Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Site!

I've transitioned to a new and slightly (only slightly - let's be honest about my tech skills) slicker site at

So if it seems quiet here, then just cruise over to the new site and see what's happening there.

When in doubt, you can type in, which should forward to my site du jour.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Magnified World in CBC Summer Reading!

My thanks to CBC Books for including Magnified World in their summer reading recommendations list! Click here to see the whole list.

Does this make you want to lie on a beach reading or what? I actually did just that this past weekend, on Centre Island with Peter Carey's The Chemistry of Tears, which ripped my heart out so quietly I hardly noticed until I finished the book and basically just crumpled. Highly recommended, but opt for some dark (tear-camouflaging) sunglasses while reading.

I'm eager to check out the rest of the books in the list. Feel free to share your own recommendations!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My First Review!

Quill & Quire has printed a review of Magnified World that is available both online and in their hardcopy magazine. It's my very first review and I'm amazed by the generous and attentive reading the reviewer gave the book. I knew right away that she had read closely because she refers to the father character by his first name -- which is mentioned exactly ONCE in 335 pages. That level of dedication and energy is what every writer hopes for from a reviewer, and I'm so grateful.

If you want to check it out, click here for the full review

And since it's the first one, I'm going to indulge myself with a quote here: "[Magnified World is] a novel that moves seamlessly between the real world and Maggie’s alternate consciousness.The effect is so well done that the reader finds the multifaceted world of the novel “magnified” many times." 

Now I'm off to pinch myself a few dozen times.

Monday, May 14, 2012


I'm very happy to say that I'll be reading from Magnified World at the Wolfe Island Literary Festival on June 2.

Wolfe Island is one of the most amazing places in Canada -- it's a huge island in Lake Ontario, just a twenty minute ferry ride from Kingston (one of my favourite spots, as you know). The island boasts farms and orchards, hotels, a wind farm and, best of all, an autumn corn maze of epic proportions.

If you're in the Kingston area on June 2, I hope you'll come out and see me and some of the amazing writers who are reading, including Jenny Sampirisi, Tanis Rideout and Davei Bidini.

That's a photo from when I was in the Wolfe Island corn maze in 2008. Definitely not brave enough for the after-dark version.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Heather Birrell + TATAS: The Toronto According to Authors Survey

The Toronto According to Authors Survey is back with Heather Birrell. Heather is the author of Mad Hope, a short fiction collection that's been getting all kinds of (well-deserved) love.

Heather very kindly took the time to talk about her favourite spots and events in Toronto. Read on to hear from the author who the Globe & Mail praised for her "seemingly effortless originality and accuracy."

The Toronto According to Authors Survey - Answers from Heather Birrell

Your favourite...

1. Place to see a movie
The Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles. When my husband first moved here from the UK, we lived in an apartment right across the road and would use the theatre as a kind of glorified rec room. It was less expensive and obtrusive than a big screen TV and we would bring blankets for the cozy factor. Now that we’re back in the neighbourhood with little ones, we’ve been to the Revue for nursery school fundraisers and the occasional, long-awaited date night. It’s such a treasure, a real community hub; I’m so glad they’ve managed to keep it open.

Writing spot
Recently it has been Lit Expresso Bar on Roncesvalles. It’s right around  the corner from my house, and when my second child was a wee, wee thing, I could escape there for a short time between breastfeeding sessions. It’s a bustling neighbourhood spot and the lattes are to die for.

3. Bookstore or library branch
High Park Library because the librarians there are so very kind and helpful – we once had three of them digging out Babar stories for us. Another Story Books – because their selection of books for adults and children is so beautiful and well-curated and they always, always let us use their bathroom.

4. Grocery or food store
Maple Produce and Qi Natural Foods.

5. Park or outdoor spot?
High Park and Etienne Brule Park. I am a west end girl, born and bred, and these parks are pretty rooted in my psyche (and in some cases my fiction).

6. Little-known hangout
It’s not little-known, but it feels almost retro on the Ronces strip now -- The Butler’s Pantry. I used to go there when I was in high school -- before cafes were a ‘culture’. It feels almost quaint now, but I still love it.

7. Booze-serving establishment
My sister’s house, mostly because my brother-in-law Joel Freeman can make a cocktail out of almost anything and it almost always tastes excellent. But if I have to pay for a drink, I like the patio at Loons and the bar at the Ace Restaurant, also both on Roncesvalles. (If you are detecting a pattern here, you are not wrong. As a car-less parent of small children, proximity of entertainment is key.)

8. Annual or recurring event
I love fall for bookish events – Word on the Street for its back-to-school festival atmosphere and accessibility (except why is a snack so hard to come by and the lemonade so expensive?) and on the flip side, the International Festival of Authors where I’ve seen and heard some of my literary idols: Alice Munro, Deborah Eisenberg, and, perhaps most notably, Grace Paley.

9. Gallery/theatre/reading/concert venue
I have a three and a half year old who dreams of a life on the boards – ‘Ladies and Gentlemens!’ – so lately it’s been my living room. The most recent production I was fortunate enough to experience (front row seat) was called ‘The Little Girl and the Chef and the Pony’. It was a one-woman drama/musical/ballet/yoga extravaganza. I gave it many enthusiastic thumbs up.

Underrated and/or usually reviled spot
Costco.  (Blush, blush)

(Photo of Heather Birrell by Charles Checketts)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Good News: NMA Nominations & Journey Prize Anthology

This morning I received some very good news, courtesy of the National Magazine Awards: I've been nominated in the fiction category for both "The Many Faces of Montgomery Clift" (which appeared in Taddle Creek Magazine) and "Noisemakers" (which appeared in Walrus Magazine). The award will be announced on June 7, also known as the day I will be a quivering mess of nerves. 

I also got some great news about a week ago, but had to keep it under my hat until today: "The Many Faces of Montgomery Clift" is going to be included in the venerable Journey Prize Anthology this fall. 

I've been reading the anthology for years and I always come away gobsmacked; it's amazing to be included. McClelland & Stewart, who administers the prize, gave me a nice shout-out on the JP Facebook page today (side note: how cool is the cover design for the anthology?). The winner of the prize will be announced on November 7 at the Writers' Trust Awards.

Both stories can be read online via the links above. The rest of the Journey Prize Anthology authors will be announced on Facebook in the coming weeks, but you can read all the other NMA nominees (in the fiction category and the many others - very worth checking out) on their website. I'm particularly excited to be nominated alongside Lawrence Hill, an author I really admire.  

So, if you feel so inclined, cross your fingers for me on June 7 and November 7!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Wrap It Up, I'll Take It To Go

My. Book. Cover.

I love it. I think it's absolutely beautiful (I had nothing to do with the design, so I can say that).

Seeing my name in such big letters seems almost indecent, but completely thrilling at the same time. It's tricky to see in this small image, but there's a gorgeous wood grain in the background image. Wood grain! So much for not judging a book by its cover... I love the light, it reminds me of a sort of film noir-y image of headlights sliding over a scene.

My monstrously huge thanks to the brilliant Andrew Roberts at Random House Canada, who designed this beauty, going way above and beyond the call of duty. I love Andrew's work (like this and this, for instance). He's top shelf.

Keep your eyes open for this pretty little beast, which hits the shelves on May 29!