Humour of the Canadian Variety – Author Talk with Terry Fallis

It was standing-room only this afternoon as Terry Fallis visited us to talk about his novel Up and Down. With 125+ people in attendance, Fallis began by exclaiming “We Canadian authors are unaccustomed to to speaking to such large audiences!” Fallis proved himself to be not only an amazing writer, but also an amazing speaker, keeping the audience laughing happily throughout his talk.

A strong believer in the “write what you know” school of writing, Fallis began by reminiscing about the summer of 1969. The “summer of love” as his  nine-year old self remembered it….or, perhaps more accurately, the summer that he saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. That particular moment inspired a life long fascination with the space program and anything that flew. In his teens, he and his friends built a number of hang-gliders, which they tried their best to set in flight (though perhaps not successfully). Following this, Fallis started thinking about becoming an engineer.

Terry Fallis' first hang glider.
Terry Fallis’ first hang glider.

Now, as a writer, Fallis still employs his engineering mind, planning his books carefully in advance of writing them. Before he begins writing, he knows how long the book will be and how long each chapter will be. He explained, “I like chapters that are a common length…it’s like I am building a bridge.” In all seriousness, he finds that this method prevents him from wasting any words, and it allows him to write with great efficiency. By the time he begins writing a book, he knows exactly what he is writing.

His claim to fame? Marc Garneau not only met with him prior to his writing the novel Up and Down, he also read the manuscript of Up and Down,  proofread it, and found (51) errors that Fallis’ own proofreader missed. In Fallis’ opinion, “if you want a thorough job done, ask an astronaut.”  Also notable, if you’ve ever wondered what Terry Fallis uses for inspiration, it’s a doodle, drawn by Marc Garneau, and retrieved from the trash can after its disposal!

The manuscript of "Up and Down" with Marc Garneau's sticky notes.
The manuscript of “Up and Down” with Marc Garneau’s sticky notes.

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