Can you describe your dream home?
I vacillate on what my dream home looks like all the time. Sometimes, I think an apartment in Manhattan would be it. Other times, it’s a cabin in the woods somewhere. And I really do love my home in Ottawa where I am right now. But the one vision that keeps recurring is the following. My dream home is a large bungalow or ranch house, with vaulted ceilings, several bedrooms, and a finished basement. It would have a massive fireplace with lots of stone and wood. In fact I think I’d have big wood beams visible in the home. It would sit on a wooded lot on a lake, and be close enough to the city that I could enjoy the hustle and bustle of that whenever I wanted. I’d need a double car garage and a front lawn too.
If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?
It would depend on the season. For example, if you visit in the fall or winter, I’d serve up some slow-cooked beef stroganoff with home-made bread, mashed potato and a salad. But if you came in the summer, I’d do something on the barbecue like a flank steak or London broil and sausages. Salad of course.
Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.
I get fan letters frequently from my teaching and writing, but the one that jumps out the most was from an older student of mine who decided to go back to university to get her degree. I was teaching a first year English Literature course at the time. The letter didn’t come until two years after the course had finished. She sent me an email telling me how nervous and fearful she was when she took my course, but that it had changed her life and now she was going back to school full-time. I love those kinds of letters because ultimately, I think everything we do is about changing lives... our own and others.
Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
Without question, I’d want to go to Pasadena in California to check out the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While there, I’d also do research in San Francisco, the setting of The Crying of Ross 128. If there’s time and my publisher has an unlimited budget, I’d like to go to NASA and Houston, also to research the space operations there.
Who designed the book cover for the book you are touring?
It’s a beautiful cover, isn’t it? This was designed by Jordan Mitchell from Victoria, British Columbia. He’s done a ton of design work and I really like the approach he took with my cover. I hardly gave him any suggestions at all, other than Ross 128 is a red dwarf star system and the story is about an alien signal coming from there. He took that and created what you see now.