The Long and Winding Day

Signing at Book Expo 2008

This photograph was taken by my father. You can see more of his photographs from the event here.

It was a long but productive day on Monday. I got up at around 5:30 to take the VIA Rail train into Toronto after Erin vetoed my plan to drive to Aldershot, for fear of drowsy driving on the 401. Not that I minded too much. These days, with gas prices being what they are, it probably wasn’t that much more expensive. And it’s nice to get pampered with a train trip once in a while.

I went into Toronto to attend this year’s Book Expo. I signed copies of The Unwritten Girl to a sizable crowd (if you throw free books around, you tend to get a bit of a crowd at these things) and was pleased to chat a little with booksellers from across Ontario, as well as teachers and librarians from various school boards. One teacher in particular apparently picked up a copy from my signing at BookExpo two years ago, and read it to her class, who loved it. She wanted to show up to this signing to tell me that, and get another free book. Her students were apparently delighted to find there were more books in the series.

I was also delighted to discover that Dundurn had printed off bookmarks promoting the upcoming release of The Young City (now likely set for November, to catch a bit of the Christmas rush). It makes great use of the cover, and promotes all three books in the series. I’ll be asking for a bunch to distribute to as many places as possible.

As always, BookExpo was a great event for me to recharge my creative batteries. There’s always something about standing among a huge crowd of books and people who love books. I met some fellow authors, including my mentor Marsha Skrypuch, and I learned that the third book of Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn trilogy (entitled Starclimber) will come out on September 10. I’ll be first in line for a copy of that novel.

I had lunch with my parents (my mother signed copies of her newly released The Prism Blade after me, and also had a large crowd of people eager for the next instalment of her Mythrin series and my aunt Margaret (who represented the Association of English Language Publishers in Quebec (AELAQ). Again, a lot of fun was had by all.

After my mother’s signing, I headed up to the headquarters of Sullivan Entertainment, where I was videotaped for an interview about The Unwritten Girl for the Anne of Green Gables Book Club. The questions combined the usual (who are you? what are you doing here? That wasn’t just the security guard talking) with detailed questions about the characters in the book. Hopefully, with the miracle of video editing, they’ll make me sound reasonably coherent and knowledgeable. Either way, I had a good time, and the video should be appearing on the Anne Book Club website later this month. I’ll let you know when it’s up.

After supper, I then attended a follow-up forum on fixing the 501 Queen streetcar. Despite the last minute change in venue (a scheduling conflict at Metro Hall, apparently) which moved us to council chambers in Toronto City Hall, over fifty people turned up. That should tell you how passionately people feel on this issue. And while I respect the fact that a number of councillors and TTC and City officials showed up, I’d have to say that there was a fair amount of frustration in the air. Yes, the wheels of government move slowly, but the officials should be mindful of how closely something like public transportation hits people at home. It might be challenging to change how things are done, and it might be unrealistic to expect changes to occur overnight, but when you’re not sure how much time you have to leave yourself to get to work on time, patience is not something you have in abundance.

Steve Munro has an even more pointed take on this meeting which I hope the officials pay attention to. Still, it was a small victory to get everybody in the same room that evening, and thanks to Ed Drass and his fellow advocates for putting this together. More has been done to address this issue in the last six months than in the previous thirteen years combined. That counts for something. But city and transit officials should be warned that what it counts for isn’t going to add up to much unless we see some more positive changes by the end of this year. A year is a long time to wait for reliable transit service.

I came home on VIA Rail’s 10 p.m. train and was in bed by midnight. I was a little footsore, but it was worth it. A good day all-round. But it’s good to be back at home as well.

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