Monday, November 17, 2014

Inspired by INSPIRE

No, that is not the cleverest of titles, but it's true. This past weekend, I spent all day, every day, at the inaugural Toronto International Book Fair, known as INSPIRE. Starting on Thursday night, I trekked down to the Metro Convention Centre and met up with Lydia Laceby and Heather Wardell. Well, first I picked Lydia and Heather up at the hotel bar next to the convention centre, and we made our way over. I was putting the kids to bed, so sadly, I missed the pre-party.

Walking in, we got our glass of wine and wandered shyly around, not knowing where to begin. The wine smoothed our initial hesitation, and we looked at all of the new books released, salivating over the gorgeous covers and heart-pounding blurbs.

If it is cold, and I have more than a sip of liquid, you can usually find me in and out of the bathroom, and that's where I was exiting for the umpteenth time when we ran into Chantel Guertin and Marissa Stapley. Both had been involved in our BookBuzz event, and we keep in touch when we can. How wonderful it was for us Toronto authors to stand around, schmoozing and gabbing at a book fair in our own city.

I won't bore you with the to-the-minute description of my weekend at INSPIRE, but here are the highlights:

-Listening to the brilliant and very funny Margaret Atwood speak about her new collection of short stories, Stone Mattress, with Mark Medley, the books editor at the Globe and Mail (and singing Margaret "Happy Birthday")

-Hearing what the Humber School for Writers panel, with authors David Bezmozgis and Joseph Kertes, moderated by program director and author, Antanas Sileika, had to say about objectivity versus subjectivity in fiction and their writing processes

-Watching Marissa Stapley discuss her amazing novel, Mating for Life, and gender labels in fiction

-Having the chance to see a panel with authors Lisa Genova and Amanda Lindhout with Mary Ito from CBC

-Seeing Mark Leslie Lefebvre, director of self-publishing and author relations at Kobo, at the Kobo Writing Life booth, and hearing all of his fantastic book news (and enjoying his shaved head, which gives him a bad-boy mystique)

-Walking two and half hours through the PATH to my hotel with Kaley Stewart and Lydia, buying pajamas, chips, and beverages along the way, crawling into my bed, and laughing for hours and hours with them

-Spending twelve hours a day brainstorming plot ideas with people who don't get bored talking about my books because they're doing the same thing with theirs

All in all, I think the first Toronto International Book Fair was a smashing success. By the end I was sated, exhausted, and itching to get home and put my thoughts on paper.

I can only hope that next year one of my books will be on those beautiful shelves.