Everyone who’s anyone will be there . . . so read on!
On May 7 at Shelf Life Books in Calgary, I will be launching my novel, The Piano Teacher. Beyond launching a single book in a sense I will be launching a new incarnation of myself, this time as a novelist, adding to but not necessarily replacing other incarnations which have included, to date, musician, playwright, journalist and educator. (I may be missing a few.)
I suppose one way to stay young and humble and hungry is to leave your comfort zone and try something new. (Isn’t that what the Lulu Lemon bags tell us to do?) It’s always a bit scary and there is no real safety net but the risk of failure and public humiliation is not new to me.
Over the course of my writing career which includes to date 15 plays and almost 300 newspaper columns and numerous and various magazine articles and poems, I am quite used to sharing my failures along with my few successes.
For me, hell is not failure; hell is to stop trying new things.
I found the writing of the book to be straightforward enough. It’s written in the first person, in the form of a diary, so in a sense it’s an extended monologue – very extended, in fact, it’s about 70,000 words.
I wrote it mostly in Caffe Beano in the three small journals pictured here with a mechanical pencil. Yes, it’s true, I still prefer to hand write my first drafts when time allows. After I had filled the three notebooks, I was fortunate to receive an Alberta Foundation for the Arts grant to transcribe it from those handwritten journals into my computer which was a labourious but productive process.
The only part of the journey that was difficult and even unpleasant was finding a publisher. Being an award-winning playwright seems to offer little advantage when looking for a publisher for a novel.
I only showed it to two people in this regard, and both times I got the same response, that it doesn’t have a broad enough commercial potential. Quite frankly, I was proud of that, and maybe I’m arrogant (because I’m too old to be naïve) but I think the writing holds together well enough and because it’s about a classical musician, a concert pianist, and because I assume the classical music mob is one that actually likes to read, I think I’ll be ok.
I have no illusions that I’ll make a million bucks, but I’ll at least have a work I am proud of and that I created purely on my own terms.
And so I just said “Fuck ‘em. I’ll do it myself.” And so I am, through my own boutique publishing company, B House.
I have written about B House before on this blog (see, for example, Publish and Perish in my archives). Our biggest difficulty in the past (one of many, I assure you) has been with distribution. I think I have solved that problem by having it printed in two different ways.
Locally, as we have been doing, it is being printed by Blitz Print and those are the copies that will be available at my launch May 7. Over the summer I hope to get copies to other independent book stores in Calgary (Pages and Owl’s Nest) but by and large if you’re in Calgary and wish to buy a copy, your best bet is to go to Shelf Life Books on the corner of 4th Street and 13th Avenue SW.
At the same time, the book is also available on line through Blurb.ca or Blurb.com depending where you are in the world. (As is my play Queen Lear. Other titles will be made available in this way over time. At least that’s the plan.)
If you would like to buy the book on line, simply copy and paste this link and order away:
Beside providing you with hours and hours of entertainment, it will obviously make a nice present for your child’s piano teacher, or for Aunt Mable, or for the mail man, etc. etc.
Sorry, but one has to engage in some shameless self promotion from time to time.
As I was writing this post, I heard from my dear friend Morag Northey who informed me that she is going to bring her cello and grace us with some music at my launch. Morag created the musical score and performed the role of the cellist in my play Queen Lear at the Urban Curvz production a few years ago. Her support for this novel of mine means more than I can say.
If you’re in Calgary, I would love to see you at Shelf Life Books on May 7 at 7:00 PM. There will be wine and cheese and Morag and music and I will obviously sign your copy of the book – who knows, it might be worth something some day.
And wherever you are, I would appreciate your support through my online sales. Contrary to popular belief, we artists don’t live on air. It’s nice to eat.
Thanks for reading!