Kingston WritersFest

I have been absent from the blog since the beginning of August. I thought it had been six weeks or so, but time apparently DOES fly. Anyway, since mid-September my life has been a blur of activity, wonderful but blurry. I will fill you in on a little of what has been going on. During the period 23-26 September I was at the Kingston WritersFest in Kingston, Ontario, where I was to deliver a presentation on Thursday afternoon about my journey on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. I stayed at a friend’s home (Judi Cova, a friend since the early 70’s at Queens). I went with Judi to the Wednesday evening reception for Margaret Atwood, to whom I gave a copy of my book and spoke for a few minutes, although I suspect that she would likely not recognize me in a crowd – it was very busy and noisy.

The next morning I went to the hospitality suite at the Holiday Inn Waterfront – the venue for all events except for the Atwood reception – where I met and was entranced by Howard Engel, who writes all the Benny Cooperman novels. Howard also wrote The Man Who Forgot How to Read about his own stroke 7 or 8 years ago and the immediate loss or reading ability, while retaining his ability to write. Through sheer effort, he has regained his ability to read, although his reading is much slower than it used to be. Howard and I chatted for several hours, during which we discovered that we had both served in Cyprus, he as a journalist in the early 60’s for a year, me as a military officer with an armoured reconnaissance squadron for six months in 1968. We had lots of places, but almost no people, in common. We exchanged books, so I was able to read his book that night.

Then he went off to an interview with Eric Friesen (to whom I also gave a copy of A Journey of Days), which I attended, after which I did my presentation about my journey on the Camino de Santiago, which he attended.  I am delighted to report that the bookstore sold out of copies of A Journey of Days, but I had extra copies with me (of course) and was able to replenish their supply. After the presentation, there was a book signing table where I met lots of interesting people and signed their copy of the book. It was like being a rock star! Very seductive, being recognized and honoured by a group of people over several days. I also met, listened to, and provided a copy of the book to Susan Olding and to Lorna Crozier, who discussed their memoirs. I had a wonderful time there in Kingston. The organization was very well handled and the event, at least to an outside observer, went off flawlessly.

I was very honoured by the WritersFest’s words about A Journey of Days: “With the wisdom and humour that come from a full life well lived, he sets out to discover the reason for the compulsion that drives him to make this incredible journey. His funny, intelligent and moving account has been called the best book yet written about walking the Camino.”  Those words are sheer delight to any author!

Next up: The presentation in Orlando!

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