Book Birthday (🎂🥳) + Belfast

Two years after I signed the publishing contract for Pull Focus, and 10 years after I wrote the first few pages, my book officially published last week. I’m grateful to everyone’s enthusiasm in the early reviews of the book, in sending comments, in entering the swag giveaway contest and blogging about it, and of course, to my publishing and publicity teams. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a small army of bibliophiles to […]

My Own Private Edinburgh. Here’s My Journey of Discovery.

In a normal year, mid-July would find me busily preparing for my journey to Edinburgh.  I’d be readying to get up at 3:15 am (8:15 am BT) to buy my Book Festival tickets as soon as the box office opened. Scour @lyngardner’s Twitter feed for Fringe Festival suggestions. Pour over the International Festival catalogue for opera and theatre choices.  This year, for the second time, I’ll join some events by Zoom. But I long for the journey of personal discovery that my days wandering that […]

Is It Time To Start Traveling Again? Let’s Go!

How time flies. Like everyone else, my imagination runneth over with images of travel that seem tantalizing closer as more and more of us get our second dose, Air Canada travel offers come fast and furious, and friends ask, sandwiched somewhere between FOGO and FOMO, ‘where will you go first?’ So, I’ll unspool my Top 10 wish-list of bookish + filmish travel over the next several posts. Some are old favorites I’ve revisited many times in my head the past […]

Walking the Red Carpet of Book Covers.

Momentum is building for Pull Focus, and I’m excited. The edit, copy-edit, layout and the proof-read are complete. In a couple months, Pull Focus goes off to the printer.  In the meantime, publicity has started. Advance reading copies are being pitched to long-lead media and trade journals; in April, digital ARCs will be posted to the two industry sites where book reviewers and bloggers access them. While fall events will be subject to the Covid protocols that are […]

California Dreaming 😎🌴

When I was in my 20s, my mom and I set out on a road trip to attend the annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference, held in Montecito, California, a small and wealthy community now home to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, not to mention the Queen (Oprah Winfrey). We’d seen an advertisement in Writer’s Digest magazine and were drawn by its list of speakers, as well as the ‘regulars’ who hung out at the conference such as Ray […]

Walk with me.

Willesden in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. Pepys Road in John Lanchester’s Capital. St James Park in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. Fitzrovia in Ian McEwan’s Saturday. Brick Lane by Monica Ali. Smithfield’s Market in Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations. The National Theatre in Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. Notting Hill – okay, not a book, but it’s a hard heart who doesn’t love that movie. Cities are fertile terrain for books and movies. They’re inherently dramatic, people tumbled on top of each other, chasing survival or wealth, love or escape, buzz or tranquility, safety or disruption.  In big cities, […]

Lesvos: one-eyed cats, black-clad grandmas and the clip clop of donkeys delivering the fish.

“You should come to the village,” my friend David Layton said. “It’s where the severed head of Orpheus came ashore, still singing. It’s also where Golding wrote Lord of the Flies. So, it has good pedigree; it’s a place to compose.” I booked an Aeroplan seat four days later. I’d read David’s remarkable memoir, Motion Sickness, years after it was published but shortly before meeting him. Our mutual friend Priscila Uppal loved to throw parties that involved karaoke […]

An Irish State of Mind.

I’ve been missing Ireland a lot, especially after my friend Aisling sent me pictures from the green fields of Cork in response to the last newsletter while I slipped along Toronto’s icy sidewalks trying to get my hour of pandemic lockdown exercise in. Normally, I’m in Ireland two or three times a year. My father is buried in Mallow, County Cork, in a grave with his parents and brother William (an Irish thing). And I have […]

First Footing

(and, yes, an explanation of why you’re receiving this…) When I was growing up, my Scottish mother always insisted that we have a ‘first foot’ through the front door just after the stroke of midnight on New Year’s to bring good luck for the coming year. Not just any pair of feet would do, mind you. They required a tall, dark-haired man to be walking himself across the threshold, preferably a lump of coal in […]

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