Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the side of the Angel

The good people over at the Quill & Quire blog have posted a tribute to our very own Angel Guerra, who just happens to be their most frequent commentator - a compilation of his 'greatest hits', so to speak.

I happen to be really fond of:

"If she’s just a half-sister should we just half-believe her?"


Stand in awe.

Mark Blagrave: The Implied Author Part VIII

Today we present the eighth and final installment in Mark Blagrave's (Silver Salts) series of posts. Here, Professor Blagrave speaks on possibly the biggest pitfall in becoming a big time novelist ...

The Implied Author Part VIII:
Never Enough Attention: Becoming a Monster

Six months after the publication of Silver Salts, I can finally get up (most) Saturday mornings without racing out to buy the Globe and Mail. In another six months, I suppose I will have gotten over the feelings of neglect and resentment that come with not being reviewed. I know I didn’t write the novel so it could be reviewed in the Globe, but there’s still that provincial feeling that if it wasn’t noticed there then maybe the book wasn’t real at all. Or perhaps I just want my grade six teacher to read the paper in her nursing home and think ‘that name rings a bell.’ And it couldn’t hurt sales, could it (there being no such thing as a bad column-inch)? Or maybe I have just become a monster. What happened to that pledge to a life of obscurity I took when I finished my Ph.D.?


Review-envy is only one of many symptoms of my new-found egomania. They range from mild and common to strident and unforgivable.


First, there’s Googling myself. I always include the book title as a limiter in the search; I’m not that far gone yet. Fortunately, the threat of endless returns to those undead blogs that chronicle their writer’s struggle with my opening chapters keeps that practice down to a minimum.


Then there’s moving the books around in stores, making sure the face of mine is out, thereby ‘spining’ somebody else’s precious creation; or sometimes adding a pile of mine to the bestseller table. When I have confessed these Darwinian practices to other writers, they have guiltily admitted to doing the same or worse. And I don’t get into that many bookstores, so I’m protected from myself a little there too.


When I do get into bookstores, and when I am not changing their displays, I have been known to offer to sign copies. Actually, my wife is the guilty one with this, sidling up to managers with a copy and whispering that she has the author handy if they’d like him to deface their stock. She puts it more temptingly than that. And it looks like it’s her devotion talking more than my ego, so they say yes. Similarly, our local indie (even after I sent them a panicked, mildly harassing, e-mail when our local MLA reported he couldn’t get hold of a copy in town) has agreed to her request to display a small sign advertising the book. Sometimes, in airports, I get Sheila to ask for the book, knowing they don’t have it but hoping that (if we fly enough) they will bow to consumer pressure.


Once, we bought a copy of a magazine that had a mention of the book and we went into Watermark brandishing it and wondering why they were so out of the loop. We figure they’ll forget our faces from one time to the next, and what’s the harm if they actually do order the book? Some other traveler will buy it. I’d even buy a copy just to say thank you. If they ever find us out, I hope they will think it’s her pride, but I suspect deep down they’ll know it’s my insatiable appetite for attention.


Another form of collateral damage in all this is what I appear to have done to my mother. Legally blind for many years, she is able to read the newspaper using her peripheral vision, but a whole novel (not in large print) presents a Sisyphean task. Nevertheless, for a recent stay in hospital she packed Silver Salts. She tells me she has read quite a lot of it, and I know that other family members have read her pieces, but the real reason she had it there was so she could promote it to anyone who happened by. She assures me that sales are about to be brisk among the medical set. But then she has always had to love me.


Friends and colleagues have come under the shadow of my burgeoning ego too. I don’t actually keep a written list, of course. That would be crazy. But I would be able in an instant to categorize any name you fed me. There are those who have read the book and said so. They are on the side of the angels. There are those who have bought the book and have yet to read it, but who keep telling me that, and promising to get to it when life settles down a bit. Still friends. But then there are those who I am pretty sure have bought the book but have not reported having read it or not. Did they hate it? Love it and forget it? Bought it, not read it, and forgot it? Finally, there are those (some whom I see every day) about whom I have no information. Will they ever buy it? Ever say something? See? What kind of a person puts his friends and colleagues into these boxes?


I plan to swear off this monstrous behaviour soon — probably when everyone I know has bought the book and ‘fessed up about how they felt about it; or when The Globe prints a review; or…. writing this blog is probably only feeding the sickness. I’ll stop.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mark Blagrave: The Implied Author Part VII

Today we present the seventh installment in Mark Blagrave's (Silver Salts) ongoing series of posts. Here, Professor Blagrave speaks on what it's like to step into a university class, not as an academic, but as a novelist ...

The Implied Author Part VII:
Live White Male: Meeting the Fiction Class

After it was all over, the instructor told me how excited his class had been to have actually met a live author. I said half-right wasn’t bad. We laughed. But which half did I mean?

His invitation was one of those pinch-yourself moments. Here was a university professor who had put my book on his introductory fiction course. A couple of people had sweetly or jokingly (or both?) mentioned the future possibility, but here was someone who had gone right ahead and taken the chance, this September, with a brand new novel. I mentioned casually to my department chair that I had to be out of town one Friday to talk to a class that was studying my book. She made all the right supportive noises (she always does), teased about becoming practically canonical. It felt pretty good to be a living author.

What I hadn’t thought about was that being studied in a university fiction course necessarily entails having papers assigned about your work. In the abstract, that sounds like another nice trip for the ego. Then the blood begins to freeze. Can the book generate a viable series of essay topics? Will its structure bear that kind of scrutiny? Could it be awkward if the paper topics are miles from my intentions for the book? Will the students hate me when they meet me because they had to write about my book? Luckily, the instructor set a series of close-reading character-based studies, and when he sent me copies of the assignment I thought I could see how each topic might be approached. Even I could probably write the papers; and it was reassuring to see my characters being treated like real fictional characters in real fictional books. Besides, by the time I was to meet the students, their assignments would have been completed and returned, and whatever resentments they might have felt towards me would be well on the way to being channeled towards Mary Shelley.

The day I visited, the class was well into its consideration of Frankenstein. I felt bound, when I walked through the door, to apologize for not being its author. Not that I wanted to be dead, or another gender. Well, maybe a little just at that moment.

