Virtual Canadian Book Tour

Since I can’t go on an actual book tour, I’ve decided to take Fake It So Real on a Virtual Canadian Book Tour!! We’re going to start in Victoria and work our way east across the country, meeting FISR readers and the local independent bookstores who might have hosted us. If you’d like to participate, send me a message using the contact form on my site.

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: January 14, 2021

Christina in St. Albert, AB — “She paints wonderful pictures of the characters”

We’re heading slightly north-west of Edmonton today, to St. Albert, where my high school friend Christina lives. Christina is probably my most quintessentially Albertan friend. For instance: (a) I shot my first (and only) shotgun at Christina’s cabin; (b) one could always find a deer carcass hanging in her basement; (c) her father was the VP of a company that had something to do with science (I was in high school … when people said “science,” I tuned out) and also spent his weekends in that one-room cabin, on the grounds of which he hunted said deer, which I believe is the most Albertan dichotomy of existence. In any case, Christina’s house was right beside our high school’s track, so my friends and I spent almost every second of our lives at her place. Now that I am an adult and have realized that frozen burritos do not, in fact, grow on trees, I feel I should send Christina’s mother a life-time supply to make up for those I have eaten at her place. 

This is what Christina had to say about Fake It So Real

Me and Christina doing homework at her cabin

I am reading Fake It So Real and I am loving it. The character description is so thorough, she paints wonderful pictures of Sara, Gwen and Meg, and all of the others who cross their paths. 

Christina could have ordered her copy of Fake It So Real from Glass Bookshop in Edmonton, where you can special order a copy and have it delivered for free anywhere in Edmonton, St. Albert, or Sherwood Park. The St. Albert Public Library does not carry Fake It So Real, so if you live in St. Albert and would like to suggest that they correct this travesty, you can do so here.

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: January 12, 2021

Kara in Edmonton, AB — “I was seeing the character’s life through my own eyes”

This week, we’re stopping in my home town, Edmonton, Alberta!!! Woooo! And who better to meet in Edmonton than my childhood neighbour, Kara? I lived across the street from Kara until I was eleven years old. What I remember from our childhood days is that Kara had the curly, voluminous 80s hair that I aspired to (several perms later, I still had no luck), she had a shrine to Kirk Cameron et al. in her bedroom that was perhaps only rivalled by my older sister’s, and her mother had one of the first ever leaf blowers—like before they were a menace to society—and we thought she looked like a Ghostbuster when she used it. 

This is what Kara had to say about Fake It So Real:

If I’m being embarrassingly honest, I was surprised by the sudden and recurrent “raunchiness.” Not that I was offended or unimpressed but there was no mention of it in the description, reviews, etc. I thought, gee do I read so little fiction that raw sexuality is just expected? Naïve, yeah, probably, but now I know what “crust fiction” is (I think …). 

Kara, between my sister and I, both mulleted. She always had better hair.

Now for the visceral, head-spinning, physical experience that is “Angling.” This chapter/short story/dream sequence/I’m not sure, is a memorable experience. Not just a read, but an experience. And not in the way that fancy words or gimmicks make it stand out, but the structure changed the pace I read it, I could feel myself being rushed, spun, images flashing through my mind, but not mine, I was seeing the character’s life through my own eyes. I think I said “wow” when I finished this chapter. 

Kara got her copy of Fake It So Real at Audrey’s Books in downtown Edmonton. They have copies in store, and at the moment I think you can purchase online and either do curbside pickup or have orders of $50 or more delivered free in the Edmonton area. I’ve just noticed the Edmonton Public Library does not have Fake It So Real in their collection (WHAT???). If you’d like to suggest the title to them, you can do that here.

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: January 7, 2021

Annie in Calgary, AB — “This book caused a unique combination of guffaws-amongst-sobs”

This is Annie, my indefatigable publicist. Since Fake It So Real came out, she’s been doing the work of three people, it seems, to get the word(s) out. Though I am fond of a good ringer tee, I love how she’s gone the extra mile to create a punk look for her photo here. All she needs to do is turn her back to us and light up a cigarette and we’d have a serious dress-like-a-book contender here. 

