Summertime, and the Reading Is Easy

Seems like a long time since I last entered anything here, but it's only been a week. I've noticed, though, that weeks pass very quickly, nowadays, so much so that I sometimes find myself wondering where all the Mondays through Thursdays went, because all that seems to be left is Fridays…

The last time I wrote an entry here, I was just on the point of heading off to the West Coast for the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, and really looking forward to my first Festival of 2010, and now I'm home already, the Festival's been over for more than a week, and I'm involved, with my Penguin Canada publicist, in planning the upcoming promotional Canadian book tour  for "The Forest Laird", which is scheduled to start on September 22nd and last until about the middle of October. The overall, sweeping details are beginning to emerge now, but all of them are still subject to nitty-gritty change, of course, depending upon other people's (read "MEDIA") scheduling priorities which in turn are always tied to the exigencies of any give day and changing situation… Be that as it may, we have a new "Jack's Schedule" feature on the Site here, and as those tour details begin to emerge–and to change from time to time–we'll enter the information in that section. I'm not yet up-to-snuff enough to enter the ongoing details on my own, so I'll be sending them to Mark, and he, as Webmaster, will enter them in person until such time as I can learn how to do it properly. (Remember, he added with a smile, it IS a new feature, so I have a learning curve ahead of me . . . I just hope it's a brief one.)

The Sunshine Coast Festival, celebrated annually for the past twenty-eight years in the beautiful coastal town of Sechelt, (pronounced Sea-Shelt)  British Columbia, was a delight to attend, as it always is. First because the place itself, the aptly named Sunshine Coast, is so beautiful and the weather there at this time of the year is pretty consistently magnificent.  But the Rockwood Centre, the epicentre of the Festival itself in Sechelt, is stunning. It was built in 1935 to cater to tourists arriving by steamer for summer excursions, and has been in use constantly since then. The Centre is now a public park dominated by a few wonderful buildings set among giant cedar and fir trees and sculpted gardens filled with lush plants and flowers. And the largest building in the place, the Festival Pavilion, is  the focal point for all the one-hour-long readings and presentations staged during the three-day run of the event. There is seating for 500 people, the sides are open to the air, and the sound system is superb, permitting the events on stage to be heard and enjoyed outside the Pavilion proper. This year there were twenty-one featured "performers/presenters" in attendance, representing just about every conceivable aspect of the Written Arts, and as usual, the three gloriously hot days and long summer twighlights went by in the blink of an eye . . . although I do have some delightful memories of  morning coffee on the beach, afternoon strolls between featured events on the sheltered pathways among the Rockwood Centre trees and booths, a splendid dinner in a boat-house restaurant overlooking the bay, and a wonderful hour on a sun-drenched pier,  watching people fishing, and peering down at the fish below me, clearly visible in the crystalline water.

Lots of faces and lots of good memories, among them the revelation I underwent, sitting listening to Lawrence Hill explaining–at the behest of someone in the capacity audience–why he had had to change the name of his novel "The Book of Negroes" before it could be publshed in the USA. Fascinating stuff and intensely surprising to someone like me, who grew up in antediluvian Britain, innocently (some might say sinfully) unaware of the vicissitudes being undergone in North America by "people of colour".

The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, in British Columbia, Canada. If you live within striking distance of it and you are looking for a signal and thoroughly enjoyable experience in the world of books, you really ought to consider attending it next August. You'll find on-line information at: