He responded -- pretty quickly too -- that his novels Factoring Humanity, Frameshift or Calculating God were the three stand-alone novels he was proudest of. I thought that was really cool, how he thanked me for my comment and then answered my questions.
I wonder how many authors do that type of thing.
So then I started scrolling through Sawyer’s blog archives and found a “book tag” thing he responded to. Apparently he was tagged by Mark Leslie. It’s interesting how there are all these connections somehow. Anyways, I followed the link back to Leslie’s site and found that he mentioned Sawyer’s Frameshift as a book that inspired him in a life-altering way. He didn’t mention what it was, but I wonder if maybe that’s the book that inspired him to become a writer.
He says to email him and he’ll reveal what it was about the book that inspired him. But just knowing it inspired him, and that he’s originally from this area -- well, that’s enough for me to want to read Frameshift and perhaps discover what that might be.
Today in class, Robbie went on about Canada Book Day (which, apparently, was today). He talked about how it had been inspired by International Book & Copyright Day, and that at one time a big deal was made about it. He said that April 23rd was chosen as an important “book day” because a bunch of different authors were either born or had died on this day. He mentioned a bunch of them, but the only one I remember was Shakespeare. Although Robbie wasn’t clear if April 23rd was his birthday or the day he died. Maybe it was both.
He said that he wanted to share different authors with us, particularly Canadian authors, and that, since on Friday he’d mentioned Robert J. Sawyer, he thought he would mention an author who was a friend of Sawyer’s and has been referred to as Canada’s answer to Stephen King. The fellow’s name is Edo van Belkom. Robbie said that van Belkom, an author from the Toronto area, not only won the Bram Stroker Award (the highest honour in horror), but has published more than two dozen books, hundreds of short stories and for a short time was even the host of a late night horror movie show on the specialty horror channel SCREAM.
Apparently van Belkom was also known by Sawyer, and Robbie showed us van Belkom’s book Death Drives A Semi, which was a collection of van Belkom’s short fiction. The introduction to the book was written by, you guessed it -- Robert J. Sawyer, and Robbie read to us from the book. He read a story about a superhero stricken with the one enemy he couldn’t fight. Cancer.
Wow. Powerful stuff. Robbie went on to read the essay that followed this tale -- it was the story on how van Belkom wrote the story on a laptop borrowed from his friend Sawyer while he sat in the hospital room where his wife was recovering from a cancer surgery.
It was great to see behind the scenes into the author’s mind and how he came up with the tale. Robbie went on to say that he’d been to a reading that van Belkom gave when his book had first come out, and that van Belkom was one of the best readers he’d ever listened to.
He mentioned that he thought this particular book was now out of print, and that van Belkom had also published a book called Scream Queen that poked fun at the reality television trend (something else we’d covered in class a few weeks ago) as well as a series of very popular werewolf books for young adults that were just as enjoyable for adults to read.
At the end of class, I was so excited to learn more about this van Belkom fellow that I almost forgot to ask Robbie if he had a copy of Frameshift that I could borrow.
He said he did own Frameshift, that he owned every single copy of books Sawyer had written, and that he’d have to think about whether or not he would lend me his copy of van Belkom’s Death Drives A Semi. He said that the copy he owned had been signed by van Belkom and since it was out of print, he was worried about losing that copy.
He then turned to me and asked whether or not I had finished reading the book he had loaned me over the weekend, Sawyer's Illegal Alien. I'd completely forgotten about it, because I was so into browsing Sawyer's website and then so excited that he had responded to my question on his blog.
I was a bit disappointed. I mean, I would have thought that by now Robbie would have trusted me with loaning me his books. I've returned all of them in good condition. But it also feels like I let him down by asking for another book without having read the first one. I've just gotten so excited over discovering so many new authors lately.
I can be so stupid sometimes.