When best-selling author and CBC radio personality Grant Lawrence visits Invermere on April 28, he won’t just be taking in the sights and sounds. Instead, he’ll be at Christ Church Trinity at 1 p.m. to present a reading and slideshow of his best-selling book, Adventures in Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and Other Stories from Desolation Sound.
Lawrence started his journey as the lead singer of the Vancouver rock band “The Smugglers” in the early ’90s. After 15 years, eight records and countless performances around the world, the band parted ways, but Lawrence wasn’t done entertaining people just yet. Instead, Lawrence went on to host a variety of CBC programs, most notably as a daily host at CBC Radio 3, which he still does today. Lawrence has also hosted such major music events such as the Polaris Music Prize Gala and the Western Canadian Music Awards.
Adventures in Solitude represents Lawrence’s first foray into the field of writing, and has found massive critical success since its release in October of 2010. The book went to #1 on the B.C. Bestsellers List just a month after release, and followed that up by placing #2 on the Canadian National Nonfiction Bestsellers List, before winning the B.C. Book Prize for the 2010 book of the year.
“I would describe Adventures in Solitude as a coming of age memoir set on the wild west coast, in a place called Desolation Sound,” Lawrence said. “Essentially, this book is the adventures that unfold around this place, which was a very lonely and isolated place to have a family cabin.”
In the book, Lawrence describes how his father decided to build a little family cabin in Desolation Sound in the 1970s, and how during family trips they would meet all different kinds of characters, which at times could range from outlaw bikers to hermits and hippies. The first half of the book details his childhood, when he would rather be anywhere but Desolation Sound, while the second half chronicles his rediscovery of Desolation Sound as an adult, years later.
“We were a pretty conservative family from West Vancouver, so we were definitely the fish out of water up there,” Lawrence joked. “When [The Smugglers] kind of wound down, after many years of not going to the cabin I started going again, and I realized that all these people that I was so scared of when I was a little kid, they were actually quite fascinating, and they all had really interesting stories of how they ended up there.”
Lawrence began to tell these stories on his radio programs on CBC, and before long, he says that a producer had suggested that he write some of it down, and Adventures in Solitude was born.
Along with the stories of surprise nude potlucks and outlandish characters, Lawrence says that he also became fascinated with the story of Captain George Vancouver, who was the man to name Desolation Sound. Lawrence says that after learning about Captain Vancouver, he began to weave his stories into his own experiences to create a rich tapestry of part humor, and part history.
Lawrence had been set to speak in Invermere back in October, but due to scheduling conflicts was forced to cancel. This time around he’ll be visiting a number of towns in the region from Penticton to Kamloops, and says that he really just hopes people enjoy his presentation of his book.
“I’ve heard from people age 14 to into their nineties, who can relate to that specific story of simply being dragged somewhere against their will, and then realizing years later, what was my problem?” Lawrence said. “Eventually as I became an older and mature adult, I kind of kicked myself saying, ‘what am I crazy? How could I have forsaken this incredible place?'”
Lawrence will do a reading from his book, along with a presentation of a slideshow and a short movie he made regarding his adventures in Desolation Sound. He’ll also answer questions and sign books for anyone who is interested.
“As much as I like to write, I’m very much an oral storyteller,” Lawrence said. “I just love to tell the stories.”