Monday, June 9, 2008

Readings and tragedies

I'm just back from a reading at Fisher's Loft in Port Rexton - a magnificent Newfoundland inn - where I read for a half an hour or so and realized something about the book that may not be good for me in the long run. More and more, after I read, people come up to me and tell me about their involvement in fires and accidents. I've heard from fire victims, relatives of fire victims, other firefighters, front-line emergency workers and 911 operators, all of whom tell me about their experiences. I'm glad they can find some release, but I find their experiences vivid and lately, some have even worked their way into my dreams as well. Very unsettling. One think I hadn't realized is that my experience is far from unique.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Voice from the past

Monday night, an e-mail turned up in my inbox, and last night, the telephone rang and it was Dave Hennessey. Dave was a firefighter who joined the Wolfville fire department at the same time I did, and features fairly prominently in the first part of Burning Down the House. He has a knack for finding me, and bringing me up to speed on a whole bunch of things. But last night, I was surprised to learn that my old department played a critical role in bringing critical stress debriefing to Nova Scotia fire departments - and that one of the fire captains I knew well, Sandy Fraser, had gone on to work with departments all over the province to help deal with traumatic fires and accidents. There are plenty of fire departments that now are well on top of the issue: as part of its training program, for example, Riverview, New Brunswick now has family members of prospective first responders come in for preliminary courses, too. As for Wolfville and critical stress debriefing, I'm glad to hear one of my old departments has played such a prominent role.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dissected gently by Enright

There are those who like him, and those who don't, but one thing you can say about CBC's Michael Enright is that he's pretty darned good at what he does. He's one of the few interviewers who is downright likely to ask you about something you might have written in 1987, and he asks questions that, while you're answering them, a part of your brain is screaming "Do I really want to answer this?" But of course, by then it's too late. So a half-hour or so talking to him about Burning Down the House was something I both looked forward to, and at the same time, dreaded. Was I glad to have the opportunity to be on Sunday Edition? Of course. Was it professional and insightful and thorough? Yes. Without a doubt. But I'd sure hate to have Enright gunning for me. He's too fast, and too good. I have now appeared in an interview that made me feel completely naked, and that's still available in podcast form on their site.