I offered to prime the pump with an introduction about how I came to write the book and how I had gone about simultaneously preserving and transforming places and events and people. I think I was heading toward a predictable thesis about the blurring of borders between “fact” and “fiction.” Mostly, I was trying to delay the open question period. As long as I kept talking, I could maybe continue to keep the “authority” in “author.” It would be like I was a dead white male, pontificating from the afterlife.

The questions, when they came, were interesting, thoughtful, a real range. The students wanted to know about everything from how long it took to write the book (too long), to publishing in Canada (too beleaguered), to why I had included the gay couple Percy and Nathan (references to themes of silencing and finding voice). Was I uncomfortable writing the “intimate bits”? Not as much as I should have been perhaps. Why had I chosen to write from Lillie’s perspective (as a female, among other things)? All fiction is an appropriation of voice. I need distance from me. Never mistake the narrator for the author.

The big challenge, though, and I should have seen it coming, came from the student who asked whether it was weird hearing other people’s interpretations of the book, and wasn’t it odd how people might read in more than I actually intended? It was not the first time I had heard the question. It surfaces regularly in my own introductory classes. But then it’s always about other people’s work, and they are often dead, and always out of the room. From time to time I vary the analogy I use to address it, but I always feel confident in the answer. Usually, I try to liken writing to designing an engine: nothing goes in and stays in by accident (though it may be discovered by accident, stumbled upon in the process of inventing). You wouldn’t ask your mechanic (I say) whether he meant to install that carburetor just that way (I really should change that to fuel injector, one day). Sometimes, I use the analogy of directing a play. The effective director doesn’t tell the actors what to do, but creates a set of circumstances in which they can create, all the time predicting the alternative solutions they might come to. Authors work that way too, I say. But this time I was the author, and I was afraid my answer sounded like whining, or boasting. I gave it anyway, but it has led me, in the weeks since, to wonder about breaking in a new analogy. This one’s from parenting, so the whining and boasting aren’t so out of place. I gave the book its DNA, created opportunities and imposed restrictions, tried to create obstacles to its being misinterpreted, made some educated guesses about how it might grow up and adjusted accordingly. But can I really foresee every possible viable interpretation? I guess not.

The class ended with a few shy requests that I sign books. I thought how interesting it was, how fitting, that these books would carry the marks of two sets of handwriting: the students’ careful marginal notes as they negotiated a relationship with the novel, and my scrawled claim to authorship on the title page. We were, after all, partners, old acquaintances who had begun to know one another long before we spent forty minutes, live, in the same room.

Next and Final Installment: "Never Enough Attention: Becoming a Monster
"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Congratulations


... to Darcy Tamayose, author of Odori and newest recipient of the Canada Council of the Arts' 2008 Canada-Japan Literary Award ...

... and to Neil Bissoondath, whose novel The Soul of All Great Designs was named to The Globe and Mail's Top 100 of 2008!

Good week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Question Time!

Curious about the inner workings of a small but prestigious Canadian press? Wondering how words get from inside an author's head to the nightstand beside your bed? Perplexed about the publishing process?

Well, have we got news for you!

Now's your chance to find out all you ever wanted to know about us, Cormorant Books - what we do, how we do it, and why.

Send in your questions by either commenting on this post, or sending us an email at b.ibeas@cormorantbooks.com, and at some point in the future, we'll round them all up and answer them, right here! Who knows, this might become a regular thing ...

So get your curiousity caps on and fire away!

Mark Blagrave: The Implied Author Part VI

Today we present the sixth installment in Mark Blagrave's (Silver Salts) ongoing series of posts. Here, Professor Blagrave talks about the editorial process, from the perspective of a novelist AND playwright.

The Implied Author Part VI:
Editing and Dramaturgy: How Many Cooks?

This time of year, university teachers are all abuzz about nurturing “academic integrity.” By this, most of them seem to mean wiping out plagiarism. The notion of “intellectual property” gets harder and harder to convey as technology makes virtually everything virtually available. I used to get up in arms about all this too; and I still hate the idea that somebody thinks they’re putting something over on me. But as for “ownership” of a piece of writing, it’s become less cut and dried for me.

Once upon a time, I had a view of the writer’s life as solitary, self-sufficient. I put a lot of stock in the intimate etymological connexion between “author” and “authority.” I would write my work all by myself, and readers would read what I had made. Work with editors, dramaturges, and actors, has shown me (thankfully) it’s not that simple.

I don’t imagine anyone comes away from a session with an editor without feeling a little righteous indignation. You slave away for months on something, and in an hour somebody who might even be a stranger deftly shows you where all the holes are. The level of indignation is probably directly proportional to how right they are. You know it, but it’s hard to admit. The byzantine structure you erected for your novel is diagnosed too complicated for a reader to follow, too dry an academic exercise to interest anyone but a dead French critic. It smarts, but from the wreckage you save what really matters and you weave a story that might actually attract readers — as distinct from literary critics. You learn quickly to trust the editor’s instincts. She or he becomes your ideal reader. After all, you are writing to be read. As long as the relationship does not become a folie à deux, there will be more readers like her out there, and the book will find favour, and sell. Statisticians wouldn’t bet on it, but it seems to work. Of course, it’s not entirely your book any more: the editor is a partner, though usually a silent one. They must expect their reward on some other plane.

Writing for the theatre, which is from beginning to end a collaborative art, further erodes any delusions about sole authorship. My earliest plays, it’s true, I wrote, directed, and even performed in. The cast was presented with a script and we rehearsed it and put it in front of the public. Mostly, people came, and liked what they saw. The cast and designers and crew were co-authors of the production, but I was still the lone playwright, the master of the script. This was before I discovered “dramaturgy,” which sounds like some kind of nineteen-thirties spiritual movement, but isn’t. Well, kind of.

A full-bore dramaturgical process involves a dramaturge (variously-spelled; my sons used to say it “dramaturd,” without malice) and a group of actors. Because of the actors, the first reading is like going into that first editorial meeting, times infinity. It’s one thing to put your novel into the hands of an editor who is no doubt literary and highly experienced. It’s quite another to give your work over to a disparate group of people whose specialty is not (usually) writing. Sayings about camels being horses designed by committees, and about cooks and broths, play insistently through your head. Every now and again, the actors try to tell you how you should have written the play (ie. how they would have written it), but the dramaturge always nips that in the bud. The things that puzzled them, the things they wondered about, of course, are tremendously useful guides for redrafting. It becomes like a little writer’s circle, and is helpful as those groups can be.

