13 Canadian Books

Thirteen Canadian Booksimages

In June 2017 I was issued a challenge: can you read thirteen Canadian books in one year? But, of course, I scoffed. What kind of lame-ass challenge is this? Canadian-written books are available everywhere, and I usually read a lot more than thirteen books every 365 days. I was confident that I'd be finished in a couple of months.

Well, I was wrong. For the first time in my life. It was a lot more difficult to find Canadian books in Ireland than I'd realised. Even going through Kindle and Amazon didn't get me the results I wanted; if there was no American publishing deal for a Canadian book, generally, there was no book available for downloading. So I found most of these titles in Canada, and as a random group. ('Is this Canadian?' I'd ask. 'Great. I'm reading it.') The only thing that unites them are the postal codes of the authors involved, and the fact that all but two are by women. (Why? I have no idea.) Anyhoo, here they are, in the order that I read them:

Not Exactly News

Not Exactly News!doublerainbow

Just because most of this happened months ago…

To start off with, I’m beyond happy to say that Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World has been picked as a top ten choice for the American Library Association’s 2015 Rainbow List. This is a “a bibliography of books with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender content, and which are aimed at youth, birth through age 18” chosen by the Rainbow Books List Committee. I found out several weeks after the announcement had been made.


Gone Fishin'

Gone Fishin'19177 254425906046 269034 n

What have I done? What have I done? WHAT HAVE I DONE???

Okay, here's what I've done.


YA? Why?

YA? Why?

Last year my first novel hit the bookstores, a story about a boy in his final year of high school dealing with small town life, his crazy parents, and a painful crush on his homophobic best friend. I thought there might be a few wrinkles involved in marketing it, but I assumed it would be the gay content that would cause the confusion. I was so wrong. Nobody seemed to care if my main character was gay or straight. The problem was that he was young. 'Is this really general fiction?' people would ask me. 'Isn't it YA?'

'No way!' I'd answer, and my reasons for this were fairly simple.


Notes from the Procrastination Hell Swamp

(Note: this article also appeared on the wonderful writing resource site writing.ie. Read on...)

Hey! Why aren't you writing?Faut-se-grouiller LG

The most common response to this question seems to be 'I have no time.' And often we don't. But suppose you do manage get hold of some free hours. You've cleared away the day-job obligations, said no to friends, cut yourself off from the chaos of home life, and now you've got your morning, your evening, your afternoon. It's blank and beautiful, and it belongs only to you. You might be visualising whole chapters taking shape under your hands, a major plotline cleared up, some badly-needed edits set in place. This is going to be fantastic.

Then four hours pass in a haze. What happened, exactly?


From Tokyo, with Love and Soccer

I wrote this article last year hoping to place it as a feature in an Irish paper, but...um...nobody went for it. res-asakusa paintingNo matter! On the occasion of my recent anniversary I decided to post it here. Read on!

I arrived in Dublin airport after a gruelling twelve-hour flight from Tokyo. As I stumbled through immigration, the clerk asked me my reason for visiting the country. 'I have an Irish boyfriend,' I said.

'Sure, we've all got our crosses to bear,' the guy answered, and stamped my passport.

It was August, 2002. I'd just flown halfway across the world to spend a good part of the summer with a man I'd known in person for less than a week. How had this happened?


One Year Later...

One Year Later... toast cnc 2

Something insanely wonderful happened around this time last year. A big box of books showed up on my doorstep, and all of them had my name and very goofy title on the cover. My first novel, published! In many respects this has been the best year of my life, and when I stop to consider the reality of all that's happened from March 1 2013 to now, I am amazed, grateful, punch drunk with joy. You know. Irritating. 

But say I was given the chance to do it all again. Would I change anything?

I thought about this, and here's what I came up with: advice I would have given myself a year ago when this was all beginning. If you're on the brink of publication yourself, either self-published or otherwise, please tell me if you agree. Or wait 365 days and then tell me.

Ahem. My brilliant advice:


Oh, no! It's Kissy-Kissy Time!

Oh, no! It's kissy-kissy time!

Valentine 1
(This post is also running on the fine writing resource writing.ie)

Picture it. You're ten years old, and you and your friends have gotten hold of a cheap paperback romance. Right away you start to ransack those yellowing pages in search of the big payoff: the love scenes. The burning gazes. The chest-thumping declarations. The thundering hearts and racing pulses, bursting bodices, lips afire. Then, of course you'll read everything out loud in a high goofy voice – acting each role, adding rude sound effects, rolling your eyes as you fall about the place laughing.

Now fast forward several years. You're alone, in front of a computer or clutching a notebook. The moment you can't put off any longer has arrived: one of your characters has fallen in love, or at least deep into an attraction, and something has got to happen, something physical. Lips touching, promises made, clothes coming off. Yes, it's time to write that Big Love Scene.

Not so funny now, is it?


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Get your copy of Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World here

...in Ireland and the UK 

51U3E6BPgnL  SL500 AA300  Cinnamon Toast pb cover low res

In the U.S.A.

In Canada...or try here. Or go independent.

"...astonishingly good....a juicy coming-of-age story...also an important read." The Globe and Mail

"...poignant...heart-wrenching. This stunning debut will surely appeal to both teenage readers and adults." Quill & Quire, starred review

"Witty, devastating, with a melancholy humour..." Sunday Business Post

"...page-turning, top drawer stuff..." BGE Book Club

"...warm, witty, heartfelt and utterly engaging..." The Irish News

"A stunning debut. I loved it." The Irish Examiner