Saturday, September 13, 2008


I did my first school visit of the year. Two 115 minute presentations back to back at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto. And you know what? They turned out fine. Well prepared classes, enthusiatic librarians, and a lockdown.

Lockdown? Oh, yeah, it was part way through my first presentation. A practice lockdown. I had been warned beforehand that it was coming. I assumed they do it every time an author presents. It keeps us on our toes! Actually, it was at the perfect time. Everyone needed a little break (my jokes were getting moldy). And afterward we just continued on with the presentation.

Was also given a booklet called A sudden asunder. Poetry by the students of Marc Garneau. I read it and was impressed by the quality. There are a lot of good, young writers out there.

Oh, hey, there's a nice review of Jolted in the
Globe and Mail. Always worry about the first review. What if my book sticks in the craw of some critic? Well, it didn't this time. Woo Hoo!

Finally, here's a reposting of 1 of the 5 blogs I did for the HarperCollins Canada website.
Write What You Know, Right?

I’ve never been hit by lightning. There, I admit it. Even though my newest book, Jolted, is all about Newton Starker, the last surviving member of a family line that has been wiped out by lightning strikes, I myself have never been hit by lightning. Sorry about that.

Writers are supposed to write what they know. We’re supposed to experience and soak up every last bit of infinitesimal detail about ... oh, let’s pick a topic ... the inner thoughts of earwigs or politicians or the influence of weevils on the Russian economy. I should have tried harder. I mean, I live in Saskatchewan, there’s lightning galore here, and you can see it from a long, long, long way off. But I’ve never been much of a storm chaser (we humans invented houses so we wouldn’t have to be out in storms, and we invented TV so that we could watch other silly humans chase storms). So, I wasn’t hit by lightning. But I did have my wife drag her feet on the carpet until she’d built up a massive static shock that nearly popped my eyeballs like popcorn. That’s as close as I’ve come.

Since I’m in a confessional mood, I should spill another bean: I have never been a pig. But I do have one in my book. A very intelligent one, in fact. I also have never ordered truffles from a company in France. But I did once have a steak with this amazing truffle butter on it. I know, I know. Truffle butter on a steak sounds odd, but it changed my life. And I could write the meal off as research (note to self—maybe talk to my accountant about that).

What I’m saying is that we writers tend to put things together piecemeal, we extrapolate from what we experience, and we MAKE THE REST UP. Well, I do. But I learned a lot about lightning along the way. Lightning delivers about 300 kilovolts of electricity in a few milliseconds. You really don’t want to experience that. I also learned that men are four times more likely to die from a lightning strike. Why? Perhaps because we don’t know when to stop that last round of golf. Or are we more likely to stand in one place and ask, “Is that getting closer or farther away?”


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