The Rookie

By Arno Kopecky

Rookie! Rookie! Rookie!

Probably no one’s going to say it out loud but no doubt they’ll be running it over their tongues, this cutthroat confederacy of Litfest vets whose shark tank I’m about to enter.

Was on a sailboat when word came. Day 43, everything going fine. Blue skies over the coast of British Columbia, humpback whales bubble-netting some kind of finger-sized fish all around us. Using their breath as a net. You’re invited to Toronto. Come read out loud. Juno, Jian, M.G. (what do the initials stand for anyway—right, I should know. Rookie.), Alice, Adrienne, Louise—all kinds of grand dukes and duchesses. All gonna be there. Big network. I’ll fit right in, was my first thought. Well not actually. When in doubt of your capacity to measure up, vilify. Yes they seem wise, compassionate, clever and fun as hell to be around, on paper. It’s called Voice. In person they maintain a permanent mental crouch, are constantly prepared to pounce on an upstart Rookie at his very first um with a devastating loquacity that can only be meant to expose its lack in others. How did it come to this?

Started writing poems when I was eight. Bad poems! Parents called them wonderful, kept writing. Got tired of poems and starting writing stories. Bad stories! Teachers called them wonderful, kept writing. Got tired of stories, tried to write a novel. Bad novel! Kept it to myself, kept writing. Got tired of making things up and tried journalism. Mediocre journalism. Better than previous genres. Kept writing. Tried traveling, too. Editors became parents and teachers. Went to South America, wrote a— travelogue, mostly. Just hit the shelves. Who knows what they’ll say. Probably something like, keep writing.

For more about Kopecky at IFOA, click here.

IFOA buzz!

The Festival starts tomorrow and everyone’s talking about it! In case you’ve missed the buzz (but how could you have?) here are some recent highlights:

Quill & Quire staff put together a thoughtful list of event recommendations. These people know what they’re talking about.

On Saturday the Toronto Star had a great spread on science, speculative fiction and fantasy at IFOA, including some event highlights.

Becky Toyne shared her IFOA lessons learned in a how-to over at Open Book: Toronto (plus staff picks!).

And CBC Books brings us the low-down on IFOA authors’ book picks, including what Miriam Toews is reading.

And that’s just a sampling! For more information about the Festival, visit readings.org.

One more sleep!
-NB

Five Questions with…Emily Schultz

Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes, will participate in a round table discussion on October 23 and a reading October 25.

© Brian Joseph Davis

IFOA: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Festival?

Schultz: Too many to list, but as  I lived in Toronto for quite a few years I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and local writers who I miss.

IFOA: You’re the co-founder of Joyland. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your contributors lately?

Schultz: Short fiction has different laws from novel writing but maybe something I’m reminded of all the time is don’t waste that first sentence. It’s the one free moment the reader gives you. Everything after has to be earned.

IFOA: In The Blondes, women with blonde hair turn into zombies—even if they have a dye job. We hear you’ve dyed your hair blonde in the past. Did you like being a blonde?

Schultz: I think what I learned, and what I tried to to put into the novel, was that small things divide women during our day to day lives—hair, culture, class, age—but more important issues will always unite us.

IFOA: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Schultz: Well I’m working on a TV pilot right now and that feels like a vacation from novel writing. I guess I have no escape from writing.

IFOA: Finish this sentence: I wish I could…

Schultz: Zero-out my Visa balance once in my life.

IFOA: Bonus question: International Festival of Authors in one word:

Schultz: Opulent. (An adjective that most writers never get to experience, so thank you IFOA!)

Click here for more about Schultz and The Blondes.

Tweet to win an @IFOA Golden Ticket!

Tomorrow until midnight!

Celebrate IFOA by tweeting your best IFOA photo. It could be a picture of one of our IFOA authors, you reading your favourite IFOA ’33 book, or something else—the more creative, the better. Tweet your photos throughout the day on Tuesday, October 16 for a chance to win the ultimate IFOA Golden Ticket—2 tickets to any single IFOA event (excluding the PEN Benefit) and an invitation to our exclusive Welcome Party where you can rub elbows with some of this year’s participants.

Be sure to hashtag your tweets on Tuesday and throughout the Festival using #IFOA. Follow us @IFOA.

Don’t have Twitter? Send us your photo via email to ifoamedia@harbourfrontcentre.com.

For more information click here.

Five Questions with… Linda Spalding

Linda Spalding, author of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and Governor General’s Award-nominated novel The Purchase, will participate in several IFOA events.

© Michael Ondaatje

IFOA: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Festival?

Spalding: I’m keen to hear Michael Chabon read. He’s a friend of mine and I like his work but have never heard him read. Ditto Louise Erdrich. It’s all going to be fantastic.

IFOA: When and where do you prefer to read?

Spalding: To myself? I love to read myself to sleep, but then that’s just what it is! The best reading time for me is in the morning, sitting up straight with all the attention I can muster and a cup of coffee in hand.

IFOA: The Purchase is inspired by stories of your own ancestors. What made you decide to write about them now?

Spalding: I’ve been working on this book for several years and thinking about it longer than that. Ideas fester like wounds and then they either heal or require amputation. This one healed.

IFOA: You write both fiction and non-fiction, and The Purchase is a bit of a blend of both. What genre will you be working in next, and why?

Spalding: I’ll start another novel one of these days, but it may be slightly interrupted if Maryann Acker gets out of prison. When that happens, I’d like to do a little reprise of her story.

IFOA:  Finish this sentence: I can’t write unless I….

Spalding: But I can! When I was a girl I made myself write with my eyes closed on the city bus. It has served me well.

IFOA: Bonus question: International Festival of Authors in one word:

Spalding: Interconnectedness.

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