NEW GLASGOW – His latest book was more than 10 times the work of his previous two to get published, but now that it’s printed, bound and ready for distribution, Stellarton native Leo McKay Jr. is excited to tour the province for a series of book launches, including one in New Glasgow Friday.
McKay’s novel “Roll up the Rim” is described as a book that follows the disastrous but comic missteps of a Tim Hortons employee, Owen, who is obsessed with winning the Roll up the Rim grand prize. It begins with Owen explaining to a police officer from Calgary what the contest is about as the officer replies with his observations about the East Coast’s obsession with the coffee shop company. It’s a book with a lighter tone than McKay’s previous two: “Twenty-six,” a One Book Nova Scotia selection and Canada Reads book of the decade nomination, and the Giller Prize-nominated “Like This,” an intentional contrast, McKay said.
“Both of those books were pretty serious, heavy, emotional affairs and they kind of took a toll on me personally to write them and I just wanted to write a different kind of book and give myself a break from that sort of intensity,” he said. “I just wanted do something different.”
McKay said Tim Hortons and the Roll up the Rim contest sparked his imagination and inspired him to write a book about its influence on Canadian culture.
“I don’t really know why Tim Hortons is such a big deal in Canada but it is. I just think it’s part of the Canadian landscape. As soon as the Roll up the Rim contest starts in the spring, people are talking about it. You see people with the cups, you see people talking about if they’ve been lucky or unlucky, it’s just part of life here,” he said.
“As a writer, you write about any part of a culture that stands out to you or sparks your imagination. It just happened that I thought it would be fun to write about the Canadian obsession with Tim Hortons and Roll up the Rim.”
McKay took a different approach to book publishing this time around. A year ago, he started campaigning on IndieGogo, an online crowd-funding website, which successfully raised the funds for McKay to self-publish Roll up the Rim. McKay created the publishing imprint “Red Row House Books,” named after the neighbourhood in Stellarton he grew up in, and published the book under that title.
“I was responsible for many, many things this time around that I wasn’t responsible for with my other two books. But, there’s a tremendous amount of accomplishment that comes along with that,” he said. “I had to find somebody to design a cover, I had to find somebody to edit the book, I had to find people to do page design and layout, I hired an illustrator as well as a cover designer. So, it was an enormous amount of work and I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out so far.”
McKay said he doesn’t think being self-published will hurt the publicity of the book.
“What people will tell you when you’re thinking about doing this kind of independent project is ‘oh, you won’t get the same kind of publicity that you’ll get through a publisher.’ But, that has not been my experience this time around,” he said.
“I’ve worked very hard in the last month to publicize my book. My book “Twenty-six” was published with McClelland and Stewart, which is one of the most prominent Canadian literary publishers. I had two book launch events with “Twenty-six.” I had one in Toronto, I had one in Halifax and that was it. I already have six-book launches scheduled. We had our first launch in Truro last week. There were almost 100 people in the room in Truro and that’s more than came to my book launch in Toronto in 2003.”
Ebook copies of “Roll up the Rim” have already been distributed to IndieGogo contributors and paper book distribution to contributors is underway. Books and ebooks will be available soon through all major channels, but until launch events are complete, copies of the novel will only be available for purchase at book launch events.
The book launch events include readings by McKay, music inspired by the novel by singer-songwriter Scott Nicks and artwork by cover artist Ben Brush.
The book launch in New Glasgow is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the New Glasgow Library Friday. For more information on the book launch tour, visit HYPERLINK "http://leomckay.com" http://leomckay.com
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