kc kconnects: Valentine's Edition
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happy valentine’s day!
Whether you’re spending the 14th with a sweetheart or treating yourself to chocolate, I hope that you’re planning something nice for Valentine’s Day.
If you’d like to do something more, here’s an idea. In Vancouver, this year marks the 31st annual Women’s Memorial March, commemorating the memories of missing and murdered women on the Downtown Eastside. If you are in the city, the march starts at noon, and events carry on all day. Or, if you wish, you can contribute by donating to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre HERE. Donations over $10 receive a tax receipt, and every donation makes a tangible difference in providing safe space, basic needs, and empowering support to women of this community. Thank you for adding a little love to these women’s lives! I also have a special gift for YOU this Valentine’s Day! If you read and loved An Accidental Odyssey, which was recently featured on Buzzfeed Best Of December, or perhaps if you’ve just been thinking about picking it up, see below for an exclusive deleted scene between Gia and her mother, Marta!
update from the mountain
February sunset looking across Átl'ḵa7tsem (Howe Sound) to the Salish Sea.
This deleted scene is from AN ACCIDENTAL ODYSSEY. It's a clip from an unexpected cell-phone conversation with Marta, Gia's mother, and in the end, it didn’t make it into the final manuscript. Gia picks up the call sometime in the early morning hours after her sudden arrival in Athens, and its disasterous, ouzo-fuelled aftermath...
Conversation with Marta
I think may have just drifted off to sleep, because I’m deep in conversation with the bust of Aphrodite by the front desk of the hotel when my cell phone rings.
I tear myself away from Aphrodite, who is insisting I ride along on her moped, and manage to find my phone, which is buried in the covers beside me.
“Darling, I’ve just come off the line from Devi. Is everything all right?”
Aphrodite and her moped fade away, as I struggle to pull myself upright in this very soft bed. “Mom — what? Everything’s fine. I’m just…”
“Oh darling, I’ve wakened you. I’m sorry. It’s just Devi’s story seemed too far-fetched to be real, but I’ve never known her to prevaricate, so I felt I needed to call just to confirm…”
I sigh, and flop back onto the bed. “No — it’s okay. I meant to call you. Everything just happened so fast, and before I knew what was happening, I’d chased Dad to Athens.”
“To Athens? Is Anthony with you?”
I begin to suspect that my mother didn’t wait to hear the whole story from Devi before calling me. “No, he’s not here. It was really sudden — dad literally signed himself out of the hospital and caught a plane.”
“And what on God’s green earth made you follow him?”
“It’s not that complicated. He left his meds, and I was worried.”
I can hear her sniff through the line. “That man can look after himself,” she says, shortly. “And he takes advantage of you, Gia. I hope he’s covering your expenses, at least. The flight can’t have been cheap!”
I take another deep breath, stalling. My jet-lagged brain is not feeding me the right answers here, and I need to tread carefully. In the generally pastoral landscape of my mother’s life, the very existence of my dad has always been a mine-field.
Look. Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother. She’s level-headed and kind, and always done her best for me. And, it can’t have been easy, right? I mean, she got pregnant with me when she was still an undergrad. Of course, it must have helped that her own family were supportive. They were of Dutch stock, first generation out of Amsterdam for my oma, and from a small northern city called Sneek for Opa. Anything about me that is practical comes from my mom’s side. So when she told them about my impending arrival, they swallowed down all their concerns and made sure she finished her degree. This is not to say they approved of my father.
Not at all.
Nevertheless, they were very calm about him — about everything. And my mother carries on the tradition. She’s the best person to have around in an emergency. Stops the bleeding, makes the calls, pats the hands.
So while I don’t expect her to freak out when she finds out where I am, I still start out on the defensive. She wouldn’t have jumped on a plane to chase down my dad, but it’s too late for ‘I told you so’s’.
I look down at the borrowed, spangled dress, puddled around my waist. Way, way too late.
Want to read more? You can get your own copy of An Accidental Odyssey from your local independent book seller, or click HERE to have it sent right to your door!
book signing: pandemic edition
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 email@example.com 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!
A quick note to say that lucky newsletter readers Bonnie MacPherson and Nancy Glessner have won copies of Don Calame’s latest, THE DELUSIONIST ! Emails are going out to you today — congratulations!
reading: I’m going to give you a bunch of book recco’s this month, since — next to chocolate — books make the best Valentine gifts! RIZZIO: This recreation of the death of Mary Queen of Scots' friend and courtier David Rizzio is brilliantly brought to life by the incredible Denise Mina. The story thrusts contemporary readers into the thrilling, blood-thirsty reality of Mary's world, just before it begins to crumble. RIZZIO is the shortest book I've read this year, but possibly my favourite so far. Denise Mina takes this tiny, mostly-ignored chapter of history and with a few strokes of her bloodiest quill, breathes horrifyingly believable life into it. RECOMMEND! PLAIN BAD HEROINES: This delightfully creepy, queer doorstop of a novel [think Stephen King-sized horror] is a dual-timeline story teeming with black humour. The tale is by turns set in a wasp-riddled, (and also WASP-riddled) girls' school in turn of the 20th C New England and the contemporary social-media driven B-movie -- bee-movie? --world of Hollywood. It's a skilled writer that can hold a reader's attention for a book this size, and Emily M. Danforth manages to do just that. I was riveted all the way through. A perfect read for this time of year, too. Curl up to read it with a steaming cup of tea, but make sure your window screens are all tightly closed. RECOMMEND! CARDIGAN CRESCENT: I recently talked a bit about the charms of comfort reading during a pandemic, which goes to explain why I recently did a deep dive into reading the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series by the wonderful Anne Perry. These mysteries, all named for actual locales in and around London, are rife with Victorian manners, and the joy is watching how Charlotte manages to flout the standards of the day to help her Inspector husband solve gruesome murders. I've recently finished CARDIGAN CRESCENT, Book 8 in the series -- where murder comes a little too close to home for Charlotte and her sister Emily. Emily's blue-blood husband has met an early end, and Charlotte has to work hard to clear her sister's name -- and help Inspector Thomas Pitt find the true culprit. Bloody-- and bloody good-- comfort reading at its finest! RECOMMEND! WARNED: THE ASTROLOGER’S PROPHESY: For middle grade readers, old worlds and new collide against the tapestry of contemporary India in this exciting new adventure story from prolific author Mahtab Narsimhan. Avi is a contemporary kid up against ancient trouble, in a fast-paced engaging read for kids. This is the first of a planned series that is sure to be a lot of fun! RECOMMEND! listening: CALYPSO by David Sedaris, read by the author. The best way to take in the twisted, hilarious and occasionally poignant Sedaris, is in his own voice. His work is not for everyone [no body part or function or function remains unexamined], but I find him unfailingly entertaining. I should note that there IS discussion of suicide in this book, with reference to his sister Tiffany. This gives some of the stories a depth and thoughtfulness that may not always have been present in his earlier works. 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.
And, as always, thanks for reading, and for sharing your time with me today.