Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When Words Collide

Next week I'm on the road again, this time to a fabulous book event in Calgary. Ah, the life of a writer. Picture limousines, luxury hotel suites, invitations to dinner, fans lined up around the block....


Not remotely. As a mid-list touring author, usually you struggle with your own bags to flag down a taxi to the cheap hotel you found on, which offers free continental breakfasts and wi-fi. More money from your dwindling supply to pay for another taxi to the library/ bookstore/ lecture hall where you are not the only one praying someone shows up. The organizer is also praying. Twenty-five people is a good crowd, and if half of them are impressed enough to buy your book, you will make a grand total of $20, which you might see the next year when your royalty cheque arrives.

This is not why you tour, of course. You tour for the adventure of seeing new places, meeting new book lovers, and sharing your work and your ideas with others. I have made many great friends on my tours and bit by bit I have expanded my circle of readers and book biz people. Every one of my trips has been fun. But they have also been exhausting, humbling and at times lonely.

But this Calgary trip will be different! No more taxis, hotel disasters, and stale continental breakfasts. No more flogging my books to unsuspecting passersby in the local mall, where the weekend sales staff don't know you're coming and have five copies of your book.

The organizers of the wonderful, cross-genre literacy festival, When Words Collide, really know how to make an author feel special. And at the same time put on a varied, fascinating event which has something for every kind of reader and writer! Congratulations, Calgary! It's been a tough month with all the flooding and the struggle to clean the downtown. But I am really looking forward to meeting the vibrant writing community in the city and having a chance to play tourist there for the first time ever.

The fusion of genres is brilliant; each reflects the epic myths that underlie human experience. I am the Mystery Guest of Honour and I am looking forward to the interplay between myself and the guests of honour of fantasy, historical and science fiction. We are all storytellers, with our own interpretation of the heroes, villains and battles upon which all the great myths have been based through the ages. I am amazed at the energy and creativity of the organizers! Throughout the weekend, in addition to conducting a writing workshop, I will be talking about the enduring appeal of mysteries and about why a psychologist would choose a life of crime. I will be participating in panels and informal coffee chats. There are lots of other panels and talks on offer. Check out all the  conference details at When Words Collide. If you live within reasonable access to Calgary, give it a try! I bet you won't be sorry.

On a purely selfish note, as Guest of Honour, I get to be a true diva for one of the rare instances in my life. I will be picked up at the airport and taken to my hotel, then honoured with dinner at one of the organizer's houses. My expenses will be paid. Throughout the nearly week-long conference, which includes pre-festival writing workshops, we guest authors will be treated like visiting royalty. This is not mere self-absorption. It is a recognition that as writers, despite the brutal and at times hope-destroying business we work in, we have achieved something worth honouring. In return, of course, we are expected to entertain, inform and elucidate, but I for one am happy to do my part. I hope I can give back to the festival, and to its participants, as much as I know I will take away.

Stay tuned for my report in the next blog post!

1 comment:

Charlotte Hinger said...

I can't think of a better guest of honor. Congratulations!