Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Writers at Night: The Writers' Trust Gala Series with Terry Fallis

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Terry Fallis

We're just a few days away from one of the most exciting events of the literary season, the Writers' Trust Gala, an annual black tie fundraiser for the Writers' Trust. The charity supports authors across Canada through a variety of programs, prizes and scholarships including the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the RBC Bronwen Wallace Prize for Emerging Writers and the Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

This week we're asking a handful of guest authors to spill about their plans for the glitzy evening, including the most important question — what everyone will be wearing on the big night.

Today we speak with CBC Canada Reads and Stephen Leacock Award winner Terry Fallis, author of Up and Down (McClelland & Stewart), as part of our Writers at Night series celebrating the gala and the important work of the Writers' Trust.

The 28th annual Writers' Trust Gala takes place on November 14, 2013. Stay tuned for more interviews this week!

Open Book:

Is this your first time attending the Writers' Trust Gala? If so, to what aspect of the event are you most looking forward? If you've attended before, what is one of your favourite gala memories?

Terry Fallis:

I think this will be my third Writers’ Trust Gala. I always enjoy the chance to dust off my tuxedo and spend three hours in the afternoon trying to remember how to get into it. (Remember, cummerbund pleats open upwards.) I always look forward to the chance to see fellow writers and have some time to chat with them. And, it’s simply nice to dress up and have dinner with book lovers. I’ve always been placed at great tables with interesting and thoughtful readers. Of course, knowing that the gala raises a pile of dough to support writers gives me a warm glow for days thereafter.

As for a special gala memory, well, at my first Writers’ Trust Gala, I somehow found myself standing next to, and then chatting with, Margaret Atwood(!). I was unable to construct complete sentences for the first part of our conversation, but eventually overcame my star-struck paralysis and managed a few monosyllabic grunts. She was very kind to me that night, and has been ever since.


Each guest at your table receives a copy of your most recent book as a gift. Tell us a bit about your book.


My third novel, Up and Down, was published about a year ago. It’s a comic romp through the world of public relations, the space program, and Canada-US relations, while, I hope, making a comment or two about ageism in today’s society. Above all, I wanted it to be a fun and entertaining escape, in more ways than one.


What will you be wearing to the gala?


I had a dream once that I was standing on the red carpet facing a phalanx of entertainment reporters and saying, “Well, tonight I’m wearing Karl Lagerfeld.” (Yeah, right. Does he even make menswear? Maybe Hugo Boss would be the safer choice.) Anyway, I’ll be wearing the aforementioned tuxedo I bought a few years ago for my first Writers’ Trust Gala. I have no idea what make it is, or rather, who designed it, but I can tell you it’s black. (Of course it still fits. Why do you ask?)


What Canadian writer, living or dead, would you most like to sit next to at dinner? What might you ask him or her?


For years before I attempted my first novel, I was an admirer of Paul Quarrington. A great thrill for me early in my writing life was doing a reading with him in Grimsby. I was the warm up act for Paul that night. We were both being driven to the event by the wonderful publicist we shared. I was nervous about meeting him. Yet when they arrived to pick me up, I climbed into the backseat like some author-stalker, with my backpack filled with the first editions of Paul’s novels collected over the years. On the drive back home from the event, by the glow of the dome light, Paul kindly inscribed every one of them. I’ll never forget that night. Paul was diagnosed [with cancer] a week later and then was gone all too soon. I don’t imagine I really got to know him very well that evening, so sitting next to him for dinner would be wonderful.

Terry Fallis is the author of three bestselling novels, The Best Laid Plans (winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour in 2008, and Canada Reads in 2011), The High Road (Leacock Medal finalist in 2011), and Up and Down (Leacock Medal finalist in 2013), all published by McClelland & Stewart. The Canadian Booksellers Association presented Terry Fallis with the 2013 Libris Award as Author of the Year. McClelland & Stewart will publish his fourth novel, No Relation, in May 2014.

For more information about Up and Down please visit the Random House of Canada website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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