Canadian Authors Celebrate 150 in South Korea

Best thing ever that’s happened in my career. The Canadian Embassy in Korea invited Kathy Stinson and me to be celebrated and showcased in the Canada150 spotlight at the Seoul International Book Fair.

Thirteen hour flight each way, five whirlwind days there. The first began at 7:15 AM for a radio interview.

Morning Special Live–EBS Radio Station

So much fun to talk to this lively hostess as she engages and sometimes repeats what Kathy and I say in Korean. You can listen in here https://youtu.be/RqT99HkPegE.

Next we met with the ambassador Walsh at the Canadian embassy. He talked about some  of the other endeavours the embassy has made to showcase Canadian talent. After that I visited the Seoul International Book Fair.  Back to back appointments with agents and publishers were lively as I spoke about my books and then was translated. Everyone enjoyed the concepts and premises–judging by their responses I sold foreign rights to about five books. This proved way easier than chatting up parents and kids and making a sale say at a Chapters signing. But I’m told initial response always seems that positive. We’ll really have to wait and see.

Then I gave a “Meet the Canadian Author” talk and a writing workshop. This was my first experience being translated by Minksook Kim and I stopped in awe to watch and listen. If I ever get back to Korea I hope to have mastered much more of this musical language.

Kathy Stinson and I enjoying traditional pork bbq Yoo-Kyung, our host extraordinaire, took us out to her favourite restaurant so we could try kimchi and pork, grilled right at the table. She also guided us through Namdaemun Market so I could pick up some souvenirs.

 

 

Meeting Mr. Lee Jae-jeong, education minister of South Korea

Next day Kathy and I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Jae-jeong Lee, the education minister who is very keen on the Ontario education system. He arranged for Kathy and me to visit Yomnu Elementary School, Kathy talked with grade three students, I  presented to grade six.

Yonmu Elementary School Meeting Grade 6

Then while Kathy visited the Seoul International Book Fair, I visited with students of Gyang Foreign Language High School.

Touring the Goyang Foreign Language High School Campus

I loved these students, they were so attentive. They also insisted on giving me a tour of the campus, practising their English on me.

Next morning I was slated to speak at Seoul Metropolitan Library.

 

The grounds in front of Seoul Metropolitan Library

Seoul Metropolitan Library

Adults keen on learning creative writing

We never know for sure who we are going to be speaking to when we do a public event. At Seoul Metropolitan Library, I spoke with 50 adults and one young person on creativity. I was also supposed to give out 150 writing tips but I perhaps only gave out five. Translating takes some of the time!

Songa English Library wins the prize for perhaps the most enthusiastic preparation and the liveliest presentation. Ever. Students here prepared detailed posters and flies were stuck on all the walls even in the elevator.

Songpa English Library Poster

 

After storytelling the book, and giving some of the inspiration, I watched as students created fly origami. I still don’t know how to do this. Finally I threw up some velcro fuzzball flies and the students swung at them with their flyswatters hoping to catch them for prizes. Does it get any better?Thank you Canada for taking me on so many amazing journeys.But of course it’s all the people that make the difference.Thanks to Ambassador Walsh, Jonathon Kupi,Yi Hyon Ju,Hye-Shin Kan, Yoo-Kyung Choy and Minsook Kim. Thanks Kathy Stinson. Wouldn’t have been half as much fun without you.

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Bringing Up Beauty – The Trailer

The Beauty Series: Bringing Up Beauty, A Different Kind of Beauty and Beauty Returns, represents the books for which I’m best known. Essentially they follow Elizabeth as she fosters first a black Lab, Beauty I, then a Chocolate Lab, Beauty II, and finally a golden retriever, Magic.

In the second book, the view point splits to hers and that of sixteen year old Kyle’s who gets a white cane instead of a driver’s license. In the third, they go out. No dogs every die.
Over the course of creating Kyle, I met and chatted with many people with visual impairments.
I also wrote the lyrics for a song because I wanted him to sing a lullabye but darned if I wanted to track down rights. Angela McKay, one of the women I interviewed, is a singer songwriter and she and her husband Brian helped me set the words to music.
This trailer gives snippits of all three novels with Angela singing Kyle’s Lullabye.
My son, Craig McNicoll, did the filming and editing. There are voiceovers for Elizabeth (Jennifer Filopowicz, my daughter) Alicia (Eireann McNicoll, my daughter-n-law) and a scene with Kyle acted by Ian Garden, Eireann’s brother. Many dogs acted in this video including Buster, Beauty’s brother. Yes there is now a real Beauty named for the book. Also the golden retriever belongs to Amy, another young woman who fosters guide dogs because she read Bringing Up Beauty.
The covers of my novels were painted by Shariff Taribay.
For me the video reminds me of a huge voyage in my life and all the wonderful docks (as well as dogs) along the way. Listen carefully to the end and you’ll hear my granddaughter Violet give a cry.
If you know a dog lover, you should buy these three books. Available from the usual online sources but also at Burlington’s A Different Drummer Book Store.

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