It's all a blur now, but here's what I remember...tumblr lx59alZrHA1qc0cteo1 500

I got in to Toronto after a five-hour, airless, foodless flight on Saturday and before I knew it, I was in Mississauga having dinner with my eternally youthful friend from Bridgetown's family, staring incredulously at children I remembered as rolling on the floor poking each other in the eye – or in one case, sitting helpless and drooling, with no hair and teeth – who were now school age and tall and asking me serious questions about writing. I guess you could say it had been a while.

My friend got home from work and decided that the best way to celebrate our reunion was to keep pouring shots of whiskey until everyone begged her to stop, which meant that the next day I spent a pleasant suburban family Sunday completely hungover. Then it was time to meet up with my Aunt Barb (Hi, Aunt Barb!) at the opposite end of Mississauga. Aunt Barb is somewhat more restrained in her whiskey consumption habits, and the rest of the visit was fairly quiet.

Monday was a holiday, so I decided to check out the city I'd left in the early months of 2001. I went wandering around my old neighbourhood of Queen Street West, Spadina, and Kensington Market and found that not much had changed except that there were more tattoos. I was also confused by the presence of a strange ball of fire above me – apparently it has the power to turn the sky bright blue and to turn the skin of Ireland dwellers a deep lobster red. Who knew? That night there were fireworks all over Mississauga – to celebrate my visit of course – as I tried to figure out what to read for the Beaches Library presentation the next day.

IMG00157-20130521-1934This was a very busy Tuesday! Time to put on the gold boots and hit the promotion trail again. I took the GO train into the city and met up with Hachette and Manda people at a trendy restaurant in the Liberties. It was great to put faces to all the people I'd been tweeting and emailing for weeks and we talked about the book and educated the one under-thirty person at the table on the cultural importance of A-ha's 'Take On Me' video.  Then it was off to visit bookstores and the Hachette office in downtown Toronto with the lovely Donna. Tall buildings! Big, impressive stores! Ben McNally's shop is freakin' gorgeous! The Hachette office is on the twentieth floor of a downtown skyscraper and more impressive than the Irish office in Castleknock. Sorry guys. I met all the people working there, talked about the book some more, had some champagne, ate all the lemon squares. Then it was time to hit the Beaches, escorted by the lovely Tim of Hachette.

I had to eat something before the reading, and I didn't care what it was, which is how weIMG00153-20130521-1836 ended up in Tim Horton's. (Should be a slogan. Tim's: for when you just don't care if it's food.) But getting to the library thirty minutes early just meant there was loads of time to pace around an empty room playing with the big stuffed animals and wondering if anyone would show up. There was a puppet show stage near the back, but sadly, the puppets were all locked up, so I couldn't go through with my plan of presenting the reading in a dynamic staged version with me hiding behind the curtain. Then suddenly...that empty room was full of people! People I hadn't seen in many, many years! People from the acknowledgements to the book! People whose names I'd ripped off for my Ukrainian characters! I even got flowers, from Daryna Pilkiw, who wasn't even a glimmer in her parents' eyes the last time I was in Toronto.

As for the presentation itself, I remember at one point saying, 'I can't remember what I was planning to tell you next' out loud, but in retrospect I don't think it was a big deal. The readings seemed to go very well. I got big laughs in the right places, which made me very happy. (Thanks, guys!) Many people bought books which made me even more happy,  and then I had a mini-reunion in a pub called Lion on the Beach (get it??) before ending up back at my aunt's place, where I printed up my boarding pass for the flight the next morning, got the gold boots off, collapsed, and then it was six o'clock in the morning and my alarm was ringing. Time to go to Halifax!

More on that later. Wonderful times, Toronto! Thank you.

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"...astonishingly good....a juicy coming-of-age story...also an important read." The Globe and Mail

"...poignant...heart-wrenching. This stunning debut will surely appeal to both teenage readers and adults." Quill & Quire, starred review

"Witty, devastating, with a melancholy humour..." Sunday Business Post

", top drawer stuff..." BGE Book Club

"...warm, witty, heartfelt and utterly engaging..." The Irish News

"A stunning debut. I loved it." The Irish Examiner