BC Book Prizes On Tour
April 22, 2008
It has only been a few days since I left the Northern Tour, and already I am missing our tour and times together.
After the soiree—an incredible event with silent auctions, friendly faces, kind hearts, and a celebratory atmosphere, I flew off to Ontario for a book tour. I miss having a van full of friends to discuss the events with while listening to Johnnie Cash, a driver that would drop us off at a local coffee shop while he found the schools, libraries, etc., always ensuring that we were on time, and the fantastic scenery of the mountains, lakes, and forests. The only thing that I don’t miss is the weather. It’s warm here in Waterloo (about 24 degrees). Also, the people are incredible here too (just as they were in the north). I am reminded how lucky I am to live in this incredible nation.
I wrote a wee poem about the soiree….
If the soiree were a colour, it would be salmon pink (my favourite colour).
As vibrant as the reefs outside Australia.
If the soiree were a taste, it would be dark chocolate,
Smooth and melting in our mouths with just the right amount of sweetness.
If the soiree a sound it would be the alarm clock music on my ipod,
Something I love to savour and be in the moment with, but also something that moves me into another great day.
April 20, 2008
Last night, Theresa Kishkan, Kari-Lynn Winters, Nan Gregory, and I arrived on a flight from Prince Rupert after a fabulous road trip visiting communities along the Yellowhead Highway in Northern BC. Shortly after touchdown, Theresa was embraced by her husband, John, who whisked her off for some private time at their home on the Sechelt Peninsula. Kari-Lynn, Nan, and I stuffed our luggage into a van captained (once again) by our producer, Bryan Pike, and sped off to our homes to shower and dress for the soiree at the Metropolitan hotel. This was a grand event, with overflowing glasses of wine, canapes by Diva, a silent auction to support the BC Book Prizes, and lots of schmoozing with local literati. It was fun to talk to the other finalists, especially the other novelists short-listed for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, David Chariandy, Claire Mulligan, Shaena Lambert, and Heather Burt—all great friends and fine writers. Afterwards, I finally found time to catch up with the blogging, savouring the posts made by my fellow tourees, Kari-Lynn and Theresa at http://www.bcbookprizes.ca/tour/category/northern_leg/, which wonderfully capture the bi-polar ups and downs of our travels along the Yellowhead. I’ve uploaded a set of photos titled 2008 Northern Tour: Prince Rupert to Prince George—and back! Click on this link to see the photographs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcbookprizes/sets/72157604638679276/with/2428659814/
I hope you’ll enjoy these highlights of our interactions with landscapes and communities and will chip in with comments. We’d especially welcome reconnecting with people we met along the way—new friends that we hope to hang on to in the years ahead.
Mary | http://www.marynovik.com
April 19, 2008
Thoughout this tour, the words of Trace Adkins’ keep ringing in my ears. His words sing out:
“These are some good times. Take a good look around. You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.”
His words remind me to live in the present—to be in the moment.
As I think about this tour, I know he’s right.
I ‘ll tell you what I am going to miss.
-Insightful children, asking sophisticated and difficult questions.
-Inspiring talks with the other authors, about writing, about fashion, about scenery, about books, about families, about stories, about life.
-Bryan’s coy sense of humour. His friendly and welcoming smile.
-Intelligent and caring teachers/principals who give us warm welcomes where ever we go.
-Librarians who adore books and make a difference in their communities.
-Gorgeous and well stocked book stores with dedicated and kind-hearted owners.
-Generous donations and accommodations.
-The smiling faces in the sea of audience members.
-Acting and presenting with Nan Gregory.
-Being driven to each event.
-Giving schools free books (paid for by donors).
-Spending time with new friends.
-Making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children each and every day.
Let me end with a poem written by Lee Bennett Hopkins, which I think says it all.
April 18, 2008
After a delicious dinner of Penang curry at Mai Tai in Prince George, we took a cab back to our hotel (we walked there, though!) and the cab driver said that it’s supposed to snow tonight. This reminds me that we are far from home. You can still see big chunks of ice on the Nechako and the wind is very cold. But the schools we visited today—Kelly Road Secondary and Heather Park Middle School—were warmly welcoming. 100 kids at the former and 200 at the latter. Mary and I have learned to anticipate the important questions: “How old are you?” and “How much do you make from writing?” But seriously, they also ask the thoughtful questions: “When did you begin to write?” and “How long does it take to write a book?” And the teachers are so enthusiastic, even giving us little gifts as we leave.
