Upstairs.. Downstairs, Yann Martel and me

12295249_10153808444766719_7846370148125879509_nBeautiful Christmas trees.. seven of them, if you are counting, and works of art from all over the world on walls separating the living areas, with a little bit of wall space showing.. an incredible feast for the eyes.

This charity event hosted four authors, one of these gifted authors, Alice Kuipers, actually wrote a book about ‘life on the refrigerator door’ in which she explained it was more about the white spaces in between the notes on the door. This made me wonder what she would write with the wall spaces here.. of which there is very little, being filled with all this wonderful artwork. Now I have to read her book.

One of the hosts, a gifted published author himself, has ‘lent’ his home over to this fundraising effort for ‘The Word on The Street’, Saskatoon. I was thrilled to get an invitation, not because I seldom get out, which I don’t, but I really like these two people and their commitment to the community.

The parties here are always eclectic and never boring. I confess I need to push myself out of my comfort zone to attend, only because I always feel like I will be the bore.

The invitation included the usual ambiance these hosts are famous for and of course the promise of something exciting that could happen.. and I didn’t want to miss that.

12227027_10153827509296719_7752583267041682182_nThis included ‘delicious desserts’ of every kind you could imagine a Christmas theme would inspire. Everything was also homemade, by an English professor, from the U of S no less. That the ‘late leavers’ got to take home some of these sweets, was icing on the cake.. but that was not the exciting part.

First off I had not heard of three of these authors.. the fourth was more recognizable by the fact that one of his novels was made into a movie. Feeling very inadequate I broached a question  “have you read any of these authors books” to a few guests around me.

Getting a few no’s immediately boosted my confidence level, only because I had at least read one of the books from one of the authors. I was also into my second glass of wine.. and now an ‘expert’ on this book.

12369209_10153827471341719_78808788272514100_nThe main event started with half downstairs (25 of us) and two authors taking their places on stools in the front, facing us seated guests. As our host was making introductions a baby wailed once, in the background, and my immediate thoughts were .. wow.. do my hosts have a baby now? Is this the surprise I was looking for… hmmm

The two authors Yann Martel and Alice Kuipers are looking way to chummy up there and I’m thinking I hope they are single because this is definitely looking like a very intimate couple. Gradually a light finally flickers on in my brain, which is a little slow, these two are not single but married .. to each other!

We were invited earlier to write down questions for them, even silly ones, which made me bold.. along with the two glasses of wine. They started out this cozy chat with ‘how do they come up with names for their books?’. They continued onto how they inter-act with each other, both of them being authors.. this was the interesting part for me. Each has a unique writing style as well as very different approaches to writing.

This is not unusual, as I was to find out later from the two authors upstairs. They were also married..  to each other! Back downstairs.. and I am fascinated by the conversation between these two authors, he examines every word he uses! She on the other hand,throws out everything onto the page.. land where it may, within a framework of course.

While Alice reads everything, he is much more choosey, they also read and critique each others work and that was when I realized they were married to each other. She mentions reading some of his stuff and laughingly says sometimes its “BORING”.. and makes big X ‘s in the air with her hands.12342327_10153827474371719_6881226741907012209_n

Getting serious she shares an insight into one of her own books, being not so thought out as she figured. Yann needed to explain to her about parallel universes and infinity points .. which proved very helpful to her. Well,  she pretty much had to rewrite an almost finished book. (men are always making more work for us women, darn them)

Now I have to find that book and the refrigerator one.. see.. I read everything too! They pick up and read my  question as I slowly slink down in my chair in horror .. why did I write that stupid question? (two glasses of wine no doubt) ah well it is anonymous..  except they both wonder what book I am asking the question about, Dam!

It is Life of Pi (btw do not say ‘the’ Life of Pi.. Yann particularly hates when people do that.. ). I just reread what I wrote and I am blown away by this. Who knew that I would be having a conversation with Yann Martel on his book, which I read twice because the surprise ending had me so confused..  and thus my question to him.

Did he intend to have this two story ending which resulted in me having to read it again” the answer is yes, and having lived in India where animals play a big part in everyone’s religious life, it is not so far-out. When it is over, another guest comes up and thanks me for asking that particular question because it was one she wanted to ask as well… whew..

12299157_10153827471746719_4098181329922833704_nWe leave and go upstairs for our next two authors, along with dessert and coffee for me.. no more wine, I need to drive home.  I overdose on too many Christmas shortbread cookies, worth every calorie, I tell myself.

We are treated to readings by two more authors, Arthur Slade has written 17 novels! He won a Governor Generals Award for Children’s Literature for ‘Dust’. Brenda Baker author of ‘Camp Outlook’ is also an entertainer and treats us to a song she wrote (while accompanying herself on guitar) at the end of their presentation.

These two give spirited readings, he of adventures and she.. oh my .. how to explain her reading.. hmmmm. Well seems a woman lost her head before a big date and pinned on a Styrofoam one, but she got the man anyway. This loses something in the translation but believe me, it had me transfixed!

But wait, there is more.. he was stabbed by a pin while kissing her on the neck and his undying love for her vanished in horror upon hearing her confession. Ah.. I think I just got it, no maybe not, I really need to read that book!

Brenda went on to read a chapter or two about women going to a strip club, in Saskatchewan, that had us all in stitches. She especially embellishes the part where the lead male stripper (from Saskatchewan.. no less) reveals his ‘package’.

See, I knew there was going to be a surprise for us!

ps the wailing baby at the beginning, turned out to belong to Yann and Alice.. I know, first names now, huh? Well I did stay later and Alice shared her story on how she met Yann and he shared with me how he ended up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan!

oh.. and Yann Martel gave me permission to post a picture of myself and him on Facebook. I don’t think he or any of them knew I was going to write about them. Ah well.. this is only a blog, I write about everything and who reads my blog anyway?12346314_10153827470296719_9142554966658508942_n

I have taken the liberty of posting pictures on here from Anthony Bidulkas facebook page. The Word on The Street is on my list to attend next year and I hope if you are reading this..  you will attend as well. This was a wonderful fundraiser and my thanks to all that helped make this so much fun and so insightful. Kudos to all four authors you inspired me to keep plugging away, I will be reading your books.. thank you!

I also take liberties with my outrageous titles .. I want people to read my blog.. its that ‘validation’ that was discussed by all of you.