An insider's guide to Toronto with Andrew Pyper
If Canada has a Stephen King, it is Andrew Pyper. Over the course of his last six novels about everything from ghosts to demons to crimes, Pyper has thrilled, unsettled, and terrorized his way into readers' psyches and, as a result, numerous best-seller lists.
His last novel, The Demonologist, about a man who uses his academic background in demons to save his daughter from the Underworld, did this especially well. Not only wildly scary, The Demonologist was a #1 bestseller in Canada, a Best Book of 2013 pick by Amazon and The Globe and Mail, and winner of the prestigious International Thriller Writers Award.
All of that makes the wait for Pyper's next novel in February 2015, The Damned, - about fraternal twins, near-death experience and the city of Detroit - quite unbearable. To help give us our Pyper fix in the meantime, I asked the Torontonian author to talk about where he would spend a day in Toronto (a city he's written about several times) with a hypothetical fellow writer.
Where would your all-day writerly Toronto adventure start?
Mornings for writers tend to be the time they do the work, the making up of stuff, the sentence cobbling. Why the mornings? Coffee, of course. So if a writer friend were staying at my place we'd probably begin the day with a good cup of joe, which this city has a lot of (coffee must be the single most inarguably improved aspect of living in Toronto over the last three years).
Some excellent stuff near where I live in Dufferin Grove can be found at Sam James Coffee Bar and The Slow Room. Caffeinated, we'd write for a couple hours and then, a thousand words effortlessly spewed, we'd head out into the city.
In what direction would you be adventure bound?
If we have the time, and it's not crushingly cold outside in the numbers-don't-tell-the-whole-story way that Toronto can be crushingly cold, we would never once hail a cab or squeeze into the subway sardine cans, but walk the whole day. First, a pass through Trinity Bellwoods Park to take in the prettiest view of the CN Tower over the trees (a concrete thistle!) and then onto West Queen West to argue whether Vogue magazine was right about calling it global-level cool or not.
At some point we'd cut north onto the UofT campus and head for the Gallery Grill in Hart House, my favourite place to take out-of-towners for lunch. The food is great, the room is unique, and the whole collegiate, gothic atmosphere is a welcome counterpoint to the city's current repetitions of green glass, steel and concrete.
And after you have filled your digestive muses, where would you go?
We will have had wine, naturally, so following lunch we'd spill out into the quad in search of another drink. Thankfully, a boozy literary museum is nearby in the form of the Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Some of our greatest writers have celebrated and wound licked here over the decades, and it's a cozy room for a sophisto-drink, but we wouldn't leave without stepping out onto the patio and taking in one of the best views of the downtown skyline there is.
You've taken in the skyline. Where to next?
Evening would soon be upon us, so time for a bite on Ossington (I like the sushi at Bazara or anything at Foxley) and then some literary socializing. There's always a book launch to go to in the fall, or perhaps a reading is what my friend is after. Lots of options here, but I like the vibe at the Pivot readings at The Press Club, or the Rowers Pub Reading Series.
Time for home. But not before a nightcap at the Hawker Bar on Ossington and a basket of their kickass chicken wings. Tomorrow, more words! More coffee!
Coffee Shop: Rustic Owl
Brunch: I'm against brunch. No, really. It's a policy. I don't line up for eggs.
Pub: The Caledonian
Museum or Gallery: AGO
Clothing store: Gotstyle. An attractive salesperson once asked me if I used to be a professional hockey player, because of my "body shape," and I've been going back loyally ever since, even though I know it was her standard pitch.
Movie Theatre: Cineplex Yonge-Dundas. They've got the kids' movies and the insane escalators.
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