Tomorrow we head back to Terrace with stops in Vanderhoof and Smithers. It’s hard to believe that our week is nearly over. I feel as though I’m part of a secret travelling society, complete with jokes and songs.
April 17, 2008
It’s alway nice to stop in beautiful Smithers. We even managed a sunny blue sky.
April 17, 2008
April 17, 2008
How to describe the changing beauty of the Yellowhead Highway? The dense forests from Terrace to Smithers, river below rimed with snow? And Smithers itself, a gem of a community…We had lunch at Java’s—delicious wild grain pies, bright salad, casual and funky ambience. Our presentations in Smithers went very well. The class I met with, a History 11 class, was a delight. An eager and erudite teacher, good kids who asked interesting questions, a librarian who was keenly interested in books and writing. The eastward journey—now, doesn’t that sound like a travel book by Basho?—was long and a few of us slept but Bryan kept the tunes playing, the gas tank filled (courtesy of one of our sponsors, PetroCanada), and brought us safely into Prince George, through the chilly grassy fields fringed with birch near Vanderhoof, with an hour to spare! This evening’s reading was a highlight. Books and Company is a lovely store and the audience was enthusiastic.
I want to say that this is a nifty group of women—Nan, Kari-Lynn and Mary. There is such camaraderie among us. We laugh, tell stories, jokes, share apples, sandwiches, oranges, chocolate, licorice toffee. And Bryan is a perfect Honourary Boyfriend, opening doors for us, keeping us on time, on schedule in a gentle thoughtful way.
And the more I encounter teachers, librarians, and book-sellers on this Northern Tour, the more I am grateful that such people exist. They make us welcome, make us at home in their classrooms, libraries, bookstores, feed us, celebrate us, share their students and friends with us.
April 16, 2008
This tour is amazing. What makes it this way? The extras of course. Let me name a few:
Bottles of water in the van.
Welcome mats. Story chats.
Performing with Sloth, controlled by Nan.
Chocolates before each presentation.
Loads of smiles. Driven for miles.
Sometimes getting a standing ovation.
Cakes and cookies, gifts galore.
Friendly walks. Engaging talks.
Audiences wanting more.
But best of all I must say,
is the kinds of people we meet each day.
As my grandma used to say,
Smallest towns—nicest people.
Smiles from Snowy Smithers.
April 16, 2008
After visiting schools in Terrace and Kitimat, we had a great time reading at one of my favourite book stores, Book Masters.
April 16, 2008
The day began for Mary Novik and me with a visit to Caledonia Senior High in Terrace where a thoughtful class listened to us read in the library and then engaged in an interesting discussion. They have a team of intelligent and supportive teachers and librarians and both Mary and I left thinking that that was a lucky group of kids. We drove out to Kitimat through wild spruce forests, a river punctuated by fly-fishers, and a breathtaking run down into the town. Lovely group of kids at Kitimat City High, all of them listening (or pretending to!) and asking good questions and treating us with courtesy and warmth. I think Nan and Kari-Lyn had a similar experience at Kildala Elementary. Bryan got a great tip on a restaurant so we headed out to Kitamaat Village to eat at Seamasters where we sat in a bright room and looked out at Douglas Channel (I don’t have a map here and hope I’ve got that right…) where crows scavenged at the tide-line and the mountains beyond were wreathed in cloud. We ate delicious halibut, crab-cakes with mango salsa, snapper…Back to Kitimat to read at Book Masters where the wonderful team there had a table ready with cake to welcome us. It was great to see Eden Robinson’s smiling face! The book sellers for this tour are all so well-organized and keen. Misty River here in Terrace, Rainforest Books in Prince Rupert—bright places with knowledgeable owners willing to do a little extra to make our readings memorable. Now to pack for the morning’s early-ish departure for Smithers, then Prince George.
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