Monday, June 23, 2008

Yippee Tyee!

I was surprised and delighted to stumble upon a glowing pocket review of Fatal Tide in the "Summer Reads" special on, my favourite online magazine. Thanks for the plug!

Then on Sunday, the North Shore News ran a Q&A with me about the book. Coincidentally, the author/interviewer had gone to the same high school in Rothesay, New Brunswick, as René Arseneault, the young man whose death from hypothermia precipitated my whole investigation into the 2002 Fund Multisport Race. Small world.

And next Saturday, the National Post's books section will be running an interview with me about adventure-travel and writing, as a tie in to the book and the long excerpt that will be running in the summer issue of Financial Post Business.

It feels great to get some national coverage and articles in North Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, where outdoor adventure and other "lifestyle sports" are
especially popular. (I'm still hoping for a review in the Vancouver Sun, Terminal City's paper of record.)

I'm not quite sure what it takes to get mentioned in The Globe and Mail, however. An offer to ride across the country and hand deliver a copy myself? Writing a quasi-autobiographical novel about a
20-something style columnist who nearly dies kayaking across the Atlantic on a quest for the perfect pair of Manolo Blahniks? Inquiring authors want to know...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Doing Stuff Outdoors

That's the name of a great podcast put together and hosted by Gary Mittelholtz out in New Brunswick. Gary had me on his show and interviewed me about the kayaking fatality at the heart of Fatal Tide and the larger consequences of the accident. It's no surprise that Gary works at the CBC for his day job, as he has one of those warm and resonant radio voices and a real passion for telling stories from across the country. I'd never heard of his podcast before, but I'll definitely flag it now and make sure I download the weekly episodes. He fills each with a variety of personal reflections, interviews with other outdoor travellers, and "podsafe" music from various artists. Just the sort of thing to load into your iPod for the drive to the trailhead or those quiet moments after nightfall in your tent.

Thanks for your interest in my book, Gary, and all the best with your program!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Bestseller!

I'm quite excited that Fatal Tide has made its first bestseller list. Granted, it's not the New York Times' list, or The Globe and Mail's, or's. Rather, it's one put together by the wonderful folks at Café Books in Canmore, Alberta, where I read in April. My tome comes in at #7, just behind one of Eckhart Tolle's new-age hot properties. (Sadly, the list doesn't capture the real disparity in our books' sales!)

Hopefully, Fatal Tide will experience a similar mini sales spike in Whistler, B.C., after the great review that appeared in the Pique Newsmagazine. I loved the balance between humorous personal flair, plot summary and critical analysis that the reviewer brought to the article. My editor will be pleased to hear that the Cast of Characters list—her suggestion—was appreciated, and my wife will agree that the Introduction is a bit dry and not representative of the book's style as a whole.

Finally, I'm still waiting to hear from more readers who want to be ridden to (if that doesn't sound too crude) for an autographed copy of the book. It looks like a gorgeously sunny weekend, a perfect two days to saddle up for a cycle trip (at last). As a friend suggested yesterday, this mobile offer is the anti-Atwood: no distant and disembodied LongPen; instead a real, live, very sweaty author right on your doorstep!

And for all those with Spandex-phobia or a fear of authors in general, I did cycle down to Munro's yesterday and inked a few more copies for the store's supply.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cross-Country Coverage

Despite all the column inches devoted recently to the controversy over CBC losing the Hockey Night in Canada jingle, a couple of newspapers across the country found space in their pages to cover Fatal Tide. The Halifax Chronicle Herald ran a great long article that combined the author's attentive reading of the book, an email interview with me and several photos; I can't wait to see the actual spread. The Winnipeg Free Press ran a short review by a local lawyer that gave a decent summary of the Fundy Race and its aftermath (and may get picked up by other newspapers through the Canadian Press syndicate). And the Times Colonist, the Sooke Mirror, and all ran short news pieces about my Ride to the Readers campaign... I'm still waiting to hear from Reader # 2, however. I know you're out there! Thanks again to all these writers for taking an interest in—and the time to write about—my book.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Medal Haul

My old employer, explore magazine, had a fantastic night this past Friday at the annual National Magazine Awards. James Little (editor in chief), Gary Davidson (art director), and explore's coast-to-coast cadre of freelancers (led by former Canadian Alpine Journal editor Geoff Powter) brought home two gold medals, five silvers, and seven honourable mentions, including clean sweeps of the Travel and Sports & Recreation categories. Not too bad for a publication that has a tenth the editorial staff of larger magazines and only comes out six times a year.

Of course, didn't bother to mention explore's results in its NMA round-up. Somehow, three golds and a silver each (for ROB Magazine and L'actualité) add up higher in the "medal haul". Call it Olympic math. I hope the CBC can learn to add by the time they cover the Beijing Games.

Congrats again to James and his team at explore!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ride to the Readers #1

I rode to my first reader this morning. Okay, it wasn't exactly an epic journey: let's say two minutes, three tops, across campus.

I met with Don Bailey, the head of the
Humanities, Fine Arts and Professional Writing Cooperative Education Program at UVic. (He's the less reflective one in the photo.) Don has a new thriller novel out—The Good Lie—and we had missed each other's respective book launches, so it was a good opportunity to connect and exchange autographs.

While Don has written a fictional novel and I've described Fatal Tide as a "nonfiction novel", they do share similar content and themes: The Good Lie (so I understand) hinges around the moral conflict in the aftermath of a kayaking accident, while my book culminates in a controversial paddling death and its fallout. Don and I have talked about doing a kayak-themed reading in the near future, perhaps with fellow authors Lorna Jackson (who imagines interviewing Markus Naslund while kayaking in her new book Flirt) and Bill Gaston (whose novel Sointula has a kayak journey up the Inside Passage as the central plot device).

I'm not sure if a kayaking store would necessarily want to host the event, however, given how several of these literary trips turn out... And I'm certainly not going to offer to paddle to potential book buyers as my next ill-advised self-marketing idea!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

From Readers Like You

I got a lovely, confidence-stoking phone call and then email from someone who had attended my recent talk to the Victoria Writers' Society and then read Fatal Tide:
I recently read your book and found I could not put it down. It's a real page-turner! The complex story of the kayaker's death, seen from many angles, is woven together seamlessly. I did not expect to find the book that interesting (not being an outdoor adventure enthusiast), but it sucked me in right from the start.

The writing itself is superb throughout and, in places, absolutely dazzling.

Congratulations on such a fine first book.
Susan Scott, Victoria

Thanks, Susan! As a longtime magazine writer, I've rarely received such detailed and attentive feedback from readers. Yes, there are occasional letters to the editor, but they tend to focus on the subject matter rather than the writing. One of the pleasures of publishing a book is entering into such correspondence with readers. Book lovers, an increasingly endangered species, tend to be a passionate, opinionated lot. I suppose it comes from the commitment required, in our otherwise busy lives, to inhabit for many hours and even days or weeks the new world created between two covers.

I'm always interested in hearing feedback of any kind from readers who have chanced upon my book. Feel free to drop me a line at dleach[at] Writing a book can be a long, lonely, often frustrating journey. But it all feels worthwhile—no matter how many copies an author sells or how bankrupt one goes researching and marketing it—when a writer hears that the storytelling at the heart of the book truly connected with readers like you.