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, Book Reviews, Books, Maya and the Book of Everything, New Books

Un-Put-Downable: Maya

You know when you’re reading a book – even a mostly interesting book — but you reach a paragraph or page that’s over-written, over-described, over-dense, confusing or just plain boring?

Yes?

Me too.

So I can’t praise highly enough the novel that I finished reading last week. “Maya and the Book of Everything” kept me glued to its pages right to the end.

Blog Photo - Maya and the book of everything

This shouldn’t be. There are many different characters, the book skips from one time and place to another and takes fantastical twists. And yet, the storytelling is seamless, the characters compelling, the dialogue convincing, the quest believably and skilfully portrayed. It was a pure pleasure to read this book.

What makes me even more pleased? This book about a teenaged girl who takes on a seemingly impossible mission is from a small press, and authored by Laurie Graves, a blogger you may know.

With this book, Laurie demonstrates formidable gifts and skill as a novelist.

“How did you make the characters so believable?” I asked Laurie.

“I originally envisioned Maya as more timid, but when I thought of all she’d have to face, I knew she couldn’t have a timid character. Maya wouldn’t have survived her adventures. So then I reimagined her as a fiery young woman, a girl of action—unlike me!—and I immediately knew this was the right way to think about Maya.

“Somehow the characters just came, and it wasn’t all that hard to keep track of them. For me each character has a vivid voice and a distinctive way of speaking.”  

 

Blog Photo - Laurie Graves MCU

Where did the idea for the book originate? I asked.

Laurie got the idea for the book while editing a small literary magazine that she and her husband published.

“I used the Chicago Manual Style, not always an easy book to use. One day, I was tackling a knotty grammatical problem, and I said to myself, ‘I wish I had a book of everything.’  Then came the question: What if there were a book of everything? Where would it come from? What would it do? What kind of danger would it be in? Obviously, many people would covet a true book of everything. From this question came Maya and the rest of the story.”

Blog Photo - Laurie reading VasselboroMaya170604

Laurie is Franco-American. Her ancestors came to Maine from Canada. It was important to her that Maya and several other characters share that background.

“It is the place from which Maya springs, and her heritage, along with place, is one of the things that ground her.”

There is a  real place in both Maya’s and Laurie’s stories.

“The street shot (below) is of East Vassalboro, a classic New England village where my mother lived for many, many years and one I came to cherish. It is also where Maya’s grandparents live, and East Vassalboro and its library are essential to the story.”

Blog Photo - Laurie Vasselboro main street

There are subtle but impactful messages woven through this book. Good leadership is one.

“The big messages are that facts do matter and that a place will suffer under a bad leader. The corollary is that good leaders are essential. On a more personal level, I wanted young girls to read about a plucky heroine who turned her face to the wind and faced difficult challenges.”

It’s a great read.

Look out for Book 2: Library Lost, coming next fall.

 

 

A Good Home, Books

Short Books I’ve Enjoyed

Let’s hear it for the short books!

The slender ones that you can slip into your handbag, your “man-purse” or even a (very large) pocket. I almost always have one such book with me when I go to a place where I have to wait: hospitals, for example.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the following in recent months, and some I have even reread (short books are good for re-reading).

Unfinished Business by Michael Topa  (available from: greenoaks2@yahoo.com)

This is poetry about everything from the creation of the universe, to growing up in a strange family situation, falling in love and travel to intriguing places. Some of these poems are very moving, and all are beautiful in some way.

Blog Photo - Caboodle & the Whole Kit

Caboodle & the Whole Kit by Kevin Cooper

This book is an anthology — an unusual mix of topics and story types — and, as Kevin says, “inadvertent run-ins with some quite unsavory characters”. 

I have read and reread my favourites from it, including the author’s hilarious visit with a famous fictional character. Kevin is a musician, author, editor and blogger. Caboodle includes a mix of short stories, poetry and songs, and topics include romance, faith, family  — the whole kit and caboodle of life.

Blog Photo - My Vibrating Vertebrae

My Vibrating Vertebrae by Agnes Graham

I have loaned this book to 2 friends, and they also enjoyed it.

It asks the intriguing question:  What if you are a girl growing up in 20th century Northern Ireland before, during and after the ‘Troubles’?

The answer comes in the clear, strong poetry – and humour — of Agnes Graham. The book was published (after her recent death) by her children, who said:

“From the poetic thoughts of our Mother, we get a sense of what it was like. Ranging from humour, sadness, wistful thinking and sometimes just downright nonsensical, these are the words of one such girl.”

Well-known book blogger Chris Graham is Agnes’ son, by the way.

Blog Photo - PS I forgive you

D.G. Kaye’s P.S. I Forgive You

D.G. Kaye writes on a powerful topic: forgiving a very difficult and abusive parent. Yet she does it in a clear-eyed way, in simple and taut writing. The topic may be difficult, but this book is easy to read, and more memorable for it.

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’!

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting

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.