Five reasons I love doing events in Canada

I’m out in Calgary right now for WordFest, a very awesome and impressively organized book festival that I was excited to be invited to present at. Shane Peacock and I talked with a great group of teens this afternoon, and I’m looking forward to visiting Lord Beaverbrook High School tomorrow morning.

Now, I love traveling down to the States and getting to meet my American readers, especially since those of you down there can’t make it to my smaller local events around Toronto. And there are some definite benefits to leaving Canada — for example, if I was in Texas again right now, I wouldn’t be seeing weather anything like this:

(The view from my hotel room here in Calgary — yes, all that white stuff is snow.)

Even my flight here was no longer than a direct flight from Toronto to most major cities in the US (Canada is a big country). But this is the first time I’ve participated in an event in Canada outside my province, and I’ve found myself appreciating some small but striking benefits of staying on home turf:

1) No customs interrogation. Not that I usually get interrogated that thoroughly, but my conversations with customs officers have tended to go like this…

CO: Why are you traveling to the US today?
Me: I’m a writer going to a book convention.
CO: Oh, what kind of books do you write?
Me: Young adult — so, for teens.
CO: What’s your most recent book?
Me: The Way We Fall.
CO: Oh. I’ve never heard of it.
Me: Yeah… It’s so great to hear that! (The second part, of course, stays in my head. Though the last time it happened, I was really tempted to say, “Head on over to the airport bookstore when your shift’s over — it’s right there!” Obviously customs officers are not big readers of YA literature.)

There was also the time a customs officer came close to accusing me of bribery when I offered him one of my promotional bookmarks as proof that I really am an author with published books, but we won’t get into that.

2) No changing money, no extra bank fees. It’s really nice to be able to walk into a branch of my home bank and take out cash without having to worry about service fees or conversion charges or exactly how much I should take out so I don’t have to convert it back when I get home.

3) Familiar store and restaurant chains. It can be a real relief, when you’ve just arrived in town and you’re hungry but also tired, to see a name like the The Keg and know, yeah, I usually like the food there, no problem. Most specifically, I love love love having access to Tim Hortons. I’m sorry, but Starbucks does not compare, especially for breakfast edibles.

4) No comments on my “cute” Canadian accent. I don’t actually mind it when people notice this, but sometimes the excitement over it can be a little much, especially when I myself can’t hear any difference between how the people in Toronto and people from the eastern US speak. After a certain point, you do get a tiny bit tired of hearing, “OMG, you just said “a-boot!””

5) Feeling like a local no matter where I go. I’ve said to writer friends before that the great thing about living in Canada is that, while in the US, you’re embraced by your state as a “local author,” here I get embraced by my entire country. It doesn’t matter that I live a four-hour plane ride away — I’m here among my people, and they’re enthusiastic about books and authors from all across Canada. 🙂

With luck, I’ll be able to see a bunch more readers in both Canada and the US next year. Keep your fingers crossed!


Five reasons I love doing events in Canada — 8 Comments

  1. Oh, I love point #5! I think it’s really true, and I also think it has to do with the fact that there still aren’t too many big-name Canadian authors; so literary-minded people like to toot Canadian authors’ horns whenever they can. 🙂 YAY for Timmy’s! Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme simply cannot compare. And wow. Bribery, really?? (Actually, I can’t believe the customs officer would consider a bookmark as “bribery”. Sounds like he was getting a little bored on the job…)

    • The customs officer bribery thing was just weird… He was being extra suspicious because it was, admittedly, a bit of a weird situation–I’d flown into NYC one night to do an event the next afternoon, and then took an overnight bus back to Toronto that evening, so I wouldn’t have to miss any day-job work. So I’d been in the US only about 24 hours and I guess he thought that was odd. Which is why I offered to give him the bookmark as proof. I was mostly joking (it was something like two in the morning and I was pretty tired, just wanted to be done with it), but he was all “Offering me gifts is bribery blah blah blah” so I back pedaled pretty quick. 😛

  2. You’re totally going to hate me Megan, but I noticed when you were talking that your totally say ABOOT. I thought it was adorable. I notice that “Easteners” definitely have a different accent than the West. I lived in Ontario for a few years and when
    I moved west I was teased about my accent all the time.

    At any rate, I thought your presentation was fantastic and you are just as beautiful in person (inside and out!

    Yay for Canadian authors in Canada!!!

    • Yeah, but I don’t say it in the super-exaggerated way people do when pretending to put on a Canadian accent! (At least, I don’t think so…) 🙂

      Of course, the strongest Canadian accents seem to be from all the way out east in the Maritimes. Interesting how these things develop.

      I’m so glad I got to see you at least briefly–hope we can get together sometime tomorrow!

  3. Ha! The a-boot thing kills me. Especially because it’s just plain not true.

    Yes, most Canadians do say about differently than Americans, but it’s way closer to a-boat, than a-boot. It’s simply softer than the typical American pronunciation that sounds more like abawt to my ear. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone pronounce it aboot…

    When I was living in California, there was a really funny (to me) ad playing on TV down there for Canadian tourism. Over shots of various cities, ran a conversation that went something like:

    Let’s go oat (ie out)
    Oat and aboat in a boat?
    Yes, let’s go oat and aboat in a boat.

    It was silly, but at least they got the pronunciation right. 🙂

    • Hee hee, that’s cute. 🙂 Yeah, I think maybe in the Maritimes you can get a bit of the “oot” sound, but it’s definitely not the standard pronunciation across Canada.

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