Posts by Chris:
Not enough days have passed for me to get my head fully around what happened last Thursday.
I launched my first book in Montreal. It was a day I had been waiting for, imagining, most of my life. And it was great.
I had this idea that I wanted to do something big for my book launch – something unique and different from all the cookie-cutter ones I’ve been to over the years: no plastic cups of wine, dry crackers, obscured sightlines, or long readings. I wanted my launch to be more like a party, a celebration of the fourteen years it took to write the book and an acknowledgment of all my friends and colleagues who’ve supported me.
I knew I’d be throwing it in a bar and so I chose a venue in the Village – Cabaret Mado. It was big enough to fit the amount of people I wanted to invite. It was also ground level, close to the metro, and located in the neighbourhood my main character Will hangs out in.
Since Will is a geography teacher I thought it would be fun to recreate his high school classroom in the bar. My dad helped me find the props. He works at my old high school, so he was able to locate a portable chalkboard, a projector, and a bunch of student desks and chairs. My friend Craig loaned me his teacher’s desk.
Greg and I picked up everything that afternoon and brought it to the bar. Cabaret Mado has a nice large stage they use for their drag shows. That’s where we placed the set. My friend Craig had also designed visuals based on the book, which we projected on a white screen at the back.
Also, a good friend gave me a generous donation so I was able to offer a free cocktail to the first 100 people. I gave it the name “Strictly Plutonic” after a suggestion I received on Facebook. In reality, the cocktail was a yummy pomegranate martini.
People started arriving around 5:45 pm. I took my spot at the teacher’s desk to sign the books and the line did not stop. I signed for almost two and a half hours straight, stopping only to make some announcements: my friend Peter gave me a wonderful introduction, and then I did a short reading and made my thank you speech.
I chronicled the day on Storify, if you’re curious to see more.
I really felt the love last Thursday (I think there must have been close to 200 people in the room). As I said during my speech, I felt like I was George Bailey at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” – seeing a steady stream of familiar faces coming up to congratulate me. It was amazing. I only wish I got to spend more time with everyone.
Together we launched Pluto into the great unknown. I think we gave it a wonderful send off.
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This is it. Today’s the day. How many years in the making? How many quiet, lonely nights did I toil away to get to this point?
It was all worth it.
The venue is confirmed, the drinks ordered, the outfit picked, the excerpt selected, and the speech written (well, kind of). It’s a beautiful morning. The sun is brightening up the courtyard behind my place. The apartment is quiet, except for my cat trying to have a morning conversation with the birds outside.
Thus begins the day I’ve been waiting for most of my life.
I’m going to do my best to document it all. To shoot, to film, to Tweet and post throughout the day.
To participate, follow #pluto.
See you at Cabaret Mado (1115 Ste. Catherine East) tonight from 6 to 8 PM.
Interviews started this week. The first one I did was with City TV’s Breakfast Television on Monday morning. It was to promote my book, but also the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival which is taking place this week (I have an event today at 7 pm).
I thought I did a pretty good job (at least I came across as relaxed). One thing I need to learn NOT to do is inject needless qualifiers in my speech – things like “basically” and “kind of”. I never realize how much I say them until I hear a recording of myself. It’s such a passive way of talking. If only I could press CTRL-F to find and remove them from my everyday speech.
You can watch the interview here.
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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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