Terry Fallis in the flesh…great fellow, terrific writer!

On Monday, I attended my first “meet the author” book signing at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon in the Toronto Public Library.

I met my favourite Canadian author, Terry Fallis, author of a number of books, the first and maybe his best, The Best Laid Plans. I haven’t read his others, but my wife has and she claims they are as good, if not better than the first. Perhaps. I think one would expect an author to refine his style, polish his prose, and develop his literary skills more and more with each novel he writes. So his later novels should be better. Maybe.

I was thrilled when I was able to meet T. Fallis after the interviewing was over. He was a really personable man, talking very warmly and candidly about his family, his daughters, his profession, marketing and promotion.

Then, something tweaked in my head. Terry Fallis is an engineer. He works in promotion not marketing. Secondly, he does not have daughters, he has sons, two of them, both around 20 years of age. The imposter with whom I was engaged in such a lively exchange sure looked like Terry Fallis though, a spitting image and when he had introduced himself, I swear I heard a T when he started his first name.

Then I asked the crucial question. “Are you Terry’s twin?” ‘Yes, I am,’ was Tim Fallis’ affirmative response. Oh man, what a surprise, a nice one actually because, the brother was wonderfully talkative and very personable. He went on to explain how closely they resemble each other. In fact, his daughter said that when they were very young girls they often mistook Terry for their own father, Tim.

Tim went on to explain that Terry still works at his full time public relations job for writing novels, especially here in Canada, is not a money making scheme. Another famous Canadian author, Farley Mowat, who recently passed away, often reiterated that painting a house was more lucrative in terms of income than writing. Sad to hear it to be so for these creative people work hard at their craft and create marvellous stories which take tremendous inspiration, and likely a lot of perspiration to produce.

During his interview, Terry described his writing process after being asked to do so by yet another prospective young writer. “Well, I work with outlines,” he explained. “I create an outline and try to include briefer ones for each chapter of the book. Being an engineer, I am pretty linear in my work and quite regimented. So my chapters quite similar in terms of number of words, as are my books.” The numbers 2,000 and 100,000 words stick out in my recall of the interview. Once the outline process is complete, Terry feels his writing can begin and it is an easier process as his has laid out his plan. He described how he thought other writers wrote but as he said, “My outline process works well for me, so I am sticking with it.”

I am glad he is committed to that process for it pays off in very enjoyable readability in his books. You can feel the regular rhythm and pace as his stories unfold and you are comforted by this pattern of writing. Though you cannot predict what he is going to say next, you can find solace in knowing that the chapter is closing in a page or two, with regularity and predictability.

I promised myself I would that once my current reads let up, are done, I am going to get back to the next Fallis book in his series, The High Road. Then, Ups and Downs, followed by No Relations which is his latest.

Based on my conversation with Tim Fallis and if as Tim says, “We are identical twins,” is true, then Terry Fallis must be a really warm, personable man. He strikes me to be so from the interview I heard, but after talking with his brother, I am convinced him to be so.

What a great night with the Fallis brothers at the library.

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