Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kasper goes to the Silver Birch Awards

I'm very excited by the news that the third volume in the Kasper Snit trilogy, 'Ten Lessons for Kasper Snit,' is a nominee for the Silver Birch Express Award. That means thousands of kids in Ontario schools will get a chance to read it and vote for it--or some other favourite.

The first two Kaspar Snit books were also nominees. Third time lucky? Well, I won't hold my breath--especially since the ceremony isn't until May. But I'm going to have fun along the way.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Andrea Martin...and me?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing Andrea Martin read an hour-long version of 'Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang' before an audience of enthralled kids and adults at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Of course I watched Andrea on the great sketch-comedy TV show SCTV years ago (my friends and I were ardent early fans), but she has gone on to become a Broadway actor, winning a Tony and many other awards. Her voices were hysterically funny, especially for the Hood Fang himself (across between Yoda and Nathan Detroit, I'd say). The organizers were kind enough to invite me and afterwards we had fun signing books together. Of course I was under no illusion as to who the real draw was!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Toronto Jewish Book Fair

This Sunday, Nov. 1, I'll be reading from 'Valentine's Fall' at the Toronto Jewish Book Fair along with Lauren Kirshner, Sidura Ludwig, and Adam Sol. 4 p.m. at the Lipa Green Centre, 4600 Bathurst Street.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

International Festival of Authors is here

Today is the official opening of the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. I'll be doing two readings for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards (Thing-Thing is a finalist). Both are on Saturday, Oct. 24. For the first I'm reading with fellow nominee Nicola Campbell at in the Studio Theatre. The second is a panel discussion with all the nominees, moderated by Ken Setterington. That one's at 4p.m., also in the Studio Theatre.

I'm looking forward to hearing some authors myself.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shufflin' off to Calgary

Next Tuesday I'll be heading to Calgary for the Wordfest, the city's annual literary hootenany. I'll be doing no less than five readings, one at the festival itself an the others at local schools. It's a very well-run and friendly fest so my expectations for a fine time are high. There's also a fundraising dinner where we authors get to pretend we're celebrities. I'm going to bring my best pair of jeans.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A picture-book writing course...with Cary

A quick note to mention that a course I'm teaching at the University of Toronto Continuing Studies, "Writing for Children: Picture Books II," will be starting on Monday Oct. 5. I'm very excited by the two guests who will be coming. The first is Ruth Ohi, illustrator of over 40 books and author of several as well. The second is Tara Walker, picture-book editor at Kids Can Press.

So if you're interested call the Continuing Studies department at 416 978-5653 or go to

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fagan and the Foggies for One Night Only

While I was working on 'Valentine's Fall' I sometimes imagined a book launch where my favourite bluegrass band, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, would perform. And it is actually happening.

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, This is Not a Reading Series hosts the launch of my new novel at the Gladstone Hotel. There will be an interview on stage with my old buddy Gary Clement, editorial cartoonist for the 'National Post,' illustrator of picture books, artist and amateur vaudevillian. Then the Foggies will cut loose.

So come on out, folks. It's going to be one good time.

Word on the Street Year 20

This Sunday, Sept. 27, is the 20th annual Word on the Street book festival. It's being held at Queen's Park (the Toronto version) and I'm going to be making two appearances for 'Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas.' The first is at 12 noon at the Children's Reading Tent and the second is an interview on the CBC stage at 2:30.

No doubt I'll also be skulking around the Cormorant Books booth where I assume copies of the new novel, 'Valentine's Fall,' will be on sale.

Enjoy the fair.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Eden Mills and Telling Tales Festivals this weekend

If you see a frantic author zipping by you on the highway it will be me, moving between two southern Ontario festivals this Sunday. One is the new Telling Tales Festival, devoted to children's books, the other is the much-praised Eden Mills Festival. I'm looking forward to them both and if you're in the neighbourhood, come by.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Read the book, watch the video

Cormorant Books has produced a smart little video to promote my new novel, 'Valentine's Fall.' It was created by Bryan Ibeas. The soundtrack is by the Foggy Hogtown Boys. And that mandolin player? That happens to be me, with my 12-year-old daughter Sophie as videographer. Break out the popcorn and enjoy.

Montreal Gazette talks to Cary about Jacob Two-Two

Here's a link to an article in the 'Montreal Gazette' about 'Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas.'

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two award nominations for 'Thing-Thing'

'Thing-Thing' has just been nominated for two national awards, both administered by the Canadian Children's Book Centre. One is the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000) and the other is the big one, the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award ($25,000). It's an understatement to say that I'm thrilled by the nominations--for me and for Nicholas Debon, the illustrator. A lot of people work very hard over the year to make these awards happen and I'm grateful to them. The winners are announced at a fancy-shmancy evening in November so I better dust off my good clothes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

the new look of "Valentine's Fall"

Here is the new cover design for "Valentine's Fall." The illustrations are by Nick Crane. It sure is different from the first design, and from any other cover I've had. But I think it captures some of the spirit of the book. And it's refreshing to try something different.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A new cover for "Valentine's Fall"

A while ago I posted the cover of my upcoming novel, "Valentine's Fall." A short time ago the publishers discovered that another book with an uncannily similar cover had recently been published--a non-fiction book about a tragic event. A quick decision was made to come up with a new cover.

And so the new one is currently being designed. Marc at Cormorant Books has been kind enough to bring me into the process and it's something of a four-way discussion between us, the designer, and the illustrator brought on board. (But Marc has to act as go-between, mediator, and the-buck-stops-here ultimate decision maker.) It's an exciting and slightly scary process, and the new cover will look radically different. But I like the idea of taking a risk and coming up with something fresh and appealing.

