Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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The last time I saw most of the ladies in my book club, we were celebrating a friend's birthday at a restaurant with a 360 degree view of Victoria on a sunny fall morning. The party consisted of six ladies and six gentlemen, most of whom (the boys that is) are gay. (This is critical information)

After the eggs Benny (try to visualise a PAIR of poached eggs) and several French 75's (champagne and orange juice), something got into us. We all exposed our breasts while our friend Maurice took a photo. I think it was supposed to be a promotional shot for "The Wild Women of the Gorge," a sort of ad hoc singing group ie we crash parties in absurd outfits designed by artist and costume designer Carol Rae, and make complete fools of ourselves.

Later, my husband asked me three questions:

Q. You wouldn't behave like that if it was just girls, would you?
A. Not likely.

Q. You wouldn't do it for straight men?
A. Absolutely not.

Q. OK, so what is the chemistry?
A. Go figger.

The point is, we had trouble keeping our book club on track and so it has degenerated into what it always was, a good time.

I enjoy my girly stuff, but I also love a good book natter. The best friend I ever had for that kind of conversation was Carol Shields. Boy was she ever fun to talk to - smart, funny and kind. I know there are lots of people missing Carol, who managed to make everyone feel like they were her best friend.

Next spring there is to be a Carol conference in Winnipeg, and it will be a feast of words.

I love going to book clubs to talk about writing. You never know what kind of insights the members will have, some of them quite helpful.

Last year, I went to a meeting in Oak Bay and all the members were obviously gardeners. They didn't want to talk metaphor or character development versus narrative. What they really wanted to know is how I had the audacity to have Poppy in The Empress Letters grow Romnia poppies from seed. Good question. But I could see the glint of hostility in some of their eyes. They looked like Sarah Palin challenging The President Elect haha on pig lipstick.

"Who here has ever started Romnia Poppies from seed," one of them thrust. I timidly put up my hand. These ladies had all failed with cuttings. Poppies hate to be transpalnted. Lesson learned, MAKE SURE TO DO A FACT CHECK. SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE WILL KNOW.

I was a little nervous when I recently got the call from a book club made up of Dutch emigrees. Ada told me to drive to Broadmead Shopping Centre and she would pick me up there and take me to "An Undisclosed Location." Woooo. The word RENDITION flashed through my mind. I remembered past book clashes with the Dutch Reform Church, who censor just about everything.

But I gave a description of myself and my car and did as I was asked.

The ladies were kind and their cookies were delicious ( Christmas baking, they said, as they watched me fall into a plate of carbs).

A very sweet lady began telling me how she nearly didn't finish the novel after the little girl in the story spied on her mother while she was being intimate with her lady's maid.

"Ah," I answered. "It wasn't sex, not really, just a metaphor for secrets and lies."

The ladies all breathed easy. "We thought so," they said in unison.

On the way home, Ada told me there are two kinds of Dutch people, the ones who have fun and the ones who aren't allowed to.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers is the author of the novels Say My Name (Ekstasis Editions, 2000), Friday Water (Cormorant Books, 2003) and The Empress Letters (Cormorant Books, 2007). She has also published several collections of poetry, including Love in the Rainforest (Exile Editions, 1996), Heaven Cake (Sono Nis Press, 1997), The Saning (Sono Nis Press, 1999) and The Bursting Test (Guernica Editions, 2002).

Go to Linda Rogers’s Author Page