Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

32 Questions (Inspired by BookCampTO and 50 Cent)

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So I went to BookCampTO 2011. How did I end up there? Well, I was Jen for the day. (This is an inane inside joke that none of you will get, so don’t even bother trying.) Anyway, I roll up to BookCampTO fully armed with many questions, tough ones. Out of my pre-meditated arsenal of 39+ questions to be aimed squarely at all of these poor agents, booksellers, publicists, fellow authors, distributors, book clubbers, maybe one got semi-answered. Hey, maybe partaking in a 45-minute session, with 30+ participants, un-conference or not, it was just not that realistic to think that my queries would get reasonably addressed.

Now, as Open Book's resident hip hop head(case), this means I’ve (sadly) ingested much of 50 Cent's rhymes and bluster. In his dope 2003 “21 Questions” single, he admits to loving his girl like a fat kid loves cake. The songwriting is that profound. Regardless, it's all of these questions he asks this fictional love interest in the song, while he’s doing a bid in the big house for God knows what, that has always tickled my fancy. He’s the (John) Keats of the streets I tell ya’. Check it.

“If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century / could I count on you to be there to support me mentally?” Or “do you trust me enough, to tell me your dreams? / I'm staring at you trying to figure how you got in them jeans....” Wordsworth has nothing on this guy. Working out of this implausible thug-rap tradition, I composed a bunch of questions for you, the Open Book addicted. You can answer these questions with your friends and/or colleagues after a few pints, tokes of kush or a late night at Sneaky Dee’s. Book Camp is an un-conference, and this my friends is an un-column.

Will self publishing that obscure family history novella push you even further below the poverty line? Are 360-degree publishing contracts on the horizon? Is there a book club for bloggers? Does your landlord or bank care that you are a prolific blogger who works gratis? Does freelancing trump working for a boss 9–5 who you have more talent in your pinky finger than? Does anyone born after 1980 really care about Gutenberg (or do they assume he was a hip hop producer who worked on Kanye’s debut College Dropout)? No grants, no rent? With my MTV-aided diminishing attention span, will I even want to wait for one of my fave authors to release their next book in four years? Is there some way to speed up the frequency of royalty cheque deliveries? Is print on life support like The Leafs? Is print flat lining like The Raptors? Will print never make the playoffs like The Blue Jays? If GelaSkins sponsors your book event, is Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg doing back flips in his grave (or prepping Kanye’s next solo disc)? When the books you’ve authored are “on hold” at the Toronto Public Library, does that mean you’ve made it? If there are so many people spouting off all of these doom and gloom scenarios in the publishing industry, who is the industry’s official Prophet (of Doom)? Do the folk at the Book Bakery make a mean Strudel, pardon all of our ignorance? With the inevitable increase in ebook production and usage, will you be going to the library as often as you think you will in 2014? If yes, for what purpose exactly? That hot librarian on the third floor is already accounted for, look at the bling on her ring finger, silly. Is it at all realistic to expect that a random book consumer who knows nothing about you, Joe and Josephine Author, will actually stumble into your title buried within the six trillion other titles at The Bookstore? Do you really believe the spine of your latest book stands out that much from the five gazillion others? Is your addiction to all of these social media tools making you even more anti-social, media? Hey, can some agent please help us all squeeze for some more dough, much like a decriminalized Somali pirate? Hey pssst, BTW, who is buying all these Douglas Coupland books? Is it virtually impossible to not have a day job and write in Toronto? Has your blog been hacked lately (heck, what are They waiting for)? If some ebooks can’t be used across platforms and devices, should you care? Are mom and pop bookstores doomed? Are mom and pop bookstores booming? I want to enhance my ebook, so can you help me do that (for free)? What exactly did sitting and book signing next to Margaret Atwood at The Word On The Street 2009 (as I ponder my appearance at this year’s WOTS) really mean? There’s a Long Pen, so can a Short Pen co-exist peacefully with it (BTW, the Short Pen will allow your signature to be executed up close and personal)? Is there some agent out there in the twitterverse (or Toronto) who can help us all squeeze for mo’ dough? We’ve got bills to pay. Peace.

Dalton Higgins is a music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and national magazine award-winning journalist. He is Canada’s foremost expert on hip hop culture. In addition to writing numerous articles for Canadian and US print and on-line magazines, he is the author of Hip Hop World (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi) and co-author of Hip Hop (Thomson Nelson) and Much Master T: A VJ’s Journey (ECW Press). As a broadcaster, Dalton has hosted his own TV show and has appeared as a pundit on every major Canadian network. You can visit Dalton at his blog. His most recent book is Fatherhood 4.0: iDad Applications Across Cultures (Insomniac Press).

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