Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

A Bona Fide Once in a Lifetime: Awaiting the First Review of My First Novel

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Coming off a one hour presentation about my novel this evening at The Haliburton School of the Arts, a presentation that I enjoyed immensely (largely because of the engaging and welcoming audience), I would now like to write something I can write only once in my life.

I’ve been informed by my publisher, Tightrope Books, that a review of my novel is about to appear, likely tomorrow. This would be the first review of my first novel and, given that Open Book has asked that I write about things that may be of interest to readers and writers, I thought it might be worthwhile, here, to record a few observations of how I’m feeling right now.

The short answer: excited.

Now, for the long answer.

Had I found my way to publication earlier in life, I would likely be nervous right now. I would likely be anxious. I would likely be thinking that the review that is about to come out might make or break me as a writer.

But I’m older now, not wiser, but older, and it’s taken me a long time to get this far and, while I know that a good review can generate sales and interest, and that a bad review might be painful to read, I’m not too worried one way or the other. I’ve been writing for so long on my own that I know I’m going to keep writing, and will do so as long as the act of writing brings me joy, energy, and perspective.

Yes, of course, I hope the review will be positive because, having produced a book, I’d like to have more readers. Who wouldn’t?

My excitement is that I’m looking forward to reading what someone has to say about my work. I’m looking forward to what I might learn about my book, and about my writing. I’m under no illusions that the review is being written for me, it’s written for readers. Reviews are important because they help people with busy lives choose the books they will read. Facing an infinite number of book choices, and finite leisure time for reading, reviews help buyers make informed choices. Yet I’ve noticed over the years that thoughtful book reviews are so much more than a mere consumer guide. Reviews can reveal a lot about how a writer’s writing works, and the patterns and themes in their work. This stuff fascinates me. I love seeing the wholeness in the work of others, and the patterns in play, and I’m always interested in finding out what’s happening in my own work.

I’ve come to know many of my patterns and themes, and I try to work these consciously, but I don’t know all of them. There will always be the patterns and themes in my writing that I haven’t yet discerned. Some of these patterns may be ones that, perhaps, can only be found by someone else.

So, I look forward to seeing a review of my book. My curiosity abounds, and I enjoy the liveliness that curiosity brings. I’m posting this now, prior to seeing any reviews, to try to give my honest thoughts on the matter. Perhaps I’ll post again before the end of the month on what it was like reading a review of my work for the first time.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Ken Murray

Ken Murray lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario. He teaches creative writing at Haliburton School of the Arts and at the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. His fiction and non-fiction have been published in journals, newspapers and magazines in both Canada and the United States. An avid athletic amateur, he likes kiteboarding, skiing, snowboarding, running and cycling. He is a volunteer broadcaster in community radio and dabbles in several sports. Eulogy is his first novel.

You can contact Ken throughout the month of July at

Go to Ken Murray’s Author Page