Some time ago, my friend, artist Andrew Judd, produced sketches inspired by his reading of my novel Poplar Lake (which will be released this fall). Poplar Lake is “a darkly satiric novel about families and relationships and the day-to-day lies that sustain them,” set in a small prairie town with its own dark and checkered past. Andrew drew on his reading, and our conversations, to produce the evocative images shown above.
At that time, I was considering publishing Poplar Lake myself, and these drawings would have been refined and worked up further until one of them evolved, under Andrew’s sure hand, into the book’s cover illustration. And then, in mid-2017, Vancouver’s Now or Never (NON) Publishing accepted Poplar Lake for publication in 2018. NON is currently hard at work on editorial, layout and graphic design. They will produce a cover image for their forthcoming edition in due course.
Poplar Lake, the book, covers a lot of territory, and Poplar Lake, the (fictional) town, is more than a prairie whistle stop, but they are both undeniably of and about the Canadian west. Andrew’s images capture superbly the stark grandeur of the book’s setting and the isolation of its characters. I’m pleased to share them with the world.
Whenever I’ve posted anything about Poplar Lake I’ve used an elegantly minimalist image produced by another good friend, designer and artist Jana Pavlasek. It (below) will remain my go-to image for a little while longer, until NON completes its art work for the cover. I’ll post that image when it becomes available.
Thanks to both Andrew and Jana for their unstinting help with these images.
The APOL world tour officially ended last month. The tour, in support of my satiric novel A Person of Letters, touched down on six continents and in dozens of countries. “APOL” was an anthropomorphic version of my book, its persona that of a louche, narcissistic huckster and lush. Needless to say, this was a figment of my imagination, as were all of APOL’s tour adventures. Yet the photos that accompanied each post were real, taken with great forbearance and good humour by many generous travelers and friends.
A number of these people posed with the book themselves in some exotic locale. Others posed with it when they got home. To all those pictured here, and to everyone who sent me photos from around the world, thank you for sharing you suitcase with A Person of Letters. It’s been fun.
The tour lasted two years, and all one hundred instalments can be found in sequence on the tour archive here. It’s in reverse order, last to first, so it requires a lot of page-downing to get to the beginning. I will post the tour in its entirety in proper sequence, start to finish, as soon as I figure out how to do it. So much to do, so little time…
For updates on my forthcoming book, Poplar Lake, please check in here or at my Facebook Author Page.
I’ve Been Everywhere, claimed Hank Snow, and in APOL’s case, it’s true. APOL’s tour was from the start a whimsical piece of performance art. APOL’s persona and adventures are all (Spoiler Alert!) products of my fevered imagination; yet the photos I’ve posted weekly for the last two years were all real. The book really has been in all those places—thanks to its many fixers, enablers, friends, and fellow travellers; that is, thanks to many of you.
As Nelly Furtado once sang, All Good Things Come to an End. And so my effort to document APOL’s world tour ends now. This is my last official tour post. There will be a few additional housekeeping posts tagged to the tour, particularly to thank contributors, but I’m turning now to focus on other things. Next fall, my novel Poplar Lake will be released—I’m very excited about that. And I have several other projects underway. In due course I’ll post about Poplar Lake and other developments. Please check in from time to time, either here or on Facebook or Twitter, to stay in touch.
Although my weekly dispatches are ending, the APOL tour bus continues to roll. APOL is still on the move, somewhere Out There, headed for places and readers yet unreached. Godspeed, little blue book!
Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which, in January 2016, began a global book tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Every week for two years I’ve posted a dispatch from some near or distant tour stop detailing APOL’s quixotic (mis)adventures. Find them all in sequence on this tour archive or on my Facebook Author Page. For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.
Just to illustrate the pros and cons of Wikipedia, here is how para 3 of the article on The Last Jedi read this morning, and again a half hour later.
I use Wikipedia all the time. It’s a really useful general resource, and I donate every year to the Foundation. Still, let’s acknowledge its limitations. Its open content status means it can be manipulated by anybody in the short-term.
