John Stiles gave a great reading at the Manx on Saturday. I enjoyed it so much that I bought his novel, Taking the Stairs and one of his poetry collections, Creamsicle Stick Shivs. I would have bought two of his short story collections but he'd only brought one copy of Scouts are Cancelled and David O'Meara had promised it to Andrew Farrell because Andrew's copy was "borrowed" and never returned.
Stiles told us during the reading that at his second last reading, his wife told him he'd read so much nobody needed to buy his novel. So at the reading he did in Ithaca on Friday night, he read much less. He clearly also read much less at our reading because a lot of us seemed to need copies of Taking the Stairs.
Nevertheless, I regret not being at the reading where he supposedly read too much because like him, his characters are often from the Annapolis Valley and it's great to hear them speak with the actual accent.
He told us that he'd been trying to sell his novel for ten years and part of his problem was he couldn't find a short description. "It's a love story" and "It's about a struggling writer" weren't capturing the publishers' attention. Finally after he sold it, his friend Corby told him the book was "desperation laced with hope". Stiles called Corby a nasty name and asked "Why couldn't he have come up with that ten years before?" But then he took it back. "Don't quote me on that" and explained that Corby is a great guy.