Actors being actors, though, they tend to ask questions about their characters, to become advocates for the roles they have been temporarily given. With We Happy Few, a play set in a World War One convalescent hospital, dramaturged (there must be a better verb) by Sarah Stanley, one actor’s interpretation of and questions about a nurse who I had conceived as a dried-up old authoritarian bitch resulted in a complete rethinking of the character, and what turned out to be a very moving end to the first act. The two groups of actors (one in Sackville and one in Cow Head, Newfoundland) who have worked with me and dramaturge Jenny Munday on King have also shown me things about individual characters by tirelessly and reliably fighting for their assigned role’s interests. Everything from conveying an Acadian accent to too-abrupt-alliances to how many scenes they are in has all been on the table; and every bit of it has led to revisions. The process gives you the rare opportunity to hear back from your characters. Once you get over the shock that they are claiming an existence at arm’s length from you, you begin to realize the value of the gift.

While the dramaturge is the key player in story-editing, paralleling quite closely the fiction editor, the actors often have contributions to make there too. They will notice that the stakes are not there in the first scene, or that the ending is too obvious, or that there’s a scene missing in the development of an idea. All of those areas were fed by the actors working on King this past summer. They couldn’t help me find a better title (yet). Their reactions to the play’s resonances with King Lear varied. The consensus, though, was to fly freer of Shakespeare, which the play now does. I suppose that’s an assertion of the play as my own, untroubled by Big Bill’s shadow. But it also means that the finished script (if it’s ever entirely finished…) will be as much theirs as mine.

It may not be a full-blown religion, but dramaturgy has actually helped me to some kind of minor epiphany: that being an author may actually have less to do with “authority” and more with “authorizing.”

Next: “Live White Male: Meeting the Fiction Class”

Friday, November 21, 2008

2008 Molson Prize

Huge congratulations to Sheila Fischman, one of the recipients of this year's Molson Prize. Sheila is one of Cormorant's longest contributors, having translated many of our French-language novels including The Perfect Circle, Volkswagen Blues, and most recently Aegean Tales.

The jury had this to say about her: “With more than 125 translations of works by Quebec authors to her credit, Sheila Fischman has introduced Canada’s French-language literature to countless English-language readers both at home and abroad. Her phenomenal body of work has made a significant contribution to Canadian heritage by giving expression to a wide range of voices and building bridges between the two cultures. Literary translation is an under-recognized art form, an act of creation in which the creator is often anonymous. Ms. Fischman has perfected this art form and deserves to be applauded by all Canadians.”

Here are some photos from the ceremony, which took place last night in Montreal:





Spotlight: Lives of the Saints

Congratulations are in order for Nino Ricci, who was recently awarded the 2008 Governor General's Award for Fiction for his novel The Origin of Species. In celebration of Nino's win, we've decided to spotlight Lives of the Saints, his first published book recently released in a new edition by Cormorant Books.

When young Vittorio Innocente’s mother, Cristina, is bitten by a snake during an encounter with a blue-eyed stranger in the family barn, the superstitions and prejudices rampant in their small Italian town immediately roil to the surface. But the worst is yet to come for the independent-minded Cristina. Eight months pregnant and unable to abide her treatment in the village any longer, Cristina books a passage to Canada for herself and Vittorio, although it will not be to join her irascible husband Mario, who sailed there when Vittorio was an infant.

A national bestseller for seventy-five weeks, Lives of the Saints won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Bressani Prize, and was adapted into a CBC miniseries starring Sophia Loren. It is the first novel in the Vittorio Innocente Trilogy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mark Blagrave: The Implied Author Part V

Today we present the fifth installment in Mark Blagrave's (Silver Salts) ongoing series of posts. Here, Professor Blagrave talks about the art of the reading.

The Implied Author Part V:
Readings: Rapt and Unrapt

I used to love reading to my children. It was one of the greatest joys of having them. There were other joys, of course, but I remember them more dimly. I did accents and voices, and the boys always seemed utterly enrapt. It was only later, when, as teenagers, they would pick up Stanley Bagshaw or some other classic and start snidely mimicking my performances, that I wondered whether they listened so intently just so they wouldn’t have to go to bed. When the first (and best) of the Harry Potters came out, we passed it around the circle as a family, taking turns reading aloud, even though by then we were all too old for bedtime stories. With the children grown and gone (for now), I find I have to restrain myself from reading huge pieces of books aloud to my classes, terrified to be judged as one of those people who is in love with the sound of his own voice (In fact, I hate the sound of it, but I’m afraid I might love making sounds with it.) With the publication of Silver Salts, I once again have a legitimate excuse to read aloud. I leap at every chance. It’s more challenging, though, than those six-thirty post-bath sessions on the edge of a tiny bed.

First, there can be distracting people: family who have heard it all before but come along gamely to swell the numbers, which is nice but I feel so sorry for them; way-back acquaintances whose faces I recognize but have no name to put with them (how will I address them afterwards?); other writers, waiting to read from their work (will they read better?).

Then, there are the distracting places. I totally get why it’s important to have readers reading in public places. In theory. I understand the argument that if people wandering casually through a public space can see that literacy is not something to be ashamed of, that reading is actually a socially-acceptable public act, more people will read. But you don’t see people taking baths in public places to encourage more people to wash. The very first reading I did of Silver Salts was in a public library. It was going to be a wonderful kind of karmic space (or something) because it was the very library in which I had done lots of the early research for the novel. Tucked away under the open stairs, reading to a dozen seated people, most related to me by blood, while patrons returned and borrowed at the adjacent circulation desk, and reference librarians were paged over the P.A., it was harder to believe in the absolute value of the exercise. How could I compete? Months later, at an outdoor literary festival that has been held indoors for the last several years, I read to the accompaniment of tribal drumming two booths over, and I was tempted to reach under the drapes and burst the balloons that were being inflated six feet from where I stood rhapsodizing. But that’s not that different from teaching, now that I think about it.

There have been quieter, more concentrated readings, too: the ones where the listeners are there absolutely on purpose (or maybe they just don’t want to go to bed.) Reading to the crowd who came out so supportively to the Gladstone in Toronto, to the hometown crowd in Sackville, and to the other hometown crowd (way over a hundred of them) who listened in Saint John was magic. If pins dropped, I was having too much fun to hear them.

