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.

 

 

A Good Home, Famous Authors, International festival of authors, Prize-winning Books

Remembering Austin

Photos by Hamlin Grange

~~This is an abbreviated version of a 2013 post~~

What’s an introvert like me doing at a party with famous authors?

Feeling a bit lost among strangers, is what.  The program book for the prestigious International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront in Toronto reveals names like Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden and Margaret Drabble.

Blog - IFOA Reception

I, meanwhile,  am new to this author thing: my first book, “A Good Home” was only recently released. Hamlin Grange and our friend Leonie McKnight-Copeland accompany me. As usual, several people recognize Hamlin from his frequent appearances on CBC Television where he was a news anchor and journalist.

But none of us knows anyone here.

I once possessed the fine skill of mixing and mingling with celebrities.  I’ve been away from that world for such a long time since the accident, I’ve forgotten how.  

I see a young woman who looks as shy as me, and I say a warm hello. Other people surround her,  so I move on.

A relaxed-looking man greets us. 

Blog - With Attila

He introduces himself: Attila Berki, associate publisher of Quill and Quire magazine. He says the young woman I  greeted is Eleanor Catton, whose book, The Luminaries, just won the Man Booker Prize.

 

Blog - Small group

I recognize another famous author, but he’s wearing someone else’s name tag. Despite the disguise, he too is surrounded.

“Come say hello to Austin,” Hamlin says, returning to my side. “He’s across the room.” I am thrilled to see Austin Clarke, whom I know.  In fact, Austin is one of my heroes. Born in the Caribbean, the man and his books are known for ‘speaking truth to power’ about racism in our society. 

The literary giant — winner of the Giller Prize and other prestigious honours — sits by himself in the shadows, removed, yet regal. “Like a sort of eminence grise?”  I tease him.

“Or the lion of Judah,” he offers, laughing softly. I slip my arm through his and we laugh together companionably.

Blog - Austin and Cynthia

Austin’s new book of poetry, Where the Sun Shines Best, is nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award, and he’s at work on his memoirs.

As we sit together, looking out at the crowd,  I, the brand-new author, am surprised but happy to have this famous Canadian man of letters all to myself.

We chat, but not about books. Austin’s a famously great cook, and I’m infamously not. We both use canes to walk around. He claims his cane is superior to mine; I reluctantly, laughingly, agree. (See above photo, extreme right.)

A waiter approaches. He’s a fan of Austin’s Giller-winning novel, The Polished Hoe, and he greets Austin as if meeting a head of state. He almost-kneels, almost-reverently, to shake Austin’s hand. 

Hamlin and Leonie join us, and we enjoy our time together. No-one else approaches, and I realize that this roomful of mostly younger or foreign authors probably does not realize that the elderly black man with the shoulder-length grey dreadlocks is Austin Clarke, one of Canada’s greatest writers.

~~

Austin Clarke died yesterday. His recently completed memoir is titled Membering.

Thank you, Austin, for paving the way.

Rest in peace.