Authors have always been expected to self-promote to some degree, but occasionally an author — or, in this case, two authors — comes along who seems almost born for the task at hand.
Vivek Shraya has just finished a road tour with Farzana Doctor — interviewed here this past summer. The "God Loves Pavement" tour, a mash up of the titles of the books they were promoting, Vivek's God Loves Hair and Doctor's Six Degrees of Pavement, spanned seven cities in Canada and the U.S.
Shraya and Doctor also started an entertaining tour Tumblr where they posted regular updates, images, event details and a series of delightful short videos called "Brown Moments." (More on that below.) On one level, the blog functions as it should, to keep readers informed of their whereabouts and as a charming memoir of their time together. But it's also a helpful tutorial for other authors seeking a case study on what it means to report from the road, engage an audience and which tools work best.
Julie Wilson: How did you and Farzana decide that it would be feasible (and survivable) to road tour together?
Vivek Shraya: Farzana and I were both invited to do a reading at London Pride last summer that involved a five hour drive. Farzana offered to do the driving on one condition: I was to entertain her with my entire life story. I clearly wasn’t able to satiate her desire, as shortly after that reading, she approached me with the idea for the tour.
Touring together was a bit of a no-brainer because we ar …
On one of the last summery days of early fall, I met up with Farzana Doctor in Trinity Bellwoods Park to record a short excerpt from her second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, and to eat soft cheeses and drink fermented grape juice. We were visited regularly by dogs and the threat of the odd softball. Enjoy the chat!
Julie Wilson: This past summer, you received the $4,000 Dayne Ogilvie Grant for Emerging LGBT Writer from the Writers' Trust of Canada. While the writing itself doesn't necessarily have to feature LBGT themes, the writer must identify as LGBT to be eligible. LGBT teen suicide has been in the news of late—I'll point to a Globe and Mail editorial by Melissa Carroll and Rick Mercer's recent video address, which calls foul on the It Gets Better campaign, saying it needs to be better now—so I want to ask you how important it is for you to identify openly as a queer woman. And how does it impact your craft as a writer?
Farzana Doctor: It’s always felt important for me to identify as an openly queer woman. Queer identities are still oppressed ones (and this explains why it still hasn’t “gotten better”, or at least not “better enough” for queer youth). I agree with Rick M …