Just got back from the wonderful Thin Air Literary Festival in Winnipeg and the Kingston Writersfest, in (of course) Kingston Ontario. I had a fantastic time in both spots. One of the highlights was the last night in Kingston, at the Speakeasy, with the fantastic jazz trio “Without Words”. Thought some of you might get a kick out of it. My Best Beloved taped it on his handheld, and the quality’s actually pretty good. You can watch Shelagh’s blush-inducing intro on Youtube here, and then watch me do my Tom Waits’ thing by clicking here. It starts out with a lot of laughing, which I should explain . . . .that morning Merilyn Simonds, Jacqueline Kirk, Shelagh Rogers and I went out to do a little retail therapy, during which they convinced me to buy the dress I’m wearing. There are working zippers along both sides and when I first took the stage I explained this little shopping trip and said if the reading didn’t pan out I’d just unzip the dress in the hopes of distracting the audience. A guy in the second row yelled, “It’s not panning out!” Snort. Ba-boom. These are the jokes people. I’m here all week.
A couple of months ago I experienced my first heckler. I was doing a reading from my new novel, The Empty Room, at a library in Toronto. The Empty Room is a speculative look at what a day in my life might look like, had I not quit drinking 18+ years ago. I figured there’d be a few of my ‘tribe’ in the audience, and sure enough there was a couple in the back, nodding at me in a way I recognize, and several people came up to me before the reading to talk about people in their families who were alcoholics. And then this woman came in, or should I stay stomped in. From the moment she plopped herself down in a front-row center seat I knew I was going to have an issue. She just had that look. I know it well, having had it a time or two myself years ago: a little sweaty, a little bleary, a good deal belligerent.
I’m delighted to say my televised interview with the WONDERFUL Steve Paikin, on his show “The Agenda” is now available for your viewing pleasure. We did lots of gabbing about THE EMPTY ROOM. You can see it by clicking here. Of all the interviews I’ve done over the years, Steve’s might just be my favorite. He was so easy to talk to and asked such great questions. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed doing it!
(Does everyone hate their own voice as much as I do? Snort?)
I’m in Toronto doing book launch stuff, and having a great time. Last night dinner with Michael Rowe and the wonderful ChiZine publishers Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory. This morning Lisa Fromer interviewed me on Global TV’s The Morning Show. Although I was only about 85% awake I think there was enough caffeine in my system that I didn’t make a total ass of myself. If interested, you can watch the interview here:
In a couple of hours I have the great joy of being interviewed by Shelagh Rogers for her CBC show, which will be aired later this year, and then I teach a class and hang out at the book launch.
Every now and then someone asks me, why do you write about people like that?
I ask, people like what?
Well, these folks say, you seem like a pretty happy person, more or less, and you have a great marriage and you like where you live and you love your dog and you don’t worry about having enough to eat or your health, so why don’t you write about nice people?
Nice people? I ask (because although I know what they mean, I like to tease.)
Yes, I don’t like a lot of your characters, they’re too . . .
Today a woman told me she didn’t think she had a drinking problem because she never drank to feel better, or even to get high, the way others did; she drank so she didn’t have to feel anything. She found her emotions intolerable, and she drank aiming for oblivion. She wasn’t an alcoholic, she said, she was just self-medicating.
Okay. Yup. Sure.