Posts by Chris:
Last Saturday I spent the day walking from bookstore to bookstore. There aren’t many left in Montreal, but I still thought I would poke my head in and see if my book had arrived. I knew they existed because Cormorant had posted a picture on Facebook and Instagram at the beginning of last week. Seeing that image bowled me over. Until then my book had only been two-dimensional (a Word file, a JPEG cover). But now it had a spine, volume, depth.
There were no copies in the stores yet, so I spoke with some of the staff – told them a bit about myself, the book. I also gave them all postcards. It was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday.
On Monday evening I got a text from Greg: “There is a box for you at home.”
I was at the opening cocktail for the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival where I will be speaking this Saturday. As soon as I got the message I had to excuse myself and hightail it home.
I emerged from the metro and started to walk the several blocks to my apartment. It was dinnertime, so I decided to pick up some Chinese food on the way (I sure wasn’t going to cook). As I sat there, waiting for my order, I thought about the package I had waited so many years to see. I’d be with it in just a few minutes, holding it in my hands in about the same time it takes to make chow mein. The people in the restaurant must have thought I was crazy because ever so often I spoke aloud to myself, muttering “Jesus Christ” about a half of dozen times.
Once I had our food, I hurried home. Greg had tidied up the apartment. Music was playing. Champagne was chilling. And the box was sitting on the kitchen island.
This was it.
I opened the box. Inside were ten copies of my book, one next to the other like they’ll be at the Blue Met bookstore, on the table at my launch.
All parents love their children, but mine is beautiful. I love the cover and the colour (thanks Vincent). It’s smooth with a matte finish and these wonderful French Flaps. I’m overjoyed with my author picture (thanks Paul!) – it’s striking and stands bold against the cover’s softness.
But more than all of that, it’s the text that I can’t get over: flipping through the book, see my words on some 277 pages. The book is still too powerful for me to hold just held. I have to put it down after only a few minutes.
So it begins.
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I’ve written about the wonderful endorsement I got from Andrew Holleran, but there is one other great blurb that I am fortunate to have on the cover of my book.
It’s from writer Brian Francis. Brian’s first novel, Fruit, was recommended to me many years ago by my friend Neil. It tells the story of a young boy named Peter Paddington who is overweight, gay and whose nipples talk to him. I loved the book immediately. It was funny, endearing, powerful. There was something about it that spoke directly to my own childhood experiences as an outsider.
A couple of years later I was excited to learn that Brian had another book coming out. It was called Natural Order. I read the description and a part of me froze. The book was about the relationship between a woman and her gay son.
I know I’m not the only writer who has thoughts like these: You have an idea for a novel and you work on it for years, wondering in the back of your head if someone else might be working on something similar. When Brian’s book came out in 2011, I was still slashing away at the manuscript and hadn’t found a publisher. Had he beaten me to the punch?
I picked up Brian’s book once it was available and read it cover to cover. It was a great story and thankfully much different than mine. Natural Order is a deeply moving tale, told from the point of view a mother coming to terms with the realities of her son’s life after his untimely death from AIDS. It was fresh, heartbreaking. I had never read anything like it.
I don’t know Brian, but I did feel some kind of kinship with him (the same could be said of Andrew Holleran). We are both gay writers who are curious about the complex relationships that gay men have with their mothers. I knew when it was time to look for endorsements I wanted Brian to read my book. And although he was quite busy, he generously offered to read it and I was touched with what he had to say.
You can read his blurb here.
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Joining me will be authors Maya Merrick, Connie Guzzo-McParland, Claudio Gaudio, Su J. Sokol and Caroline Vu. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. Wine, juice and finger food will be served throughout the evening, compliments of Deux Voiliers Publishing.
For more information, check the Facebook event page.
They’re standard size – 4 x 6 – with the cover of the book on the front and a short description on the back. There’s a place for a stamp and an address and a message, and I am mailing them out to people and places across the country.
So far I have probably mailed out about 100 – to literary festivals, journalists, gay and lesbian associations, bookstores. I love getting mail and I thought sending a personalized postcard might be a unique way of introducing the book to people who don’t know me.
I particularly wanted to let Canada’s independent booksellers know about a special treat I am offering people who buy the book from their local bookseller (UPDATE: This offer is now over).
If you buy my book locally you are invited to contact me and send me a copy of your receipt. You can then select one of two options: snail mail or email. If you choose snail mail I will mail you a personalized thank you postcard from Montreal. If you choose email I will email you a short personalized video shout out from somewhere in the city.
It’s a small offering, but one I hope people will see it as a unique experience.
So far I have already heard from Bookmark bookstore in Halifax. They love the idea and have ordered extra copies of the book. I’m working with them to provide notes for each of the copies they have.
I love this! It’s exactly what I hoped would happen. I don’t know if time or money will allow me get to Halifax in the near future, but at least I can have this interaction with a local bookseller, this interaction with potential readers.
If you are a bookseller and want to find out how to participate, write me.
More information on the offer can be found here.
I finally have a date for my book’s party. The Geography of Pluto will be launched on Thursday, May 8 at Cabaret Mado. If you’re in Montreal, please join me.
It took me a while to find a suitable venue. My first choice turned out to be unreliable. The owners/managers would never get back to me. In the end I went with a place I could trust. I know Cabaret Mado’s co-owner Denis from back when I worked at Divers/Cité. I met with him last week and he was open to what I wanted to do for the launch.
I want my launch to be more than a typical book launch. Book launches tend to be boring. They’re quiet, small and sparsely attended. Montreal’s bookstores aren’t really designed for events either, so it’s hard to do something special or unique with their locations.
I want my launch to be a party. A real celebration of the culmination of years of work.
Last week Greg and I met up with our friend Craig who has offered to create original visuals for the launch. Craig is a filmmaker and animator and I am excited to see his interpretation of the book.
A friend asked me if I thought the literary community might not come down to the Village for a book launch. It never crossed my mind. For some it will undoubtedly be their first time in a gay bar (and a drag bar at that), but it was important for me to hold the launch in the Village. It’s where it’s set. It’s where it began and grew.
If someone has a problem coming here, they’ll probably have a problem with the book too.
The Geography of Pluto will be launched on Thursday, May 8 at Cabaret Mado, 1115 Ste. Catherine Street East, from 6 to 8 PM. More details to come…
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