The Glamour Life On A Book Tour, Part III: Great big family

Stop 3 – Winnipeg

In Winnipeg, a writer would describe Vancouver like this: “It’s big, it’s beautiful, but it’s empty of culture.” He captured my mood exactly.

I like Winnipeg the instant I arrive. It’s not as warm as LA but the sun is shining, and the Bed and Breakfast I’m booked into picks me up at the airport. April, the proprietor is a friendly and talkative host. We discuss talent versus hard work in the field of writing. She believes that writing is an natural talent, and if you don’t have it, you can’t be a writer. I know I have talent as a writer so I partly agree with her. But I, and any other successful novelist I know, have worked hard to develop their talent.

“I know many people with more writing talent than me,” I tell her, “but they will never be published because they lack the drive to finish a novel. They also lack the drive to go back and rewrite that book many times before sending it out. You need more than talent to succeed as a novelist.”

I have a similar conversation with Bruce Symaka, the book columnist for Uptown, Winnipeg’s alt-weekly. Although he writes regularly about books, he can only fathom writing one 400 word column a month. Other than that, he’s tapped out. Regardless, Bruce does a great interview. He asks questions about specific scenes and characters in the book so I know he’s read the book carefully. He also likes it. Best of all, he offers to drive me to the bookstore, McNally Robinson, so I don’t have to take a cab or ride the bus.

I’m expecting a good crowd at McNally. The Arthurson family comes from Manitoba and I know there will many of them, some who live in Winnipeg, others who live six hours away. It’s like a tiny family reunion.

But what I’m not expecting is that on the same night I’m booked, Sean McCann from Great Big Sea is also there for an in store performance. He’s on at 7 at a spot right near the front of the store. I’m on at 7:30 at the back. I knew I would have loads of family but I was hoping this friendly and loud crowd would attract a bunch of strangers. It happened last time I was in Winnipeg at the same store. But with a big Canadian music star in the front, a lot of that walk-on traffic would no doubt go in that direction.

And that’s what happens. My speech and reading goes well and draws the response that I normally get. And my family buys a lot of books, most of them buying more than one copy. The folks at the store were also great and I completely understand the reasoning behind them booking McCann and why it had to be that night. But I also knew my potential Winnipeg sales was lower because of it.

The family doesn’t let me get down. All of us, from my 70-plus to my 29 year-old cousin, head out for beers and food. I offer to buy plates of chicken wings and my luck holds out. Tuesdays are wing night! And even though I have to leave early the next day, breakfast at my Bed and Breakfast will be served when I need it, not at the whim of my host. I love you, Winnipeg.

Wayne Arthurson’s latest detective novel Fall From Grace is available at Amazon and various other online locations — plus, at good old fashioned book stores. This four-part series covers his recent book tour in Canada and the U.S.