When my novel, The Line Painter, first came out, I did a series of book signings at truck stops across Ontario. At each stop, a lot of the truckers asked me the same question: What are you doing here?
Allow me to explain.
The Line Painter is about a woman, Carrie, who flees from her life in Toronto after a tragedy takes place. She drives about 12 hours north until her car breaks down in the middle of the night. The person who stops to help is the guy who paints the lines on the road.
The novel is about coping with grief, but it’s also about being outside of your comfort zone. How do you define yourself different when you are away from home? Do you make different choices?
I decided to do book signings at truck stops for two reasons. 1) Carrie also visits a truck stop in Hearst. 2) I wanted to capture the feeling of being out of my element, like Carrie had.
The second part worked. Each time I arrived at a truck stop to do a signing and set up in the truckers lounge, I felt out of place and awkward. But after a half hour or so, I relaxed and started talking to the truckers.
I had amazing conversations—about driving the ice roads on the Beaufort Sea, sleeping rough in Union Station and I learned a few new swear words too.
As it turned out, the truck stops were also a great way to engage readers and the media with my book. But, I didn’t go on the tour knowing this would happen. All I knew is that I would probably enjoy learning more about the culture and people at truck stops. I did.
When HarperCollins Canada decided to release an e-book of The Line Painter, I thought it would be fun to revisit a truck stop. I recently bought a Kobo eReader and I’ve been surprised by some of the things I like, and don’t like, about ebooks. Asking the truckers about them a way to explore this a bit more.
Between Harley Davidson stickers, big beards and even bigger rigs, it turns out the truckers delivered a clear verdict on ebooks.
Which edition of The Line Painter did truckers like better? Was it the ebook or printed book? Watch the video to find out: