The Guardians up to #2 on National Bestseller list!

The crappy news?  I feel like I’m getting a cold.  Not unusual for the sunless deep-freeze we call January in Canada.  But still, against all odds, I thought I might sneak through the winter without one.  It’s touch and go still – I’m clinging to the possibility that I may yet be spared (that same faint hope that drives sales of Cold FX…and yes, I’m popping them like M&Ms).

The good news?  The Guardians has made it on to the Maclean’s National Bestseller List for a second week in a row!  Not only that, it’s moved up from #5 to #2!  I’m gobsmacked.

So here’s a question:  can good news (and a hell of a lot of naturopathic voodoo pills) make a cold go away?

The Guardians – 2nd Printing!

So my son (he just turned one) wakes up screaming his fool head off this morning at a quarter after five.  That’s early, even for him.  I spent the next two hours letting him crawl over me in the basement and play dj (he loves to crank the volume knob on the radio to eleven – sorry neighbours!)  By the time I trudge upstairs to the office at nine (were those stairs always that steep?) and check my email, I’m about as perky as a George A. Romero zombie (not to be confused with those 28 Days Later-style speedsters).  But then what do I see?  An email from my editor at Doubleday Canada saying The Guardians is going into its 2nd printing just two weeks after publication!  That’s double-espresso news!

Westward, Ho!

I’m doing a couple readings in Calgary and Vancouver in the days to come and it would be great to see you there.  Both events are free, so don’t let the depressing credit card bills from the holidays keep you from a fun, mildly spooky night out.

January 25:  Calgary:  Pages on Kensington Bookstore, 7:30 PM.

January 26: Vancouver:  Vancouver Public Library (Main Branch) w/Amber Dawn and Michael Christie.  7:30 PM.

The Guardians a National Bestseller!

Just wanted to share the great news that The Guardians is a National Bestseller in its first week out in Canada!  It debuts at #5 on the Maclean’s fiction list.  Thank you to those who headed straight down to the bookstore to grab a copy.  I always hoped you existed, but wasn’t sure…until now.

The Sleep Disruption Test

Officially speaking, I’m a novelist.  But I’m really in the sleep disruption business.  While it is gratifying when a reader or reviewer provides thoughtful analysis of my books’ themes or ideas or techniques, I always remind myself that the true test of the reading experience (or at least the true test for my reading) is excitement.  Does the book in your hand race the heart, get under the skin?  And notice the physical aspect that invariably arises when it comes to page-turning metaphors?  It’s because a good book (thrilling or quiet, high-brow literary or neanderthal pulp) has to work on the body.

I have had the honour of readers reporting to me lost (or partly lost) nights of sleep at the hands of my books.  Nothing delights me more than to hear of lights left on through the night, or altered dreams as a character wriggles into a reader’s slumber-thoughts.

So as The Guardians toddles (creeps?) out into the world, I’d love to know if anyone out there stays up late to finish one of its chapters…then stays up a bit later still to push the events of that chapter out of their head.  Tell me if I’ve passed the sleep disruption test.

The Guardians a review virgin no more

I’m not going to write a post every time a review for the new novel comes out, I promise.  But I was just sent the first major newspaper review for The Guardians at the National Post.  I’m relieved to say it’s a really great review.  Doubly gratifying because it’s so well-written and (even more rare in reviews) so well structured.  So the first question of my day is:  How early can I open something bubbly and boozy (even if it’s a bottle of Keith’s)?

Check it out here:

But what I really want to say is that today is the day that my novel is officially no longer mine.  It’s yours.  The wide and anonymous world’s.  For years the story of my fictional childhood friends and the not-so-empty Thurman house has nested in my head, been batted around in outline and on the page.  It’s been a private matter, in other words.  And now I wake up to find that it’s left the house in the night, leaving no note behind, and without a goodbye.

I’m happy, don’t get me wrong.  And I knew this day would come.  But you’d think, after five novels, you’d get used to it when the little punk grows up.  As far as I can tell, you never do.

The Guardians on the shelves!

You know what I’m going to do today?  I’m going to stroll into a bookstore to see The Guardians on the shelf.  Because they’re there (the interweb told me)!  And there’s nothing quite like that first sight of a pub date book, newborn and shivering, presenting itself to the world.

