Any minute now the phone will ring and it’ll be Pierre, at Transcontinental Printers, giving me the final amount of the bill that I need to pay before they release Walking with Wolf. Thanks to the power of VISA, that little transaction can take place instantaneously and very shortly after, a skidload of books – 1280 to be exact – will be sent by truck down the highway to my home in Hamilton. I am trying to visualize how many books that is – one skidload doesn’t sound like so much, but in the confines of my small house, it might just seem like a mountain. I think I’ll make furniture with the boxes, throw a few blankets over the cartons, and rearrange my home to be a functional and comfortable book warehouse. Some of those books will go with me on the plane to Costa Rica so that we can get right to the celebratory launch shortly after I arrive. I have considered and reconsidered the numbers – how many to ship where – another in a long line of decisions that, at the time, seem extremely important. In the end, I’ll live with whatever I’ve done. So the other 720 books are heading down on a leisurely boat cruise to Limon, hopefully arriving a few weeks after I do, to be sold around Costa Rica. I’ve had to make arrangements to store them in “dry closets” – in the humid land of the rain forest, you need to keep a lightbulb burning to keep the moisture down or I’d be the proud owner of a buncha musty books in short order. The Hammer is a pretty humid place too, but nothing like Monteverde, up on the wet, green mountain, and here, dehumidifiers tend to do the trick.
One of the details I’ve been consumed with before I leave Canada is to decide on when and where to have the official book launch when I get back. At this point it is looking like Saturday, September 6 at the wonderful Pearl Company. A grand old three-storey brick factory building close to downtown Hamilton, it has been renovated with love & spirit by Barbara Milne and Gary Santucci and now houses not only their loft living space but a stunning art gallery, art shop and performance venue. The couple also runs a fantastic service – the Art Bus. It heads out on the first two Fridays of the month when, for a very reasonable $15, you are driven from gallery opening to gallery opening in the greater Hamilton area, exposing curious art-lovers to a wide range of studios and spaces, local creations and culture. The bus leaves from the Pearl Company, and it was when I went on the bus back in January and saw the beautiful old building that I first thought what a great place to have a launch party for Walking with Wolf. So I went the other day to talk to Barbara and we came up with the September 6 date. I’ll actually be having a trial run at my 50th birthday party on August 23, but that’s a whole other story.
Last night I went to the Lionshead Pub to see my friend Lori Yates play along with her friend Lynn Buckshot Bebee. Heart-grabbing voices, irreverent spunky women, great great songwriters. They played a set together, along with Chris Houston, as the Evelyn Dicks – named after a notorious murderess from Hamilton’s past – and blew me away. And this was only part of their band that I saw. I immediately got the idea that this would be a great band to play on the night of the launch – some real hometown Hammer hustle, with lyrics full of literary story lines and surprises, and rocking women (Mistah Houston was the exception). By the end of the night we had a plan, to collaborate on a great night in September, celebrating Walking with Wolf, and cranking up the steel city attitude with the Dicks. Lynn started her last set with a song that ended with the line “Going to read a good book” and I gasped. She later told me that she just finished writing that song the night before – and I found it totally prophetic. I hope that this all works out – Walking with Wolf – Book Celebration with the Evelyn Dicks – Musical Event at the Pearl Company – Community Center – in Hamilton, September 6, 2008. Many more events will follow, but I’m feeling like this is the just the best way to introduce the book in the Hammer.
Suggestions are coming in from friends further afield: the Chat Noir Bookstore in New Liskeard, the Moon Cafe in Mattawa, Gullivers Bookstore in North Bay – if I can line up some local music to augment the book presentation in each case, my work will be done! In my little world, you can never have too much music, and no night is complete without at least a little shimmy on the dancefloor. Dave Patterson of the legendary Wabi Delta Band in the Temiskaming area has offered up his services for the New Liskeard show. I’m loving the generosity and enthusiasm of people towards the coming out of Walking with Wolf. For my part, I plan on creating a multi-media kinda presentation while I’m in Monteverde. It will feature images from the tropical forest, video of Wolf and a variety of Costa Rican music. I hope to add a little colour and character to your typical book-reading. I believe so strongly in the value of telling Wolf’s story that going out in the world and talking to people about the book is easy. If I can make a connection between the book, the past and the future of conservation, be it in Costa Rica or anywhere else, while plugging the book, then it will be even more satisfying.
Now why hasn’t that phone rang?