Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Special Valentine's Feature: Editors Dish on Their Literary Crushes!

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Special Valentine's Feature: Editors Dish on Their Literary Crushes!

This Valentine's Day, we're talking to some of Canada's finest editors about the purest love of all: the love of a good book — or in this case, the love of a character from a book.

Every book lover is guilty of a crush or two, whether it's Mr. Darcy or Tyler Durden. So let your heart take the lead as our fine editors confess to their literary crushes — you may be surprised!

Crissy Calhoun

Managing Editor, ECW Press

Despite being about twice the age of most heroines in YA novels, I am a teenage girl at heart, and thus the most swoonworthy characters inhabiting my bookshelf are Marcus Flutie (from Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling novels), Dave the Laugh (from Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson series), Dylan McCutter (from Chantel Guertin’s The Rule of Thirds), and a recent addition: Levi from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. But my #1 Tru Love is Cameron Quick, from Sara Zarr’s Sweethearts: the ultimate mysterious but insightful, elusive but loving, appealing but not too slick guy-from-your-past that just upends everything in the best way and makes you feel all the feelings. Cameron Quick not only makes you fall in love with him, he makes you question who you are and who you want to be, in that much-ballyhooed “the best partners make you a better version of yourself” way. (He’s also one of those characters where you just have to say his first and last names together.)

Marc Côté

Publisher, Cormorant Books Inc.

Charles Ryder (as played by Jeremy Irons, of course) from Brideshead Revisited: Who wouldn’t fall in love with a handsome man at Oxford in the 1920s? The country drives, the champagne and strawberries. Smoking before it was bad for you and a social faux pas. Or F from Beautiful Losers, although he ended up dying of syphilis. What an astonishing character and lover as described by Leonard Cohen. There’s also Robert Ross from The Wars, whom I imagined as a young Timothy Findley, when I read the book, and not Brent Carver, who portrayed him in the film. And, finally, Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby; he intrigues me still — it’s his voice in the novel, the way he observes things, the self-awareness, the wry sense of humour.

Lara Hinchberger

Executive Editor, McClelland & Stewart

Granted, there are some things — ways of referring to people, mostly — that need to be adjusted for the passing of the better part of a century since Philip Marlowe was in his prime, but his core seems pretty solid. He’s certainly his own man, sometimes to a fault, but I am pretty sure that date wouldn’t be boring! He likes to crack wise, often, but when he says something serious, you can take it seriously. He seems able to get along with just about anybody — when he wants to. He can hold his liquor, plays excellent chess, and though he probably wouldn’t be the most patient teacher, he would neither play beneath his skill nor gloat if we ever sat down to a game. He has some formal education tucked away in there, somewhere, and though I have never seen him read a novel, he’s read enough contemporary lit to have an opinion — in Farewell My Lovely he has a fairly blunt one about Hemingway. He’s moderately tall (a shade over six feet). No idea what hair or eye colour . . .

I’d ask him to show me his city, Los Angeles, maybe go for a long winding drive through the canyons, probably end up at a place that looks like a dive but has a glorious view of the sea, a good bartender, and excellent seafood.

Jen Knoch

Editor, ECW Press

I don’t find myself crushing on fictional folk often, but when I read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, I fell hard for the charming, ebullient and extraordinarily kind Levi. He takes a real, enduring interest in the protagonist, Cath, and some of their most romantic (and, let’s face it, sexy moments) come from cuddling up in her dorm bed as she reads her fan-fiction aloud to Levi. He’s someone you can talk to late into the night, and he’s your go-to guy in a crisis. He has a blinding, face-splitting smile that defines his sunny personality. And for a bonus, he makes a mean fancy coffee.

Michelle MacAleese

Freelance Editor & Publishing Consultant

Independent, introspective Isabel works at the library and loves to search for treasures in vintage shops, in Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith. She is a young me! So of course she falls for her co-worker. Spoke is a darling and a soldier, and he has to return to the war. Like Isobel's, my relationship with Spoke could never really last and my crush would always be just a crush. But before Spoke ships out, I'd love to invite him to dinner.

Mark Medley

Books Editor, The National Post

I first read The Sun Also Rises when I was a teenager. I was, like many teenage boys, painfully shy when it came to talking to girls I liked. I was more at ease when they were on the page as opposed to in the flesh. I remember that first encounter with Brett: the darkened club, the music, the dancing. I was standing in the doorway with Jake, nursing a beer, when she got out of a cab. How could I miss her? "She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy's…She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht, and you missed none of it with that wool jersey." That's all it took. But it was when I got to know her that I really fell hard. Here was a woman out-of-time, who didn't conform to norms or give a shit about expectations. This was the 1920s, remember. She wore her divorces like badges of honour. Plus, she usually made the first move. She was, and remains, one of the most vibrant, assertive, alive characters in 20th century literature. And those eyes — eyes "that would look on and on after every one else's eyes in the world would have stopped looking." She looks at me, still.

Craig Moy

Senior Editor, WHERE Toronto

Out of respect for my wife, I’m going to fudge this answer a bit. Instead of stumbling my way through a romantic date with a literary lady, I think I’d like to settle in for a nice long tea (and a few rounds of backgammon, perhaps) with the title character of G.B. Edwards’ 1981 novel The Book of Ebenezer Le Page. When reading I tend to be drawn to characters who are a little wry, a bit rascally. Old Ebenezer, semi-reclusive Guernseyman, fits that bill: he's a classic straight shooter, and has a great sense of the triviality of modern (well, 20th-century) existence. Crucially, however, he is also an adept chronicler of the moments of transcendent joy that make life worth living. So I guess you could say that this Valentine's Day I'm seeking not love, but wisdom.

Carolyn Smart

Co-Editor, Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series

Sir Percy Blakeney, aka The Scarlet Pimpernel (from The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy), has been my long-term literary crush. After all, who’d not want to hang around with a man of several personalities who wears a mask and velvet trousers while saving one from the guillotine’s very jaws, can ride like the wind in massively frilled shirts and uses snuff? I’ve loved him since I was too young to know about bodice-ripping. If we decided not to go to the Masked Ball in Venice, it would be equally fun to play hide and seek at home with a good bottle of whisky. Perhaps a few hands of poker, too.

Jane Warren

Editor, HarperCollins Canada

My favourite characters are deeply flawed — not necessarily the best quality in a romantic prospect. Humbert Humbert would make a terrible date. So literary crushes are a little harder to think of, but I would have to include the brilliant, deeply honourable Atticus Finch; passionate, doomed Robbie (Atonement); and artistic, heroic Josef Kavalier (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay). If you asked my fourteen-year-old self, though, the answer would have been easy: Westley, from S. Morgenstern’s The Princess Bride, by way of William Goldman. Fearless, clever, resourceful, passionate and not one to let a little thing like death come between lovers...

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