It’s a complicated moment.  You want to protect it, nudge it out from the corner (“Go on!  Introduce yourself!”), tell it to shut up and you’ll do all the talking.  But even as you’re aware of its vulnerabilities, you always love it.  You love it more because of its vulnerabilities.

So on behalf of The Guardians I invite you to check it out.  If I’ve done my job halfway right, it should take you a quarter of the time as that new Franzen.  And unlike that new Franzen…it’s got a haunted house in it!

Crush It in 2011

I was in Los Angeles a few times in 2010 taking meetings.  Meetings is all they do there.  They meet.  Arrange meetings.  Sometimes, they “push” or “shift” or even “swap” meetings.  There are sad days when meetings are cancelled altogether.  But not to worry. Tomorrow’s another meeting!

Anyway, in one of these meetings, someone encouraged me to “Crush it.”  I took him to mean something like “Hit it out of the park” or “Go nuts” or “Go where no man has gone before.”  “Crush it!” quickly became my Ironic Phrase of the Year.  If asked how my day went, my answer would be “Crushed it!”  Did you do the dishes?  “Crushed them!”  You want to meet for drinks?  “Sure!  Let’s crush it!”

I will stop saying this in the new year.  It’s pretty much my only resolution.  But I invite you to take up the phrase yourself, if you like.  Or not.  Either way, 2011 is a new year, with new opportunities and potential pleasures.  So take ahold of the 365 days to come and…crush them.

The Guardians’ First Review

So I’m out Christmas shopping and I’m in Type Books on Queen Street and there’s the new Quill & Quire on the magazine rack and on the cover it says there’s a review of The Guardians inside.  Do I look?  If it’s a thumbs-downer, it risks souring my dinner.  But the thing is…I’m curious.  It will be the first official review of the book.  Later, I can afford not to care.  But the first?  You never forget your first.

I buy a copy and Heidi reads it out loud to me on the drive home.  But before she does, I notice two things:  1)  it’s a full-page Feature Review (which is good, as it allows the reviewer the space to get down-and-dirty serious), and 2) the reviewer is James Grainger, who is tough, allergic to bullshit (did I mention tough?).  Then Heidi starts to read the thing.  And it’s…good!  Good in the sense that it’s thoughtful, hits the novel’s themes and insights squarely, and provides excellent context both for the novel and for my work.  And good in the sense that the reviewer liked the thing.

It’s only one review, I know.  It reminds me of the ironic headlines that followed the Maple Leafs’ opening game win this season:  “Leafs Undefeated.”  Of course, there were defeats to come (plenty, in the case of the Leafs).  But you can’t take that first win away.

The Year Ahead

2010?  Thank you.  You brought me a beautiful chucklehead of a son (born right at the start of things).  You moved us into a new house (and a mortgage of a size and amortization period that brought joy to the cold heart of CIBC).  You delivered a crazy-busy summer peppered with airports and conference calls and a couple weeks at a rented cottage of I’ll-never-forget-those-days quality.  Oh, and thanks for introducing me to Santa’s Village!  I’ll be back!

But, to be frank, you’re looking your age.  Just a few more days and you’ll be off to that place where the ghost years go.  So we look to the year to come – 2011, with its twin towered 1’s pointing hopefully skyward – and, with fingers crossed, count our hopes.

For me, 2011 is jam-packed.  This is highly unusual.  I’m a novelist.  My professional calendar tends to be snowdrift-white for pages and pages, my To Do list little more than “Write novel.”  But this new year happens to be one where many long-long-gestating projects may (and I emphasize may) decide to step into the light.  There’s the new book, The Guardians, of course (in stores the first week of January!)  But there’s other stuff on the go too.  A TV pilot I’ve been hired to write.  The movie of Lost Girls, scheduled to be filmed in the fall.  The movie of The Killing Circle, which has a finished script (not written by me, but a British screenwriter named James Dormer…and it’s effing great).  Two other adaptations in earlier stages of development – The Wildfire Season going to draft, and The Guardians under option.  [NOTE:  It’s the movie business, I know.  Which is to say you never know.  You think the literary life is about rejection?  Try making a movie.  But it will nevertheless be exciting to see how the horse race goes over the next 365 days].

And then there’s another novel to write.  There’s always another novel to write.  A new year!  A new story!

Bring it.