Word on the Street for the first time. It is a festival that celebrates books, authors, publishers and readers, bringing all these elements together on one day. It is held at Queen's Park and features stalls representing major and minor Canadian publishers of books, magazines, and newspapers, as well as authors promoting their latest works through book signings and readings. Larger tents of various themes had events scheduled throughout the day.
"Oranges and Lemons" by Liz Bugg follows lesbian detective Cali Barrow on a new case. Her home and office are set in the Kensington Market neighbourhood, while a boxing scene is based on the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club. The author read with a melodramatic tone that perhaps surpassed the actual words on the page, which I found a bit off-putting and distracted me from the narrative.
Edward Keenan, editor of GRID magazine, wrote the soon to be published "Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto". He asked the audience whether they would rather hear an excerpt about how great Toronto is, or one about Mayor Rob Ford. Of course, we went for the potentially more scandalous topic. Rather than dwelling on Ford's recent slip-ups, Keenan's excerpt dealt with his time traveling around Toronto with Rob Ford when he was still a councilor. Ford took pride in seeking out his constituents, even at their homes, in an attempt to solve their problems. The reading was followed by an interesting discussion about how the tactics that endeared Ford to his constituents as a councilor did not work in the role of the mayor. Because Keenan had not previously intended to discuss this particular topic, he had not printed out the section and had to read the text from his smart phone.
"Hope and Heartbreak in Toronto" by Peter Robinson sounded like a romance novel until we heard the subtitle: Life as a Maple Leafs Fan. He has a knack of spinning the tale of his personal experiences as he describes his devotion to the Maple Leafs despite their decades long losing slump. He compares how the Leafs make him feel to a sadomasochistic scene he witnessed looking into the window of a brothel in Hanover, Germany.
Julie Wilson has an interesting premise for her book called "Seen Reading". When she sits on Toronto transit, she watches other people reading, taking note of the reader, the book and the page number being read. From each interaction, she is inspired to write a small snippet of fiction, no more than several paragraphs long. The quote she liked to use to describe the readers she witnesses is "If I am a voyeur, then you are all exhibitionists".
Subsequent lectures dealt with tips on how to get published as well as details about self publishing and publishing in electronic formats (e-books) as opposed to traditional paper format (p-books). Much was stressed about how the publishing part was just half the battle while self promotion of your book was equally if not more important. The use of social media such as Facebook, Blogging, Twitter now seems to be a major component of book promotions.
There were many other interesting talks and unfortunately we could not get to more of them since they were all scheduled at the same time. Looking forward to next year.