New Voices Publication

At the end of September 2014, the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative launched its sixth Voices anthology, in which is published my short story Paper Dolls.

Front cover of Voices 2014 anthology, a painting of an upside-down face, in pink and green hues.

I originally wrote Paper Dolls in French, following a talk with my grand-mother Jacqueline. When she told us about one of her favourite toys, growing up in Montreal in the 1930s, it painted such a picture in my mind that I couldn’t help but take her love of her paper dolls and insert it into my next short story.

I read an excerpt of Paper Dolls at the Voices book launch, voicing my main character both as a child and as an elderly woman.

A.M. Matte reading an excerpt of Paper Dolls at the Toronto Public Library Main Reference Branch, at a wooden podium.

I love this second life a reading gives characters, where an author can literally lend her voice to a story.

Looking for your own copy of Voices 2014? Find one at the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative website.

A Literary Cabaret, live literature and music

Literary Cabaret poster, highlighting the evening line-up of readers, including A.M. Matte

Literary Cabaret poster

As part of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative’s annual outreach efforts, I participated in the 2014 Literary Cabaret at Alleycatz Lounge last February. Eighteen members of the Co-op took the stage to perform their writing, accompanied by a varying array of musicians.

Though I’d never met him before we shook hands on stage, my reading of my short story  Paper Dolls was accompanied by James Faulkner on acoustic guitar. James’ spry yet mournful strumming was a touching backdrop to a story of a late-blooming friendship in the life of an older woman.

I will make a video of my reading available in April.

Under a spotlight and by a few microphones, A.M. Matte reads excerpts of her short story, Paper Dolls

A.M. Matte on stage, reading excerpts of her short story, Paper Dolls (photo courtesy of Omar Samara)

 

A Literary Cabaret

Very happy to participate in the Toronto Writers’ Cooperative’s Literary Cabaret next month. I even changed vacation plans in order to participate. How’s that for dedication to one’s craft? Details on the cabaret follow:

T.O. Writers’ Co-operative

Presents the 6th

Exchanging Notes: A Literary Cabaret

Tuesday, February 18, 2014, at 7:30 PM

Alleycatz Lounge

(2409 Yonge Street, 2 blocks north of Eglinton Avenue)

‘Exchanging Notes: a literary cabaret’ offers a unique combination of spoken word and live musical accompaniment.  A variety of instruments support authors in a variety of genres.  Rock! Blues! Jazz! Poetry!  Prose!

Our venue, Alleycatz Lounge, offers 2 menus, an exceptional kitchen and bar, great service!

There is no cover charge.

Further info: exchangingnotes@live.ca

For further info on Alleycatz: http://alleycatz.ca/

Public Readings – Three Down, One To Go

Over the course of one month, I have had the opportunity to read my work in public three times, with one more chance coming up.

A photo of author A.M. Matte at a Toronto Public Library podium, reading a short story excerpt .

A.M. Matte, reading an excerpt of A Treat, at the TOWC Voices 2013 book launch.

I’ve read an excerpt of my short story Where Pigeons Roost, with fave author Terry Fallis in attendance. I’ve read an excerpt of my MIL Dread monologue at a CityVoices Monologue Salon. (Click here for a YouTube excerpt of the monologue performed by actress Audrey Ferron.) And I’ve read an excerpt of my short story A Treat at the launch of the Toronto Writers Cooperative’s Voices anthology (only $10 each).

An image of the Voices 2013 anthology book cover, itself a blurred image of light coming through a window on a brownish background.

The Voices 2013 anthology.

I immensely enjoyed reading my pieces at those events and I’m thrilled to have one more opportunity to share at the Who You Calling Crazy? reading by emerging authors at Toronto’s Free Times Café on Thursday, October 3rd, starting at 7:30 p.m.

I’ll be practicing reading my excerpts until then.

Upcoming Public Readings

I confess: I’m one of those writers who loves to read her stuff out loud. Preferably when other people are around to listen, absorb, critique, discuss.

That’s why I’m very fortunate to have three opportunities to read excerpts of my short stories in the next few months.

On September 5, 2013, at 6:30 p.m., thanks to the Toronto Writers’ Cooperative, I get to read an excerpt of my short story Where Pigeons Roost at a literary event starring award-winning Canadian author Terry Fallis.

