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Stories from a Book Tour of Canada 2013

Float plane Vancouver was shrouded in fog - the hotel - the Century Plaza on Burrard was surprisingly welcome with amazing rooms that would cost a fortune in London.

The Book Tour got off to a good start when I was met at the airport by Jenny from the Manda Group. Next day I had to fly to Victoria on a float plane. My first time on something that is is quite normal in BC- hopping between the islands - but horrendously expensive. I got to Coal Harbour at nine am and the fog was thick - it looked like a bust. Luckily the coffee was free.
Angry executives and government officials in a hurry to get to Victoria were huffing and puffin - must have worked because we finally took off for the Island. For $185 it's expensive for a short trip one-way, but fun to land on water in front of the famous Empress Hotel.

I was met by Iolanda and taken to lunch in the city. Nothing grand, but hey the sarnies were good. Met with a couple of booksellers - Pat from from Schoolhouse Teaching Supplies and the wonderful Kirsten from Bolen's Books (a giant bookshop that has everything). Got to sign some books there and then, since we missed the early ferry, Jen and Iolanda took me to the terrific Stagebar besides the Belfry Theatre on Gladstone. (Highly recommended). Rest of night in a blur as we took the last ferry back to Vancouver.

Koko Rescued the next day by my sister Sara and niece Tasha and Koko the dog. It's good to reconnect with family. Took a walk to Kids Books on Broadway and the books stand proud there.

In a perfect life I'd be living in Kits and writing in coffee shops but Kits prices have exploded and I'd be lucky to own a studio apartment there these days. But I can dream. Good to have Koko fetching her sticks on the beach as usual and the autumn colours look great. Found a great new restaurant on Yew street, just off Kits Beach. Although sitting on bench seats and sharing, it was fun and they have all these prepared veggies on the counter you can eat. It might have been Abigales, but I can't recall. Dog not happy being left outside though. Eating is taken seriously in Vancouver - although there is altogether too much cheese on everything.

The neighbourhood in Kits hasn't changed so much. The Arbutus café is still there, the old railway out front is more intensely gardened. Urban street gardening is a big thing this on this side of the bay. The attraction of Vancouver is that they haven't yet torn down everything from the past (yet) - although there is the temptation to do that I am sure.
Neighbourhoods are important and giving them a distinct identity is inbuilt to the community that live there. We caught the movie Gravity at the Fifth Avenue - my favourite movie theatre. Screens are small but it is a great little venue. Gravity is amazing and all done with wires - you could swear it was shot in space. Must have taken forever to shoot.
Next day it's lunch at Trafalgar and meeting with more booksellers with Carrie from Hager Books and Ruth Scocroft from Albany Books in Tsawwassen amongst others. Tough business persuading booksellers to stock your books but with luck they have. Jen and Iolanda keep up the flow of conversation fueled by Brown Owl wine - surprisingly delicious. (Not made from actual owls I must add)
Abutus Cafe

