Faith and begorrah....so happy to see you here today!
Actually, I hate the whole 'fake Irish' element of St. Patrick's Day. Some of my family come from Sligo, and their story emerges in the pages of A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW, the new novel (starring Moi, the startling and skilled skateboarder Darby Christopher).
However, I didn't even know my name was Irish until I heard the story from my Nan, and I didn't know how bad things were on the coffin ships coming from Ireland to the new world that would be Canada, until I had a walk through a window of my own.
If you'd like to learn more, a quick peek in the pages of the novel will tell you some of what there was to be known. I hope you get a chance to read it!
But for today, we are going to decide the identity of our mystery guest -- another individual of Irish descent, if I'm not mistaken. Can you tell who he is from the picture above? Look at that pot of gold, too -- right at the end of the rainbow.
Let's cut all the Irish for today, though, and unmask him.
It's James McCann! And the pot of gold was hiding his second novel, PYRE.
Darby Christopher: Welcome, James! Now, as I mentioned, A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW is all about how different people came to live in Canada. Where were you born?
James McCann: I'm afraid there was no travel in this part of my tale, either in place or time. I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and lived in the same house in which my mother had been raised.
What I can tell you about this place, is how it shaped me into the person I became. Where I grew up, the neighbourhood was very multicultural and economically diverse. The great thing about it, was that we all got along regardless of our ethnic or economic backgrounds. I carried that with me into adulthood, and am still always very surprised when I encounter people who are not accepting of people based on the colour of their skin or their net worth.
DC: Yeah, that's a good thing about where I grew up in Toronto, too, though I know it's not always like that. Where do you live now?
JM: I live in the Lower Mainland in British Columbia. I moved here for the weather, and also for a change in scenery. Every time I look out my window I feel as though I am seeing a giant postcard!
DC: Ha. Prince Edward Island is like that, too -- pretty as a postcard. I visited there with my weird grandparents, and had a lot of my adventures there. Do you remember any special stories about your family that you heard when you were a kid?
JM: While I can't recall anything in detail, I do remember my grandfather telling me stories about his childhood when I was a preteen. My grandmother would always scold him for "boring" me with his tales, but truthfully I found them fascinating. It's hard to really picture how fast the world has changed due to technology, until you hear someone tell you about the things they never had when they were your age. I guess you could say that it was my own version of 'time travel'.
DC: Yeah, grandparents can be like that. In PEI I would go out and 'board to get away when mine started to tell too many stories. Can you ride a skateboard?
JM: I did have a very unfortunate incident with a skateboard after the movie, "Back To The Future" came out. I'm not really ready to talk about it yet...
DC: Heh heh. I would have liked to have seen that. So, besides writing books and swooshing on skateboards, do you have a secret skill or talent you’d like to share?
JM: I was most recently a spy in a special writing camp where we studied detective novels. Discovered that I have a great talent for wearing trenchcoats and fedoras...
DC: I've seen pictures of you dressed like a spy! If you could walk through a window in time, is there anyone special you’d like to meet?
JM: C.S. Lewis. There is no author that has had as big an influence on my life as he did. In reading about the way he treated others, I saw the kind of person I wanted to become. He was more than just a great writer and philosopher, he was also very spiritual and kind-hearted.
DC: Oh, I love his books. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, in particular, though I really didn't like the way that series ended. So, James, when Gramps throws a little spare change my way, I’m personally pretty fond of red licorice. What’s your favourite treat?
JM: My favourite treat is the Coffee Crisp bar. Chocolaty goodness...
DC: Maybe we could dye one green in honour of the day for you. If I want to learn more about you or your books on-line, where can I go to look at spy pictures and check you out?
DC: Right. And I know there is a link to your blog, there, too. More spy pix to be found there! Thanks so much for sharing this interview with me today, James.
And if YOU"d like to win one of James McCann's amazing books, leave your comment below. Tell us what edible foodstuff YOU would dye green in honour of today. Green hamburgers? Erg. How about Green Eggs and Ham? Whatever you choose, leave your comment and your name will be eligible for a book draw to take place this Friday, April 20th after 8 pm.