Then, on September 15, 2013, at 1:45 p.m., the Toronto Writers’ Cooperative is once again providing a reading opportunity, thanks to the launch of its Voices 2013 anthology, a perfect-bound anthology of co-op members’ work, in a range of genres.

Both events are held at the Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium on the first floor of the Toronto Reference Library, and are free.

Finally, on October 3, 2013, at 7:30 p.m., another conglomerate of writers will gather to share a range of work – from short fiction to creative non-fiction to poetry – under the theme Who You Calling Crazy? While this event, held at the Free Times Café in Toronto, is free of charge, donations to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will be gladly accepted.

I’ve been practicing and timing (and even editing) the excerpts I plan to read, and am excited about these opportunities to share my writing live. If you happen to be in town, come on by and let me know what you think of my performance.

Exchanging Notes and A Reading in September

I’m excited to be reading as part of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative literary evening, called Exchanging Notes, next month. On September 5th, 2013, the TOWC has invited award-winning author (and my one-time mentor) Terry Fallis to chat at the Toronto Reference Library.

Prior to the interview with Terry, two TOWC members will read their work – yours truly is one of them. It all goes down at the Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be reading an excerpt of my short story Where Pigeons Roost, about a woman who becomes obsessed with the underground game of pigeon-thwacking.

See you there!

Exchanging Notes: the interviews
with Terry Fallis
Host John Miller converses about the writer’s life and craft with Terry Fallis.  Terry is the author of The Best Laid Plans (Leacock Medal for Humour, 2008) and The High Road.  In 2011, The High Road won CBC Canada Reads as the “essential Canadian novel of the decade.”  TBLP is currently in development as a CBC-Television mini-series.  Terry’s continuing publisher, McClelland and Stewart, published Up and Down in 2011.  It debuted on the G&M bestsellers list.  Terry’s 4th novel, No Relation, will be published in May, 2014.  His 5th novel is currently underway.
Terry has extensive experience in provincial and federal politics, and communications consultation with the agency he co-founded, Thornley Fallis.
A.M. Matte and John Warren of the T.O. Writers’ Co-op will read from their work.

 

Exchanging Notes: the interviews
with Terry Fallis
6:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge Street
Info: towc@live.com

Fantastic French Book Fair

What a pleasure and a privilege to have been invited as an author at the 2012 Toronto French Book Fair. There, I met authors I admire, such as Marguerite Andersen, Lawrence Hill, Michèle Vinet – and discovered new ones, such as Sonia Lamontagne, Daniel Groleau Landry, Éric Charlebois.

A.M. Matte and Lawrence Hill,
Toronto French Book Fair 2012

As a reader, it was wonderful to discuss books with their creators. As a writer, my Book Fair experience revigorated my desire to write. I have many projects planned for 2013!

A.M. Matte and Marguerite Andersen,
Toronto French Book Fair 2012

Auteurs unis

Ce mois-ci, ayant rencontré de nouveaux collègues écrivains sur Twitter, j’ai répondu à un défi lancé aux écrivains de n’écrire que ce qu’on a VRAIMENT envie d’écrire. N’ayant pu choisir entre mes projets en français et mes projets en anglais, je n’ai terminé ni l’une ni l’autre de mes nouvelles… Cependant, l’exercice m’a bien plu et j’insère ici un court extrait de ma nouvelle en chantier Le scoop d’Élodim.

Elle anticipe le décompte – ce serait bientôt sa chance. Elle est nerveuse, mais confiante. Elle remercie à nouveau le ciel qui a fait en sorte que ses collègues soient tous affectés à la couverture de l’élection municipale, qui s’annonce serrée. Peu importe, par contre, puisque ce serait elle la prèmière à faire éclater le récit de la folle enfermée chez elle avec un bébé n’étant pas le sien.

Dans l’oreille, l’écouteur  la connectant à la station, devant elle, le trépied et la caméra-vidéo mobile, ajustés tant bien que mal à la position qu’elle juge idéale pour son reportage: la maison assiégée et les voitures de police directement derrière elle. Puis, la voix de sa collègue dans l’écouteur:

– Mais avant de nous rendre aux quartiers-généraux de cette candidate à la mairie, rejoignons notre reporter Élodim Gustave, qui est sur place, là où la police surveille le lieu d’un présumé enlèvement. Élodim, pouvez-vous nous parler de ce qui se passe là-bas?

