A Good Home, Book Festivals, Book Interviews, Book lovers, Books, Children's Books, Paul Mason

The Multi-Talented Paul Mason

Paul Nicholas Mason is an actor, playwright and novelist. He’s acted in multiple films but confesses he has few photos of himself because he is bad at self-promotion.

Blog Photo - Paul Mason MCU

So I told him to have some taken! He sent a few, apologizing:

“With nearly 35 projects (including ten feature films) under my belt, you’d think I could offer you more.”

Blog Photo - Paul Mason in character as a butler

I wanted to introduce Paul on my blog for three reasons. He’s created a new career in film for himself after taking early retirement from teaching;  he will be appearing at the Festival of the Arts in Cobourg, east of Toronto on Friday Nov. 3 and Saturday Nov. 4; plus he has a new book on the market.

Paul’s published books include the novels  Battered Soles, The Red Dress and The Night Drummer. 

Blog Photo - Poppy book cover

The new book, A Pug Called Poppy, is his first chapter book for children. It’s illustrated by artist Sarah Berrino.

Blog Photo - Paul Mason Poppy and Human

Paul says he’s excited about the book because he feels its central characters — Poppy the Pug and Smudge the Maine Coon Cat — “will meow and snuffle their way into a great many hearts.”

“I have such fond and powerful memories of the books I enjoyed as a little boy — Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington Bear, The Borrowers, Swallows and Amazons, the Narnia Chronicles.  It would make me happy to feel that I had introduced a character into the imaginative life of children.”

Blog Photo - Paul Mason and Reader

A Pug Called Poppy is meant to appeal particularly to 8 to 10-year-olds. But then there are adults like me, who love it too.

“There are a lot of little grace notes, little touches, that will amuse adults,” Paul says.

Yes!  I stand amused.

Blog Photo - Paul Mason Poppy

 

But let’s head back to Paul’s acting career. He has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard, and as a result, does a great variety of voice-over work for film. (One of his first roles was playing the part of a “lecherous duck”.)

To be closer to his beloved family and have greater access to movie shoots, Paul recently moved from Peterborough to Newcastle, a quaint lakeside town east of Toronto. Though he misses his Peterborough friends, he says he’s delighted with his neighbours, with the town’s library and swimming pool, and by being closer to family.

Blog Photo - Paul Mason and Granddaughter

If you’re in the Cobourg-Northumberland area this weekend, you can meet Paul at the book fair at the Festival of the Arts, November 3 and 4.

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival of the Arts Photo

And if you haven’t yet, then one of these days, you just may hear/see him in a movie.

 

 

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A Good Home, An Honest House, Beauty, Book lovers, Book Readers, Canadian Authors, Canadian Books, Coping, Gratitude, Inspiration, Writers

The Private Responses of My Readers

People who read my books tell me the darndest things. 

Perhaps instinctively knowing that I’ll never let them down — or simply because I’ve written a lot of personal stuff in my books — some readers write very personal responses in their letters and cards.

I feel privileged to read them. Every one.

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Some weeks ago, one particular letter arrived. It accompanied a card, and was totally unexpected.

You see, it came from a prominent person, and the fact that he took the time to read my book — and write to me — was a huge surprise.

~~

As you may know, I live with a strange thing called post traumatic stress disorder — one of the outcomes of a car accident of years ago.  Only very recently have I written about it.  When I did, I deliberately crafted my book, An Honest House, to provide a balance between the beauty, love and support that surrounds me in our old farmhouse, and the uncontrollable terror that always hovers, just out of sight.

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I wanted book lovers to read my book, and I particularly wanted people who struggle with PTSD to read it.  I wanted them to see, in an ‘up-close and personal’ way, how someone else lives — with and, in spite of, PTSD.

But here’s the problem: if you have it, reading about PTSD can be a death-defying thing — or so it feels. It wasn’t until after writing An Honest House that I finally read an article about PTSD – written by my own therapist, for the back of my own book! Even then, I only read it because I had to.

~~

Shortly after my book went to print, I saw a news story about a prominent person who lives with PTSD. I wrote to commend him on revealing it in public, and also mentioned my upcoming book. He replied warmly — then warned that he’d most likely not read my book. 

Imagine my surprise and pleasure, then, when I recently received a letter and card from him — just like that, out of the blue!

The letter was warm and revealing.

A beloved relative, he wrote, had recently died, and in his grief, he decided to read An Honest House. He found himself immersed in it. 

I alternated between smiling and feeling choked up as I read. How moving to learn that he actually read the book and that it gave him comfort in a challenging time! And how gratifying to know that An Honest House will have a place of honour on his bookshelf. 

As with the vast majority of my readers, I’ve never met this man in person, never even talked to him on the phone. I likely never will.  Yet, in a way, we know each other. 

