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March 27th, 2017 by SPiN

The Conjoined launches into the bright, sparkly world

September 16, 2016 was the launch party for The Conjoined, an event I was calling The Side Jobs Cabaret, and it was so fun, I was overcome with emotion at the end and collapsed on the floor of the stage. We had beautiful, funny and emotional performances from Chelene Knight, Jillian Christmas, Leah Horlick, Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli, and Stephen Quinn, that rascal, was our emcee. The Emerald (once, I believe, an iconic Chinatown restaurant with a mahjong room at the back) was the perfect spot. So perfect, in fact, my mother seemed quite pleased.

The Conjoined, as I’ve been saying to many people, has been the book that has straddled the biggest changes of my personal and professional lives, and I am so grateful that, when I launched a new book into the world, people still cared.  And now, photos! All photographs are courtesy of Skot Nelson.

Dina Del Bucchia being regal at the launch of The ConjoinedOpening remarks at the launch of The Conjoined by Jen Sookfong LeeLeah Horlick reads at the launch of The Conjoined

Jen telling the room about online datingStephen Quinn reading his only spoken word poemDaniel Zomparelli making us all play gamesJen is overcome with emotion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 4th, 2016 by SPiN

Valentine’s Day & San Miguel Writers’ Conference 2016

San Miguel Writers’ Conference

February is shaping up to be an enjoyable month. Éditions Hurtubise is hosting a Valentine’s Day promotion for the French e-book/pdf of Muse for the very attractive price of $9.00. As they say, «Pour la Saint-Valentin, offrez-vous une histoire d’amour!»

Guess where I’m going to be spending Valentine’s Day? In Mexico!

In a few days, I’ll escape rainy Vancouver on a jet to León, then board a shuttle to San Miguel de Allende, a town with a fantastic reputation. I’ve been hearing good things about it from friends and fellow writers for years. Yes, it’s full of expats, but I’ve read that whereas Canadians and Americans move to Florida to retire, they re-locate in San Miguel to re-invent themselves. It’s bursting with talented people—writers, artists, musicians, weavers, craftsmen—as well as interesting architecture, restaurants, coffee shops, and natural sights. But best of all, every February brings the San Miguel International Writers’ Conference. With about 350 conference-goers, the festival is small enough to be very friendly, yet large enough to attract international authors, who mingle with the readers and eager emerging writers. I’ve been invited to participate in several events this year and I’m really looking forward to it. Since I’ve never been to Mexico and don’t speak Spanish, I’m counting on Duolingo!

April 14th, 2015 by SPiN

Authors for Indies Day, May 2, 2015

On May 2, 2015, authors across Canada will be volunteering in independent bookshops to meet customers and hand-sell books. This initiative, called Authors for Indies, has been organized by author Janie Chang of Vancouver to help bookstores build sales and attract new customers. The list of participating bookstores and authors can be found at www.authorsforindies.com  Over 120 bookstores and 500 authors have signed up and the day promises to be exciting and busy. I’ll be volunteering at one of my favourite bookshops, Kidsbooks in the Village, 3040 Edgemont Boulevard, North Vancouver, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, and look forward to meeting parents and children in need of new reading material. Edgemont has two bookstores and three fine coffee shops, so please drop by to enjoy the village! June Hutton’s photo appears on the Authors for Indies rotating banner and on May 2 she will be at Book Warehouse on Main, 4118 Main Street, Vancouver, where–should you be super lucky!–you might even catch a glimpse of the elusive Jen Sookfong Lee.

Why an Authors for Indies day? Ann-Marie Macdonald reminds us that things are tough for independent bookstores. “Year after year they support [authors]. They stock our books, invite us for readings, and put our titles on their ‘staff picks’ shelf. Let’s do something to support them back.” Janie Chang, who will be in Edgemont Village on May 2 at 32 Books, believes that Authors for Indies day will bring “traffic into the bookstores, and hopefully that means the stores will sell more books. I really hope it raises awareness of how important independent bookstores are in the community . . . .  [Customers will] be able to walk into their local independent bookstore and get book recommendations from an author, and talk about books.”

February 24th, 2015 by SPiN

Novel Nights at The Book Warehouse on Main

Mary-at-Book-Warehouse

If you live in Vancouver, you know about The Book Warehouse, which has been going strong at Broadway and Ash since 1980. In 2012, they were rescued from looming closure by Cathy and Mel Jesson of Black Bond Books, and I had the pleasure of appearing there, with Roberta Rich, in 2013 (see photo). A year ago, Book Warehouse on Main opened at 4118 Main Street (and King Edward) and has been buzzing with author events ever since. This is no surprise given the enthusiastic in-house talent, Mary-Ann Yazedijian and James Tyler Irvine, who are well known about town as amazingly supportive of Vancouver writers. Their new brain-child is Novel Nights, a series of readings that features books by local authors. So far they’ve had Steven Galloway, Janie Chang, Caroline Adderson, and Timothy Taylor. Given those luminaries, you can guess how pleased I am to be the featured author on March 18, from 7 to 8:15 pm. Everybody is welcome! Come and chat me up, ask questions about my novel Muse, and meet the energetic James and Mary-Ann.

