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IFOA’s International Visitors Programme: the schmooze factor

The 2011 cohort at Niagara Falls (Photo: IFOA)

Less than 24 hours into a September business trip to New York City, three people had already asked Iris Tupholme the same question: how could they land an invitation to the International Visitors (IV) Programme? In truth, the guest list is chosen collectively by a committee, which Tupholme chairs, but that fact didn’t stop her peers from trying to wrangle a spot in what has become one of the industry’s most coveted networking events.

Launched in 2008, the five-day IV Programme runs in conjunction with the International Festival of Authors at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, which kicked off its 2012 edition on Oct. 18. Participants arrive on the first Sunday of the festival and spend the following week attending publisher-hosted breakfast and lunch meetings, touring bookstores and literary agencies, taking in festival readings, participating in pitch meetings, and attending presentations. It’s a fast-paced symposium that immerses visitors in the Canadian publishing industry and, ideally, sends them home with a list of promising Canadian authors and attractive foreign-rights opportunities.

“Five years ago, we started it with the goal of bringing a small group of editors and publishers and an occasional agent or literary scout to Toronto for a series of meetings with colleagues, and attending readings by our Canadian authors and others,” says Tupholme, the vice-president, publisher, and editor-in-chief at Harper­Collins Canada. “It has blossomed from there.”

Tupholme first approached IFOA director Geoffrey Taylor about creating the IV Programme in 2005, after attending the Visiting International Publishers program in Sydney, Australia. Creating an IFOA-related networking event was already in the festival “job jar,” says Taylor, so the pair began developing a program designed for publishing professionals in mid-career who might not be able to attend major international book fairs in Frankfurt or London.

But right from the beginning, says Taylor, “everyone wanted to be a part of it at a much more senior level.” The program also fills the annual networking gap created when Reed Exhibitions announced the permanent cancellation of BookExpo Canada in 2009.

Sales pitches at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre (Photo: IFOA)

Funding for the IV Programme comes primarily from the Ontario Media Development Corporation, with the balance covered by the Department of Canadian Heritage, Authors at Harbourfront Centre, individual publishers (who might sponsor a party or event), and foreign arts councils or funding bodies affiliated with program participants. The program pays for airfare, accommodation, meals, and ground transportation for all “fellows,” while “distinguished guests” (such as agents) cover their own travel costs.

“The exact mechanics vary from year to year,” says Taylor, who emphasizes that the distinction is purely financial. All invited guests participate equally in the week’s events.

While organizers can’t quantify the number of deals and foreign-­rights sales that have resulted directly from the program, most alumni confirm that they have, indeed, discovered Canadian talent in Toronto.

Ziv Lewis, foreign-rights manager for Israel’s Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir Publishing, learned about Deborah Willis’s Vanishing and Other Stories (Penguin Canada) during the 2010 IV Programme and recently published a Hebrew translation. Lewis also met Andrew Kaufman in Toronto, and Kinneret will release an Israeli edition of Kaufman’s second novel, The Waterproof Bible (Random House Canada), in early 2013.

Likewise, London-based literary scout Rosalind Ramsay learned about Katrina Onstad’s novel Everybody Has Everything (McClelland & Stewart) during a 2011 visit to Westwood Creative Artists, and has since encouraged Netherlands publisher Artemis/Ambo Anthos to secure Dutch rights.

The cultural exchange can also happen in reverse. During the 2010 program, former Picador editor Sam Humphreys (now publisher at Penguin U.K. imprint Michael Joseph) introduced Coach House Books editorial director Alana Wilcox to Eye Lake, a novel by U.K.-based Canadian writer Tristan Hughes. After connecting with Humphreys in Toronto, Coach House bought Canadian rights and published the novel in October 2011.

Schmoozing at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre (Photo: IFOA)

Agent Gray Tan, president of the Grayhawk Agency in Taipei, sold The Man with the Compound Eyes by Taiwanese author Ming-Yi Wu to his fellow 2011 IV participant Lexy Bloom, a senior editor at the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group in the U.S. Tan and Bloom became friends during the program, and two months later, Bloom bought Wu’s novel for the Vintage and Anchor imprints.