Whether the reading is one of the rapt or the un-rapt variety, choosing material is always tough. What’s the audience’s threshold—which is partly to ask will they be standing around with drinks or sitting in the dark? (Marc Côté wisely got me to trim my plans for a group that was doing the former, and Anne Compton was clear on the attention span of a group doing the latter.) Is one long piece better than three shorts? (Not, usually.) Are there things that might make a particular group, or me, in their presence, uncomfortable? (I was lucky enough to be invited to talk to a class that had studied the novel, and they had sent an e-mail request that I read a section where my heroine throws herself down the stairs to abort a pregnancy. I didn’t. We had a good talk anyway.) Can I find pieces that won’t need endless explanations about their references to other bits of the book? (Sometimes.)

And the reading must go on as advertised, no matter what. Inevitably I have a sinus flare-up and an asthma attack just before every reading. I used to hate the sound of my voice. Now I loathe it. But, oddly enough, I never cough till after the question period.

The one challenge about giving public readings from Silver Salts that I didn’t anticipate has to do with channeling the narrator. While Lillie, for reasons that have to do with her feelings about events, tells some of the novel as “she-Lillie,” most of the story is told by Lillie as a character-narrator (“I-Lillie.”) It didn’t occur to me that having my voice read Lillie’s aloud might strike some audiences as strange. But at a recent reading, the question came up. I tried to answer it with something about how all fiction-writing involves appropriation (which I firmly believe). I didn’t get into a discussion about essentialist and cultural constructions of gender because I am by nature a chicken. Besides, what was really bothering the questioner, I think, was the presence of the historical author (me), and the implied author (the book’s shape, my intentions for it), and the narrator (Lillie) all in one room, and all speaking out of one set of pipes. Unfortunately, it’s not one of those questions that can be just shrugged off with a curt “time for lights out now.”

Coming Soon: “Editing and Dramaturgy: How Many Cooks?”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spotlight: Born With A Tooth

Big congratulations to Joseph Boyden, who earlier this week was awarded the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel Through Black Spruce. Good on you! In celebration of Joseph's win, we've decided to spotlight Born With a Tooth, his first published book recently re-released by Cormorant Books.

Until the second half of the twentieth century, one of the worst problems with the way First Nations peoples were depicted in literature was their portrayal as “First Nations” first and “people” second. It is perhaps one of the legacies of the old school of anthropology — a field of study that once represented, more than any other, a confluence of scientific rationalism and
colonial ideology. In any case, by turning flesh-and-blood human beings into mere concepts, concepts that can be classified and organized and filed away and forgotten, words alone have proven more than enough to dehumanize and alienate entire cultures.

Joseph Boyden’s Born With A Tooth is different. Although its collected stories are very much about First Nations peoples and the issues they have to face, as much emphasis is placed on who they are and not just what they are. The characters we meet are not just Cree or Ojibwa. They are not just our preconceptions and categorizations and stereotypes. They are single mothers who make ends meet by working at a bingo hall. They are middle-aged punk rock princesses burning up the stage one last time. They are little boys who dream of becoming professional wrestlers. They are men who believe they can become whatever they dream. They are people who talk too loud or not enough, who drink too much or not at all, who fall in and out of love, who grieve for what has been lost even as they gaze with hope at what is to come. Maintaining a careful balance of humour, warmth, indignation, and dignity, Boyden succeeds brilliantly in presenting the inhabitants of his Northern Ontario reserve not just as “a people,” but as people.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mark Blagrave: The Implied Author Part IV

Today we present the fourth installment in Mark Blagrave's (Silver Salts) ongoing series of posts. Here, Professor Blagrave addresses his first experience doing author signings.

The Implied Author Part IV:
Signings: The Agony and the Ecstasy
In my (admittedly limited) experience, book signings come in two basic temperatures: Hot and Cold. The Hot are usually associated with readings; the Cold, with random appearances in bookstores. Signees at the hot ones are there on purpose. They know something of the book, even if it’s only what you have just read to them five minutes ago. Signees at the cold ones are more likely to be there by accident. For them, the book is often nothing more than the object of a simple buying decision.

Hot signings fall into three sizes, like sweaters: small, medium, and large. XXL almost never happens. We’re talking about books. They are generally supportive, reaffirming, and almost always seeded with people you already know. (The exception is the signing you do after a reading with other better-known authors, where you get to watch their pens flying while you fiddle with yours, pretending there’s something wrong with it and you couldn’t be signing anyway, even if asked.)

Cold signings are more infinitely various, more challenging, and therefore potentially more interesting. In the first place, signing in a bookstore has meant, for me so far, signing in a shopping mall. These are places most of us walk through from time to time, which is clearly their preferred and natural mode of consumption. Sitting still in a shopping mall is not something anyone should do. Well, maybe a sociologist. If you do multiple signings in various shopping malls in a small urban centre and start to think that everyone looks the same, it’s probably because they are. It can become awkward: who is stalking whom?

My bookstore signings to date have been of three types. They are by no means mutually exclusive. Any combination seems possible, in fact.

The first (and every writer I have talked to has had one or more of these) is the oh-was-that-today? variety. Interestingly, there may be an inverse proportion between the store’s busy-ness and the staff’s ability to remember you are coming: the less general traffic, the easier it must be to forget what day it is.

The second is what I am calling the three-ring-circus signing, which seems to be designed on the premise that, if one author in a store is good, two are better. Once, I showed up on a Saturday afternoon only to find that the table I had been promised, near the front door, had been given to an early-bird travel writer. Like it was a flea market. From my nook in the back of the store amid the yoga books, I could hear him hawking his wares: “buy a trivel bk, signed by the awtha!” I admired his New Zealand accent and his third-personing of himself (literally ec-static), but I found I didn’t envy him.

Then there’s the most common type: the living curiosity signing. In the abstract, it sounds terrible: sitting at a table like some kind of circus freak in captivity. In practice (so far) I have found it the most fun. I might even be accused of being complicit in the inherent exhibitionism of it all, having made a slide show that I trot around with me on my lap-top, and smiling like an idiot (I deny whore) at total strangers as they walk by. Of course, you meet the broadest range of people at this kind of signing. Most happen by by accident, but it usually doesn’t take long to discover your six degrees of separation. Some come because they remember you from a dim shared past, and that is (almost) always warming. Others come because they write too, and they want to meet someone who has been lucky enough to find a publisher. They pick your brains for tips. Finally, there are those I call the reality check. Sitting in a mall in Saint John this summer, I watched a couple who had obviously seen better days wander back and forth past the Coles. (They couldn’t have been there for the air conditioning; it was Saint John.) Finally, they sidled up to the table, and asked what this was all about. I told them a bit about the book, trying to appeal to their pride as ‘Johners.’ Then they asked how much it cost. The answer brought a Jeez and a snort and they ambled away. What I had seen in them was the descendents of a couple of characters from Silver Salts. What they had seen in me was some kind of huckster who thought a book might be worth almost as much as a case of beer.

