The Word on the Street interview series: Peter Robinson
As September 23 approaches, we're continuing our The Word on the Street interview series, talking with some of talented Ontario writers who will be appearing at the festival this Sunday.
Thousands of Torontonians can relate to Peter Robinson, the author of Hope and Heartbreak in Toronto: Life as a Maple Leafs Fan (Dundurn).
Peter talks with Open Book about keeping the faith, what he learned from Pierre Berton and his next writing project.
Tell us a about what you’ll be reading in the Vibrant Voices tent.
Hope and Heartbreak in Toronto: Life as a Maple Leafs Fan is my first book. It’s a chronicle of my journey following the team since I was a little boy, with a particular focus on the past seven seasons, when, as an adult, I had the means to attend roughly 100 games at the Air Canada Centre as a fan, not a working journalist. It struck me about five years ago, that, although I was all grown up and the team was as bad as it has ever been, my attachment was as strong as ever. The book is also an attempt to answer the broader question why, I, like so many others, was willing to put myself through the torture &mfash; both emotional and financial. Some of the answers are obvious, others a bit surprising.
Have you attended The Word on the Street in the past? If so, tell us about a favourite memory. If not, what are you most looking forward to?
I have not been to WOTS but not for lack of trying. I always tend to be travelling in mid-late September. In fact, I’m tapping out this missive while in Europe researching my next book project. That said, hopefully this year will be the first of many, both as a featured author but also an avid reader as well. I’m looking forward to seeing Jian Ghomesi and buying his book 1982. It was a profound year in my self-awareness of what was going on around me and it sounds like his book details much of that.
The Vibrant Voices tent celebrates Ontario authored and published books. Tell us about a favourite Ontario author or book.
I tend to read many genres of non-fiction. I just read Peter Edwards’ book about the Bandido war that culminated in the murder of eight bikers near London. It was brilliantly researched and, frankly, a bit scary to read at times. Another author I’ve always enjoyed is Gwynne Dyer, although he’s not from Ontario, he is Canadian.
What’s the best advice about public readings you have ever received?
Growing up, I always admired the way in which Pierre Berton spoke passionately about Canada, Canadian history and his books. You almost felt like you were living the story. My publisher, Dundurn, circulates a newsletter to its authors and sure enough, one of the main points in giving advice on public readings was how Mr. Berton was a master at the craft. The bowtie was a bonus.
Word on the Street is happening simultaneously in Toronto, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener and Halifax this year as well as in Vancouver from September 28-30. If you could be in two places at once, which WOTS festival (in addition to Toronto) would you attend?
Tough choice! Likely Kitchener; I would like to hear a reading by Ian Hamilton but he’s in Kitchener and I’m in Toronto.
What can you tell us about your next project?
I’ve always been fascinated by the First World War for a number of reasons but the biggest was that my own great-grandfather was killed on the Western Front in 1918. Right now, two years out, I’m developing an idea to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.
Peter Robinson is the editor of Prospects Hockey, the official magazine of the Canadian Hockey League, and the golf columnist for CBC.ca. Somehow he manages to balance his work, his family and his obsession with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He lives in Barrie, Ontario.
For more information about Hope and Heartbreak in Toronto please visit the Dundurn website.