There were so many things Annie loved about Fake It So Real. Here are her top five.

  • The gift-ability: As soon as it seems safe, I will tromp down to my amazing neighborhood bookstore, Shelf Life Books, to buy this book for some of my best friends. I will then underline various lines and put stars next to certain paragraphs, and write beside them: “sound familiar?” 
  • This book has one of the most well-executed endings I’ve come across in recent memory. 
  • The images that float through the book—and the individual sentences—are just so good. I can open this book to any page and find so many gems. Here, I’ll try it now: 
    • Page 72: The little girl whose “sloppy French braid was the aftermath of a mother-daughter tug-of-war”
    • Page 124: The distant father who “returns, tosses the baby, pat-a-cakes, retreats” 
    • Page 209: “He’d expected to find her in a fetal heap, clinging to a vodka bottle she’d grown around like moss”
  • The bath scenes. 
  • The humour. I am a crier when I read. I can often be found sitting at my desk reading manuscripts and blubbering. However, this book caused a unique combination of guffaws-amongst-sobs.

If, like Annie, you’re in Calgary, you can head over to Shelf Life Books and grab a copy, or order one from their online store for either curbside pick-up or free local delivery. You could also put a hold on it at the Calgary Public Library and be the first to get your hands on it once the library opens up again.

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: January 5, 2021

Mom and Dad in Canmore, AB — “It gives a vibrant description of the effects on the lives of those left behind”

This week, we’re crossing a border into Alberta—and crossing borders is something Albertans know aaaaalllll about, especially if they’re Conservative politicians, har har har [major eye roll]. Anyway. I met my parents back in 1977 at the Miseracordia hospital in Edmonton. They’ve been fans of my work since I was putting out self-published, limited-edition chapbooks in the 1980s such as: “A Coat Full of Pockets,” “The Cabbage Patch Kid’s Sleepover,” “The Very Big Mistakes,” “The Iguana Meets the Easter Bunny,” as well as my Magic series: “The Magic Dollar,” “The Magic Easter Bascket [sic],” “The Magic Stick,” and “The Magic Broom.” Though Fake It So Real has fewer pictures and fewer spelling errors, they still liked it. Here’s what Mom and Dad had to say about the book: 

Mom said: My favourite chapters were those dealing with Meg, particularly “Chorus” and “Tom’s Wedding.” Though she married Tom for “protection and procreation” and “thought once married she could coast, content,” she realized that she had to leave him in order to find herself and her bearings.  

And Dad said: The chapter that sticks in my mind is “Sock Daddy.” It gives a vibrant description of the effect on the lives of those left behind when a husband and father leaves home and simply disappears. I also enjoyed the descriptive phrases and sentences, such as “Braceleted by masking tape, bowed by duffel bag, he was as greasy and limp as an undercooked French fry.” To quote Alexander MacLeod, “Nobody rocks a sentence like Susan Sanford Blades.”

Mom and Dad got their copy of Fake It So Real at Café Books on Main Street in Canmore, and even convinced the owners to carry it in store! If you’re in Canmore, you can also put a hold on it at the Canmore public library

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: December 22, 2020

Jon in Vancouver, BC — “The world of this book is like some kind of Velvet Underground Mousketeers Club”

Jon and I met at the Banff Centre, where we got to spend a week bringing our short stories to life under the mentorship of the great Alexander MacLeod. I think in an intensive situation like that you are quickly drawn to those who are weird like you, and that’s what happened with Jon and I and our friend Kira, who you’ll meet later, when we hit Toronto. One of my favourite memories of that time with Jon is from the morning after the first night of readings, when another writer told him how much she loved the story he read, especially the part about the shark. It became obvious that she had mistaken Jon for Alexander MacLeod, but he kept her going with questions about his own story, “And how did you feel about the part with the sister?” etc., until she finally realized her mistake. Jon is hilarious and kind, refreshingly real, an incredibly talented writer and astute reader. He’s helped me with a large part of this book post-Banff and I hope to share writing and good times with him for many years to come. Here’s what Jon had to say about Fake It So Real

The world of this book is like some kind of Velvet Underground Mousketeers Club – with the dark gravity of Tillie Olsen, and the body language of Phyllis Diller.

I’ve loved Susan’s work for years. It’s heavy with agony, but glitters with a sharp humour that, instead of creating distance, somehow draws you closer to the characters — you can’t help but envy Gwen’s ferocious clarity, even in her world of sock-diapers and sweaty sleeper vans. (It also deepens the sensory overlap between sex, cheap sticky food, and childbirth in a way that you will not soon forget.)

There’s really nothing like it. This book deserves a tour that arcs way beyond these shores.

I got my mitts on Fake it so Real at Pulp Fiction Books. Pulp Fiction has been my neighbourhood anchor in two locations — on Main St., where I used to live, and now in Kitsilano. These tidy local shops are thick with the right titles, both used and new. They seem to defy gravity, rooted in as they are on expensive retail strips, and every time I leave one, I think about how France subsidises their bookstores, and that I wish we did the same. 

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: December 17, 2020

Libby in Campbell River, BC — “It balances danger, absurdity, and the banal with a desperate, dark humour”

We’re saying goodbye to Victoria and taking the virtual tour on the road today with my friend Libby in Campbell River. I met Libby I think seven years ago when we both did a week-long mentorship at the Banff Centre. Libby wasn’t in my short fiction group but we got to know each other in the cafeteria where the Banff Centre artist residents were surrounded by oil executives who were attending a convention hosted by the centre. It was an oddly “high-school” experience—the weirdo arty people bonding amid swarms of loud, finger-gun shooting, business-card wielding popular kids. Libby has been writer in residence at the Walter Morgan Studio in Campbell River this year, and is working on a novel, which I hope to have in my hands soon!  

This is what Libby had to say about Fake It So Real:

I’d read and enjoyed so many of the pieces that form Fake It So Real in magazines over the years and I couldn’t wait to see how they all fit together. The intertwining of the stories of the three main characters was beautiful, poignant, and strangely comforting. There is a solid sense of being in each gritty, heart-wrenching moment, yet a corresponding vertigo at seeing the depths that the characters can and do fall. Susan’s mastery is in balancing danger, absurdity, and the banal with a desperate, dark humour. (Susan also definitely pioneered the term “moist breathing” in either some kind of pre-COVID clairvoyance or genius way of one-upping Justin Trudeau in real-time.)

Libby bought her copy of Fake It So Real at Munro’s on a visit to Victoria so that I could sign it for her, but assures us the wonderful Jane and Jane of Coho Books in Campbell River can order in copies for folks on the north island in a couple of weeks. Fake It So Real is also available to people in Campbell River through the Vancouver Island Regional Library system.

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: December 10, 2020

Matt in Victoria, BC — “This book is steeped in a deep humanity”

This is Matt, or, as I like to think of him, the King of the Library. When I worked at the downtown branch of the GVPL, I first knew Matt as a sound—the sound of keys jangling from his lanyard, batting against his chest as he power-walked down the ramp from his office, flush-cheeked, ready to deal with that day’s (or hour’s, depending on the day) misdemeanor. After a few hellos, we realized we were both writers. Then, he told me about Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I read it, and loved it, and then Matt and I became friends. Soon enough, we were meeting up with our mutual friend Vanessa and sharing drinks, and all the intimate details of our non-library lives. 

Matt has been super supportive of Fake It So Real. He and his wife even have matching Fake It So Real T-shirts! This is what he had to say about the book:  

As an avid fan and reader of Alice Munro, the comparisons that have been made between your book and Auntie Alice’s work are spot-on. Fake It So Real is very much akin to Alice Munro for the punk generation. You have done such a magnificent job of making extraordinary the lives of ordinary people. Parts of this novel were difficult for me to read and broke my heart a little. I’m the oldest child and have four younger sisters, and despite considering myself a staunch feminist and advocate for women, Fake It So Real gave further insight into the lives of women and some of the challenges they face in love, with body image, and with self-esteem; it was very raw to read in places, as I kept thinking of my own sisters and the struggles they have faced about which I have no clue. However, the most stark reminder I have taken away from your novel is that of our woundedness as humans. Regardless of who we are and what advantages or disadvantages we’ve had, life leaves its mark on us, often cruelly; we all carry hurts and pain. Some are able to overcome them, but others don’t have the support or tools to do so. Your book is steeped in a deep humanity, Susan. It made me laugh. It made me misty, and in moments it even made me angry. Ultimately, it is a triumph, and I enjoyed it so very much. I can’t wait for your next novel!

In honour of Matt, I’ll mention today that Fake It So Real is available at the Greater Victoria Public Library. Taking Canadian authors’ books out from the library is actually really helpful to them, and for those of us who don’t write bestsellers, it is often how we make the most money from our books. So please put a hold on Fake It So Real at your local library! If your library doesn’t carry Fake It So Real, you can suggest that your library carry it. Most libraries have a function to make suggestions on their websites.

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: December 8, 2020

Alicia in Victoria, BC — “It captures so many nuances about human experience”

This is my friend and neighbour Alicia, looking smug because she gets to hang out with not only Frida Kahlo but Gwen, Sara, and Meg between the covers of Fake It So Real. Alicia and I have inhabited the Heartbreak Hotel family housing complex here in Fernwood for many years now and we plan to never leave. Seriously, we’ll have more babies if we have to. 

This is what Alicia had to say about Fake It So Real:

As someone who loses interest in fictional stories more easily than I’d like to publicly admit, these characters held my interest. I feel like not since My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell has a book held my interest so well—due to the ability of the writing to actually transport the reader into another reality so easily. I like nature, that’s what held me to Gerald’s book. Susan’s impeccable writing captures so many nuances about the timeless human experiences of family, parenting, relating, relationships, and life. It’s a good read. So go read it. 

Alicia’s favourite quotation comes from chapter six, “What to Expect”: “He said Sara the way he does now. The way he inflates the last a with balloons of disappointment.” 

In Victoria, Munro’s Books and Bolen Books have many copies of Fake It So Real on their shelves, waiting for you. If you’re not in Victoria, a good place to find it (other than your own local, independent book store) is from Harbour Publishing or All Lit Up.

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: December 3, 2020

Mike in Victoria, BC — “You had me at oral sex at Pluto’s”

I met Mike a few years ago when I was working at the public library. He came in looking for a book and I recognized him as the star of Current Swell’s video for, “When to Talk and When to Listen,” in which Mike played a librarian (in a sweater vest, no less) making a music video in the downtown branch of the GVPL after hours. As I was getting his autograph, we realized we were both writers and a friendship was born. Mike had just published his 2018 Whistler Independent Book Awards shortlisted book of stories, The Project, and he has since written two novels and is working on a third, which is way more than I can say for myself! 

Mike shared this with me about Fake It So Real

You got me at second bass player in a punk band and oral sex at Pluto’s. Of all the venerable restaurants in Victoria, none is more venerable than Pluto’s, which in my mind explains the suitability of oral sex within its confines. I love the way the quirky chapters of Fake It So Real fit together in a haphazard, non-linear way that imparts in the end the feel of a novel, yet each chapter stands on its own. The chapter that really got to me was “What is Good, which chronicles the descent of Gwen, the dysfunctional matriarch of the book, back into an alcoholic haze. “Gwen said yes to one glass, it was spring and spring was made for hard iced tea. Nothing wrong with one glass. Nothing wrong with vodka in the springtime.” I really felt I was right inside Gwen’s head, with all the struggle and justification for giving up sobriety when she is supposed to be looking after her grandson. 

Quit surfing and instead read this book. I bought my copies of Fake It So Real at Bolen Books. I can’t wait to read Susan’s next book.

Bolen Books is located in Hillside Mall in Victoria. Bolen books carries books and so much more – lots of games, puzzles, mugs, AND nine copies of Fake It So Real on their shelves (I think it might be shelved under Blades there, though my last name is Sanford Blades). And the All Lit Up blog is still offering 20% off until December 4, 2020. Use the code BINGEMAS20 at checkout.

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: December 1, 2020

Maddie and Veronica in Victoria, BC — “I saw myself in each of the women in this story”

I’m really excited to share with you this very special mother and daughter, Maddie and Veronica. Maddie came into my life two summers ago when my oldest son, Benji finally asked her out after gazing at her across the bell of his euphonium for all of Grade ten (maybe Grade nine too?) during band class. They are absolutely adorable together and it’s been such a pleasure to get to know Maddie and Veronica this year. If I go on any longer, this will sound like a wedding toast. 

These two had this to say about Fake It So Real:

We loved your book! This story is heartbreaking, honest, funny and so real! Its depictions of motherhood, daughterhood, married life, and growing up are true to life in a way that’s harsh at times, but also comfortingly honest. I saw myself in each of the women in this story. The “Popular Girls” chapter hit closest to home. Like Meg, I remember playing with Barbies at age twelve—that awkward in between time—wanting so badly to be a teenager, but not willing to let go of childhood. It was also exciting to recognize real elements of Victoria in the story! The familiarity of the setting and cultural references that are uniquely Victoria made it even more fun to read.

Maddie and Veronica bought their copies at Munro’s Books, and then another two for friends at Bolen Books. But today I want to mention another place one could purchase Fake It So Real: through the All Lit Up blog. They’re offering 20% off until December 4, 2020. Use the code BINGEMAS20 at checkout. 

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: November 26, 2020

Aaron in Victoria, BC“Imagine Jane Austen writing about Shane MacGowan”

This is Aaron. If you live in Victoria, he may look familiar to you. You may have seen a flash of him in your peripheral vision as he shelved an entire truck of books or perhaps set up tables, chairs, and the AV system in the meeting room at the downtown branch of the GVPL in a matter of seconds. When I worked at the library, Aaron, the senior page, was like a mentor library elf—like, in the coolest, Tolkien sense—always calm under pressure, always helpful and understanding, knowledgeable yet fully willing to admit and to help find answers when he didn’t know something. 

Aaron tore through my book, I think he said in a day, and had so many nice things to say about it. I’ve compiled them here: “It was sharp, apt, and observant. You did such a good job of deciding what to cut, what to keep, how to arrange it all that I never thought of those decisions until now. I didn’t appreciate a large part of the work involved, because a good job is unobtrusive. Like with paging at the library, when you do something perfectly, there’s no way to notice that it was done. The closest I’ve come to describing it is to tell people to imagine Jane Austen writing about Shane MacGowan (described by Christy Moore as “a magnet and a touchstone for other lost and wandering souls”)—the blurry motives that are familiar to most of us, described with sharp empathy and no wasted words.”

I’m not sure about the current travel restrictions, but Aaron might have travelled a bit up island and gone to Volume One Bookstore in Duncan, BC to buy his copy. They currently have three copies of Fake It So Real in store!! 

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: November 24, 2020

Kyeren and Chris in Victoria, BC — “I relished in the breaking”

This Chris, the less camera-shy half of Kyeren & Chris, looking fiiiiiiiine in his Fake It So Real T-shirt with their copy of the book. I first met Kyeren ages ago (maybe 10 years?) in the Malahat Review office. I was the circulation and marketing assistant and she was in the midst of doing her MFA at UVic and sitting on the poetry board. It wasn’t long before we started meeting on our own time for what we named Ladies Coffee, as well as for play dates in which her daughter was enamoured with my son for the way he dusted sand from her feet but equally repelled by the way he smushed her playdough colours together (and who could blame her!). The last pre-COVID book launch at Munro’s I attended was Kyeren’s, for her book of poetry, Cult Life.   

Kyeren wrote a lovely review of Fake It So Real on Goodreads, and I’ll share some of it here: “This book broke my heart over and over again, and I relished in the breaking. It feels like my life—even though it doesn’t resemble my life in its events at all, it FEELS like life feels. … You’ll wear it like an aura for days afterwards.” 

