kc kconnects: New Year's Edition
Welcome to the New Year's edition of my newsletter! A reminder if you'd like to get a more timely version of this newsletter -- complete with a chance at free copies of featured books, and delivered straight to your mailbox -- you can scroll down the page and sign up below.
happy new year!
Just when I thought 2021 would never end, I’m relieved — and a little trepidatious — about suddenly being more than halfway into January, 2022. But here we are! Wishing you all the good things this year — lots of time to read, and to do the things you love with people you adore. As for me, well, I am happy to report that after a lovely break with my family over the holidays, I am finally writing again. I’ve been reading up a storm, too, and have lots of good reviews to share. Plus — AN ACCIDENTAL ODYSSEY is now safely launched. If you decide to read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Best of all this month, I’m bringing you a chat with the wonderful Don Calame. Don’s stories always make me laugh my head off, and his new book THE DELUSIONIST is no exception. We’re going to give away TWO copies of Don’s books to lucky newsletter readers, this month — just drop me a quick line with ‘I’d love to read THE DELUSIONIST’ in the subject line, and you’ll be in the draw! Thank you so much for sharing your time with me — happy reading!
This shot looks like it’s been colourized, but it is straight out of the camera. We’ve had a few simply gorgeous sunsets this month, and I found these shades of red [and orange and yellow] took my breath away. What is it about a winter sunset? Now that the days are getting longer, I am appreciating them even more. Have you got a gorgeous sunset shot you want to share? I’d love to see it!
a new listen for podcast lovers
Book club maven Becki Svare is also podcasting these days, and her Literary Escapes promises to explore the world, one book at a time. We had a lovely chat last month that you can listen to HERE, where we talked all about EIGHTY DAYS TO ELSEWHERE and AN ACCIDENTAL ODYSSEY. Thanks to Becki for having me, and enjoy!
book-signing, pandemic version
In this era of staying home, the next best thing to having a signed copy is … a signed bookplate, of course! If you want one for AN ACCIDENTAL ODYSSEY, or for any of my other books for that matter, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘I need a bookplate’ in the subject line. We’ll send it off to you, no matter where in the world you happen to be!
three questions with Don Calame
Hilarious and fast-paced, THE DELUSIONIST is CHOCK-full of Don’s trademark humour, as well as complicated magic tricks and equally complicated friendships. Welcome Don!
kc: Thanks so much for joining me today, Don. Now, let’s begin with an easy one. Your books are known for their humour. What (or who) makes you laugh the hardest? DC: I love absurdist humour. Anything Monty Python, Douglas Adams, Key & Peele, Matthew Holness, Matt Berry. Things that are unexpected really tickle me. I’m also a sucker for cringe humour. Ricky Gervais, Larry David, Tim Robinson. It’s that old writing adage, “Your pain is funny to me.” I think my books have a healthy dose of both. At least, I hope they do.
kc: Oh, yeah — I agree. I first came across Matt Berry in The IT Crowd, but he really SLAYS in What We Do In The Shadows. But comics aside, who are your favourite writers? DC: This list changes. If you ask me who my favourite writers are at this very moment it will be a lot of non-fiction writers because I’m deep into the meaning of everything right now. Chalk it up to mid-life or whatever. But I’m so confused by our current times that I feel like I want to understand something concrete. So I’m reading a lot of Brian Greene, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Yuval Noah Harari, Carl Sagan, Anders Ericsson and Walter Isaacson. However, the writers that I always go back to are people like Joy Williams, Richard Russo, Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff, and Alice Munro, and Jonathan Franzen. I’m a sucker for a messy, dysfunctional family story, told really well and with a good dose of humour.
kc: A great list, for sure. Okay, what about music? What role does music play in your life? DC: Funny you should ask… Music has always been huge in my life. I listen it to constantly. While cooking, cleaning, writing. I played a little guitar when I was a teenager then dropped it for nearly 30 years. During the pandemic I bought an electric guitar and started teaching myself how to play again. To say I’ve been having fun is an understatement. The resources available now are staggering and there seems to be nothing you can’t learn on the internet if you have the time to put into it. And so, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years. Immersing myself in music, in guitar, in all the amazing teachers out there. Maybe a book will emerge from it. Or maybe just more music. Which is fine with me.
kc: That’s amazing, Don and so heartening. I love hearing how people manage to expand their horizons while we’re stuck inside. What about writing? What has being an author brought to your life? DC: This is a huge question. It’s brought quite a bit into my life. But not in the way you’d think. Yes, I’m grateful for the writing part of writing. Diving into characters and worlds in an attempt to understand the muck of life. Sharing one’s stories and laughter with others. That was the hope, the “expected” part of being a writer. What I never expected, never could have dreamed of, was that because I was a writer I met the most incredible person I’ve ever come across in my life: my amazing wife (the off-the-charts talented author and just plain sweetheart, Meg Tilly). We met at a writing workshop as I was trying to transition from writing screenplays to writing novels. I fell in love with her writing before I fell in love with her. She was a daredevil. Ready to leap in, writing the most raw, truthful, beautiful personal story I’d ever heard. Here was a group of us tentative writers, wondering who we could trust with our most precious secrets, gripping our pens in our sweaty hands. And here was Meg, diving into the ocean and swimming hard and fast, giving us all permission to do the same. I was hoping to find my voice as a prose writer at this workshop. I never imagined I’d find the love of my life and my soul mate. So, yeah, being an author has brought something into my life. It’s brought me everything.
kc: Holy crow. I’m going to stop there, because that might be the best love letter to being a writer I’ve ever read. [Also — for a funny guy, you’re good at making me cry!] Thank you Don for being here today, and thanks to Meg for sharing you with us!
In January, two lucky newsletter readers won copies of THE DELUSIONIST. Want a chance to win free books, too? Scroll down and sign up for kc kconnects!
reading: I’m about half-way into PIRANESI, the latest novel from Susanna Clarke. It’s an odd one, with a mysterious dream-like feel to the setting and an extremely limited cast of characters. It’s been short-listed for the Costa, has won the Women’s Prize, and so I’ll report in once I’ve finished it. In the meantime I’ve just finished THE DARK REMAINS, which is the prequel to the Laidlaw books written by William McIllveney, and completed after the author’s death by Ian Rankin. Definitely a noir glimpse of ‘70’s Glasgow, and a fitting bookend to the beloved series. RECOMMEND!
listening: A SLOW FIRE BURNING by Paula Hawkins, read by Rosamund Pike. I have to say, [and this may also be a credit to Rosmund Pike’s incredible performance], but I enjoyed this book SO much more than THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, which relied too much on the convenient return of supressed memories for my enjoyment. The story and shattered timeline had me hanging on every word. RECOMMEND!
viewing: JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL. Speaking of Susanna Clarke, the miniseries of her award-winning opus came out in 2015, and is currently streaming on Prime. An alternate universe story set within a magical version of the Napoleonic Era translates very well to screen. RECOMMEND!
what about you? What do you love? If you send me your recommendations, I promise to share! Find something good? You can reach me by pressing the contact button, below.
As always, thanks for reading, and for sharing your time with me today. And don't forget to click on the link below if you'd like to have my newsletter delivered straight to your inbox!