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SHELLEY P

ACTOR, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, HORSE-LOVER SHELLEY PETERSON SITS HIGH IN THE SADDLE AS SHE LAUNCHES HER 9TH NOVEL

Throughout the 80s and 90s, I’d become a fan of Canadian film and tv actress, SHELLEY PETERSON. She appeared in all the major hit tv shows like Night Heat, E.N.G., the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the comedy Dog House and another fave of mine, Twice in a Lifetime (2000). In 2007, Shelley appeared in the scary, spooky thriller Dead Silence alongside one of my favourite Australian actors, Ryan Kwanten, who starred with Aussie superstar Aaron Petersen in the original Mystery Road movie.  During all this time, Shelley was not only married to politician and future Ontario premier, David Peterson, she also raised a family and started writing books for Young Adults based on her love of horses. Oh, and by the way, she continued riding and owns a horse facility north of Toronto. Talk about an over-achiever and a great success story!

Her books are beautifully crafted novels targeting the tween/teen/young adult readership and focuses on horse-lovers and their adventures with their 4-legged best friends.  Her latest book is THE JAGGED CIRCLE which Shelley is currently promoting and hopefully will soon be able to do the usual meet-n-greet reading events with her fans as the province opens up after 15 months of Covid lockdown. I recently spoke with Shelley where we discovered our mutual love of horses, sharing our pony club stories from way-back…Cover final, Jagged Circle copy (1)Congratulations on the publication of your latest Y/A novel The Jagged Circle. You’ve written 9 books now involving horses so you must have been a pony club girl from way back…yes?  Yes, you’re right. I went to Pony Club in London, Ontario. We had wonderful teachers who were thorough and demanding. For example, we were timed taking our bridles apart, cleaning and oiling them, then putting them back together. We learned every part of a horse, how to look after them from top to bottom, including how to feed and groom them. The riding part was just as demanding, but more fun!  My favourite teacher was Dorinda Brickenden Greenway, who was an international show jumper. I admire her so much that I put her in ‘The Jagged Circle’ as a judge in the March Madness Steeplechase.

I gather you’ve always ridden throughout your adult life, too, and now own a fabulous horse facility, Fox Ridge – can you tell us about it and how it allows you to fulfil any childhood dreams?  I’ve been extremely lucky to have been around horses all my life. I had horses as a child in our backyard barn in London and then married a man whose father had a farm with Hereford cows. Pete loved horses and knew more about them than anybody else I’ve ever met. He’s a character in many of my books as Pete Pierson. He bought me my foundation mare, Sandpiper, and I’m now raising her great-grandchildren in Caledon where we live at Fox Ridge. I can think of nothing more fulfilling than guiding the journey from wobbly-legged new-born foal to a responsive, calm, willing adult horse.thumbnailI read a brief synopsis of one of your earlier books, Dancer, which was inspired by your then-teenage daughter. I must admit, the story could have been written about me, too. I was the class geek back home in Australia, and instead of 2-legged friends, I had a whole herd of 4-legged ones at the local stables. Have you found that your books offer comfort and validation to your predominantly tween and teenage female readers? And have you received “fan mail” reflecting that?  Absolutely. Readers’ emails and letters warm my heart and keep me writing. Each of my novels deals with a real issue (or several issues) that kids face, and each person will take what they need out of my books. If something that happens in one of my novels reflects a reader’s personal situation, I hope they’ll find strength and inspiration by how my characters cope with it. Otherwise, it’s just part of the story.sundancer (2)When you were acting on a regular basis, you appeared in 2 of my favourite Canadian tv series, E.N.G. and Night Heat. Do you miss those days or are they now just very fond memories?  I loved the world of theatre, television and film, and it was good to be a part of it. It’s very tough work, regardless of the glamourous perception of it, but very rewarding as well. The magic of theatre cannot be replicated elsewhere, and I revisited it in my novel, ‘Stagestruck’. One day I might go back to it as a little old lady, but for now I prefer allowing my imagination the freedom to create stories as opposed to acting them through other writers’ characters and dialogue.th (2)Being the wife of a politician must have been demanding – did you find horse-riding offered you relaxation and an outlet to de-stress?  Horses only relate to you when you set aside your stress. They actually turn away if you bring your troubles to the barn. As soon as you understand that, things go well. Through any turmoil in my life—being the wife of a politician, raising children, having a stressful career– horses have always demanded that I put my mental garbage in a sack and leave it metaphorically at the barn door.

