Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ah, so! A reviewer of taste and intelligence

The book is written by Peter Mancall. But the significant bit in the Winnipeg Free Press review turns up in the third sentence, when Ian Stewart writes: "From the point of view of this armchair voyager, Mancall ranks with the finest contemporary Canadian writers in Arctic and Western Canadian exploration history, Ken McGoogan, D’Arcy Jennish and Heather Robertson, as a first-class storyteller."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lucky Seventeen

Ottawa writer Rob McLennan keeps a terrific literary blog.
One of the highlights is 12-or-20-questions, in which
he enters into a dialogue with various writers. He stumped me
with three questions, but I managed to answer seventeen --
long a lucky number for me. The dialogue begins . . .

1 - How did your first book change your life?

My first book did not change my life. Neither did my second, third, or fourth. While writing and publishing those books, I continued working at my full-time job in journalism. And I kept the only schedule that ever worked for me, and which I had followed for years before I published my first book: get up at 5 a.m. (or earlier) and write until 8:30 or so, then have breakfast and head off to the newsroom.

For the rest, click on Lucky Seventeen . . .

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Film based on Fatal Passage wins a Rockie

Wonderful to see the movie version of Fatal Passage getting the attention it deserves.
The Grand Prize for best Canadian program at the Banff World Television Awards -- commonly called a "Rockie" -- has gone to the 90-minute docudrama, Passage, which is based on my book.
It tells the story of John Rae, the Orcadian explorer who solved the two great mysteries of 19th-century Arctic exploration, discovering both the fate of the lost Franklin expedition and the final link in the Northwest Passage.
The film was produced by PTV Productions for BBC Scotland, and directed by John Walker. Your faithful blogger not only wrote the book and served as a consultant, but makes an appearance in the London sections of the film, which were shot in the British Admiralty offices.
Published originally in 2001, Fatal Passage won four literary awards, among them the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, the Canadian Authors' Association History Prize, and an American Christopher Award.
The book continues to sell well in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Shout out to Richard Flanagan!

Sooner or later, you knew I would get around to reading "Wanting," an acclaimed novel set partly in Tasmania, and featuring my old familiar friends Jane Franklin, John Franklin, Charles Dickens and Mathinna, the aboriginal girl Jane adopted. It's a wonderful work but in case you think me biased . . . .
A Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote that in "Wanting," author Richard Flanagan has written an exquisite, profoundly moving, intricately structured meditation about the desire for human connection in its many forms." The Sun-Herald affirms that the novel moves "seamlessly through time, across two continents and between three story-lines," while remaining "a marvel of precision and cohesion." And the Sydney Morning Herald writer declared flatly: “This is the best novel I have read this year or expect to read for several more.”
Flanagan's novels have been published in more than two dozen countries, and from this one, you can see why.
OK, so the biggest treat for me came later at www.richardflanaganwanting.com.au, where in his background notes, the author writes: "Ken McGoogan's Fatal Passage (2001) and Lady Franklin's Revenge (2006) alerted me to the unusual story of Dr. John Rae and the complex achievement of Lady Jane Franklin."
It's a simple thing to do, acknowledge your sources, but you'd be amazed at how often creators prove unable to muster the requisite grace. So: hats off to Richard Flanagan. And check out this fine novel.