“The Years That Followed” Canada launch at Ravine, Niagara on the Lake

 In Diary, News

If it’s the first weekend in November, it must be Ireland…
I’m feeling a bit like the North American tourist of the old joke, so bewildered by the frenetic pace of his European tour that he had no idea where he was on any given day. And so, he relied on his diary: ‘If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium.’

I know just how he feels.

The re-entry phase has been challenging, as it usually is.

Five hours’ time difference between here and Canada, long flights, and longer distances travelled by road mean that it has taken me a few days to become readjusted to life on this side of the pond.

And work. And all the things that lie in wait for us on our return from wherever it is we’ve been.

DSBN Academy

On Tuesday 25th October, shortly after I arrived from Ottawa, I visited a school in Niagara-on-the-Lake called the DSBN Academy.  I’d been invited to come and meet some thirty students who were all enthusiastic writers-in-waiting, and who were eager to discuss the joys as well as the challenges and the pitfalls of creative writing.

It’s been many years since I stood in a classroom, and the students I met reminded me of all that had been best about my previous career as a teacher. They were curious, engaged and enthusiastic.

They were willing – more than willing! – to engage in a dialogue and had some thoughtful and interesting questions to ask.

Our time together flew: I’d happily have stayed for another hour or so, debating issues of characterisation, plot and dialogue. I wish them all, and their wonderful, dedicated teachers, the very best for this year and into what I am sure will be a bright future for all of them.

“The Years That Followed” at Ravine Vineyard

That same evening, the Harber family welcomed us to Ravine Vineyard where the Canadian launch of The Years That Followed was taking place. The cellar that they had prepared for us was wonderful: lit by several candelabras, filled with lots of comfortable seating – and the opportunity to sample their wonderful wine.

And the staff rose to a very demanding occasion: it quickly became obvious that we were going to have a lot of people arriving at the same time, all eager to sample Ravine wines: they go particularly well with books, you know…

The staff were all friendly and efficient and seemed to regard it as a pleasure to welcome in excess of a hundred people.

I read some short passages from The Years That Followed and then invited questions from the audience. We had a lively, good-humoured Q and A and copies of the novel sold out.

None of this would have been possible without the amazing publicity skills of Marion Grobb Finkelstein, Workplace Communication Consultant, and the tireless efforts of Shelley Martin, bookseller extraordinaire from Brock University. I am extremely grateful to them both for their expertise and enthusiasm.

I am also grateful to Helen Hansen, an Ottawa-based writer, for her warm and welcoming introduction to kick off the proceedings.

In keeping with the spirit of the evening, many of us stayed on after the launch was over, and were treated to the wonderful cuisine at Ravine.

I hope I don’t have to wait for my next book to be published before I make a return visit there, and to the lovely, gentle and scenic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Italy in November

And if it’s November, it must be Italy…

Next week, the Pisa Book Festival takes place from the 11th to the 13th November and this year, Ireland is the guest of honour.

I have the privilege of opening the Festival officially on Friday morning, and I’m looking forward to taking part in what promises to be a very lively and stimulating event.

After that, like the American tourist, I’ll need my diary to confirm where I am – will it be Livorno? Or Florence? Or Arezzo? Or Rome?

All of the above, so watch this space for further details.

  • Marion Grobb Finkelstein

    You did an amazing job reading your novel and mixing with the guests. It was a delight working with you and welcoming you and your books to Canada!

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new york: Catherine Dunne's "The Years That Followed" Launcheva dorme / eva sleeps di francesca melandri