Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

kickstart's blog

On Copyright

In an op-ed in the Books section of last weekend's Globe and Mail, John Degen, the head of the Professional Writers Association, argued that the panic over copyright in Canada is a false one. After years of defending copyright against those barking online that cultural products should be free (both in terms of access and monetary exchange), Degen ends his piece by declaring that, henceforth, his most recent novel, The Uninvited Guest, will be available as a free pdf download on his website.

Brian Linehan and the Notion of Celebrity

Over the course of this book tour – whether during our twenty-four hour train ride through the rockies or on a park bench in Halifax – I’ve been reading Starring Brian Linehan, a book offered to us writers in residence so graciously by the good folks at McClelland & Stewart. As a biography of the recently deceased Linehan by his good friend – and reputable entertainment writer – George Anthony, the book does a decent job of exploring the psyche of its lead. Linehan was one of Canada’s best celebrity interviewers and, as host of City Lights on the fledgling CityTv during the seventies, was able to meet (and develop strong personal bonds) with many of the most celebrated film stars of the era – from Martin Short to Clint Eastwood.

Farming, Pam's Legs and Elysium

It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind. Our book tour, that is. We’d always included it in our plans for Kickstart: How Successful Canadians Got Started. To go around Canada and tell people about the stories we’ve learned from interviewing so many interesting individuals. It was especially important since this book covers the country’s geography. We’ve included everyone from Cape Breton Island’s Annette Verschuren (now CEO of Home Depot Canada) to Vancouver MP Ujjal Dosanjh. And the tour has paid off. In spades. We’ve seen so much of Canada in all its diversity, met so many intriguing (and often hilarious) people, travelled by every form of transport (by foot, train, plane and, yes, automobile) and got to promote our book on television, on the radio, and in print.

Overcoming your inner introvert

Kent Allan Rees, the self-published author of Princess Molly and the Golden Tree (, sent us the following query:

"I have written and self-published my first book. If you could suggest three things to help gain the most exposure, what would they be?"

Here was our paltry and probably unsatisfactory response:

"Great question, and one we struggled with for a very long time. It's also a question most people within the publishing industry can't answer. They employ a very traditional model and seem committed to very traditional steps when it comes to marketing and getting their authors noticed.

Via One (Edmonton - Jasper - Kamloops - Vancouver)

The train was three hours late getting into Edmonton, so our trip didn’t start until after noon. We stalled several times in the outskirts of town and were forced to stare out at parking lots of uhauls and discarded farm equipment for what seemed an eternity. Lunch was already being served, so we went down to the dining car where a slim lady with a French accent handed us menus and took our orders. She told us she lived on one of the Gulf Islands, but that she’d grown up in Quebec City. We asked whether she’d be returning to Quebec for the celebrations that summer. With a shrug, she claimed she couldn’t afford the trip – which we didn’t understand since, presumably, any rail travel she took was free – and, besides, she was now a west coast girl.

The Diving Bell and Marsha Norman

In a DVD extra interview for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, American painter and director Julian Schnabel remarks that he made the film to help his ailing father overcome his fear of death. He goes on to say that, though the film wasn't finished at the point where his father passed on, the making of Diving Bell has at least partially succeeded in expunging the fear in himself.

A Word from Andrew - kinda

Paul here –

I want to try a little experiment. At the moment, Andrew is too busy hyping Kickstart on the tour to write a post. This is a shame, because I think he’d bring a very interesting perspective to Open Book. As a result, I’ve decided to write the following post as Andrew. You see, this is a little bit of a voice exercise. I’m going to try to piece together various conversations I’ve had with him into a coherent and artistically unified piece. As I have previously said, voice is a slippery fish. So, Andrew, don’t get mad if I don’t capture your inimitable buoyancy.

Writing as Political Act

Paul here -

It's often difficult to remember why you're doing what you're doing. With deadlines to meet and rent to pay and the constant pressure to produce produce produce, it's sometimes hard to remember why you're writing in the first place.

Thankfully, while sitting beneath a tree in Trinity-Bellwoods park today while my landlord showed my apartment to would-be renters, I returned to Noah Richler's This is My Country, What's Yours yet again. There, I found this:

The Kickstart Book Tour Hits Calgary

Andrew Feindel and Alexander Herman met at the Calgary Airport. Andrew was wearing a shirt that read Kickstart: How Successful Canadians Got Started. There were far too many books in each of their bags. They took a taxi, chauffeured by a wild-haired woman of, oh, sixity-five, who took them for a ride through all four quadrants, telling them that no one in Alberta really hated people from Toronto (except when they complained about how "spread out" everything was). Andrew and Alexander found themselves at the door of familiarity and knocked. A friend of a friend answered. Suddenly, they were face to face with hospitality and a place to stay for two nights. Then the real work began...

Everybody Knows this is Nowhere

"I gotta get away from this day to day running around,
Everybody knows this is nowhere."

My friend Andy Bull and I wheel around my dust-caked 98 Tercel coupe, dancing ecstatically for the rising sun. It's March, 2005 and we are in Big Bend National Park in Texas. We have been driving for a month. We have been arrested for accidentally trespassing on US Navy Property. We have been waylaid by police for the "possession of a dubious odour". We have trundled through the heart of the United States of American. And now we are here, in Big Bend, and it feels like the beginning of time.

"Everybody knows this is Nowhere."

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