Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Word On The Street Interview Series: Bill Richardson

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Bill Richardson

CBC Radio listeners will know the voice of Bill Richardson well, from his stints hosting CBC Canada Reads, Saturday Night at the Opera, In Concert, and many other shows. He's also a prolific writer, with over a dozen books to his name. His newest, The First Little Bastard to Call Me Gramps (House of Anansi) will be a delight to his fans — and those who happen to be in the Toronto area are in for a treat this weekend. Bill will be appearing in the Vibrant Voices of Ontario tent at The Word On The Street on Sunday.

The Vibrant Voices tent highlights great Ontario writing every year, and we've been lucky enough to talk to several of this year's guest authors. Today we chat with Bill about The First Little Bastard to Call Me Gramps (illustrated by award-winning artist Roxanna Bikadoroff), a witty take on the experiences of aging, from cruises and grandkids to liver spots and senior sex.

He tells us about a memorable reading at The Word On The Street in Vancouver in years past, one of his favourite Ontario reads and his short and sweet advice on how to have a successful public reading.

Don't forget to mark September 27, 2015 on your calendars to catch Bill and dozens of other fantastic authors at The Word On The Street.

Open Book:

Tell us about what you’ll be reading in the Vibrant Voices tent.

Bill Richardson:

I’ll be reading some poems from a book called The First Little Bastard to Call Me Gramps, published by House of Anansi. They’re comic pieces about the vagaries, indignities, inevitabilities, and occasional joys that accompany getting old.


Have you attended The Word On The Street in the past? If so, tell us about a favourite memory. If not, what are you most looking forward to?


I’ve been to the event in Vancouver, years ago. At the time, I worked for CBC and there was an expectation that on-air “personalities” would do time in the children’s tent, reading to little kids. I used to be a children’s librarian, so I know a bit about how challenging that can be. I spent a lot of time getting ready, picking just the right books and stories. When my turn came, the only living beings in the tent were the volunteer in charge, me, one stubbornly napping 18 month old, and the child’s mother. It was a memorable story-time, in its way.


The Vibrant Voices tent celebrates Ontario authored and published books. Tell us about a favourite Ontario author or book.


Oh, my. There are so many. If I had to pick one — and chances are good I’d answer differently an hour from now — I’d say Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces, which is set only partly, but very memorably, in Toronto. It’s such a great portrait of the city as a place where worlds meet, and of the ravines and valleys around which it’s built.


What’s the best advice about public readings you have ever received?


Don’t go on too long.


Do you have a favourite spot in Ontario?


Toronto. It’s a great city, complicated and exciting.


What can you tell us about your next project?


I’m waiting for someone, either in this world or in the realm of angels, to tell me about my next project. As soon as I know, I’ll send word.

Bill Richardson is a Vancouver-based writer and broadcaster. He has hosted numerous shows on CBC Radio, including Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and In Concert. Most recently he has collaborated with composer and singer Veda Hille in the creation of Do You Want What I Have Got? — A Craigslist Cantata, which was staged at the Factory Theatre in Toronto. His books include Bachelor Brothers’ Bed & Breakfast, which won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and After Hamelin, a novel for children that was a winner of the Silver Birch Award.

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