I admitted in the last blog that I wrote these in advance because I am out reading from and promoting the novel. This is at it should be, and with any luck, it’s been going well – books are being sold by the trunkload; readings are being met with laughter, joy, tears; I am getting carried out of every venue on the audience’s shoulders. Such was the plan, anyway. I hope it worked.
The only thing interesting in what I’m doing is that I am doing a few of these events in the Ottawa Valley, where I grew up, but where I haven’t lived since moving away 17 years ago. Although by next year I will have lived away from the place for as many years as I lived there, it’s still a kind of home to me. It’s impossible to fully erase the imprint of the place in which you grew up. There was a time, I will admit, when I would have been happy to erase that particular imprint. I spent most of my high school years like a lot of small town kids: desperate to get out. I’ve lived in cities ever since, and plan to keep on doing so.
At some point, however – either because I mellowed, or because I had kids, or because I was simply away long enough to feel nostalgic – I made a certain kind of provisional peace with the place. In my head, anway. And it’s more like a cease fire than actual peace, but still – progress was made. I accepted that a lot of what I am is from that place, and that a large part of my imagination is rooted in it.
Though I fudged the geography a bit, sliding the whole place closer to Toronto, where I live, the setting of my novel is very much the place I grew up in. Actually going there to read from the book and meet people who have read it, or will read it, is a little unnerving. After all, it may not be laughter and joy and the rest of it that greets the book – I may yet get the crap beat out of me. I’m certainly overdue. But then, that would be a kind of homecoming, too.