy” artists’ showcase, and will serve as the American launch party for Quiver and for Chris’ book Appillionaires. Guests will receive a complimentary copy of both Quiver (courtesy of Pegasus Books) and Appilionaires(courtsey of Wylie).
Toronto’s Word On The Street festival was a wonderful day – lovely weather, great people, lots of talented presenters! Thank you very much to the volunteers at the This Is Not The Shakespeare Stage – I had a great time at my session – it was a total pleasure. And special thanks to Saambavi Mano who wrote this review of Quiver on the WOTS blog.
The annual Word on The Street Festival is happening across Canada this week! It’s on Sunday, September 25th, and in Toronto it’s in Queen’s Park from noon-5pm. Take a look at the schedule and come out and see some readings and events – it’s all free! I’ll be doing a talk/reading at 2pm-2:30pm at the This Is Not The Shakespeare Stage tent.
I’ve recently updated my Events page with some fall events, including a date for the American launch of Quiver – it’s happening on Friday, November 4th, 6:30pm at Solas Bar in New York. The launch will be part of the “Seduce and Destroy” multi-disciplinary artists’ showcase. More details to come!
I’m recently back from a trip from the prairies, which was preceded by a trip to NYC to sign copies of Quiver (recently out in a hardcover edition in the U.S. with Pegasus; available on amazon.com) at The Mysterious Bookshop. Mysterious is a very lovely shop in Tribeca; thanks to Ian and the rest of the staff there for having me in to sign copies.
Aside from seeing family and friends, the time on the farm was very productive writing-wise. I set up a little office on the patio every morning and had a really peaceful space to work on a couple new projects. And my cat Betty kept me company! She’s a pretty chill kitty:
…and the website updates have been a bit slow. It’s not that I’ve been at the beach everyday (maybe just a couple of days!), but it’s been a busy, and so far, productive summer. I’ve been working on research and a couple of new writing projects, including my next novel. I also had the opportunity to work with a group of talented writers at the U of T Summer Writing School in early July. (Also, one of the group, Mary Tod, has an active blog about historical fiction and the business of writing; check out her entry about the Summer School class here.)
Another exciting thing that’s happened this summer: Quiver is out in the U.S.! Pegasus Books released Quiver in mid-July. Mysterious Bookshop in New York is making Quiver the main selection for their First Mystery Club for September, and I’ll be down to sign some copies soon. Publisher’s Weekly ran this review of Quiver a little while ago, and the Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews blog recently posted this review .
Just over a week ago, I did a reading with Pearl Pirie, Catherine Graham, and Susan Gillis at the Perth Ecotay Centre – it was a lovely reading, and thanks to Johnny Pigeau for organizing it! Here’s a shot of the Cow Barn, where we did the reading: