What turned veteran CFCF news reporter and Pulse anchor Bill Haugland into a short story writer? Was it the fact that revered short story writer Alice Munro just won the Nobel Prize for Literature?
Actually, it was a dusty old cardboard box that was tucked away in his Vermont home. The box contained a whole collection of written works that dated back to when he was a child.
“The box contained 20 story ideas and three novels that were years old in concept and human interest in nature, so I decided to pull out three of the stories and have them resuscitated,” he said.
The end result of this literary resuscitation is After It Rains, a collection of 14 short stories that is published by Vehicule Press, which Haugland officially launched at Paragraphe Bookstore on December 5.
Haugland admits that the book is an eclectic mix of stories and themes that tackle the human psyche and our human faults and foibles, whether it be what it’s like to be a death row inmate, or to lie in a coma, or plan a bank robbery. What he enjoyed about putting together the short stories for the collection was how he was able to complete a story in about three weeks and tell the entire narrative within 15-20 pages, as opposed to writing a complete novel, where he has to concern himself with constructing a plot, subplot, themes and characters and having the difficult task of trying to grab the reader’s attention within the first 50 pages.
“Writing a short story has a different approach to it. You can get away with that old adage ‘write what you know’ and let your imagination run free,” said Haugland, who read the short story collections of Ernest Hemingway and Alice Munro to familiarize himself with the genre. “The characters can drive the story line and take on lives of their own. And most of all, the protagonist doesn’t have to be a TV reporter.”
And speaking of fictional TV reporter protagonists, Haugland revealed that Ty Davis, the Montreal TV reporter who is the central character of his previous two novels Mobile 9 and The Bidding, will be back for a third novel. “I am convinced that Ty Davis has another book inside of him,” he added.
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Once again, the good people at the Montreal Shakespeare Theatre Company (MSTC) never fails to amaze me how they make the theatrical works of the Bard so approachable to today’s young audiences. Last Saturday night (December 7), the troupe presented a performance of their latest production that’s being toured at schools across the island of Montreal – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – for the first and only time to a general audience.
The show had plenty of action, bouncing-off-the-wall energy, and even some audience participation. And the beauty of this and the company’s other shows is how they mange to reconfigure the dialogue into contemporary vernacular to make it more understandable to younger audiences, complete with current cultural references and a top 40 soundtrack. So if the MSTC is about to perform in your school, get ready for a refreshing, entertaining way to appreciate Shakespeare. For more information, check out their website at www.themstc.com.
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About 100 people gathered at Hemsleys Jewellers in DDO for the annual Donor Recognition Night of the Lakeshore General Hospital Foundation, which took place on December 9. This was a way for the foundation to say thank you to its major donors who helped to make the foundation’s annual events, such as their duck race, golf tournament, fashion show and ball, huge successes and raise plenty of money to benefit the hospital.
One of the highlights included a raffle drawing that sold a huge amount of tickets; money raise from ticket sales went towards the purchase of much needed medical equipment for the hospital. And the reason for such a large volume of ticket sales was the impressive selection of high end prizes that were being offered, such as a weekend rental of a Lexus car, a Lancel carry-on luggage piece, a Raymond Weil ladies watch worth $1050, and the piece de resistance, a Mont Blanc men’s watch valued at $4190.
Also, the guests got the chance to sample Ninettes, an ice cream company based in Kirkland that offers unique, delicious flavours such as cinnamon apple pie (which has real apple pieces from the orchards of Rougemont), basil lemon, and gingerbread crunch. Ninettes president Nick Constandinou told the Grapevine that the company pitched their product on a recent broadcast of the hit CBC series “Dragon’s Den”, and happily reported that all of the Dragons loved the product (yes … even Kevin O’Leary) and they all wanted to do a deal with Ninettes. However, they decided to side with marketing maven Arlene Dickinson. As a result of their appearance on the show, they got a call from the Loblaws head office, and got an Ontario-wide distribution deal. If you want to try Ninettes ice cream, it’s available at selected local IGA supermarkets.
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Local comic Walter J. Lyng is once again hosting a gathering of his fellow comics for a night of laughs to benefit the BDG Food Depot on December 19, as the second annual Hilarious Holiday Hoedown takes place at the Wheel Club, 3373 Cavendish Boulevard, starting at 8:30 p.m.
Joining Lyng are Scott Carter, Daniel Carin, Leighland Beckman and headliner Mike Paterson (who can be seen these days as Santa Claus in a commercial promoting St. Hubert BBQ’s holiday meal special). Admission is $5 per person, or free if you bring two non-perishable food items. For more information, call 514-559-5964.
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This afternoon (December 14, 2 p.m.) is your last chance to catch Montreal’s renowned Geordie Productions family-oriented theatre troupe fundraiser for its wide assortment of theatrical productions that are presented to schools across Montreal and the province of Quebec. Just in time for the holiday season, they are presenting their production of an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ immortal “A Christmas Carol” at the D.B. Clarke Theatre, located at 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West. Tickets are $25 for children, $125 for adults, and $250 for a family four-pack. For more information or to buy tickets, call 514-845-9810, or go to www.geordie.ca.
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If you want to celebrate the debut of season 4 of PBS’ hit historical series “Downton Abbey” in 1920s style, there are still tickets available for 1920s Gala and Premiere night inspired by Downton Abbey tonight (December 14) at the West Side Ballroom in Plattsburgh, New York.
For only $75 a person, you will go back in time to immediate post-World War I Britain of 90 years ago, and enjoy a complete three-course British dinner with such dishes as Broiled Haddock, Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Dried Fruits and Roasted Chicken Breast with Lemon Caper Cream on the menu. As well, there will be a cocktail reception with live music from a string quartet and a silent auction. This will be topped with an advance screening of the premiere episode of season 4 of “Downton Abbey”, which will air on PBS on January 5, 2014. There is also a special $275 package for two people, which includes accommodation at the Best Western Plus Inn at Smithfield. Proceeds from all ticket sales benefit Mountain Lake PBS, the Plattsburgh-based PBS station. To get your tickets, go online at www.mountainlake.org/downton, or call 1-800-836-5700.
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