Élodim hoche de la tête d’un air qu’elle espère sérieux et professionnel.

– Oui, Louise. Vers 16h cet après-midi, la police a reçu un appel annonçant qu’un enfant était enfermé à l’intérieur de cette maison derrière moi – un enfant enlevé, kidnappé. Le service policier a envoyé une auto patrouille et, une fois arrivée sur les lieux, l’équipe n’a pas eu de réponses à la porte sauf une personne qui s’est écriée – et je cite l’agent de police: « Y’a un fusil – attention au bébé! » Les agents ont appelé du renfort – que vous voyez derrière moi – et ont assiégé la maison.

Je me remets à l’écriture dès demain.

Writers Unite

Having met new fellow authors on Twitter this month, I was inspired by the UnknownJim Writers Unite challenge to « write what you REALLY want to write about. »

This month, while I couldn’t choose between concentrating on my English writing or on my French writing, I’ve not quite finished either piece, but I can still share an excerpt. Here is the opening of my short story Ms. Perceval’s Lover:

 

Ms. Perceval had long considered Owain Montblanc her type, but accepting the position of vice-principal last year impeded matters slightly. Now his superior, she could no longer express interest – not that she ever would have, anyway – lest it be misconstrued as sexual harassment by an authority figure. Hardly the way to begin her management career.

So, when Owain collapsed while teaching history class, Ms. Perceval at first hesitated to give him mouth to mouth resuscitation. She could hear the students’ nervous whispers behind her as she kneeled next to her prone colleague with another second’s hesitation. Then, she went to work. Ms. Perceval thought she heard a shocked, stifled giggle and considered withdrawing, but the prospect of Owain expiring on her watch was more than she could bear. She took a breath and bent down, pressing her lips against his, in their first, unlikely kiss.

She had imagined this moment – well, not this moment, the moment when she’d kiss Owain – many times before. She made up romantic, clichéd scenarios: a beach at sunset, the Eiffel Tower under a light rainfall, by Victoria Falls… She didn’t waste time figuring out how she and Owain would end up in these places – she simply inserted herself there, and in her lover’s arms.

Ms. Perceval blushed. She felt the students’ intent gazes pierce the nape of her neck. Could they guess what she had in mind?

While I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, it will be to concentrate on my short stories, so I hope to be further along with this and other stories by the end of the year.

Writers Unite!

Countering Writer’s Block

Shi– I mean, writer’s block happens. Truth or myth, there will be times when writers struggle to fill the page. There are a few things I do in order to counter this imagination constipation and, no, I don’t mean doing the laundry.

I’ve been known to:

  • Search the internet for weird news items. There are crazy stories out there, just begging to inspire yours. My short story À l’air results from such searches.
  • Open a (yet-unread) book and copy out a sentence or passage. Then, keep writing. Another author’s writing can spur me back to my own project. If opening a book at random doesn’t do it for you, you can find an inspiration-spurring sentence on Twitter or FaceBook.
  • Eavesdrop on the conversations around me. On public transportation, in an elevator, in a restaurant or a café. I’m hard of hearing, so I don’t always catch everything, but that only helps; I can more easily let my imagination take over if I don’t catch the context. What situations do I impose on the words I hear? What characters introduce themselves? This technique can also work while you are part of the conversation, but your friends will have to be understanding if you suddenly dash off to write something down.
  • Keep a dream notebook on my night table. Imagination (and libibo, sure) runs rampant at night. Some plausible scenes and stories can come up in one’s unconscious. It’s worth writing down ASAP in the morning. (The worst thing is not to do so right away, and mourn what one has forgotten. True story.) A few words can suffice. Later, if writer’s block rears its unwelcome head, read your dream notebook to poke at slumbering inspiration. My short story Timothy’s Blanket was inspired by a dream.

These are but a few of my go-to ideas to counter writer’s block. What are yours? Whether they lead to your continuing your current writing or to something new, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is never not to write.