Category: Greg

Last Thursday


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.

The books are here!

The book and ILast 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.

The booksI 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.

Montreal launch date

small__2367187392I 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…

Photo credit: marfis75 via photopin cc

Big birthday

40thLast Thursday I turned 40. I feel good about it.

I took the day off from work to spend time with Greg, but still had to come in to the CBC anyway. I had been asked to take part in a panel discussion on the state of the literary industry. As someone with the publication of his first book looming, they wanted my perspective. I was happy to have been asked.

It was for the Quebec arts and culture show, Cinq à Six. Jeanette Kelly led the discussion. Joining us were Arash Mohtashami-Maali from the Canada Council for the Arts, and Katia Grubisic, a poet, editor and translator who I admire and run into all over town. Both were taking part in the CCA’s National Forum on the Literary Arts, which happened in Montreal last week.

During the discussion I spoke a bit about my expectations and some of the plans

I have to promote a book in an industry that continues to adapt to changes in the marketplace. I haven’t spoken much of my plans here, but I will soon.

Here is a link to the audio.

The rest of the day and the weekend that followed were lovely. I had a spa day with Greg, had drinks and dinner with friends, and hosted a great big party on the Saturday night. I’ll continue to celebrate next month too when I visit friends in California.

I’m excited about 40. Everything is ripe and dripping with potential.




Season’s greetings

SeasonsIt’s been a very social Christmas – many great parties, many delicious dinners. And a characteristic of many of these get-togethers has been people congratulating me on the book.

Ever since I posted a draft of the cover on Facebook several weeks ago I’ve been inundated with well wishes from friends and family. It’s been wonderful, but also overwhelming. Talking about the book is new for me. I don’t have the lingo down to describe what it’s about, nor do I feel comfortable talking about myself.

But it’s something I have to get used to.

My friend Bryce put things into perspective when he said that it’s been fascinating for him to watch this project evolve. He’s followed my progress, always asked questions, and is excited to see the book finally come to light. So I have to learn how to let this happen – let people express their happiness for me.

Last night was the most intense night yet. It was my Uncle George’s 65th birthday and we had a surprise birthday party for him at a Greek restaurant in Lasalle. I hadn’t seen most of this side of my family in a long time. They too all came up to me and congratulated me, saying they all wanted a signed copy. “Of course,” I said to them all.

I’m nervous about my family reading the book. Will they like it? Will they see me in the main character? Will they want to read a story about a gay man that talks frankly about relationships and sex?

I knew this was coming. I just need to feel the fear and develop a thicker skin.

Christmas was nice. My boyfriend Greg made me a very thoughtful gift. He took the image from the book cover, blew it up, printed it on foamcore, and placed it in an antique wooden frame. It came with a personal note on the back of how proud he is of me. So much love.