Peterborough and the Mafia

One interesting side of a publisher’s life is how the families of your authors regard you. In my book I write about how in mid-summer Alistair MacLeod was hard at work finishing No Great Mischief, and I was guilty of putting unremitting pressure on him.

As the book says, “In the course of these frantic weeks I had occasion to call Alistair in Cape Breton. The phone was answered by a MacLeod son to whom I introduced myself as the man who was ruining his father’s summer, ha ha. “Oh yes,” he said, heavily, and passed the phone to Alistair.”

In the Peterborough event, held at Traill College downtown, Lewis MacLeod (who teaches in the English Department), was my host and the MC of the performance I gave there. He spoke of growing up aware of the name “Doug Gibson” as someone who distributed good things “like a second-rate Tooth Fairy” but who over time developed a more threatening side, “like a Mafioso.”

What an interesting take on the two sides of the Publisher/Editor, part Tooth Fairy and part Mafia enforcer!

In the audience were two others with family links to one of my authors, Orm Mitchell and his wife, Barb, the biographers of W.O. You can imagine my delight when Barb told me that in my acting out a phone conversation on stage, I “sounded just like W.O.!”

It’s wonderful that my friendship with W.O. and Merna has descended down to the next generation, where Jane and I are able to stay (not for the first time) with our friends Orm and Barb.


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