April 14, 2023

Grant’s news: spring tour dates, BC Book prize nomination, Handy Candy podcast, cabin capers and more

Hello world of friends!

Happy spring! Hope this finds you well, and that you had a great long weekend / Easter / Ramadan / Passover. Me? I spent a stormy weekend at the cabin In Desolation Sound, where I kept asking Jill to pass over another beer. Whoo!!!

Cabin Life: raise high the roof beam, carpenters

As always, we are trying to make improvements to the old place, and this year it has finally come time to replace the original roof, a rough-cut, old-growth, red cedar shingle design that was installed almost exactly 40 years ago. It’s done very well, but in the last few years there seemed to be more moss than roof. To increase fire safety and decrease leaks, like the rest of our Desolation Sound neighbours, we’ve made the switch to metal. 

Still, I’m sad to see the shingles go. According to Terral, the carpenter doing the job, “the old roof was very much a complicated ecosystem.” Terral is discovering many hibernating creatures under those ancient shingles, including huge nests of carpenter ants, flying ants, tiny ants, wood bugs, and wasps, wasps, and more wasps. Luckily, it’s still too cold for much activity from any of them, so no swarmings.

My fear was that Terral would disturb our little brown bat colony that has called the roof home for decades, but so far, no sightings. It’s made me nostalgic for this story from “Adventures in Solitude”, about one of my family’s first-ever summer nights at the cabin in the early 1980s:

We found out quickly that a burgeoning colony of little brown bats had discovered the overhanging eaves. They apparently loved sleeping deep between the slats of the warm cedar-shake shingles that made up our roof; heated by the sun, the wood must have had the effect of a miniature Swedish sauna. 

At dusk that first night, Mom, my sister Heather and I watched in horror as dozens of bats dropped from the eave above our picnic table like fighter jets, scattering pell-mell across the night sky. They flew out over the ocean, and then circled back, swooping down en masse upon us to assumingly seize upon our necks with their tiny fangs. 

Our instinct was to wave our arms madly, scream at the top of our lungs and run across the deck to dive inside the cabin doors. Even our dog Aggie scrambled for cover with her tail between her legs, yelping in surprise. Then we watched with wide-eyed amazement, our noses pinned against the inside of the glass, as bats fluttered around Dad’s head like the disciples of Dracula, never touching him.

As he calmly but loudly explained to us through the glass, the bats have a natural sonar that allows them to track their prey – like mosquitos and no-see-ums, creatures that actually were out to suck our blood. Since the mosquitos were buzzing around us, that’s where the bats followed. That sonar also allows them to avoid objects like walls, posts, and humans. They ate their weight in mosquitos every night, and their plentiful guano we found on the deck below the eaves each morning was great for the flower garden we would eventually plant, too. It wasn’t until much later that we found out that little brown bats are the number one carrier of rabies in B.C.

It was my childhood exposure to little brown bats, and that nightly summer twilight bat show, that eventually led me to tell my kids bedtime stories about bats, which then led to my children’s book, Bailey the Bat and the Tangled Moose

Return to Solitude:

There’s lots of great news surrounding my latest book, “Return to Solitude.”

  • It hit the national bestsellers list in Canada.
  • It’s been on the BC Bestsellers List for an entire year!!
  • It was named the number one bestselling BC book of 2022.

… all thanks to… YOU! 

The latest news is that “Return to Solitude” has been nominated for the Bill Duthie Booksellers Choice Award for the 2023 BC and Yukon Book Prizes, which will occur in September. 

I am profoundly grateful for the support and reception this book has received both within and outside of BC. Thank you again to readers and bookstores everywhere! 

Wanna listen? Handy Candy: Coastal Crafter of Desolation Sound Podcast

Last fall, I had the pleasure of sharing the audio version of the story of Handy Candy, of one of our dear neighbours in Desolation Sound, on the airwaves on North By Northwest on CBC Radio 1. The series was a big hit with listeners- everyone tuned in to hear the real life adventures of our very own “I Love Lucy” of the wilderness, who can famously “fix anything but dinner.” The show is now available as a ten-part podcast that you can listen to here.  

Spring Tour:

I continue to tour my “Stories and Songs” roadshow (inspired by the late great Stuart McLean and “The Vinyl Cafe”) in which I tell or read stories from my books, podcasts or columns, and amazing Canadian musicians play their original songs between the readings.

Here’s my list of dates for spring 2023 with the musical guests featured at each one. Hope to see you at a show! (All shows start at about 7pm and go to about 9pm, are suitable for all ages, and I change up the stories every time.)

Thu May 4, Inlet Theatre, Port Moody, w/ Jay Malinowski, Suzie Ungerleider, Tyler and Ben from Said the Whale

Fri May 5, Heritage Playhouse, Gibsons, w/ Jay Malinowski, Suzie Ungerleider, Luke Wallace

Sat May 6, Community Hall, Texada Island, w/ Jay Malinowski, Suzie Ungerleider, Evan Symons

Fri May 26, Kay Meek Theatre, West Vancouver, w/ Ashleigh Ball, Tyler and Ben from Said the Whale, Doc ‘n’ Socs, Hayden Roth, Jill Barber

Fri June 16, Dream Cafe, Penticton, w/ Danny Michel, Ashleigh Ball, Dustin Bentall

Sat June 17, Song Sparrow Hall, Salmon Arm, w/ Danny Michel, Ashleigh Ball, Dustin Bentall

Tickets available for all shows here

Jill Barber

My lovely wife has her own very busy schedule this spring, as her touring cycle begins in earnest for her new album “Homemaker”, which has already become a hit with critics and fans. It is a return to her folk roots, and a highly relatable rallying cry for working parents everywhere, those who try to maintain an upwardly mobile career while being present for your kids. Many people have asked me if the lyric “Dishes won’t do themselves” is directed at me. Quick answer: yes.

“Homemaker” is out now and here’s the tour: 

Fri April 14, Creekside Theatre, Winfield BC (TONIGHT! 8 tickets left)
Sat April 15, York Theatre, Vancouver (SOLD OUT)
Mon April 17, Mary Winspear Theatre, Sidney BC (SOLD OUT)
Tue May 9, Dominion Telegraph Theatre, Paris Ont.
Wed May 10, TD Music Hall, Toronto
Fri May 12, Babs Asper Theatre, Ottawa
Sat May 13, Station Theatre, Smiths Falls, Ont
Sun May 14, Isabel Bader Centre, Kingston Ont
Tue May 16, The Carlton, Halifax (SOLD OUT)
Wed May 17, The Carlton, Halifax (SOLD OUT)
Thu May 18, The Carlton, Halifax (SOLD OUT)

Tickets for all shows here.

Watch for Jill’s summer festival schedule announced soon! 


Happy Spring, Happy Life, and hope to see you soon.

All the best from the West,

Grant Lawrence
Vancouver, BC

PS. If you’ve read “Return to Solitude” and enjoyed it, please consider giving it a review on GoodReads. It really helps! Thanks!

PPS. If you’d like to host a “Grant Lawrence and Friends” show in your town, island, marina, or resort, please let me know by responding to this email.

PPPS. If you wish to unsubscribe to this newsletter, A) how dare you and B) that’s fine, I will only be mildly offended, just send a reply with ‘unsubscribe.’


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