Riding horse Prospero with grand-daughter Willow

Riding horse Prospero with grand-daughter Willow

The Jagged Circle is the second book in your Jockey Girl series and this time your heroine, Evangeline Gibb, is up to her stirrups in solving a murder while training her steeplechaser, Kazzam, for a big race. Can you give us any more clues as to how Evangeline does…with the helping the police solve the crime as well as the race?  Before the story begins, her grandmother Mary has been training Evie and Kazzam over jumps, and there’s already a very strong bond of trust between horse and rider which allows them to escalate their training over cross-country jumps with Piers Anders. And Evie’s love of her little sister, along with her curiosity and grit, won’t allow her to stop delving into the mysteries until they’re solved. The story takes place over a very short time, going from the boredom of being alone at Spring break to action overload as the drama unfolds. One reader told me he needed a nap when he finished reading my book!

Do you have social media where fans can follow you and learn more about your books?  I have a website, www.shelleypeterson.com  and a Facebook page “ShelleyPetersonBooks”. My publisher is Dundurn Press and I’m on their website as well. Any questions can be sent to me directly via my website, and I’ll answer them as soon as I get back from the barn.thumbnail (1)Thank you so much for sharing your life and loves, Shelley, and I know my readers will be checking out ALL your books which are available from Amazon as well as through your own website.  You can also visit the Dundurn Press website and social media: @dundurnpress
THE JAGGED CIRCLE by Shelley Peterson
Paperback ISBN: 9781459746947 • $14.99
eBook ISBN: 9781459746961 • $8.99willow riding Robyn

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CANADIAN POET, ARTIST & ARTS JOURNALIST DAVID BATEMAN LAUNCHES HIS FIRST NOVEL “DR. SAD”

I’m pleased to introduce you to Canadian freelance arts journalist, artist and performance poet DAVID BATEMAN, who currently resides in Toronto, Canada. David has published several books of poetry and contributes literary reviews in several leading national and local newspapers & magazines. He has also taught creative writing and literature at post-secondary institutions across Canada. He has recently published his debut novel DR. SAD, and although Covid quarantining and stay-at-home directives have forced him to cancel live readings and book signings at bookstores and coffee houses around Toronto, David is utilizing the internet and social media to reach his fans and attract new readers (and book sales!).Dr-Sad-2x3-RGBStory synopsis: Discover the difference between living a life and simply enduring on in this cross-campus, cross-country comedy of manners, queerness, poetry and HIV.

Bateman has crafted a brilliant novel featuring a main character, Stephen, who is a middle-aged teacher who is also gay. He’s content, except when he isn’t. He’s a poet. He has a new teaching job in Kamloops, British Columbia……Stephen has HIV.  DR. SAD is the story of one man’s journey across Canada and through his diagnosis. It is the story of the distance between queer urban spaces and a small campus in small-town BC.  It’s the story of discovering the self within the world and the world within the self, of discovering the difference between living a life and simply enduring one. This is a tragicomic cross-campus, cross-country romp that believes in the power of romance.  Weaving together narratives of past and present, of Toronto’s Gay Village and the streets of Kamloops, this lively and dynamic semi-autobiographical novel dives deeply into gender and queerness, class and privilege, and the realities of aging. It is a dynamic and engaging hybrid, stylistically daring while remaining intimate and human.  Leaping through time and mixing the playfully serious with the seriously playful, DR SAD blends poetry with prose and finds the humour in despair in one complete, glittering tragedy of triumph.20210317_153614 (2)I recently spoke with David, socially distanced, of course, and he shared his thoughts on the writing process and of life under Covid:

Congratulations on your first novel, David. What inspired you to share your small town/big city experiences in the semi-autobiographical DR. SAD?  The diagnosis that begins the novel motivated me to write the openings chapters. It was a very curious and startling way of receiving the news, and I thought it would work well as an introduction to a kind of tragicomic, semi-fictional narrative around survival and endurance under challenging circumstances. The diagnosis was revealed in the first chapter, in the fist draft of the manuscript. After a variety of editing suggestions from various editors, I decided that moving this to a slightly later chapter would work better.

