While writing Theft By Chocolate, the last thing on my mind was what would happen if the work ever reached an audience. Doing readings, participating in panel presentations, attending book clubs, and speaking in public, in general, were not on my radar. I was just trying to finish a novel, page by page. What would come afterwards, would come - back to writing.
Then, miracle of miracles, the book was published. And miracle of miracles, I have been doing regular readings in libraries and some really unique settings attracting people who seem interested in hearing what I have to say about my story and process - miracle of miracles!
Although I have a typical writer’s temperament - I'm shy, I'm an observer, and having attention drawn to me makes me squirm - I do have some public speaking experience from a previous life. I'm not referring to all the Ukrainian concerts in which my parents forced me to participate as a kid. But many, many, many years ago when working in the Royal Ontario Museum’s Programs Department, my job required me to introduce speakers and instructors to crowds as large as 300 people. I was nervous each time I went on stage, even though I knew I would be off in a matter of minutes, and I was also aware that when you're introducing rock stars of the academic world or celebrity authors, like Kathy Reichs or Jean Auel, no one was paying attention to me.
But even the intimate events have been really satisfying. I did a reading at Toronto’s Wellington Street Art Gallery where we squeezed in just over a dozen people. I was able to speak to everyone in attendance and some lasting relationships were formed.
I also attended a book club meeting in Toronto’s Beach(es) neighborhood where all eyes were directed at me from very close proximity. And yum, what a spread we feasted on, thanks to Terry Comeau's homemade delights.
A reading at a branch of the Hamilton Public Library (Locke Street) was also most cozy, and the casual atmosphere encouraged people to ask lots of questions. The participation of local chocolatier, Forrat's, made the afternoon all the more sweeter.
And very recently, I did an up-close-and-personal reading followed by a screening of a heist film, The Thomas Crown Affair (the original), in a private and exquisitely plush private screening room in the TIFF Lightbox Tower, thanks to film festing compatriot and cinephile friend, Andra Takacs.
I have come away from these events with adrenaline highs stemming from the connections I have been making with people reading my book or contemplating reading it, but more importantly, from the realization that people are just as curious about my experiences and travails as they are about the book itself.