But then you'll have to be the judge.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A second review of "Jacob Two-Two" and some postings

CM Magazine, a resource for librarians, has just published its advance review of "Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas." The reviewer, Andrea Galbraith, writes: "Much of the originality of the story comes from the theme of treasure being in the eye of the beholder....a highly readable would work well as a read aloud or for solo reading. Highly recommended."

There have also been a few postings on the Globe & Mail and the Quill & Quire websites questioning the decision of adding to the series in the first place. The general opinion of these posters is that Richler's name is being exploited and his work being taken advantage of or tampered with. Other responses disagree.
I'm not at all surprised that some people don't like the idea. When first approached, I had some of these same thoughts. I asked myself: would I want someone to write another "Kaspar Snit" book? I didn't come up with any easy answers but I did decide that it ought to be the Richler family's decision. They, after all, are the ones who knew Mordecai best. And Mordecai passed the rights on to them. (Perhaps it should be remembered that Mordecai himself was happy to "exploit" his own books, allowing them to be adapted for film, television, and theatre. Some of these adaptations are very good but others are quite poor. And who remembers the musical based on "Duddy Kravitz" that closed before reaching broadway?) For me, the question was whether I felt I could do justice to the characters and series. And whether I wanted to do it. I answered "Yes" to both.
Of course people have every right to disagree. I'm happy to read their opinions, especially when they are well expressed. The question might be an interesting one for students to think about along with the notion of how authors "own" their characters and creations. I would like to say, however, that those who write that Richler's own work has been "tampered" with are simply wrong. No one has altered a single word he wrote or changed any of his books. My own book is clearly marked: it is a new work, written by me.
And if you read it, I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

First Review of "Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas"

Quill & Quire, the Canadian book-trade magazine, has just published an advance feature review of my upcoming children's novel, "Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas." Here is a sample:

"Fagan is a pro at writing entertaining and intelligent fiction aimed at the younger set. His Kaspar Snit series is infinitely inventive fun, displaying an affinity for offbeat scenarios and a ready wit that goes well with Jacob's universe. ...children and adults should find much to enjoy in Jacob's newest. Fagan has taken on responsibility for the series admirably, and the possibility of more Jacob adventures should make every young reader very happy."

Naturally, I'm very pleased by the review. (Actually, the primary emotion I feel on reading a positive review is relief.) But what I found most interesting in Corey Redekop's thoughtful consideration were his comments about the "darker shadings" and more frightening "Dickinsian" qualities of the first book that Richler wrote, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang.

While I'm at it, I'd like to send best wishes to the new editor of the magazine, Stuart Woods. It's a hard job to take on, after the death of Derek Weiler, who was so admired by people in the book trade. But Quill & Quire has become an indispensible journal and I'm sure Stuart will continue to build on its strengths.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A first look at the new novel

"Well, it's been a long wait--for me anyway. My new novel will be published early in the fall by Cormorant Books. I'll just say here that it's about high school, middle age, Toronto, the suburbs, love, family, loss, and bluegrass music. Here is a look at the cover, designed by Angel Guerra. It seems only fitting that Angel did this one, since he also designed the cover of my novel "Felix Roth" and Felix, a couple of decades older, makes an appearance in the new one."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back from Newfoundland

"I've just returned from a wonderful week in Newfoundland, sponsored by the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries and the Canada Council. The kids were great. I particularly liked the response of one boy to the moment in "Thing-Thing" where the rather spoiled boy, Archibald Crimp, throws the stuffed creature out a window. 'He's a saucy one,' said the boy. Indeed.
"Did I mention that I saw 26 moose in one day?
"Attached are a few photos, including one of me reading before a packed house at the opening of the Trails, Tales, and Tunes Festival in Norris Point. (Packed for the festival, not just for me!) My thanks to all the people who helped along the way, but most especially to the indefatigable Sandy Chilcote from the library, my companion and guide throughout the week. A more knowledgable, caring, and kind person I couldn't imagine."

An article about Cary's visit was published in Corner Brook's newspaper, the 'Western Star.' You can read it here:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sailing for Newfoundland

Cary is excited to be visiting Newfoundland for the first time, thanks to the Newfoundland Public Library. From May 10 to 16 he'll be stationed in Corner Brook and visiting the communities of Burgeo, Ramea, Stephenville Crossing, Port au Port E., Cape St. George, Woody Point, Sop's Arm, Cormack, and Norris Point. In Norris Point he'll be participating in their spring festival. (The photo is taken from the festival's web site.)

Cary has long wanted to visit Newfoundland and he's looking forward to meeting people, taking in the landscape, sharing his stories, and getting a taste of life on the island. He hopes that he'll get a chance to hear some storytellers, writers, and poets and hear some music as well. In preparation, Cary is--naturally--reading fiction by Newfoundland writers. He was already a fan of Michael Winter and Wayne Johnston, and he is now immersed in Michael Crummey's fine novel "The Wreckage.'

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hello to Hamilton

Cary will be in Hamilton on Thursday, April 23, for a Forest of Reading Celebration sponsored by the Hamilton Public Library. This is Cary's second visit to Hamilton recently; the first was for the Gritlit festival. But this will be the first time (for him, at least) that he'll read from a book ('My New Shirt') while the pictures are projected on a screen. Here's hoping the technology works...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A sneak preview of "Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas"

Some Some readers may have seen the feature article in The Globe & Mail this summer about Cary writing a new book in Mordecai Richler's much loved Jacob Two-Two series. Mordecai Richler, who died in 2001, had planned to write a fourth book. The Richler family wanted the series continued and so Cary was approached. He happily accepted. The new book is actually set between the first two in the series, as Jacob and his family move from England to Canada.

The book won't be out until September, but eager readers can advance-order it from and Here's a look at the cover.