Your career has included arts journalism, book editor, poet and performance artist – now you add novelist to your CV; compared with your other pursuits, how difficult was it to complete the book?  It was much more difficult with a longer project to find the time to develop it. With arts journalism, poetry, editing, and performance, over the years there have always been deadlines in those areas, so that made it easier for me to focus on an end result. But with a novel there was no sense of a deadline so it just kept being put off. But I had always wanted to write a novel, and started a few but never got very far. I was writing poetry more at the time, in my thirties and forties, and had a publisher in Calgary who published four collections of mine over a ten-year period, and that was my main focus. A longer narrative project always seemed out of reach, never enough time to devote to a novel length project. Soon after I returned to Toronto, after living and teaching in Alberta and B.C. for close to ten years, I applied for a year long Fellowship and was delighted and surprised when I got it, so basically, the funding and the lengthy time period, one year, motivated me to sit down almost every day and work on a first draft of the novel. The application for the fellowship included the original first chapter for the manuscript.

Covid has obviously put a stop to live readings and bookstore meet-n-greets with your fans – what’s been the most difficult or inconvenient part of the lockdown/stay home situation for you as a writer?  Actually, I have found that the pandemic has afforded me more time to write, and develop various projects. I have been very fortunate to be in a relatively safe and comfortable environment over the past year and have had a couple of small grants that have supported my creative work. It is disappointing, of course, not to be able to take part in live readings and events, but I have found zoom and various online platforms to be very satisfying and inspiring to be able to continue to take part in events with a variety of other artists across the country, and beyond. But the hardest part of this I think has been not being able to go out and exchange ideas and hear other writers present their work in community settings. That was a very inspiring and motivating part of my life as an artist, and a lot of that has disappeared during the lockdown/stay at home period. And yet, on the other hand, online platforms have extended some of my connections as an artist to people from parts of the world I might never have had the opportunity to connect with through readings, festivals, interviews etc.

So many people are utilizing the pandemic stay-home time writing their own books of short stories, poems or novels – what advice can you share with them?  I try to have a routine, dividing my time between painting and writing. Deadlines give me a focus, and even if there isn’t a set deadline from a gallery or a press or an arts publication, I try to write down rough deadlines, and creative ideas, and follow them as much as possible – with a list of projects itemized by priority. Of course I often stray from those deadlines, but just having them there, written down and always present in a way, can keep me interested and motivated in continuing the creative process within each separate area – poetry, painting, editing, arts journalism, and longer prose and performance works. And searching online about various grant possibilities is also helpful. Even if I don’t get them, which I often don’t, it can be a great source of motivation to re-consider various projects in the context of a grant application. This helps me to develop the project in formal ways I might not consider outside of a grant application framework – when I am sitting around just thinking or jotting down lists around ideas for a number of projects. Applications often ask artists to describe various ideas in specific itemized ways. I find this very helpful as I move forward with any given creative idea.

Any other comments you’d like to share?  I try to think of everything I do as part of the creative process. Sometimes it can feel a little silly, and enormously privileged to be able to just binge on Netflix, or any of the big movie and television channels available. But especially now, within this pandemic, watching a variety of narrative structures, flash across the screen, whether they be contained within a kind of documentary style or pseudo reality tv show about a painter, or something as mainstream as Ozark or The Queen’s Gambit, or a series like Flowers or Fleabag, well, it all acts as inspiration for ideas and images that contribute to the ideas and images racing through my head. This has always been the case, as we live in an image world, but now, confined more to our homes and workspaces, film and television, and some reading, can be a welcome and nurturing distraction.20210317_155215 (2)David has a number of interviews in May, including the popular HOWL! radio show on CIUT-FM 89.5 with host Valentino Assenza on Tues. May 4th (10pm to 11pm) and another scheduled for taping in mid-May with Mark Tara of Rainbow Country radio (for broadcast in July). Follow David on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/david.h.bateman

DR. SAD, Soft-cover, 310 pages
Price: $28.99 Cdn. (hardcover) or $15.94 (Kindle e-book)
University of Calgary Press (Dec.2020)
ISBN: 9781773 851037
Available from: Amazon.ca, Type Books & Glad Day bookstores in Toronto & Waterstones Books (UK)

 

9781459739239

RIP-ROARING TALES OF A LIFE SURROUNDED BY MUSIC AND DARING ADVENTURES!

