Goose Lane, Fredericton NB

From Montreal, I travel backwards to Toronto. My car feels like it might not make it the whole way there, but when I pass the sign that reads Toronto 155 km I pump my fist in the air. I’ve got AMA Gold and can get towed for free as far as 160 km. If I were to break down now, I’d still make it back to Toronto on time to catch my flight early tomorrow morning. The threat of my car setting me back and effectively ending the tour early is no more. I’m off (for the first time ever) to the Maritimes!

When booking flights for the tour, I still hadn’t heard from Goose Lane and reluctantly booked my flight straight to Nova Scotia (despite knowing in my heart that I’d hear back from them eventually). My head just wouldn’t allow me to risk the unnecessary mileage or dollars if it didn’t pan out.

Should’ve listened to my heart.

Sure enough, as I was half way across the country, Goose Lane tweeted at me (is that how it’s said?) asking me if I’d be heading through New Brunswick. Time to come up with a plan.

In the end, it would work out cheaper to not change my flights and just rent a car once I got into Halifax. So that’s what I do. Landing in Halifax, NS at approximately 10:00 am, I pick up my rental car and put the pedal to the floor toward Fredericton, NB.

Sorry for the lame building photo -- it was raining buckets almost all day!

Sorry for the lame building photo — it was raining buckets almost all day!

I arrive at Goose Lane  somewhere around 3:30 pm. Corey Redekop—one of the wittiest people I’ve met thus far—greets me at the front desk and gives me a brief tour through the office on the way back to the space he shares with Colleen Kitts-Goguen, non-fiction acquisitions editor. As far as offices go, it seems pretty standard.  Everyone is dressed business casual. There are a few cubicles, a few offices along the outer edge, books everywhere… Of interest? The giant ball of elastics Corey’s been working on for years.

Should Corey ever want to part with this giant ball of elastics, I will suggest turning it into contest. Guess how many elastics!

Should Corey ever want to part with this giant ball of elastics, I will suggest turning it into a contest. Guess how many elastics!

I’ve met many people who “fell into” publishing, but Corey is the first lawyer. After graduating from law school, he practised for two months, quit, then became a librarian. Unfortunately his position at the library was cut. That’s when he heard about the marketing and publicity position opening at Goose Lane.

Corey Redekop’s name might seem familiar. He’s written two books: Shelf Monkey and Husk.

Corey Redekop’s name might seem familiar. He’s written two books: Shelf Monkey and Husk.

As Colleen makes her way out of the office, Julie Scriver, Creative Director and part-owner, makes her way in. My first question is simple: what is it like to be a publisher in New Brunswick? Her response is that here, people work hard. Not to say those in other provinces don’t, but the “have not province” has learned how to do many things on a small budget. The people here are dedicated (Julie works seven days a week).

“It’s a tenacity that goes with the territory.” — Julie Scriver.

Julie has to leave to attend a memorial service for Elizabeth Brewster, one of the founders of Fiddlehead (of which Goose Lane sprung). But as Julie leaves it’s as if she tags Susanne Alexander, Publisher and co-owner, into the conversation.

Between these two women, it’s no wonder Goose Lane has found such success. I didn’t get the chance to ask about their personal relationship, which I can’t imagine being anything other than best friends for life. They both, without having heard the other, make reference to publishing as gardening. This doesn’t surprise me since Goose Lane operated from a garden shed for many years.

One of the challenges Goose Lane has as a publisher in New Brunswick is that they are often assumed to be a regional publisher. This can limit coverage and sales. However, Goose Lane is quickly turning that assumption over.

Some of the most recent and successful books coming from Goose Lane are what Suzanne calls “big idea books.” These are books such as Noah Richler’s What We Talk About When We Talk About War and Marcello DiCintio’s Walls. Seriously! Look at all these awards and nominations!

The slant toward these kinds of books was a purposeful one. Goose Lane saw and seized the opportunity to deliver non-fiction to a broader audience—books speaking to issues about society that people are interested in thinking about in a more profound way.

Corey Redekop and Susanne Alexander

Corey Redekop and Susanne Alexander

In doing so, Goose Lane breaks the assumptions of a regional press and becomes a press with books of international appeal and importance. Frankly, they aren’t under any radar anymore.

For the evening I’m invited out to an author event at the library. The crowd stays until we are kicked out at closing time and the party moves to a restaurant just up the street where the kitchen stays open and the servers stay late just to accommodate the Gooselane crew. Over drinks and pizza, we talk publishing and… probiotics.

It’s a late night for me, and the B&B owner is going to be off the hook for breakfast in the morning. I’ve got to be up and on the road by 5:00 am, back to Nova Scotia. In total, I’ll spend less than 24 hours in New Brunswick, but worth every kilometer.

 

 

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