Perhaps most importantly, representatives from independent Canadian presses have a chance to rub shoulders with influential visitors during the IV Programme. Alumnus Aram Fox, a New York City literary scout, introduced Coach House’s Wilcox to more than a dozen publishers at the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair after the pair connected in Toronto. “Scouts aren’t that excited to see smaller presses,” says Wilcox, “but [Fox] was open, has the greatest contacts, and arranged the meetings.”

Many alumni agree that running IV during the festival gives the event a cozy atmosphere often lacking on a trade-show floor. The intensive schedule also encourages long-lasting bonds. “It’s something completely different from meetings at book fairs,” says Tan, who represents The Cooke Agency, Random House of Canada, McClelland & Stewart, and the Beverley Slopen Literary Agency in the Chinese market. “Sure, we would still love to do business with each other, but the priority is simply to make friends and exchange ideas and experiences.”

“A huge amount of trust and goodwill is generated, and I imagine that many Canadian authors have benefited indirectly as a result of that goodwill,” says Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. In addition to Barley, directors from some of the world’s leading authors’ festivals – including the Melbourne Writers Festival, Beijing’s Bookworm International Literary Festival, and the International Literature Festival Berlin – have participated in the IV Programme, and in 2010, the five festivals formed a unique partnership known as the Word Alliance.

Organizers say they don’t plan to expand the number of fellowships available in future years. The current group size of roughly 20 participants – including both fellows and distinguished guests – ensures each visitor has a meaningful experience, says Taylor. The 2012 IV Programme, however, saw the addition of a Canadian editorial fellowship (awarded to Trena White, publisher of Douglas & Mc­Intyre) and a new industry prize known as the Ivy Award. The committee also hopes to create events for the growing list of program alumni and institute a juried IV application form to replace what’s currently a more subjective selection process.

Alumni suggestions for improving the program are strikingly minimal. “I hope the ‘speed date’ part of quick meetings with Canadian publishers and agents can be modified according to the needs of each IV [participant],” says Tan. “Otherwise 10 minutes is just too short.” Barley says the focus on meetings and socializing comes somewhat at the expense of attending literary events, but he adds, “This is a very minor quibble. The organization of the IV Programme is 99 per cent right.”

Overall, past participants have nothing but praise for the event – including the annual field trip to Niagara Falls. Many souvenir photos are snapped while these literary VIPs sport the requisite yellow ponchos. Visiting the landmark site is also one of the most relaxed moments in an otherwise demanding week. “You make people get up really early in the morning, you pour them onto a bus when they’re barely awake, they suddenly arrive somewhere and they get soaking wet,” says Taylor. “What’s not to love about that?”

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Book links roundup: Saddam Hussein’s daughter seeks publisher, World e-Reading Congress happenings, and more

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Book links roundup: Smashwords in public libraries, poets named Sue, and more

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Book links round-up: Mistry wins Neustadt Prize, a wordless book, and more

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15 TIFF films for the literary-minded

You’re not going to get close to Brad Pitt, in town this weekend for the premiere of Moneyball, the adaptation of Michael Lewis’s baseball book of the same name, but if you’re attending the Toronto International Film Festival this week, here are 15 more book-to-screen adaptations or literary-minded films to keep in mind.

Albert Nobbs: Glenn Close stars in the adaptation of George Moore’s 19th-century short story about an Irish woman who disguises herself as a man to work as a butler.

Almayer’s Folly: In 2000, director Chantal Akerman adapted the fifth volume of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu for the big screen; this time it’s Joseph Conrad’s debut novel.

Anonymous: Director Roland Emmerich travels back to the court of Queen Elizabeth I in this drama, which suggests Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, may have written Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

Chicken with Plums: Marjane Satrapi reunites with her Persepolis co-director Vincent Paronnaud to adapt the second graphic novel in the trilogy.