December 11th, 2014 by SPiN

The French translation of Muse

Merry Christmas to all! How exciting to get my first glimpse of the cover for the French translation of Muse! Also titled Muse, it will be published by Éditions Hurtubise February 26 and distributed in France by Librairie du Québec. The award-winning translators, Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné, have done a wonderful job and I feel very fortunate that Hurtubise has put so much care and effort into this edition. What a lovely Christmas gift. Merci beaucoup, Hurtubise!

July 7th, 2014 by SPiN

The Blog Hop: A Writer’s Brainwaves

Today, I’m participating in a blog tour at the invitation of writer Karen Dodd, who also lives on what Vancouverites call the North Shore. This usually means that we have to drive over to Vancouver to visit friends, who are reluctant to travel to our side of town. Karen lives even further west than I do, in Lions Bay, where she often sees dolphins frolicking in Howe Sound. Maybe that’s why she’s written such a thrilling debut novel, Deadly Switch. Karen has passed on four questions for me to answer.

What am I working on? 

I’m fascinated by walled cities like London and Avignon. Although London’s wall has been destroyed, except for a few traces, Avignon’s still encircles the historic city. After I finished writing Muse, I started thinking about London again. I picked up after the Great Fire of 1666, where Conceit ended, and began reading into the next century . . . read more

May 4th, 2014 by SPiN

Another Publication Day for Muse, May 27, 2014

I’m really pleased that Anchor Canada is publishing a new edition of my novel, Muse, on May 27, 2014, only nine months after the original. Thanks, Random House, for the vote of confidence in my novel! The new edition is a smaller paperback, so will cost less, and they’ve given the book an attractive new look with a redesigned cover. I’ve been busy adding support material to my website and now have nine illustrated backstory essays for Muse. I’ve also created a new YouTube video about the Pope’s palace in Avignon. I’m happy to announce that the group Imprinted Lives on Goodreads has chosen Muse for their June 2014 discussion and welcomes new members who would like to join in. More information about the various Random House/Doubleday editions, including the e-book, can be found here. There’s also an Italian edition L’amante del Papa (with a sexy trailer) and a French edition is on the way from Éditions Hurtubise, with publication estimated for February 2015.

March 15th, 2014 by SPiN

Secrets of the Avignon Popes in Muse

Mary on the roof of the pope's palace

Muse is set in medieval Avignon during the period when the popes resided there, rather than in Rome. Writers such as Francesco Petrarch flocked to the city to seek patronage from the Pope and cardinals. The city was bursting with craftsmen, merchants, goldsmiths, and money lenders as well as the architects, master masons, and artists who worked on the Pope’s immense palace. Under Clement VI, who appears in Muse, the palais des papes became the most celebrated court in Europe, a salon for the artists, musicians, and intellectuals who were the avant-garde of the Renaissance. At the beginning of the 14th century, Avignon was a city of 5,000 people. It grew by a thousand a year as men came to the papal city to seek their fortune and curry favour with the Pope, who was centralizing religious power in himself. The Pope behaved more like a monarch than a spiritual leader. The main symbol of his opulence was the palace itself . . .

. . . continue reading at Mary Novik’s website

March 1st, 2014 by SPiN

Muse & Woman Hero’s Journey

My novel Muse arrived, imaginatively speaking, when I was teaching a literature course in which we were exploring Joseph Campbell’s concept of the hero’s journey. We were riffing on that, looking at ways of describing a woman hero’s journey, when a student told me about Veronica Franco, an “intellectual courtesan” of 16th-century Venice. This discovery was one of the triggering ideas for Muse. From the poet Veronica Franco, who had unfortunately been written about, I made the leap to the walled city of Avignon, which I had recently visited, guessing that courtesans, as well as popes, had lived there in the 14th century.
. . .continue reading at Mary Novik’s website

February 15th, 2014 by SPiN

UNESCO World Heritage City of Avignon & Muse

Attractively situated on the southern Rhône in France, Avignon is a walled city with spectacular medieval sights. The historic centre has many charms to offer the tourist. Today Avignon is a UNESCO world heritage site, where tourists, not 14th-century clerics, throng the narrow, winding streets and visit the grand palace of the Avignon popes. The towers of the palais des papes are visible for miles as you approach on the fast train, the TGV from Paris. You must enter the wall through one of the twelve gates where medieval travellers were likely to be greeted by a traitor’s rotting torso or severed leg to warn against committing treason. Today, the main artery running north to the palace is as mercantile as during the time of the popes

. . . continue reading at Mary’s website