ALISSA YORK published bestselling novels, Fauna (shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award), Effigy (shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize) and Mercy; stories from her short fiction collection Any Given Power have won both the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award. She is 2013 (Feb – May) Writer in Residence for the Toronto Library.
“Receptivity” was her topic for the WCDR meeting. Many people ask Alissa where she gets her ideas for her novels. Beyond the obvious – newspapers, popular culture – she is open to and welcomes new ideas outside of her knowledge, figures out what she must do to expand on them, and finds the courage to go forward to learn what she needs to know from various sources. She keeps a detailed filing system for her notes (and warns to beware the rabbit hole of research), writes scenes and arranges them by character, writes them on index cards, writes from each character’s point of view, cuts them up and puts them on the floor to arrange into a story. By dissecting her current book, Fauna, Alyssa invited us into characters’ attributes and what forces affect their lives before she writes her story.
TERRY FALLIS guest speaker at WCYR and author of The Best Laid Plans and its sequel, The High Road, satirical novels of Canadian politics. His first novel, originally self-published in 2007 won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. McClelland and Steward published it in September 2008. The book won the Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Regional Fiction – Canada East category. In 2010, the Waterloo Region chose The Best Laid Plans as winner of the One Book-One Community. In February, 2011, The Best Laid Plans was winner of CBC Canada Reads as the essential Canadian Novel of the Decade. A six-part mini-series based on the book will appear on CBC-Television.
The High Road was a finalist for the 2011 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, 2011. Up and Down, Terry’s third novel appears in September 2012.
Terry’s self-deprecating humour about his naivety as an emerging writer (after a political career and current Public Relations business) is always welcomed on author tours. We’ve all been where Terry was: emotionally uncertain, dashed and hopeful on the road to becoming a writer. But under the humour is a serious writer. He makes it clear that his process is methodical start to finish. He likes to make fun of his logical and boring engineer’s mind, not given to skipping around on the page. He plots carefully in a notebook before he works on a manuscript. From the time of writing his first novel to his current novel, Terry continues an unusual marketing tool, podcasting his stories in instalments from his website. He believes podcasting contributes to his success.
Both writers are funny, relaxed, knowledgeable and approachable. The meetings are a great way to connect with successful writers who are happy to share their process and encourage writers.