A Dangerous Method: David Cronenberg’s period piece is adapted from screenwriter Christopher Hampton’s play, which was based on John Kerr’s non-fiction work A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.

The Eye of the Storm: Charlotte Rampling plays an aging matriarch to Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis in this adaptation of Australian author Patrick White’s novel of the same name.

The First Man: A French film by Italian director Gianni Amelio, based on Albert Camus’ unfinished autobiographical novel Le premier homme, which the author was working on when he was killed in a car accident.

Habibi: A modern retelling of the ninth-century classical poem Majnun Layla (Mad for Layla), set in the Gaza Strip.

Hard Core Logo II: The sequel (or companion film) to the Canadian cult classic, based on the novel by Michael Turner, stars director Bruce McDonald.

Killer Elite: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro pull out the action for this film, adapted from Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ 1991 bestseller.

The Moth Diaries: Mary Harron takes on the complexities of female adolescence in this horror film, based on Rachel Klein’s vampire novel.

Monsieur Lazar: Set in a Montreal elementary school, Philippe Falardeau’s new film is expanded from a one-character play by Evelyne de la Chenelière.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Ewan McGregor stars as a scientist in Lasse Hallström’s adaptation of Paul Torday’s best-selling novel.

Trishna: It’s not the first time Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles has been made into a film, but this one is directed by Michael Winterbottom and set in India.

UFO in Her Eyes: Contemporary Chinese culture is explored in this adaptation of a novel by Xiaolu Guo, who also directed the film.

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Fall preview 2011: Canadian fiction

In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the fall season’s biggest books.

NOVELS

One of the most anticipated releases of the fall season is surely the new novel from internationally acclaimed author Michael Ondaatje, his first since 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award winner Divisadero. Set in the early 1950s, The Cat’s Table (McClelland & Stewart, $32 cl., Sept.) tells the story of an 11-year-old boy crossing the Indian Ocean on a liner bound for England, and the mysterious prisoner shackled on board. • Also from M&S is Guy Vanderhaeghe’s first novel in eight years. Set in the late 19th-century Canadian and American West, A Good Man ($32.99 cl., Sept.) is the third book in a loose trilogy that also includes The Last Crossing (2003) and The Englishman’s Boy, which won the 1996 Governor General’s Literary Award. • A third GG winner has a new novel out this season: David Gilmour, who won in 2005 for his previous novel, A Perfect Night to Go to China. Gilmour returns with The Perfect Order of Things (Thomas Allen Publishers, $26.95 cl., Sept.), the story of a man who revisits traumatic and life-changing incidents from his past.

Marina Endicott follows up her Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted 2008 novel Good to a Fault with The Little Shadows (Doubleday Canada, $32.95 cl., Sept.), about three sisters who become vaudeville singers following the death of their father. • Acclaimed novelist Helen Humphreys returns with an historical novel set in France during the Napoleonic period. The Reinvention of Love (HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 cl., Sept.) is about a French journalist whose affair with Victor Hugo’s wife causes a scandal (as it might be expected to do).

Brian Francis’s debut novel, Fruit, was a runner-up in the 2009 edition of CBC’s battle of the books, Canada Reads. His second novel, Natural Order (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Aug.), tells the story of a mother who is forced to confront the secrets she has kept about her son when her carefully constructed life is overturned by a startling revelation. • Kevin Chong returns to fiction with his first novel in a decade. Beauty Plus Pity (Arsenal Pulp Press, $17.95 pa., Sept.) follows an Asian-Canadian slacker in Vancouver whose incipient modelling career is derailed by the death of his father and the sudden departure of his fiancée.

