Reading to us from “the very, very beginning of the book,” Guy Gavriel Kay never fails to stir us with his incomparably delightful and thoughtful words and ideas. In conversation with Shelley Youngblut from his home in Toronto, GGK shares his gorgeous, highly anticipated new book All the Seas of the World. His Big Generous Brain is a wonderful and illuminating place to spend an hour; thank you for joining us.

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For many authors, the cancellation of traditional, cross-country book tours has been a challenge and a disappointment. For others, it’s been a surprisingly rich era to release a new book into a world hungrier than ever for connection and meaning. In a characteristically insightful and hopeful essay for Lit Hub, GGK weighs the decline of the in-person tour against its new virtual iteration and finds gold.


As meticulous as he is imaginative, GGK gives it up to a cherished friend and fellow writer — the late Scottish novelist Dorothy Dunnett — who was, he says, “famously, magnificently disciplined in her research” to a point that goes well beyond his own dive into the archives. While Kay prefers a 20-degree skew from an historical figure, he marvels at Dunnett’s devotion to “finding out the weather on a Tuesday in 1742.”


GGK’s No. 1 fan was his mother, Sybil, who passed away last summer at the age of 92. She read everything her son wrote and was his first phone call as the reviews for every new book poured in. He and his brothers crafted an obituary for their mom that gives us an unforgettable glimpse of the strong, artistic woman she was — and, perhaps, explains GGK’s own passionate, inquisitive nature.


GGK’s office is an admirably organized reflection of his mind palace full of poetry, reference books and Moleskine notebooks of hand-written bits and bobs of brilliance. Here, he explains how he keeps his complex web of characters and plots straight in his mind as he writes.

Guy Gavriel Kay's Process


Wordfesters who were lucky enough to enjoy a whisky tasting with GGK in person a couple of years ago will be happy to know that the author remains an engaged aficionado of single malts as well as of a perfectly mixed negroni. A Toronto bar, Famous Last Words, who names their drinks after books, is currently working on a cocktail to celebrate All the Seas of the World. Stay tuned, and expect a blood orange twist.

Buy the Book!

We are grateful to Penguin Random House Canada for making it possible for us to connect you with one of the world's most wide-ranging thinkers.

The book is the t-shirt you desperately want after every show. Support our partners at the links below.

Owl's Nest Books (Calgary) | Shelf Life Books (Calgary) | Audreys Books (Edmonton) | Glass Bookshop (Edmonton) | Flying Books (Ontario) | Massy Books (B.C.) | Indigo Calgary Public Library


Way We Stay Rooted - Teaser

Wordfest’s Spring storytelling event The Way We Stay Rooted presents three writers whose books take us to the heart of the forest: Lyndsie Bourgon, Cal Flynn, and David George Haskell. Each will perform an open-mic style monologue followed by a Q & A with series host, Pam Rocker. (Thursday, June 9 @ 7 PM - 8 :15 PM MT. ONLINE).

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