Afterwards I venture out to Indigo Books and try to interest staff there as I sign copies but eyes glaze over quickly. So many books and so few people to sell them - it's a wonder anyone knows what to buy. Getting noticed in that vast pile where 200,000 titles are published a year. Scary. Consider alternate career as I trudge back to the safety of my favourite coffee shop in Kits (The Epicurean) on Ist where I actually wrote The Repossession. Nice smile from owner when I arrive too. I used to write for Hacks here many years ago too and it feels good to be back. It's possible that Vancouver has more coffee shops than people...
Street Art Next stop Montreal via West Jet. Luckily the Skytrain starts early and gets you right to the airport. In Montreal the Bus gets you right downtown - easy once you locate it. Discover Montreal an even tougher place to be a new English YA author, but I enjoy wandering around the old town (where the cruise ships tower over the buildings just like Venice). Rediscovered Olive + Gormande, a very lively lunch place with a big queue. Friendly too as you sit at a high bench eating home made soup. Open one in Vancouver guys.
* Image is of street art on St Laurent. Art seems well integrated into the city and every other shop that isn't a coffee shop seems to sell furniture.
The street art is sometimes on a monumental scale. Montreal has a great deal of character and is quite welcoming - the coffee shops are amazing, of course, but almost all the food is smothered in cheese - which makes me think they don't really like to taste their food there either- but anyhow a few copies of my books lurk in Indigo Books. Sad to discover that Chapters are basically becoming a 'lifestyle' store and that books are going to be reduced in importance by at least one third to one half of floor space to make room for 'American Girl' dolls and occasional object d'art. Good place to buy a rug however. I was taken care of by my niece Emma, who showed me the upscale side of the city I had never been to. Babar Books was cute too and I'm sorry I didnt get to meet with customers there. I hope they find customers for my books over in Westmount. I was sad to leave the city - especially at six am by train bound for Toronto. Wow VIA Rail trains much nicer than UK trains and cheap too. Buy tickets online to save cash, and they have wi-fi. Great. Not too much to see out the window but I had the wonderfully creepy 'Miss Cavendish's Home for Boys and Girls' to read and that kept me busy.
Graffiti
Sam with Bear In Toronto I was taken care of by Donna from Manda Group and taken to many bookshops. Met this obliging Bear in Mables Fables and later glimpsed Chris Hadfield signing 1500 copies of his books in Indigo Books - everyone wants a copy of the spaceman's thoughts.

How do people find books? Is the cover? Word of mouth?
The blurb on the back? Hand selling by a bookseller? A combination I should think. A review for mine would have been useful but I have to be happy the book exists there for a few weeks for people to find it.
Luckily I have another niece here, Tabytha tending bar at Drakes Boutique hotel and we had fun as she showed me her favourite places in the city. Tabytha has written for Hackwriters Magazine on her varied travels and her life has been documented there since she was a wild 15 year old
Tab

Kensington Market Toronto Kensington

Toronto is basically under re-contruction with 100 Condo 40 storey towers going up simultaneously - even my dreadful Hilton Garden Hotel is a tear down where they intend to put up 38 floors of condos. Crazy. Do avoid this Hilton. Smelly bathrooms, no latte's and dubious goings on behind the hotel. But I walked tons and Tab had me discover Kensington Market (That's the cat on the pole) - kind of like Portobello Road thirty years ago - but friendly and good little coffee places.

Last stop was giving a talk to mature students at the University of Toronto. They seemed horrified at the contents of the average YA novel and I definitely put them off buying my books. Funny. Normally if you tell people about what is in your books they get excited. Might have been a glimmer of interest in Repercussions - my time travel story- but essentially this crowd were ready for a book burning by the end. You forget some people aren't into YA fiction. Their loss I think. Luckily it was Halloween and dinner at Gusto's with Tab beckoned.

Canada was welcoming as always. It's great that you can buy a bus ticket that lasts for more than one journey. With luck someone will buy and read the books, but it's more about the usual triumph of hope over experience of course. Nevertheless it was good to be in a country where my books are actually set for once and Manda Group and Hachette looked out for me well.

Meanwhile there's A NEW GENIE MAGEE ADVENTURE : The Heaviness here
'Desperate kidnappers, crazy experiments, weird shamanistics, a genuine love story, what's not to like about 'The Heaviness.'' Sara Troy PLV Radio

* Meanwhile discover a new short story of mine:
Nadia: A short story about a girl, chrysanthemums and the end of the world here

Sam Hawksmoor

VoLuntaires The Repossession is now in French available from Amazon worldwide - Discover VoLontaires

Review:
 I’ll leave it to the wonderful Evie Seo who reviewed The Repossession:
The Repossession is a must-read YA novel. Well written, rich in detail of both character and world building, it's a unique blend of many different genres - from science fiction, to mystery, thriller and supernatural, with elements of teen romance and drama. Smart, dark and graceful, this story is sure to send chills down your spine…

The Repossession
Joint winner of The Wirral ‘Paperback of the Year’



 

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