There is no substitute for diligent, independent research based on multiple sources. In other words, get thee to a good old-fashioned library.
I am very pleased to be participating in the Authors’ Afternoon series this Sunday, July 30, at Stella’s on Lauder Street, just off St Clair near the Corso Italia. Appearing with me will be poet and singer Honey Novick. Event host will be writer/photographer Peggy Lampotang. If you find yourself in Toronto that day, please drop by. Stella’s offers a delectable assortment of coffees, pastries and paninis, and a relaxed and eclectic atmosphere.
Further information on the event:
Authors’ Afternoon at Stella’s – 145 Lauder Avenue at St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto
A drop-in and meet-up for book lovers and writers, every last Sunday of the Month
Appearing on Sunday July 30, from 2 to 4 pm:
Ron Thompson’s first novel, A Person of Letters, is a satire on writing, publishing, love, obsession, and guilt, a rollicking riff on creativity and idealism, a deliciously icy snowball aimed at writing and publishing in the digital age.
Honey Novick is a singer/poet who has written 8 poetry books, numerous poems in anthologies and magazines and recorded 8 CDs and LPs. She has sung on CBC radio and TV, CTV, and in New York, Japan, Israel, and Cuba.
I’m pleased to announce that my new novel, Poplar Lake, will be released by Vancouver-based Now or Never Publishing in the fall of 2018.
Now or Never Publishing produces works by new and established authors from across Canada. Since 2005, NON has published 45 original titles, and its catalogue continues to grow with its annual spring and fall list releases. NON is a member of the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Literary Press Group of Canada.
Publisher Chris Needham commented on NON’s acquisition of Poplar Lake. “Poplar Lake is a darkly subversive novel, compelling, poignant, and multi-layered, whimsical and wry in observation, a feat of imagination—and Ron Thompson’s voice is honest and assured in the telling. This book is going to resonate with readers when it hits bookstores next fall.”
I will post additional updates as we move through the prerelease period.
About Poplar Lake:
A young writer brings his girlfriend home to meet his family, introducing her to the vivid, sometimes dark history of his prairie hometown, while concealing the painful secrets of his own past.
Poplar Lake is a darkly satiric tragicomedy about families and relationships and the day-to-day lies that sustain them.
If Guy Vanderhaegh and Margaret Laurence had a love child, it would be Poplar Lake.Little Big Man would be its godfather, and M. Night Shyamalan would direct the movie adaptation.
On Thursday March 24 I had the honour to address the monthly meeting of the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. The club was founded in 1910 and over the century of its existence it has been addressed by prime ministers, governors-general, justices of the Supreme Court, and many other accomplished and notable visitors, including the Shah of Iran. So it was with some trepidation that I prepared my speech, the theme for which was “Becoming a Writer: My Long and Winding Journey,” and stood to deliver it.
It was a winding journey for everyone in Ottawa that day, as the city was hit by a late winter storm, but we had a large turnout for the event. The audience was welcoming, kind, and receptive, and I enjoyed interacting with them in the Q&A session following the speech. At the conclusion of the discussion, the club graciously presented me with a copy of the history of the OWCC, which I will cherish, and made a generous contribution to Wounded Warriors of Canada on my behalf.
Many thanks to the OWCC, especially to Program Chair Ann Blair, President Elaine Hickey, board members Connie Gowling and Mary Townson, and everyone else who made me welcome, even staffing the book table and selling books. I was very pleased that my friends Lorna Clark and Brenda Fawcett were able to attend the event, particularly given the weather.
Later that day, I had a fantastic meeting with a local book club, facilitated by member Cathy Wiley. Thanks to Cathy and to all the members who braved the snow and contributed to an enjoyable discussion on A Person of Letters. It warms the cockles of this author’s heart to meet such avid readers and to discuss their impressions of the book and their take on the characters who sprung from his imagination.
Photos by Ottawa Womens Canadian Club, with the exception of the Chateau Laurier photo by StupendousMan 2008 (Own work, Creative Commons CC BY 3.0).