SKINHEADS, FUR TRADERS and DJs
An adventure through the 1970s

Book launch party at The Rivoli on Queen West, Toronto, this coming Sunday Sept. 10 @ 8pm

When I heard that tv personality and music media insider Kim Clarke Champniss was writing his autobiography covering his childhood and teen years in England and his 70’s adventures in Canada, I knew I would be reading much about my own history…but with just a few geographical differences. I was born a few months before Kim came into the world, so we were both exposed to the same popular music of the Brits and American rock-and-roll in the mid to late 50’s. But while Kim experienced the whole mods’n’rockers evolution in person, I would only hear about it from far off Australia to where my parents had emigrated in ’59. Unfortunately my family would end up way out in the bush, cut off from any form of entertainment other than 4 radio stations and two television channels that only broadcast from 11am until 10pm. Kim, as he tells it in his book, was right there at ground zero in London for the changing social moods and music styles, going from bovver boys to The Beatles. So it was with a touch of envy that I turned the first page…..

Champniss writes like Jackson Pollack painted: bold colourful strokes with trickles of familiar music history, lobbing in droplets of dusty old names that suddenly come back to me – Régine, Slade, Lyons tearooms and Marc Bolan. Then once the reader arrives with Champniss in Canada’s far north, his descriptions of living and working for the Hudson’s Bay Co in the isolated, snow-bound Eskimo Point during the early 70’s will have you pulling a blanket up around your ears – so cold, so windy and wild you can almost feel the biting gusts of Arctic air whirl around you.

The pages turn easily as the reader follows Kim’s journey back to civilization (Winnipeg?) then several road trips across the States and through Canada, with the music of the time playing in your head: glam rock, Motown hits then disco. His brief 1975 return to England plugged Champniss into the emerging sounds of new pop and rock music along with an increased social and political awareness – these were also the days of random IRA bombings and economic unrest as the European Common Market developed. Upon returning to Canada, Champniss soon found his calling as a DJ, working in top nightclubs around Vancouver and he enthusiastically shares his memories of the dawn of the disco era.

Apparently, our lives had intersected in Perth, Western Australia, my childhood home and Kim’s home for a short time in the mid-70s while waiting for entrance into the University of Western Australia (my alma mater). He and his (by now) wife Lily even lived close to where my family had once resided, the beachside town of Cottesloe. But Oz didn’t work out as expected and they soon returned to Canada’s west coast where Kim immersed himself even more in the music scene.  Rock, pop and soul would be joined by punk and new wave, and reading through the artists’ names Champniss notes, the clubs, the cities that gave rise to the new music, gives readers of a certain age that warm feeling of remembrance that sends one off to the basement to pull out the old vinyl and dust off the ancient turntable.

This book definitely leaves the reader wanting more…and fortunately there is a lot more as Champniss ends this story just before he heads to Toronto in the early 80s to join the revolutionary new music & video tv station that we came to know as MuchMusic.SONY DSCNot only is this an autobiography with exciting adventures we can relive with the writer, it is a great music history lesson to be shared with younger readers. I first met Kim when he had arrived in Toronto from Vancouver whilst hanging out at renowned music publicist Richard Flohill’s floor-to-ceiling record lined apartment in Cabbagetown. I remember thinking what a bright, energetic young man Kim was, full of music trivia and fascinating stories of his many adventures around the world. I cannot wait for the next chapter when I know he’ll have more great tales to share.

SKINHEADS, FUR TRADERS and DJs
An adventure through the 1970s
Published by Dundurn Press
200 pages, 29 illustrations, black & white
Available in Paperback $23.99 ISBN: 9781459739239
Or  eBook $11.99  ISBN: 9781459739253

Kim Clarke Champniss (a.k.a. KCC) is an award-winning broadcaster who was a popular VJ on MuchMusic and special assignment reporter for The NewMusic. KCC is also the author of The Republic of Rock ’n’ Roll. He lives in Toronto.

ABOUT THE BOOK
A true story of an adventurous pop-loving teenager who, in the early 1970s, went from London’s discotheques to the Canadian sub-arctic to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company. His job? Buying furs and helping run the trading post in the settlement of Arviat (then known as Eskimo Point), Northwest Territories (population: 750).  That young man was Kim Clarke Champniss, who would later become a VJ on MuchMusic. His extraordinary adventures unfolded in a chain of On the Road experiences across Canada. His mind-boggling journey, from London, to the far Canadian North, to the spotlight, is the stuff of music and TV legends. Kim brings his incredible knowledge of music and pop culture and the history of disco music, weaving them into this wild story of his exciting and uniquely crazy 1970s.