I am on the road at the beginning of my journey to launch my debut novel MEADOWLARK, published by NeWest Press of Edmonton, Alberta. I am very grateful that NeWest gave me this opportunity.
The ALT Hotel greeted me with a complimentary drinks and snacks in their official “greeting room”. Tasha Ransome of ALT Hotels chatted with me about my book and was eager to read it.
I didn’t get much sleep in my “land of the Jetsons” room. I was excited, nervous, humbled. To have this opportunity still feels very unreal, as though someone might call me up yet and say, “Just kidding.” Instead of being afraid, I want to embrace the experience, to be in the moment more than I have ever before.
I flew to Thunder Bay on September 15, 2015. I had lunch with my wonderful niece Dawn Stewart and she told me all about her own writing career and the books she has published and where she wants to go with her writing. It was lovely. She has written Children of the Sun and Moon and Cavern of the Heavens. Dawn is tech-savvy and a whiz at this game of writing.
Next stop was CBC Radio and an interview with Lisa Laco for Superior Morning. I was scared, not nervous, but scared and I’m pretty sure it showed in the interview, the sound of voice, my less than brilliant answers, but it was real and it was me, so I’m not worried now. Lisa was gracious and welcoming and it was a lovely experience.
CBC Radio is my lifeline to everything I need to know. CBC teaches, celebrates, exposes, shares. CBC Radio does it all. What an honour to find myself in one of its studios.
Then off to Fort Frances with a quick stop in Atikokan to visit Ruth Viddal, my father’s first cousin and my pen pal. Ruth and I write letters to each other, Ruth with her perfect handwriting. We share ideas and thoughts and memories. Ruth’s letters are something I cherish and save.
Next stop home of my EIC (Editor-In-Cheek) one Loraine Currie of Fort Frances. Lor and I have been friends for thirty-six years. I gave her top billing in my dedication in my book. I hope officials don’t consider this a conflict of interest. Upon my arrival she presented me with the prestigious award of The Yiller. The official Yiller Selection Committee was on hand to welcome me.
The “Yiller Award” is so prestigious that you may not have heard of it. I was surprised to discover that I had not been named to the 2015 Giller Longlist. I mean, what were they thinking to overlook MEADOWLARK. But now it is very clear to me why I was not included with the likes of Andre Alexis, Samuel Archibald, Michael Christie, Rachel Cusk, Patrick deWitt, Marina Endicott, Connie Gault, Alix Hawley, Clifford Jackman, Heather O’Neill, Ankara Schofield and Russell Smith. Wendi Stewart’s name is suspiciously absent. But now I understand. The “Yiller” far exceeds all literary awards. To have won this in 2015 it only makes sense that I allow others to be named to these other lesser awards. It’s good for the industry, good for writing in Canada.
This is the “Yiller Bowl”. I get goosebumps looking at it. I’m sure you are equally impressed. Along with the Yiller Award came the Yiller Award Cake, not to be confused with a pile of donuts and a yellow bird in front trying to resemble a real life meadowlark.
It was an incredibly auspicious moment. One that may go down in the annals of literary events of which everything else pales in comparison.
This morning I was off to meet the press at The Fort Frances Times. Heather Latter, staff reporter, interviewed me and we chatted about my book. I maybe should have brought a hairbrush with me before she took my photo for the newspaper. hmmm Note to self: be better prepared in the future.
The Cumming Family own The Fort Frances Times and have given me the opportunity to write a weekly column since 2010. From left: Jim, Linda, me, Don. We shared a childhood, a wonderful childhood with the usual pranks and some extra fun pranks that Jim and Don and my brother Laurie created, life threatening pranks at times.
It has been a perfect start to a book tour. The best part: coming home. Fort Frances, specifically the piece of land on the Rainy River that my father called Bonnie Brae Farm will always be home no matter how far and wide I wander. How lucky am I!