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Squamish author adapting after book tour wiped out

Katherine Fawcett looking to get The Swan Suit into readers' hands
Katherine Fawcett
Squamish's Katherine Fawcett.

With a new fairy-tale-inspired book of short stories, Squamish author Katherine Fawcett has an effective respite from these troubled times.

But getting The Swan Suit into the hands of readers has been difficult, to say the least.

The book, Fawcett's second after 2015's The Little Washer of Sorrows, had the unfortunate release date of March 14, mere days after COVID-19 precautions took hold and shut down much of the world, including her six-stop promotional tour in Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish, Vancouver, and then in Canmore and Fawcett's hometown of Calgary.

"I was pretty disappointed, but then you feel guilty being disappointed when the book tour was cancelled, because really, that's not a life-or-death problem," she said. "It's a deflation — you work really hard for this project and then you don't get to present it and offer it and celebrate it at all."

The irony of the situation isn't lost on Fawcett, as it's difficult to discover new books without a launch or when access to libraries and bookstores is limited, at a time when many readers have more time than ever to delve into something new. Even with the difficulties, however, The Swan Suit landed at No. 7 on the BC Bestseller List as of April 4.

"Books can really help soothe our anxiety and, for me, I just find it so helpful to shut off devices, open a book, and experience another story," she said. "To get into another character's head and mind, and experience a different life is hopeful in these times.

"The short story format, I think, is appropriate for now because instead of a big project, it's nice to in one sitting finish a piece that hopefully will stay with you for a long time."

Fawcett's first promotional adjustment came as she transitioned the Calgary launch on March 18 into a Facebook Live event, promoting the new approach in a last-minute interview on CBC Radio's afternoon show The Homestretch. Other ideas that have been bandied about include publisher Douglas & McIntyre hosting an online literary short story festival next month and potentially connecting with the National Arts Council as part of a profile series for authors whose launches have been scuttled by the pandemic.

Fawcett stressed that the book is available through several channels, but encouraged buyers to support independent retailers such as Whistler's Armchair Books if possible. She noted that she's been dropping off signed copies of books ordered through Armchair when possible.

She's also open to digital drop-ins for book clubs who are reading The Swan Suit. Those interested can connect with Fawcett through her website, or through her Facebook page @KatherineFawcettWrites.

"It's fun to have the author there answering questions and having a discussion that way," she said.

As well, her publisher has given blanket permission for teachers to use the book in their online courses, with Fawcett noting that the content is appropriate for high school students.