The Hot signing and the Cold signing have a number of things in common, of course. Interesting conversations are possible at both, though they tend to be shorter at the Hot. Both bristle with orthographical anxiety. “It’s Dutch,” they say after making a sound that I hear only as an articulated cough; or “Megan the usual way,” which is never the way I guess. My signature has become more and more of a squiggle as these encounters make me forget how to spell my own name too. And what to put as an inscription? Is “fond memories,” if you know the person, potentially incriminating? Is there an actual nuanced difference between “best wishes” and “all best wishes”? Should you wish a fellow writer well with her own writing? (What if it works and she outshines you?) My favourite was the ten year old who asked me to write “Happy Birthday Mom.” I got him to sign that one with me.

The first time I signed (at the Hottest of all Hot signings: the hometown launch), I kept joking to people: “you know you can’t return it once I’ve written in it?” On a later occasion, I was told that somebody’s wife didn’t read (because she didn’t value) books that hadn’t been signed. I felt (briefly) sorry for Dickens. A bookstore manager told me, as she got me to do a generic job on a stack of fifteen, how books sell better when they are signed. “People think they’re getting value added,” she said. And that’s what my signings have been — each in its own way: value added, for me at least.

Coming Soon - Readings: Wrapt and Unwrapt

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kathlyn Bradshaw!

Kathlyn Bradshaw (The Frankenstein Murders) was recently interviewed on CBC Radio Ottawa's All In A Day. Listen to the podcast here.


Kathlyn was also a guest at the Vancouver International Writers' Festival. She took plenty of photos of her trip, and was kind enough to let us post some here:

Near the marvelous Granville Island Marketplace


The lineup for the Sunday Brunch (Kathlyn's event)


Signing books and chatting after Brunch


At the book signing table with CC Humphreys


Kathlyn and her husband at an Inukshuk on English Bay Beach


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Charles Pachter recites 'Further Arrivals'

And here it is, the long-awaited premiere video from Cormorant Films*!

Charles Pachter, celebrated Canadian artist and author of M is for Moose, recites Further Arrivals, a poem from the classic collection The Journals of Susanna Moodie, written by his old friend Margaret Atwood and illustrated by Charles himself:



Enjoy!

*There is no such thing as Cormorant Films. Yet.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Linda Rogers @ Open Book Toronto

Hop on over to our friends at Open Book Toronto and check out the profile for Linda Rogers, author of The Empress Letters and its upcoming sequel The Third Day Book.

There's a Q & A, a bio, and blog posts by Miss Rogers. You should go, if only to get an idea of the kind of person she is. We love Linda here at the office - she's truly a character.

So what're you waiting for?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mark Blagrave: The Implied Author Part III

Today we present the third installment in Mark Blagrave's (Silver Salts) ongoing series of posts. Here, Professor Blagrave addresses the question of fictionality in biography.

The Implied Author Part III:
Non-non-fiction: Alternative Biography

I used to plot how I would annihilate the signage in bookstores. The categories seemed so arbitrary, constrictive. I thought it might be interesting to liberate the poetry, the literary criticism, the self-help, and the cook books to rub shoulders with one another outside of their individual ghettos. But the burning mission was to tear down and trample upon those smug signs that pretended to distinguish the “fiction” from the “non-fiction.” I have regularly ranted at my students that all writing is, properly-speaking, “fiction.” I generally go on to bore them by trotting out some argument based on the Latin root of the word. All writing, whether it calls itself history or philosophy or a how-to manual, amounts ultimately to the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world. And it’s made up.

Maybe it’s odd, then, that I have never been a big reader of conventional biographies. (Yes, I know that’s like admitting to not being interested in The Environment or not reading The Newspaper. It brands a person as somehow not serious.) After all, biography is probably the genre where fact and invention are most gloriously confused. Biographers of the dead are left to sift the external markers of a life: photographs, receipts, recorded sayings, writing (if any), anecdotes. It’s never enough. So they look into milieu and known associates, and try to join up all of the dots. They are almost always helped along by a healthy dose of empathy for their subject: not all that many biographers choose subjects in whom they see nothing of themselves reflected. Even when they are blessed with a living subject and so-called unlimited access, biographers are not immune from being lied to or under-served. I’ve never been able to see how their practice is that different, then, from how novelists render characters. The lives they pretend to expose are actually woven too. And that’s before the reader gets in there, supplying a host of additional inferences and empathetic responses to round out the representation.

I expect that writing historically-based fiction represents merely a more sedate and middle-aged way of trying to destroy those signs in the bookstores. By the time I had finished writing Silver Salts, it was less than clear to me any more exactly what was researched and what was invented. That’s maybe a middle-aged phenomenon too, like forgetting where you parked the car. I can go back to my notes (when I can remember where they are) and check which details about Louis B. Mayer or Al Altman or Irving Thalberg are documentable and which are not, but I don’t. They have (I hope) become “characters,” their lives projected fictitiously. No need for the coy disclaimer about any resemblance being entirely coincidental (which should probably read accidental to be really effective anyway).

Autobiographies, because access to their subject never closes, might be expected to exert a stronger claim to non-fictionality than mere biographies. There is something we want to believe in the “I” witness account. But Nabokov, for one, has made it clear that the autobiographer and the character-narrator are really one and the same. His Speak Memory does a lot to tear down those bookstore signs, and complicate the debate on biographical criticism (sometimes boring but never a bore.) If Nabokov and others have made it possible for traditionally non-fictional autobiography to “cross the floor,” what are the possibilities, I wonder, for the traditionally fictional autobiographies (the so-called first-person narratives that cover a substantial part of an invented life) to do the same in the opposite direction? It’s one of the questions asked, I think, by the recent Commonwealth Prize-winning novel Mr. Pip.

