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A Tour to Remember, by Kristin Butcher

Posted at http://www.kristinbutcher.com.school visitschool visitschool visit

Post by Kristin Butcher:

Fifteen author presentations in seven days. Our little troupe visited Terrace, Kitimat, Hazelton, Prince Rupert, Prince George, Smithers, and Quesnel. Most days found us climbing into the van (our second home) at 8 o’clock in the morning and crawling back to our hotel rooms at 10 o’clock at night. It was hectic and exhausting, but soooooooo rewarding and so much fun.

My partners in crime were three other BC Book Prize nominees: Kari-Lynn (not Carolyn, not Kari-Ann, and most definitely not Kerry!) Winters, who is a finalist for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Book Award; Cathleen With, who is vying for the Ethel Wilson Award for adult fiction (this is her first novel and already she’s among BC’s literary elite!); and Michael Turner, who is up for the same prize as Cathleen (Michael has been nominated for the BC Book Prizes FOUR times and he even won once!) Our driver, organizer, and general go-to guy was Bryan Pike, the Executive Director of the BC Book Prizes. So, as you can see, I was in some pretty good company.

We visited schools during the day, fitting library, museum, and bookstore readings in between and in the evening. We heard each other’s readings so many times that when Michael lost his place one time, Kari was behind him whispering the next sentence. Kari’s presentation was interactive and involved silly hats, noises, and actions. Her intention was to get the audience involved, but sometimes they were shy, which meant we other authors had to step up. I personally played the part of a bug, a fish, and a raindrop. Michael had a soft spot for the part of the horse, and by the time the tour was ending, he had the role down pat.

The school visits were fantastic! Whether I had an audience of 25 (that only happened once) or 80 (that was pretty much the norm), the kids were great — attentive, enthusiastic, and amazingly insightful. I was asked many questions I’d never been asked before, which was both refreshing and impressive.

When we weren’t presenting or driving, we were sightseeing. While in Kitimat, we drove out to the Haisla Village and visited world-renowned carver, Sammy Robinson, in his workshop. We just sort of popped in uninvited, but he graciously showed us around and answered the kazillion questions we had. Jewellery and wood pieces alike were all beautifully crafted, and I was totally envious of his private upstairs studio with it’s ocean and mountain view.

In Hazelton we visited K’san, a heritage village museum. The longhouses weren’t open for us to view (wrong season), but the paintings on the exteriors and the many and varied totem poles were impressive just the same. In Houston, I snapped a photo of the world’s largest fishing rod, and in Prince Rupert we visited two now-defunct canneries, one of which has been restored as a museum.

Perhaps the most fun though was riding in the van. Being in close quarters with four witty people was a riot. My stomach ached from laughing. I learned a lot too. Mostly what I learned was how much I don’t know. And there was always music. Bryan had an endless playlist. Whatever songs we asked for, he had them. The Flight of the Conchord song/skits were hilarious too. Kari and Bryan saw a spirit bear, there was an eagle lunching on a dead deer, and a fox. We all had a great time, and the miles just slid away.

Many thanks to the West Coast Book Prize Society and all the wonderful sponsors that made the tour possible.

And now, on to Government House and the Awards Dinner. Wish me luck.

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