Requiem (HarperCollins Canada, $32.95 cl., Sept.), the third novel from Frances Itani, is about a Japanese-Canadian who embarks upon a cross-country journey of discovery following the death of his wife. • Anita Rau Badami follows her best-selling novels Tamarind Mem and The Hero’s Walk with Tell It to the Trees (Knopf Canada, $32 cl., Sept.), about the Dharma family – the authoritarian Vikram, the gourmand Suman, and the old storyteller Akka. When the Dharmas’ tenant, Anu, turns up dead on their doorstep, the family’s long-buried secrets begin to boil over. • Gayla Reid returns with her first novel since 2002’s Closer Apart. Set during the Spanish Civil War, Come from Afar (Cormorant Books, $32 cl., Aug.) tells the story of an Australian nurse who falls into a relationship with a Canadian soldier from the International Brigade.

Haitian expat Dany Laferrière is back with his third novel in translation in three years. The Return (Douglas & McIntyre, $22.95 pa., Aug.) tells the story of a 23-year-old Haitian named Dany who flees Baby Doc Duvalier’s repressive regime and relocates to Montreal. Thirty-three years later, Dany learns of his father’s death in New York City, and plots a return to his native country. David Homel translates. • Another Montreal resident, poet Sina Queyras, has a novel out this fall, the author’s first. Autobiography of Childhood (Coach House Books, $20.95 pa., Oct.) is about one day in the lives of five siblings haunted by the death of a brother years before. • Infrared (McArthur & Company, $29.95 cl., Sept.), the new novel by Nancy Huston, is about a photographer who travels to Tuscany with her father and stepmother. Employing internal dialogues with the photographer’s mental doppelgänger, Huston opens up her hero for exposure and provides an intimate picture of her interior life.

CanLit mainstay David Helwig returns with a novella, his first since 2007’s Smuggling Donkeys. Killing McGee (Oberon, $38.95 cl., $18.95 pa., Oct.) tells the story of a professor’s dual obsessions with the assassination of D’Arcy McGee and the disappearance of one of his students. • Toronto-based poet Dani Couture returns with her first novel, a surreal and iconoclastic take on that perennial CanLit staple: the family drama. Algoma (Invisible Publishing, $19.95 pa., Oct.) tells the story of a family attempting to cope with the aftermath of a young child falling through the ice and drowning. • Shari Lapeña also has a novel about a perennial CanLit concern: raising money to allow one time to write poetry. Happiness Economics (Brindle & Glass, $19.95 pa., Sept.) tells the story of a stalled poet who takes a job writing advertising copy to start a poetry foundation.

Jamaican-born novelist, poet, and non-fiction author Olive Senior returns to long-form fiction with Dancing Lessons (Cormorant, $22 pa., Aug.), about a woman looking back on her life after a hurricane destroys her home. • Memoirist Frances Greenslade (A Pilgrim in Ireland, By the Secret Ladder) has a debut novel out this August. Shelter (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl.) is a coming of age story about two sisters searching for their mother, who abandoned them after their father was killed in a logging accident.

Not one, but two novels this season extend the burgeoning CanLit focus on towns that have been/are about to be flooded (after Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists, Anne Michaels’ The Winter Vault, and Michael V. Smith’s Progress). Tristan Hughes’s Eye Lake (Coach House, $19.95 pa., Oct.) is about the town of Crooked River, Ontario. Named for a river that was diverted to make way for a mine, the town harbours secrets that surface when the river reclaims its original course. • And in September, Goose Lane Editions will publish Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned ($19.95 pa.), about the suspicions, secrets, and emotions that flare up when the township of Haverton is scheduled to be flooded to allow for the construction of a massive dam.

Edward Riche follows up his Thomas Head Raddall Award winner The Nine Planets with Easy to Like (House of Anansi Press, $29.95 cl., Sept.), a satire about a screenwriter and oenophile who dreams of travelling to Paris, but is trapped in Canada by an expired passport and a growing Hollywood scandal. Relocating to Toronto, he bluffs his way into the upper echelons of the CBC. • Former president and CEO of Penguin Canada, David Davidar was forced out of his position under a cloud of scandal after accusations of sexual harassment. Davidar’s new novel, Ithaca (M&S, $29.99 cl., Oct.), is, perhaps not coincidentally, about the rise and fall of a publishing star.