Perhaps the final assault on those annoying signs should be launched from the Science section of my local bookstore (shelved ridiculously as “non-fiction”). Apparently, those physicist types began to wrestle with these problems years ago. They just didn’t know that they were about life-writing too. Which is truer: the fictionalized historical personage or the historicized invented character? Is the cat that is locked inside a sealed box with a vial of poison dead or not? I am inclined to disagree with Schrödinger. I think the cat must be both alive and dead—even after you look.

Coming Soon - Signings: The Agony and the Ecstacy

Friday, October 17, 2008

M is for Moose at Torontoist.com

Check out this a neat little article at Torontoist.com about Charles Pachter and his hit alphabet book, M is for Moose.

A lot of people showing this book some love, is all I can say ...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mark Blagrave: The Implied Author Part II

Click here for Part I

Here's the second installment in Mark Blagrave's (Silver Salts) ongoing series of posts recording his thoughts and reflections on the experience of being a new novelist. Today, Professor Blagrave shares what it's like to meet the living relatives of characters he's written about.


The Implied Author Part II:
Meeting the Relatives (aka You Can't Libel the Dead)

by Mark Blagrave

Most writers have friends who regularly beg them not to write about them. The pleading is usually a mixture of I-dare-you and would-I-ever-love-that. When you are a playwright, you’re lucky to get through a dinner party or staff meeting without someone exclaiming about some particularly smart line or outrageous behaviour: "You should put that in your next play." I always smile and nod. Sometimes, if I am feeling crusty, I mutter “nobody would believe it.” I never use the material. I just haven’t ever worked that way. I don’t keep a journal where I record slices of life for later use. I don’t (knowingly) base characters on actual people I know. Probably that means there’s something wrong with me — some kind of fear of intimacy issue or something, perhaps because I was bottle, and not breast, fed.

Real people whom I have no chance of ever meeting, on the other hand, fascinate me as material. My last two plays have been based on the lives and adventures of two extremely obscure, but nevertheless historical, figures. The first is the adventurer whose account of the wreck of the Sea Venture on Bermuda may or may not have inspired Shakespeare in writing The Tempest. I did (almost) everything I could to get to know him: read everything he wrote, including a dictionary of the Powhatan language, researched the Virginia Company, checked into known associates. Then I completely made up a private life for him, to try to explain the historical record. The second figure is a man who came to be known as The Grindstone King of Nova Scotia (people take their glory where they can find it, I guess). Onto his life I have grafted an increasingly-disguised King Lear plot. I’ve stood on the ruins of the man’s house, read his private diaries, boned up on his religious beliefs, and invented huge lies inspired by the known facts of his life. I am pretty sure that William Strachey is not going to corner me in the local Saveasy to tell me something about himself that I should put into the play. And I am working hard to make the Grindstone King so far removed from his actual biography as to be unrecognizable by his descendents. Silver Salts was composed in much the same spirit. Setting the book in the early twentieth century put current dinner parties and staff meetings out of the running, even if I were ever inclined to include them. But I did want “real” people. In an early draft of the book, I had changed all of the names — just a little. There was Norma Shearwater and Leo B. Marks, and so forth. Marc Coté (my editor) urged me to restore their identities, assuring me that “you can’t libel the dead.” So I went ahead, and we published a novel in which the characters with names connected to actual birth certificates may nearly outnumber those I invented. A couple of drafts later, this stopped seeming anything but completely natural. After all, it was clear (to me) they were all being used fictitiously.

Early in September, I was signing copies of Silver Salts in a Chapters store. It was the usual mix of total strangers, former students, old acquaintances, and cousins of cousins that I have come to really enjoy about these events. Then a stranger introduced himself. He was the great-nephew (let’s say) of Walter Golding, a locally-well-known Saint John figure who makes several appearances in the book. Oh God, I madly riffled through the pages in my mind, trying to recall anything offensive I might have intimated about Golding. He was, in fact, a truly upright and nice guy, I remembered. I had made a couple of jokes about his being a Baptist, but nothing intended nastily. The man proceeded to rhyme off the names of half a dozen other living Golding relatives. I looked around for a posse. “You know how you say he always found the right light to stand in?” I did. “Well, I would never have…,” the man started . I could barely hear him over the mantra in my head: “You can’t libel the dead, you can’t libel the dead….” “I would never have thought of that — but it’s exactly what he did, I guess. You got Pop Golding to a ‘T’.” Of course, I had invented that detail out of whole cloth. I think.

We carried on a very pleasant conversation and have since corresponded (after he finished the book). Not once did he say “don’t write about this.” So I did.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the next installment, a reflection on alternative biographies.

Charles Pachter Profile on Open Book Toronto

Our good friends at Open Book Toronto have put up a profile of Charles Pachter (author of M is for Moose) as well as a few select pieces of his work.

Open Book Toronto, by the way, is a great resource for all book lovers in and around the city. They keep up to date with events, releases, as well as provide excellent articles by and about authors and their books. Go on, give them some love!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Soul of All Great Designs reviewed in The Globe and Mail


The Saturday, October 11th edition of The Globe and Mail featured a fantastic review of Neil Bissoondath's provocative new novel The Soul of All Great Designs:

"In its reckoning of the costs of throwaway identity, The Soul of All Great Designs belongs in bookstores and on award lists around the world. Even more, it belongs on the bedside tables of fiction-lovers everywhere, particularly those who've wondered if the contemporary novel hasn't finally run out of steam."

Well, fiction lovers ... what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

M is for Moose reviewed in The Toronto Star


Martin Knelman wrote a glowing review of Charles Pachter's M is for Moose for the October 8 edition of The Toronto Star.

The review was advertised on the very front page of the newspaper and took up most of the front page of the Entertainment section as well. In an article brimming over with praise, Mr. Knelman saved the very best line for last:
"I predict that not only will this book be a best-seller this season but that it is destined to endure as one of this country's all-time classics."
We think time will prove him right.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mark Blagrave: The Implied Author Part I

Today we present the premiere installment in a series of original posts by Silver Salts author Mark Blagrave, recording his thoughts and reflections on the experience of being a new novelist in the 21st century.

