One Book, One Com­mu­nity au­thor Lin­wood Bar­clay talks books and writ­ing at EDSS

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - VERON­ICA REINER

THE BOOK IS DEAD. Long live the book.

The wave of elec­tronic book pop­u­lar­ity may have peaked, with the good, old-fash­ioned printed ver­sion mak­ing a bit of a come­back, says best­selling au­thor Lin­wood Bar­clay.

“In terms of sales, ebooks I think have peaked,” Bar­clay told an au­di­ence at Elmira District Sec­ondary School last week. “And this is sort of anec­do­tally what I hear in the in­dus­try. Is that when it be­gan, ebooks were like ‘wow!’ Peo­ple got what­ever de­vice they had, their iPad or their Kobo, and they down­loaded 30 books into it, 28 of which they still have not got to. So ebook sales were kind of huge for a while, then they peaked, and then lev­elled off. And print sales have started to come back.”

His dis­cus­sion about dig­i­tal books was part of a pre­sen­ta­tion that touched on his writ­ing ca­reer, in­clud­ing his time as a jour­nal­ist – ini­tially at the Peter­bor­ough Ex­am­iner, be­fore work­ing at a va­ri­ety of jobs at the Toronto Star, in­clud­ing chief copy ed­i­tor, news ed­i­tor, and hu­mour colum­nist.

“I went in for an in­ter­view for a re­port­ing job at the Star, and they said ‘we don’t need any re­porters – what we need are ed­i­tors. We’re re­ally short of copy ed­i­tors, do you have any edit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence?’ And I said ‘yeah, sure,’ which was a com­plete lie,” said Bar­clay with a laugh. “It turned out, I was re­ally good at it. I could edit sto­ries quickly, I could check facts, I could write punchy head­lines, all this stuff, and I could do it quickly.”

Bar­clay’s pas­sion for writ­ing didn’t stop there, hav­ing penned over 20 nov­els since 2004. His break­through came in 2007 when he pub­lished No Time for Good­bye, which was met with in­ter­na­tional suc­cess.

“The best part of be­ing a writer is you get to do what you love to do. A lot of us – and I’ve been there – are stuck in jobs, that are just a job,” said Bar­clay. “But writ­ing is what I al­ways wanted to do – it’s what I love do­ing, and I get paid to do it.

“The other best thing is when you fin­ish a book, and it’s done – it’s like all of these cin­der blocks just come off your shoul­der. Like wow, I’ve got through that one. But I think it’s a priv­i­lege be­ing able to do what you love – whether you’re an ac­tress, or a dancer, or a mu­si­cian – if you get to do what you love... that’s the great­est thing.”

While most of his award-win­ning nov­els are thrillers, Bar­clay ex­pressed his fond­ness for comedic writ­ing and satire, which shone through in his pre­sen­ta­tion.

“The per­ils of writ­ing satire when things that you have writ­ten to mock are over­taken by ac­tual events,” said Bar­clay. “When the real thing that hap­pens is more ou­tra­geous than what you wrote to make fun of it. And that’s the era we’re in now.”

Bar­clay’s Bro­ken Prom­ise was se­lected as the re­gion’s One Book, One Com­mu­nity read for 2018. The or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes Cana­dian writ­ers and aims to build a sense of com­mu­nity through the shared ex­pe­ri­ence of read­ing.

“We have hosted the One Book, One Com­mu­nity event here at the school about ev­ery other year for the last few years,” said Jen­nifer O’Con­nor, a teacher at EDSS. “And the folks from One Book, One Com­mu­nity con­tacted us and asked if we would be in­ter­ested again, and we said ‘Ab­so­lutely!’”

O’Con­nor ex­pressed her plan to con­tinue the tra­di­tion of One Book, One Com­mu­nity for stu­dents in the fu­ture.

“We talked to the stu­dents to­day, and they said that they en­joyed it,” said O’Con­nor. “They thought it was re­ally in­for­ma­tive and en­cour­aged me to con­tinue the tra­di­tion.”

[VERON­ICA REINER / THE OB­SERVER]

Lin­wood Bar­clay was at EDSS Sept. 26 dis­cussing Bro­ken Prom­ise, the One Book, One Com­mu­nity choicse for 2018.

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