Canadian literary icon Michel Tremblay returns with a new novel, the first in a trilogy. Set in 1913, Crossing the Continent (Talonbooks, $18.95 pa., Oct.) takes the author’s characters out of Quebec for the first time, to tell the backstory of the people who populate his Chroniques du Plateau-Mont-Royal series. Long-time Tremblay collaborator Sheila Fischman translates.

A resident of St. John’s, Newfoundland, lately one of the most fertile spots for Canadian writing, Michelle Butler Hallett crafts genre-busting stories and novels that frequently experiment with gender and perspective. Her new novel, Deluded Your Sailors (Creative Book Publishing, $21.95 pa., Sept.), focuses on the culture industry from the perspective of Nichole Wright, who makes a discovery that puts a government-funded tourism project in jeopardy, and a shape-shifting minister named Elias Winslow. • Another Newfoundland native, Kate Story, has a novel out with Creative this season. The follow-up to 2008’s Blasted, Wrecked Upon This Shore ($21.95 pa., Sept.) tells the story of Pearl Lewis, an emotionally damaged, charismatic woman who is seen at different stages in her life.

In 1972, Christina Parr returns to her hometown of Parr’s Landing, a place she fled years earlier. The dirty secret of Parr’s Landing? A 300-year-old vampire resides in the caves of the remote mining town. Christina learns why she should have stayed away in Michael Rowe’s Enter, Night (ChiZine Publications, $17.95 pa., Oct.). • English literature professor Janey Erlickson struggles to make headway in her academic career while caring for a tyrannical toddler in Sue Sorensen’s comic novel A Large Harmonium (Coteau Books, $21 pa., Sept.). • Paul Brenner, a Vancouver lawyer, dines with his son, Daniel, one Friday evening. The next day, Brenner receives word that his son has been murdered. Hold Me Now (Freehand Books, $21.95 pa., Oct.), the first novel from Stephen Gauer, examines a father’s grief and a lawyer’s faith in the legal system.

SHORT FICTION

Anyone who has ever wondered what might transpire if the author of Bigfoot’s autobiography were to illustrate a story collection by Canada’s reigning postmodern ironist can stop wondering. October sees the publication of Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People (Random House Canada, $24 cl.), the first collaboration between author Douglas Coupland and well-known illustrator Graham Roumieu.

D.W. Wilson currently lives in London, England, but is a native of B.C.’s Kootenay Valley. The winner of the inaugural Man Booker Prize Scholarship from the University of East Anglia, Wilson’s debut collection, Once You Break a Knuckle (Hamish Hamilton Canada, $32 cl., Sept.), is a suite of stories about good people doing bad things.

Novelist Anne DeGrace has her first collection of short stories on tap for September. Flying with Amelia (McArthur & Company, $29.95 cl.) spans the 20th century and crosses vast swathes of territory. Wireless telegraphy, German POWs in Manitoba, the Great Depression, and the FLQ crisis all crop up in her stories. • David Whitton’s story “Twilight of the Gods” was included in the 2010 sci-fi anthology Darwin’s Bastards. The story also appears in Whitton’s first solo collection, The Reverse Cowgirl (Freehand, $21.95 pa., Oct.), which sports the most sexually suggestive title for a collection of CanLit stories since Pasha Malla’s The Withdrawal Method.

Toronto writer Rebecca Rosenblum follows up her Metcalf-Rooke Award–winning debut collection Once (a Q&Q book of the year for 2009) with The Big Dream (Biblioasis, $19.95 pa., Sept.), a collection of linked stories about the lives of workers at Dream, Inc., a lifestyle-magazine publisher. • The Maladjusted (Thistledown Press, $18.95 pa., Sept.), Toronto writer Derek Hayes’ debut collection, focuses on people who run afoul of the dictates of polite society. • Also from Thistledown, Britt Holmström’s Leaving Berlin ($18.95 pa., Sept.) examines contemporary women in both Canadian and European settings.

