This week’s guest post comes from Liz Bugg, author of Oranges and Lemons. Liz presented at the Vibrant Voices of Ontario Tent during a segment called “We ♥ Toronto: Books Inspired by the City.”
Rain, wind and cold were expected for Sunday, September 23. Even the Literary Gods couldn’t manage to persuade Mother Nature to cooperate for Toronto’s Word On The Street 2012. Ordinarily I might have been tempted to stay in bed, or at least wait until later in the day to arrive. The temperature was bound to crawl out of the single digits eventually. But I was slated to read at 11:30 a.m. And it was my first appearance at The Word On The Street. Nothing could make me miss it.
Bundled up, I arrived at Queen’s Park Circle before 11:00 a.m. The site was already abuzz with organizers, vendors and even dedicated members of the reading public. Within five minutes I’d received my identification lanyard at the Vibrant Voices of Ontario Tent and checked the book store tent, anxious to see copies of my novel, Oranges and Lemons, beaming from their spot amongst the year’s notable publications. To my horror, not a copy of my book was in sight. The situation was rapidly remedied thanks to the lovely volunteers with walkie-talkies and a golf cart. The books had simply been delivered to the wrong location.
As 11:30 approached, I met my host, Becky Toyne, and chatted with fellow readers, Julie Wilson, Edward Keenan and Peter Robinson. We were all a little chilly, but our spirits were high as the tent began to fill. Alphabetically, I was to read first, and by the time I began most seats were occupied. It was a friendly and receptive audience, and I enjoyed every minute of my reading. Passersby stopped to listen, which added to the fun. Thoughtful questions from some of the audience members filled my last few minutes on stage. I was sorry when my time was up.
Although my teeth were chattering by the time Julie Wilson finished speaking, I felt I had experienced something special. Not only had I been able to share my work with an appreciative group of people, but I’d been able to hear fellow writers and journey with them through their distinct experiences of Toronto via sport, politics and literary voyeurism.
At the signing table, the sun came out. It wasn’t, however, the only thing that warmed me. There was a man waiting in line, a copy of Oranges and Lemons clutched to his chest. He had bought my first novel from me the previous year at the Crime Writers of Canada booth. When he’d read the line-up for this year’s The Word On The Street, he had been very excited to see my name; he just had to hear me read and get me to sign my new book. That was the icing on the cake.
As the day progressed I heard some of my favourite writers and discovered new and exciting literary voices. I was filled with admiration for and awe in the quantity, quality and diversity of local writers and the dedication and enthusiasm of local readers. When talking about my WOTS experience with a school librarian recently, she summed it up perfectly. “It was bone-numbing, but heart-warming.”
Liz Bugg is a Toronto-based writer, teacher and actor. Her first mystery novel, Red Rover (Insomniac Press, 2010), won a Debut Author Award from the Golden Crown Literary Society in the U.S. Besides continuing the Calli Barnow series, Liz is also working on the life story of visual artist, Joelle Circé.