January 29, 2016

Behind the scenes of Canada Reads 2016!

Okay, I think everyone I know knows this by now (along with a lot of people I don't know!), but
Bone and Bread was selected to be part of Canada Reads 2016!

You can click the image to go to the Canada Reads CBC page.

Cue massive, ongoing celebration!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My last post was about my love of book clubs, and Canada Reads is about as close as we get to a national one.

It has been a little over a week since my whirlwind trip to Toronto for the day it was announced, and although I think I have responded to everyone who sent me kind messages of congratulations, I want to say thank you again!! It makes it even more exciting to know that people are excited right along with me.

So here's the Canada Reads scoop. I found out a little bit ahead of the announcement that Bone and Bread was on the shortlist, and a little bit after that that Farah Mohamed was going to be defending it. I arrived in Toronto late on the night Jan. 19th. Just before midnight, I received an email letting me know who the other writers and defenders were going to be. I was extra curious because the smarties over at the Goodreads CBC Books group had been speculating for a few days about who the panelists might be, based on all the clues that had been dropped. (They actually got a bunch of them right!) If I had gone to bed early, the way I knew I should have, I wouldn't have read the email and stayed up for another hour Googling everyone! Really, the night before a photo shoot, one's only homework is probably getting a good night's sleep. Oh well. I guess that's what makeup and coffee is for.

The first of the other writers I saw after arriving at CBC were Michael Winter and Anita Rau Badami -- the two I already know! After hair and makeup, while we were waiting for the others to arrive, I was excited and suggested we take a photo in front of the lunch table:

With the lovely Michael Winter and Anita Rau Badami. 
(My expression here: nervous-face.)

Smiling! With two brilliant writers: Michael Winter and Anita Rau Badami.

Fun fact re: Anita Rau Badami -- we met a dinner party in Montreal!

Fun fact re: Michael Winter -- well, I kind of feel like every fact about Michael Winter is a fun one, but I have been a fan of his writing long before I started running into him at events and festivals in the context of being a writer myself. His novel The Architects Are Here is one of many books I read (and loved) while working on Bone and Bread, but he has such a powerful voice that there is a short passage present in the novel where I had put down his book and felt the spirit of Michael's inimitable style upon me. Of course, only Michael Winter sounds like himself and I'm sure this part is only detectable to me, but there are a few sentences in my novel that wouldn't be there, quite in the form they are, if it wasn't for him. So thank you, Michael!

Finally, everyone was there and it was time to take photos.

With Michael Winter, Anita Rau Badami, Lawrence Hill and Tracey Lindberg
Photo (along with most of the others here) by Laura Meyer of Anansi

I think it was Lawrence Hill (a former Canada Reads winner and therefore already a pro) who explained the right way to cradle your book for the photo -- so you don't cover up your name. Top tip! The professional photos are being rolled out by CBC in their various promotional materials for Canada Reads, which I will repost here as they become available.

At the photo shoot, I got to meet Farah Mohamed:

Thank you, Farah. You are amazing and 
I'm so happy you liked my novel!

Farah Mohamed is the founder and CEO of G(irls)20, an organization that empowers girls and young women around the world to create a new generation of female leaders. Having read about the organization as well as her many other professional accomplishments, I was more than a little intimidated to meet her, but she immediately put me at ease as she is incredibly warm and approachable and fun. She also seems like a fierce debater!

After the photos, we all had lunch. Later, we shot some individual videos (which I dread watching...quippy I am not. Also at that point, after touch-ups, I had so much makeup on that my face felt weird. I think I might end up looking scary in HD...)

I had a chance to meet the other defenders (Clara Hughes, Vinay Virmani, Bruce Poon Tip, and Adam "Edge" Copeland), who were all as lovely as you might imagine. I would say more, but it probably isn't my place at this point! But honestly, I am so impressed by the accomplishments of the five panelists, and (thanks mostly to Google) by what I know of their level of engagement with social and cultural issues, across their widely different fields. I was really interested to learn about their projects, and I'm happy that the show will shine a light on them, too. It seems as though CBC has put together a group of people with real character to participate in Canada Reads 2016. (Hopefully I won't be insecure enough to feel differently if any of them turn out to hate my novel! But probably I just won't listen...)

The defenders said a few times over the course of the day that they all got along so well that they were going to have a hard time fighting it out, and I can easily believe it. (And so I say: why fight? Just let there be a five-way tie this year!)

At one point over lunch, Tracey Lindberg and I agreed that amid all the other things to be happy about with Canada Reads, we were both extra excited about the free books:

I know other Canada Reads fans will be jealous of this sweet stack.
No library holds for me! Another awesome bonus.

All in all, an exhausting but wonderful trip to Toronto. It was so nice to meet everyone at CBC, and House of Anansi publicist extraordinaire Laura Meyer took such good care of me...even helping me make it to the Turner exhibit at the AGO before my afternoon flight home.  

So I will probably share a few more Canada Reads-related things over the next few weeks before the show happens in March. I beg your indulgence ahead of time! I will try to mix it up with a few other things, so it doesn't get too tedious.

Home again, wearing my CBC fangirl shirt.
Do I look as ecstatically happy as I feel? I think so!


Pat Webster said...

Hearing about Canada Reads isn't tedious, so bring on all you have to say!

saleema said...

Thanks, Pat! Okay...that's all the encouragement I need. :)