The Implied Author Part I:
The Virtual Audience


by Mark Blagrave

“Sequestered.” I think I first encountered that delicious word when reading about the Brontes many years ago — long before I knew it was something you could also do to a jury. The writer’s life, the way many of those nineteenth-century types lived it, was a fine and private place. They and their readers usually met only on the page of their books. My own writing these days happens anywhere from the quiet of my study to the bustle of my car dealer’s service department. But even when I am writing in a crowded waiting room (maybe especially then), I create a kind of bubble of privacy around myself. Writing is one of those intensely pleasurable things you can do by yourself (and, unlike some others, it doesn’t necessarily make you go blind.)

The other day, this arrived in my e-mail inbox: “Allison sent you a message. Subject: Silver Salts,” it began. Then: “hmm...my name is almost your characters name...thats a first for me, Now i'll have to read it :)” Maybe I know Allison Dempster’s actual smiley face, though I can’t place it. But I do know that I will now feel utterly guilty if this complete stranger hates what I made of her (sort of) namesake, Lillie Dempster. That is, if I ever hear from Allison again.

My initiation into the agony and the ecstasy of being an author in a wired universe began before the book was published with a casual invitation by someone at Cormorant to join the Facebook group he had set up for the book — casual for him; utterly threatening for me at the time. I wasn’t “on” Facebook, had even made a lot of hay out of how awful I thought it was. But I dutifully created my profile, posted a head-shot, and joined the group. Friends and family and some students actually joined too. Apart from the people at Cormorant and I, though, nobody has yet posted anything. It is all very civilized, supportive, and Canadian, I think. But I can now poke my son — when I remember to log on.

Definitely more unnerving are the posts to the growing varieties of reader-profiles and blogs. Of course I love the ones that say it was a good story or they liked the prose. This is the kind of exchange the internet was meant for, I assure myself. And in some cases I know the writers, or know of them. But then there’s the post by a stranger that reports its writer has just started reading the book and really can’t get into it. That’s not great, but still fine, admirable for its honesty even, until you realize that this judgment will stay on the electronic record, in a kind of suspended animation, for what might as well be forever. As far as the casual browser a year from now will be concerned, that reader was never able to get into the book. Kind of like somebody on Keat’s urn. And maybe she wasn’t, but before the advent of the blog I would (probably) never have known, and therefore not have felt rotten and inadequate.

Allison’s was not my first message from a stranger in the ether. In August, I heard from someone whose daughter had taken home a signed copy of Silver Salts from her “work” (I hope in a bookstore and not a recycling centre). She wrote: “I found Lillie's story to be a tragic one, but liked the fact that she, not once, complained about it. She made do with whatever was thrown her way. The story kept me wanting to find out what was going to happen to her, and I hoped that she would be truly happy at the end. I think she was happy at the end, and I'm glad.” It’s not a review in The Globe, but who could wish for more from a reader? Maybe I envy the Brontes just a little bit less now.


Thanks for reading! Please keep an eye out for Mark's next post: On meeting actual descendants of people portrayed fictionally in the book ("aka You Can't Libel the Dead")

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Q&A with Kathlyn Bradshaw

In our continuing effort to provide you with interesting content, today we're posting a Q&A with Kathlyn Bradshaw, author of The Frankenstein Murders, a sequel/re-imagining of the Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein and a gripping psychological horror-mystery in its own right. Enjoy!

Q&A With Kathlyn Bradshaw

Where did you get the idea to re-imagine the story of Frankenstein?

KB: Basically I started out with a question: “What if everything is not what it seems?” At the end of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ernest Frankenstein is the sole surviving member of his family, and Mr. Clerval has lost his son. What would have been their reaction to Victor’s story? What I wanted to do was to consider Victor Frankenstein’s story from a different perspective. When Captain Robert Walton meets Victor, the captain seems to take everything Victor says at face value. I wanted to present the responses of characters either unconnected to or at least less enamored of Victor and, therefore, more critical of his story.

There must have been a lot of detailed research in writing a book that so closely mimics the writing of Mary Shelley. Could you explain the process you went through in researching the characters and settings for the novel?


KB: Not surprisingly, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was my primary resource. I read and reread that novel numerous times - in whole or in part - at the same time taking many, many notes. While I never had any illusions that I could write like Mary Shelley, my goal was to create a story that connected as much as possible to Frankenstein.

In terms of researching, a few of the characters in my book do appear in Shelley’s novel: Victor Frankenstein’s professors at university, Henry Clerval’s father, and Ernest Frankenstein all have (modest) roles in her narrative. I gave them all moderately bigger parts, building on whatever information I could glean from Frankenstein. The rest of the characters in my book were my creation.

The settings were another matter. Mary Shelley definitely had the advantage over me in that she actually had seen most of the places visited by Victor Frankenstein, and at a similar time in history. I was writing from a twenty-first century perspective about places I had never been. Had I kept a list of the historical and travel books and websites I consulted to attempt this task, the list would be lengthy.

What sort of struggles did you have to deal with in writing this book? Was there a learning curve in writing your first novel?

KB: To write a novel of this length and maintain coherence and continuity, while at the same time building the story was a big challenge. Technically, I had written a novel - of sorts - before this book. My first attempt at book writing, however, had little merit beyond giving me the opportunity to practice developing a story of such length and detail.

Were there any specific books or movies, besides Frankenstein, that inspired you while writing the novel?

KB: Anything written at or around the time that Mary Shelley was writing was definitely helpful, but any stories with a gothic and/or mysterious setting were also useful, for instance, classics such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Movie and television adaptations of stories such as these helped in two ways. First, they provided visual and aural inspiration, and second, they too were derived from someone else’s novel.

What do you hope readers will take from this novel?


KB: On a basic level, I would hope that readers would get some enjoyment out of the book. If readers also took away a new perspective - that they, unlike Captain Walton, do not take the story at face value - that would be good too.


The Frankenstein Murders will be in stores on October 24. Click here for a free preview.

Coming soon: The Implied Author, a series of posts by Mark Blagrave (author of Silver Salts)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Photos from Mabel's Fables and The Word On The Street '08

Mabel's Fables

On Friday September 26, Charles Pachter (author of the hit Canadian alphabet book M Is For Moose) did a reading and signing at Mabel's Fables in Toronto. The event came on the heels of Charles's fantastic interview on 96.3 Classical FM on Thursday morning, and drew a great audience of the young, the old, and the undecided. Thanks to everyone who came out to see us!

F is for flag.

Left to right: Eleanor LeFave (owner of Mabel's Fables), Charles Pachter, moose

Even Mabel the cat loves our book.


