Relive the memories of your favourite Festival events with our audio archives. We will be posting audio from a 2011 Festival event each week leading up to the 2012 Festival and you can also look forward to a blog post from Hal sharing his thoughts, memories and stories from each event...
Mea culpa, mea culpa, I had intended to do short blog entries each time we posted a new audio event, but to be honest I have been distracted by the current flurry of activity around our next Festival. So I have to play catch-up here.
Ah yes, our first audio post is Bloody Scotland. Chosen because our three guests were so lively and funny. The moderator Lonnie Propas and I were nervous about asking them why the Scots are so good at writing about crime because we thought they might find the question obvious, tiresome or irritating. Instead they took it quite seriously and their answers were illuminating. Later that week when Denise Mina was getting ready to leave for the airport, suitcases packed and at the ready, she said she had enjoyed the Festival and even better, she had finished her next novel in her room at the Granville Island Hotel! We will be checking the acknowledgements when the book is published.
The Proust Questionnaire is believed to reveal an individual’s true nature. We have asked 2011 Festival authors 17 questions inspired by the questionnaire in an attempt to uncover who they are…
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A day full of minor happy moments: toast for breakfast, winning a wager, a nice glass of bourbon, a nice dinner, seeing friends, reading a good chapter of a book, cycling on a summer night. Lately, I have been perfectly happy except for my gambling.
What does your ideal day look like? My ideal day would include doing some work so I don’t feel lazy, some internet dawdling.
What is your greatest extravagance? Right now, it’s gadgetry. I have three laptops. Two years ago, it was a racehorse.
What possession would you be heartbroken if you lost? I can’t think of anything. I try not to own anything that I’d be afraid to lose.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d probably be taller. More realistically, I’d like to be more fearless in life and my work.
What childhood fear has followed you into adulthood? I find the idea of touching a live fish terrifying. I still haven’t overcome that.
Do you take comfort in darkness or light? Darkness. I generally wake up between ten and 11 in the morning. When I need to be awake any earlier, the day feels endless.
Do you remember your dreams? Mostly I don’t. I have a pet peeve about people relating their dreams. That could be because my dream life is remarkably quotidian: the other day I dreamed I had to wash dirty dishes in six sinks all over a gigantic house. I didn’t really need to wash the dishes, but still felt the urge to do so. Oh shit, now I just told you about a dream… I have become what I hate!
How do you collect snippets of observations and ideas that come to you unexpectedly I have a draft e-mail in Gmail account that I type random ideas for stories and articles in in point form. I hope that e-mail never gets out!
The Better Mother is the story of two solitary outcasts who struggle under the weight of who they were born to be and find each other while attempting to embrace their true identities.
In 1958, eight-year-old Danny Lim has been sent to buy cigarettes for his father, when he realizes he lost the money. Desperate to avoid punishment, he searches for the change he dropped in Vancouver’s Chinatown when he stumbles into Miss Val, a long-time burlesque dancer. Danny is enraptured with her stage costume, and Val, touched by his fascination, gives him a pack of cigarettes and her silk belt. As an eight-year-old boy, Danny recognizes that he is different from his family and his chance meeting with Val changes him forever. The epitome of glamour, Val represented everything Danny’s family had shunned and opened his eyes to the fact that there was more to life than his father’s expectations.
As an adult in his early thirties, Danny spends his days working as a wedding photographer and his nights cruising Stanley Park. Semi-closeted, he struggles with coming out to his estranged parents, but believes that the key to understanding himself and his family lies in connection to Miss Val.
Set mostly during an unseasonably hot summer in Vancouver in 1982 when HIV/AIDS was spreading rapidly, The Better Mother brims with undeniable tragedy, but resounds with the power of friendship, change and truth. (May 2011)
The sequel to Lev Grossman’s bestseller, The Magicians, takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world only to face terrifying new challenges.
After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out to discover the wild outer reaches of Fillory. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back in the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. (August 2011)
The Magicians introduces us to Quentin, a genius senior in high school who remains secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels from his childhood, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory.
His life is turned upside down when he is unexpectedly admitted to a secret college of magic in upstate New York. While receiving a thorough education in the practice of modern sorcery, he experiences all the regular coming-of-age aspects of college life, friendship, love, sex, booze and boredom. Despite the excitement of attending a college for magic, Quentin remains unfulfilled, until he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. (May 2010)
My guilty pleasure on a recent camping trip was George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, but I'm going to take a break after A Clash of Kings and read something else. A few weeks ago, I read Once by Australian writer, Morris Gleitzman, whose work I always love. It is a slim children's/YA book about a Jewish boy escaping the Nazis in Poland in the Second World War, but through much of the story he has no idea what it is he is running from. It is heart wrenching, and strange, taking the reader to the darkest places imaginable, but somehow with a light touch. I also read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, and was charmed by the writing, by the character and by the subtle story.
I favour no particular spot but I must say that a sparsely furnished (desk, chair, futon) bachelor apartment in the basement of a building close to the essential amenities (grocery store, greasy spoon, bar, bookstore) is the preferred locale.