I had my PEI launch over two weeks ago at the Arts Guild. For those of you who wanted to make it but couldn’t attend (and I am sure you number in the thousands) here is a summary of how the night went.
- Launch was at 7:00. I showed up at 6:30 and, in true PEI fashion, people were already there.
- Set up took a whopping two minutes thanks to the great staff at the Arts Guild. All we did was set the “rules” on a ledge, lay out some fudge, a few books – done!
- Began signing books. Made my writing as illegible as possible (for me that was no great effort) so that people would have trouble making out just how banal my inscriptions were.
- While people were lined up to buy books they read the “rules.” These rules were for their benefit as much as mine since this was only the second book launch I had attended and really had no sweet clue what to do/ how to behave.
- Here are some pictures from the event.
This is me reading at the PEI launch.
“It’s with mixed emotions that I stand here before you. On one hand I want to celebrate my first novel, Dirty Bird. But this book was born from a painful event in my life. I lost someone close to me. A cousin and close friend. He was my age. He had a serious mental illness.
About three months after he died I had a dream about him coming back to life. I normally don’t remember my dreams, and tend to discount them when I do. But this one I couldn’t shake. Finally, after carrying it around with me for days, I put this dream to paper – metaphorically speaking, since it sounds much better than putting it to a Microsoft Word document. In less than two hours I had a dark, dysfunctional short story.
That story went on to win first place in the Maritime Writing Awards. That was back in 2003. I was encouraged by the award, and my wife encouraged me to delve deeper into that world, but I was stubborn. I wanted to be a serious writer. I didn’t want to be funny, or gritty, or dysfunctional. I wanted to write beautiful prose, be solemn, be profound. I abandoned that world for four years, wrote some terrible books and stories, before I received a scholarship from the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. Through that program I was paired with William Kowalski, a famous author who mentored me, changed the trajectory of my writing career—and I use the term career very loosely. After reading my story that won the award, he told me to pursue that voice, to delve into that world. I really should have listened to my wife. Sorry, pet.
At the end of the mentorship program, I gave two readings. One took place at the writer’s federation of nova scotia. It was the first time I ever read in public. My writing mentor told me to practice. I didn’t listen, thought he was foolish. Why would I bother practicing doing something that I do every day? It was like saying practice talking. Practice eating. Practice reading.
I read the opening chapter of dirty bird in front of fifty-some people, many of which were accomplished Nova Scotian authors, and I cried. More specifically, I bawled. It was because the story was loosely based on the life of my cousin. Suddenly, in front of a roomful of strangers, I relieved his life and death while my wife and writing mentor looked on, helpless.
The next time I read that story in public I did listen to my mentor and practice. And unbenknownst to me, my mentor had invited two literary agents to the reading. They signed me not long afterwards. They helped me work my manuscript into something they could be shopped around to publishers. The book sold two years ago.
Two more years of writing and editing. Now, the book is finished. Some of you have copies in your hands. Thank you for your support. It really does mean the world to me.”