Vancouver

This all feels like it happened weeks ago, but write it I must, as Yoda would say. Well, on my last night in Calgary I ate a big pile of smelly, greenishVancouver Panoramic-view chicken wings - they were very good - at a pub with the mad genius Brendan Richardson, and we spent a long time debating whether to hassle actor Colm Meaney who was having a quiet drink with friends at the bar. He was wearing 'nobody knows it's me' glasses, so I decided against it. That's about as glamourous as this tour's gotten so far. But...

I can hear fireworks going off outside this apartment building in Toronto (in honour of my visit, of course) as I type, so you never know.

The next morning I boarded a plane for Vancouver, having spent seven dollars on a bottle of water and a power bar at the airport, and got ready to return to the city where I'd toiled as a worthless, grouchy coffee slave for seven months back in 1992. (It's where this train trip ended.) How would I deal with the city that had kicked me to the curb so long ago?

Everything went fine, as it turned out. I checked in with old friends Barb n' John and then put on my big gold boots and got ready to force strangers to care about my book. The first stop was Barbara Jo's Books to Cooks in Kitsilano. Barbara Jo put on a high tea with cookies and cakes and of course cinnamon toast, and I was invited to blather on about myself to the guests for a while and then do a short reading. After some reflection, I decided the descriptions of bad Chinese food in the excerpt I'd planned were too gross for such a pleasant kitchen atmosphere, but it was easy enough to find something else. It was all really lovely, even if I found it difficult to make eye contact as I was staring at everyone's food.

Then it was time to sign books at several Chapters' outlets - I introduced myself as Dan Brown in one just to see what would happen - and on to a swanky-poo restaurant on Granville Island with a spectacular view of the harbour. Not quite the same Vancouver experience I had sleeping on foam and looking through barred windows in a basement apartment twenty years ago. At seven o'clock it was time for the launch, so I headed for Christianne's Lyceum, not knowing what to expect. Two people? Three? A dog and his dentist?

But it was a pretty decent turnout and I was reunited with some wonderful people - so happy to see everyone that I forgot to be nervous, or maybe it was the caffeine. I blathered on about myself for a while and then read two short bits, including the Chinese restaurant scene, and did my best to answer questions from friends and strangers. Then it was Moosehead time. I hugged people and signed books, and eventually melted into an incoherent puddle of goo. Great night. Big thanks to anyone who was there.

I reformed from my puddle the next morning to visit more bookstores and go to lunch with some fine independent booksellers. Somehow I stayed conscious for a phone interview in the afternoon, then melted into a puddle of incoherent goo again. That night I went out on the town (well, out on West Broadway, anyway) and found out that sushi is cheaper than water in Vancouver, and beer is expensive and best enjoyed in bars that are mostly deserted, especially by cute trendy tatooed people who make me feel old and frumpy. My colleague Leigha Worth and I sampled some tequilla bought for us by an actor who told us that Vancouver's never had a better few weeks than the Olympics, and we visited the apartment building where I lived in 1992 - I'm sorry to say that it has not been torn down. The next morning it was on to Toronto!

I had a very interesting conversation with the lovely Iolanda of Hachette about how when I'm doing publicity I feel somewhat like the singing frog in the old Looney Tunes cartoon. Will I be all full of energy one moment and not able to say anything more than 'ribbet' the next? Let's see what the next few days brings. There'll be a reading at the Beaches Public Library in Toronto on Tuesday, and then another launch in Halifax the next evening. Take a look at the wonderful-poo schedule here! And please do show up to watch me ribbet.

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