~~

Dedicated to everyone who writes to an author whose book they’ve enjoyed.

A Good Home, An Honest House, Authors, Book lovers, Books, Libraries

The Library: My Home Away from Home

Thank you, Toronto Public Library, for including me in your ongoing feature about the people who frequent the library.  I am ‘a bit’ late to post this on my blog, but as you know from the many late fines I’ve paid over the years, I’m always ‘a bit late’!

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Meet Sarah and Cynthia…

“I’m a bookworm and I’ve loved public libraries since I was a child. Steeles branch has a special place in my heart. Why? Because of the kindness of the librarians there over the years when I struggled to recover from injuries caused by a car accident.

“Sarah and I bonded over a book. It was a PD James book and I really wanted to read it. But I was shocked at the long waiting list. I was #1341 on the list! I showed up at the library every two or three weeks to ask a version of the same question:

“What’s my number now?”

“After a while, I didn’t have to ask any more. Sarah would see me arrive and hurry to her computer to start checking.

“We’d share a laugh and sometimes I’d pretend to be outraged that I was nowhere near getting that book.**

“When my book was published, my librarians were among the first people to receive their own signed copies.

I think they were both happy and proud – after all, they had seen me on days when I could barely use a computer.”

**And yes – I did also get the PD James book! It was “Death Comes to Pemberley”, a perfect blend of Jane Austen sensibilities and PD James’ wonderful murder mystery skills.

A Good Home, Artists, Arts, Authors, Book lovers, Book Stores, Books, Booksellers, Stratford, Ontario

Must Love Books

Let’s face it: you have to really love books to own a bookstore these days.

Blog Photo Fanfare Sign1 by Hamlin Grange

That’s what I say to Bob Newland, owner of Fanfare Books in Stratford, Ontario. 

Blog Photo Fanfare and downtown by Dale Ratcliffe.JPG
Credit: Dale Ratcliffe

Q. Owning a bookstore doesn’t seem like a way to get rich quick. Why do you do it?

A: You are right: money is not the motivator. But the store provides many other satisfactions:
1)The people- I get to hobnob with the most intelligent, erudite and well-read people on the planet.
2)The books- Everyday is Christmas!
3) Sundry satisfactions- While it doesn’t happen as often in reality as it does in The Little Paris Bookshop,  every now and then someone will say that a book that I sold them years ago made a profound change in them. Often a book is a personal thing and it’s nice to think that I have made a difference, however small, in their lives.

Blog Photo Fanfare and Bob by Hamlin Grange
Credit: Hamlin Grange

Blog Photo Fanfare Story Downtown Traffic and Street by Dale

Thousands of people visit Stratford each year. It’s a beautiful city, with nature (including the Avon River) adding its charms.

Blog Photo Stratford River by Dale Ratcliffe

Blog Photo Stratford Swan by Dale Ratcliffe

It’s also home to famous artists, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Stratford Summer Music Festival, and it’s singer Justin Bieber’s hometown.

Blog Photo Stratford and shakespeare by Dale Ratcliffe
4 above photos by Dale Ratcliffe

Q: Who are some of the individual shoppers who have delighted you by coming to your bookstore? 

 A: The most fun story that I have is this:
First Saturday in December is our sale day. We’ve been doing this for thirty years and it is usually the busiest day of the year. A couple of years ago, Colm Feore came in- as he sometimes does- and held half of the substantial crowd in thrall for about half an hour as he described how he grilled a steak. Now THAT`S entertainment!

(Colm Feore is one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, but his home is in Stratford and he’s a beloved star of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.)

Blog Photo Fanfare and Shoppers by Hamlin Grange

Bob’s mother, a teacher, fostered a love of books. He studied English literature and Bob managed bigger bookstores before buying Fanfare in 1989. 

Fanfare carries books by big-name authors such as Louise Penny, Alice Munro, W.O. Mitchell, Robertson Davies, John Irving, Timothy Findley, Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott, Alan Bradley and others.

But it also carries books by less well-known authors like me. (Thank you, Bob, and store manager John Woodward.)

Book image An Honest House 1

Blog Photo Fanfare window and Street by Hamlin Grange
Above photos by Hamlin Grange

Q: Why should readers and society in general value bookstores today? 

A: Books are the instruments that produce and preserve culture and civilization.
Okay, it sounds like hyperbole but it’s actually true.

The bookstore is a place of discovery.

It’s where you discover passions that you didn’t know you had.

It’s the place where serendipity happens. Also, taking text out of the equation, a well-made book is an object of beauty in and of itself. I love the look and feel of a book where the designer had the talent, patience, awareness and materials to make something special.

Blog Photo Fanfare address