The fine print: Q&Q’s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have appeared in previous previews do not appear here.

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Daily links round-up: Free Kindles, James Frey, and more

Sundry links from around the Web:

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Kobo celebrates e-book week with a round of financing

Kobo today announced it has closed a new round of financing.

The amount of the Series C investment has not been disclosed, but in a statement, the Toronto-based e-publishing company says, “Indigo Books & Music Inc., Kobo’s founding shareholder, invested in this round and maintains majority ownership.”

In December, Kobo raised $16-million from a group of investors that included Indigo, Cheung Kong Holdings, the U.S.-based Borders Group, and REDgroup Retail, which operates Australia’s Angus & Robertson and Borders chains. In the last month, both Borders and REDgroup have filed for bankruptcy protection. There was no mention of either company in Kobo’s statement, which says it plans to use the funding to support “growth in the worldwide eReading market through continued product innovation in the eReading experience and international expansion with new distribution partners, support for a wide range of languages and the world’s best content.”

The announcement arrives during Read an E-Book Week (March 6-12), which celebrates 40 years since Project Gutenberg founder Michael Hart entered text from the U.S. Declaration of Independence into a Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer.

In a guest blog post for Kobo, Hart predicts that in another 10 years one billion e-books will be available for download.

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Borders Australia updates creditors and unpaid staff

Administrators for Australia’s bankrupt REDgroup Retail, the company that owns book retail chains Borders, Whitcoulls, and Angus & Roberstson, held their first creditors’ meetings on Monday in Melbourne and Auckland, New Zealand.

Steve Sherman, from bankruptcy administrator Ferrier Hodgson, told attendees that the bookseller had close to $170 million AUD in debt (approximately $168 million Cdn.) and $6.4 million in cash, when the group entered voluntary administration as of Feb. 17.

Australian website Bookseller+Publisher reports that unsecured creditors, including publishers, are owed $44 million (REDgroup staff is currently owed $7.8 million AUD). The only secured creditor is REDgroup’s owner, private equity group Pacific Equity Partners, which is owed $118 million AUD. According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, “The 80 creditors also heard Borders was holding $45 million in stock and had only $1 million in the bank, while Angus & Robertson’s bank balance was $2.9 million.”

Within the next three days, a decision will be made as to which of the 169 Angus & Robertson, 67 Whitcoulls, and 26 Borders stores will close.

No official word yet on how the bankruptcies will affect Kobo. The Canadian e-book retailer is part owned by REDgroup and Borders U.S. (unrelated to Borders Australia), which declared bankruptcy on Feb. 16.

In Australia, Kobo eReaders are exclusively sold through Borders retail stores. In the U.S. the devices are also available at Walmart. Both the Kobo eReaders and e-books can still be purchased through borders.com.au and borders.com.

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Unpublished Patrick White novel to not be unpublished

First a cache of Dashiell Hammett stories is uncovered among the late author’s papers in Texas. Then a novel by the late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño gets serialized in the pages of the Paris Review. Now news breaks that a novel by Patrick White, considered by many to be Australia’s finest writer, will be published in 2012, the centenary of the author’s birth. Called The Hanging Garden, the novel was among a trove of papers that literary executor Barbara Mobbs was instructed to burn after the author’s death. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mobbs vacillated for more than a decade before deciding that the book deserves to see the light of day.

From the SMH:

Last year, Sydney University academics Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby had the handwritten manuscript transcribed with funding from an Australian Research Council grant.

Ms Mobbs had the typescript in January. She read, consulted, and read again.

The decision was made about 10 days ago.

Just who will publish The Hanging Garden is now up in the air after Random House jumped the gun by announcing its appearance.

In deciding not to destroy White’s work despite the author’s stated demands, Mobbs joins the likes of Max Brod, who allowed Franz Kafka’s work to appear following the author’s death, and Dimitri Nabokov, who decided to overrule his father Vladimir’s wishes and give permission for the author’s final, unfinished book, The Original of Laura, to be published last year.

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

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Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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