The Word On The Street

The 2008 edition of The Word On The Street Book & Magazine Festival (Toronto) took place on a sunny Sunday afternoon. As I stated many times to the people visiting our booth, it was "perfect weather to not be standing under a tent in".

A great day was had by all. We managed to give away every single one of our catalogues, and - best of fall - of all the boxes of books we brought to sell, we returned to the office with only one and a half left unsold.

In my opinion, however, the most important thing about WOTS was that it gave us as publishers a chance to just sit down (or stand up) and talk about books with our readers. Numbers are plenty useful but it's only through this face-to-face communication that we can get a sense of what people love about books and reading - information that's vital in helping us maintain perspective.

A big thank you to the organizers of WOTS, the many helpful volunteers, and most of all to you folks out there who bought our books or even just stayed and chatted for a while.

Many thanks also to the Cormorant authors who took part in the festivities and dropped by our booth to say hello (including but not limited to): Sally Gibson, Charles Pachter, Hélène Dorion, Neil Bissoondath, Elspeth Cameron, Michael Rowe, Joseph Boyden, Zoe Whittall, Darren Greer

And now photos!

I attribute our success to the scrumtrelescence of this sign.

Sally Gibson, author of Inside Toronto, in discussion with Toronto mayor David Miller.

The intrepid Charles Pachter signing copies of M is for Moose at our booth.

Elspeth Cameron, author of And Beauty Answers.

Neil Bissoondath, author of The Soul of All Great Designs, speaking truth to power.

Hélène Dorion, author of Days of Sand.


Coming soon: A Q&A with Kathlyn Bradshaw, author of The Frankenstein Murders (one of the hits of the festival!)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Previews: The Frankenstein Murders, Distantly Related To Freud, The Soul of All Great Designs, Operation Rimbaud

And a good day to you all.

Today we've got a tetralogy of terrific tasters to tantalize you with. That's right - we're talking about PDF previews of four of our fantastic Fall titles, for your reading pleasure:

The Frankenstein Murders
by Kathlyn Bradshaw

Three years after the events recounted in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the father of one of the victims of 'the Monster' comissions an English investigator named Edward Freame to discover the true story behind his son's death.
Read the preview



Distantly Related to Freud
by Ann Charney

The coming-of-age story of Ellen - a girl who, as an infant, escaped with her mother from the horrors of the Holocaust to settle in Montreal. Follow her search for herself as she navigates from beneath a history she barely knows - as well as more everyday problems, like school and boys.
Read the preview


The Soul of All Great Designs
by Neil Bissoondath

It starts as a love story between the daughter of immigrant parents and a man whose life is built on secrets and lies. It ends as one of the most indicting criticisms of "Canadian identity" put to print in recent memory.
Read the preview



Operation Rimbaud
by Jacques Godbout

What do you get when you mix a Jesuit special agent, Haile Selassie, a pair of sacred Judaeo-Christian artifacts, and the cultural turmoil of the 1960s? Operation Rimbaud, that's what.
Read the preview


***

Check out the Cormorant website for more previews of our books.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Word On The Street (Pre-Game Show!)

The wheels are in motion. Our phones are ringing off their hooks. Our email inboxes are full to bursting. Our awesome button-maker is on the verge of falling apart.

It's that time of the year again.

***

On Sunday September 24th, Cormorant Books will be participating in WOTS in Halifax and Toronto. It'll be a packed day at both events, so if you're in either city on Sunday, stop by.

Here's our schedule:

Toronto


Elspeth Cameron, author of And Beauty Answers: The Life Of Frances Loring and Florence Wyle
2008 City of Toronto Book Award shortlist readings
City of Toronto Tent 11:15-11:45

Sally Gibson
, author of Inside Toronto: Urban Interiors, 1880s-1920s
City of Toronto Tent 11:15-11:45

Charles Pachter, author of M is for Moose: A Charles Patcher Alphabet
Children's Activity Tent 12:15-12:45

Neil Bissoondath, author of The Soul of All Great Designs
Bestsellers Stage 1:15-2:00

Hélène Dorion, author of Days of Sand
Proud Voices Tent 2:30-3:00

Zoe Whittall, author of Bottle Rocket Hearts
2008 Dayne Ogilvie Award shortlist readings
Proud Voices Tent 3:30-4:00


Halifax

Mark Blagrave, author of Silver Salts
BPIDP Atlantic Authors Stage 12:30-1:00

Carol Bruneau, author of Glass Voices
CBC Festival Mainstage 1:00-1:30

***

Cormorant will once again have a booth (130) at The Word On The Street Toronto. Come pay us a visit. We'd love to talk about books, politics, the local sports team of your choice, or anything else you'd like. And if you decide you want to buy a good book, hey, we've got plenty of those.

Make plans!


One of the intrepid volunteers from WOTS 2007 Toronto

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Soul of All Great Designs, Words Alive Literary Festival

Neil Bissoondath at La Maison Anglaise

For those of you in Quebec City, Neil Bissoondath will be appearing in support his fantastic new novel The Soul of All Great Designs at La Maison Anglaise. Go and see him - he's an outstanding, extremely intelligent speaker who never fails to be interesting.

For more info on the event, visit the website of La Maison Anglaise.




Words Alive Literary Festival


September 21st is the second annual Words Alive Literary Festival in Sharon, Ontario.

Cormorant authors Beverly Stone (No Beautiful Shore) and Peter Unwin (The Wolf's Head) are guests at the festival.

If you can make it out, do so - it promises to be a very literary day, and all at the cost of $4.

Photos (M Is For Moose Pre-Launch, Eden Mills Writers Festival)

Some more images here for you.

First up, the Quill and Quire has posted some terrific pictures from the M Is For Moose TINARS event down at the Gladstone in Toronto on Tuesday. Hop on over to the Quillblog and have a look!

... And in case you were wondering, the young lady in the second photo with Charles is not, in fact, Grace Kelly.

***

We've also got a couple more photos from the Eden Mills Writers' Festival for you, this time from friend of the blog Rob McLennan. Thanks Rob!

... Did we mention it was wet?


Jenny's Cottage, where all the authors stayed until their readings.
Just imagine the conversations that took place there ...


Karen Houle, Patricia Claxton, and Edeet Ravel.

For more photos from Eden Mills, check out this post and that post.