Memories of Dundurn Press Part Three - Dundurn
Sep 22, 2022

Memories of Dundurn Press Part Three

We're celebrating 50 years of publishing this year! We asked our authors to share some of their favourite memories for this blog series! Enjoy some stories of a few pretty cool events and other meetings in this post featuring Ray ArgyleAlice ZornJeffrey Round, and Sylvia McNicoll!

"I've been privileged to have several books published by Dundurn. Among my favourite memories is the day in 2011 when, in discussion with then editor Michael Carroll, I suggested that former Newfoundland Premier Joey Smallwood would be an excellent subject for the Quest biographical series. Having written on Joey previously, I knew I'd enjoy doing a fresh biography and suggested the idea to Michael. He immediately called Kirk Howard, then Dundurn publisher, to pitch the idea. I don't think their conversation lasted more than a minute. Michael hung up and turned to me, "We've got a go-ahead." That led to my trip to Newfoundland where I interviewed Joey's grandchildren, as well as a knowledgable political correspondent, and a former Premier, Clyde Wells. My angle was to assess Smallwood's role in where Newfoundland stood in 2011. It was not too difficult to conclude that Joey's dream of bringing Newfoundland into Canada was a scheme that benefited the people of his island home. And where would Canada be without the actors, writers, comedians and politicians that NL has sent us? A much less interesting country. If only all publishers could give such a prompt response to book ideas!" —Ray Argyle

"My favourite--certainly my tastiest--memory of publishing Five Roses was being invited to speak at the Appetite for Words Festival in Stratford, Ontario in October 2017, where Chef Randi Rudner designed and served an upscale Québécois-themed supper in honour of the setting of my novel. Luscious salmon, julienned celeriac, fresh puréed pea soup with chunks of smoked ham, tourtière, spicy baked beans, red cabbage chutney, pouding chômeur served with homemade vanilla icecream. As well as wine pairings for each course. I spoke about Five Roses after the tourtière." —Alice Zorn

"Meeting guitarist and fellow Dundurn author Liona Boyd at Dundurn's 45th anniversary party at the International Festival Of Authors. Known as The First Lady of the Guitar, Ms. Boyd was one of my idols when I was an aspiring guitarist." —Jeffrey Round

"September 24, 2017, Word on the Street--in Saskatoon authors and audience were bundled in coats and mitts, 5 degrees—but in Toronto at the Harbourfront where I was presenting at the CBC Tent for The Great Mistake Mysteries it was 31 degrees and we were all melting. It was the hottest literary festival ever. I brought my grandson William and granddaughter Jadzia and a guest pirate Jennifer Mook-Sang, and they were reading/performing from a Diamond Mistake script with me as the narrator. I also brought up a young boy who I discovered could not speak English let alone read a script. Nor would he leave the stage. I saw his mom beaming at him from below the stage, camera ready, she looked so proud. What to do? I dug in my bag and dressed him in my special Paw Patrol sunglasses that include dog ears and a snout—he played the greyhound Pong. A barking only part. When the skit was over, I don’t recall him ever leaving the stage—the CBC staff were working something out with him.

Afterwards touring the tents, we visited Dundurn Press and my grandchildren wanted to spin the prize wheel manned by our great and wonderful Scott Fraser. You could win a book bag, probably some books, pads of paper, a pen etc. One spin per visitor. Jadzia had her eye on that Dundurn pen. Not sure what made it so special in her eyes but she was hot and crabby and determined. Spin! And…oh so close…but no, she didn’t win the coveted prize. I tried to pull her away before she had a meltdown. Her feet stuttered across the ground. Then Scott called: “Sometimes you get a second spin.” Jadzia beamed. Crisis averted. She spun the wheel again and somehow Scott engineered it so that she won her special prize. As we left the festival I smiled, knowing my books were in the hands of the right publisher." —Sylvia McNicoll