Back west

I’m swinging west again Tuesday, to Calgary and then Kamloops, in the Okanagan Valley. Calgary is a library reading at the main branch on Tuesday evening. The link to register (free, but requested for admin purposes) is off this page

and there is a separate link there if you follow it up, for out-of-towners without a Calgary library card to be able to also register.

This one looks like a straight reading (and probably Q&A after) so I’ll likely do the Chapter 8 passage I’ve been using.

In Kamloops I’m being interviewed on stage in the Clocktower Theatre (love the name) at the university Thursday after reading, so will offer the shorter chapter 2 bit (introducing Lin Shan) I use when a two-part event is what’s happening. Go ahead, accuse me of finally figuring out how to handle this on-the-road gig.

One of the things that amuses me about touring, and it is fairly new, is that local media do not necessarily interview authors when they arrive in town. They do interviews by telephone before we get there. But they only do them because we are coming. It makes perfect sense when explained (wait, I’m coming to that!): the intention is to promote the author’s event in town in the article, and if the interview it isn’t done ahead of time, they can’t manage that.

So, I fly to Calgary in part because the Calgary Herald will give interview coverage, but the interview took place yesterday from home. (An enjoyable conversation, reporter had such a good voice he should be on radio; plan to tell him if I see him Tuesday evening.) Same thing with Kamloops, one phone interview from here Monday, another from (of course) Calgary on Wednesday.

Yes, this is an odd business.

A really nice review in the National Post today and I have been (supremely) restrained in not teasing writer or editor on Twitter about typo in title, or plot summary error. They happen, proofreading and fact checking have become problematic, of late, in print media. Can you say budget cuts?

Here it is:

My restraint is even more luminously admirable (!) as Mark Medley, the books editor, has been teasing me about an interview we did three years ago where he claims I declared I would NEVER (sic!) go on Twitter. Sigh. It sounded like me, but I checked. What I said was:

“I have a very uneasy inner-relationship with modern marketing,” he [me, that is] says. “It’s easy to sit back and say ‘I disdain it’ when you have people (volunteering to do it for you, as Kay does), but I will not Tweet about where I’m having coffee, or what my kids are doing. I won’t do it.”

I repeated the last phrase in the interview, after he named other writers busily tweeting (Margaret Atwood, included).  I’ll stand by that, pretty much (though I may yet tweet about older son’s film work and am happy to out a certain books editor’s scandalous café habits). But the lesson, for me, of course is the old never say never, because Medley’s main point is right. I thought I’d hold out entirely. And now I find social media fascinating, worrisome, engaging, problematic, wit-filled and disturbing (add some other words of conflict, go ahead). I think it’s a tool, and a seductive toy, and an ambush.

I think my first post in this Journal, or one of them, was about the insistent, clever marketing execs at Penguin who tag-teamed me over lunch, broke me down, and got me to agree to go on Twitter directly in the period before River of Stars was due to appear. (They later did the same thing to Nicole Winstanley, the President.)

So that’s why I’m not teasing @itsmarkmedley too much … I can draw distinctions as to what really I said three years ago (and the all-caps are all-his), but the core point is valid: I might have been perfectly happy just having a publisher or Bright Weaving’s person tweeting news of the books. And I’d have missed so many opportunities to make puns online, or otherwise get myself in trouble.

What needs to happen, as I migrate from marketing phase to research and then writing stages will be something of a pulling back. The ‘toy’ part of the online world as a whole lies partly in how easy it is to access. Our work space, as writers, is also our play space. It’s, as the phrase goes these days, complicated.


3 thoughts on “Back west

  1. Mr. Kay,

    Do you think the depth of your process will make it easier for you to withdraw, or, at the very least resist the temptation to engage in the social media?

    Speaking for myself, your pointers – the Dan Brown link left me helpless yesterday (“Thank you for the amusement inducing interlude,” the hysterical fan thanked) – and reading suggestions would be surely missed.

    Gregor Lewis

  2. Tread with care; when you tell someone in person that he should be doing audio work, you need to ensure that you are clearly not alluding to Ron Luciano’s famous quote about his brief post-umpiring career as a TV baseball announcer: “I’ve got a face made for radio.”

  3. Gregor, I am taking no bets on this! We all need outlets and escapes as we work, one way or another. As I said, the lure/challenge of social media is that it happens in the same space as our work does. I do enjoy the chance it gives me to steer people to things I find interesting, important … or just amusing. I’ve always done that with emails to friends, so this part is just an extension, I suppose.

    Stephen, that’s very funny, and yes, I’ll quote it.

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