Since Kyeren is originally from Australia, Chris and Kyeren may have ventured up the peninsula to Canada’s answer to Australia: Sidney, BC (also Canada’s only Booktown) to Tanner’s Books, to purchase their copy. Tanner’s currently has one copy of Fake It So Real in stock!

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: November 19, 2020

Jamie in Victoria, BC — “All those words are really powerful”

Jamie and I were brought together by books. The very first time I met him, he cut my bangs at Hive and told me about his friend Darrel McLeod’s book Mamaskatch (but what I really remember about that encounter was that when he took off his scarf, it got caught in his nose ring and he had to leave the room to sort himself out). We met again at the launch of our mutual friend, Mike Bond’s book of poetry, Bad Meanings, where he noticed that I’d recently given myself a bang trim with a less favourable outcome. Nevertheless, I enticed him to the launch of Kyeren Regehr’s book of poetry, Cult Life a week later. After that, Jamie read chapter 13 of Fake It So Real, “After Gwen,” which had just been published online in the Minola Review, and he was hooked. If I recall, his exact words were something along the lines of “I surrender.” He’s been my number one fan ever since. 

Jamie’s favourite part of Fake It So Real comes from chapter nine, “Chorus”: This would be the time to touch him. Not a shuffle-past in the hall, but to touch him. To save her marriage, like a drowning puppy or an allowance. To crack herself open like a dry-glued paperback. To moan for him in her highest octave. To rip off his skin and wear him like a cloak.

I totally get this part, Jamie says. It’s really honest and hard and true and for some reason impossible to do. Like what stops us? I mean all those words are really powerful, the last part like holy fuck. That’s how you save something. That’s how love conquers everything: “to rip off his skin and wear him like a cloak.” 

Jamie got his copy of the book in Victoria, but, when it was safe to do so, he might have ventured over to Galiano Island Books on our favourite Gulf island, to pick up a copy. The owners of Galiano Island Books, Lee Trentadue and Jim Schmidt have shared their love of reading and independent book stores with tourists and locals alike for over 20 years now. The bookstore also founded the Galiano Island Literary Festival, on hiatus for now, but which normally occurs on the island every February. You’ll find new and used books as well as rare treasures (such as the one copy of Fake It So Real they have on their shelves!!) at Galiano Island Books. 

Fake It So Real Virtual Canadian Book Tour: November 17, 2020

Kathy in Victoria, BC — “Finally some honesty!”

Today, we start really close to home with my former neighbour, Kathy. Kathy used to live above me in our building, which houses “below market-level” families and tends to be populated with single mothers, hence Kathy’s name for it: the Heartbreak Hotel. In the tenth chapter of Fake It So Real, “What is Good,” the Heartbreak Hotel (but, I must add, NOT Kathy or any of my real neighbours) is featured, along with the picnic table out front, upon which we really did bitch about our ex-husbands and the poor selection of available men in Victoria.

Of the book, Kathy says: I just finished the “Angling” chapter. Wow!!! I love your book. All of it. I thought “Sock Daddy” would be my favourite but now I think it’s a tie with “Angling.” Honestly Susan I’m in a good mood today because I feel like: YES finally some honesty!

It looks like Kathy got her autographed copy at Munro’s Books in downtown Victoria. Munro’s first opened in 1963 by Jim Munro and his first wife Alice (yes THAT Alice Munro) and is now housed in the former Royal Bank of Canada building, built in 1909 and refurbished in its neo-classical style by Jim Munro when he bought the building in the 1980s. Munro’s has been a big supporter of Fake It So Real, and at this moment, I believe they have eighteen autographed copies in stock, along with many other fine books and, so I hear from my poet friends, an incredible poetry selection. 

November 4, 2020:

Fake It So Real Book Launch – The Most Fun You Can Have During a Pandemic!

On November 4, 2020, we were lucky enough to celebrate the publication of Fake It So Real in person at the Victoria Event Centre. I read from the book and we played music bingo with a playlist inspired by the novel.