Welcome back to the Grimsby Author Series, it’s our sweet 16th year! Last Monday we kicked it off with a fantastic evening full of laughter and great literature. With a sold out night and a packed house, there was definite excitement in the air as we welcomed our first two authors of the season, Michael Redhill and Wayne Johnston, to the Casablanca Winery Inn.
Rosewood Estates Winery was our wine sponsor for the evening and they brought with them a delicious selection for us to sample: an earthy red called Locked & Loaded and a fruity white called Origin. The wine was sipped, the snacks were scooped up, and old friends were met as the doors opened: what a wonderful way to spend an evening!
Our photographer was taking pictures all night, so check out the snapshots below along with wrap-ups of each of our speakers:
Michael Redhill returned Monday night for his second author series appearance. His first was over 10 years ago, so it was wonderful to see him back again in Grimsby. He started our evening off with a lively reading of his brand new book Bellevue Square, a comedic mystery and thriller that just recently made the Giller Prize long list. In fact, the book was so new, it was being released the next day! So we were lucky enough to get our very own sneak preview.
Michael is a natural speaker, and is funny and insightful. He can deliver a quick quip that garners a ton of laughs, but can just as quickly provide the audience with a honest look at his experiences, writing process and inspirations. Hearing his reading, it is clear that Michael has an genuine talent for creating completely convincing and authentic characters. They ring true, kind of like he just beamed into someone’s brain and recorded their thoughts. The passage he read to us was a vivid snapshot of his main character’s thought process and how she copes with what has happened to her. Darker moments are sudden and reflective, but then almost immediately shot through with humour or a heartwarming moment that lifts her, and us, out of it. The quick pace of the writing pack these moments with a thoroughly relatable, emotional punch.
Getting a sample of this book that had yet to make it out into the wider world was a privilege, and now that it’s been released, we cannot wait for more. Michael let us in on his intentions to turn the theme – tantalizingly called Modern Ghosts – into something of triptych series. Hopefully that means he’ll be back to visit us when they are finished!
Wayne Johnston is the proud owner of not one, not two, not three, but four commemorative Grimsby Author Series mugs (which he apparently uses in order of year), and now has a fifth to add to his mounting collection. He has true GAS tenure, and we are so happy he has stuck with us throughout the years!
Wayne Johnston is a storyteller at heart. His quiet humour had the audience laughing out loud as he treated us to various personal anecdotes that revealed his work process and his life as a successful (and chronic) Canadian writer. From his adventures in voice recognition software, to his conflicting schedule with breakfast radio, to his long answer to a short question – which began as an explanation for writing about a Newfoundland-themed book collection, and ended in an animated retelling of a little known CBC documentary film called “Waiting for Fidel Castro” – it’s clear he knows how to precisely land a punchline that gets an audience rolling with laughter.
His comedic abilities and thoughtful style translate, too, into his writing. First Snow, Last Light is the final book in a trilogy that uniquely weaves the culture and history of Newfoundland into an unfolding family mystery of the Vanishing Vatchers. It is richly layered, funny, and manages to create a strong sense of place with memorable characters that leap off the page. In the passage he read to the audience, we were treated to a fine example of this, with the multiple perspectives of his idiosyncratic and fascinating characters creating a memorable scene.
A delightful talk that we hope will be repeated with Wayne collecting a sixth, seventh, eighth (or more!) mug for his collection.
The evening was wrapped up with our regular door prize raffles which included copies of each of the books featured that evening, and items from Cole’s Florists, Objects to Desire, Stacy Heidman of Steeped Tea, Elipsis Day Spa, Lifelong Learning Niagara, Theatre Aquarius, and Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Thanks to Rosewood Estates, The Peanut Mill and Forks Road Pottery for providing our guest speakers with their lovely gifts.
To Michael Redhill and Wayne Johnston, thank you for coming to share your stories and books with us, and for staying afterwards to sign copies for the audience – We all enjoyed the evening so much and hope you did too!
We’d like send out a HUGE thank you as well to all of our sponsors, benefactors, volunteers, and of course, the all of you in the audience for helping us get our 16th season off the ground, and for your continued support throughout every year of the Grimsby Author Series. We couldn’t do it without you!
We’d also like share our appreciation for our wonderful Library Board members, some of who were able to attend on Monday night. The board is crucial in ensuring that the Grimsby Public Library can provide the Grimsby community with kind of quality programming, such as the Author Series, they deserve.