Feast of the Long Shadows

I think I want to give this Feast of Long Shadows a try. But with which film should I start the tradition?

The Incredibly Strange Creature

Everyone reading this already knows that Halloween is my favorite holiday, right? And that the worst day of the year, at least in some respects, is November 1st, because it means the longest possible time until more Halloween. Well, it’s not quite two Halloweens in a year, but there’s apparently an Internet initiative underway to turn May 26-27 (or more specifically, the night in-between the two) into the Feast of the Long Shadows.

The name comes from a 1983 movie called House of the Long Shadows. By all accounts it isn’t very good (though I’ll admit that I’ve yet to see it, myself), but it has the distinction of starring Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee. Not just some of the greatest actors ever to be associated chiefly with the Gothic and horror genre, but also some of the genre’s greatest statesmen. We may never see their like…

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Shutting Down To Start Up Again

I don’t get sick often, but when I do get a cold or flu…it’s usually a doozy. I didn’t do much of anything for the first two weeks of March. I couldn’t even post a March goals blog–which is good, I guess. I wouldn’t have succeeded on any of them.

I did have a number of blogs in the works before this little revelation (yeah, sure you did) but I’ll get to them (yeah, sure you will).

Just before my cold/flu/plague hit, I was reading writing buddy Andy Penn Romine’s blog over at Inkpunks about taking a break and recharging the batteries. It’s a good one, and well worth checking out. (Pretty much any Inkpunks blog has an interesting nugget for the up and coming writer–or even more established folks.) That blog got me thinking that I haven’t been having a lot of fun lately. Between recovering from Retail Hell (you might call it Christmas) and writing work, I’ve been a bit of a grump.

So the break, while unplanned, wasn’t a bad thing. I’m back on track with my Work in Progress and feeling energized about my writing again. Now to re-energize the blog! Coming up on April 6th, as a part of her A Turn of Light blog tour is a guest post from Aurora Award winner, Julie E. Czerneda. I’m thinking of starting to post reviews–not just books, but comics, movies, TV, whatever–I’m working on one now for J.M. Frey’s Triptych.

There will also be a goals post for April (I promise!).

Write on!

An Embarassment of Riches, and Some Notes on Blind Spots and Deadlines

The CanSpec list is looking for any Prix Aurora eligible works before the end of the nomination deadline: April 15th.

The Can Spec Fic List

With about three weeks to go before the nomination deadline for the 2012 Aurora Awards closes, there’s still time to finalize your choices and send them off if you haven’t already sent in your nominating ballot. This, assuming that, like me, you leave doing this to the last minute.

Making final decisions is no easy task this year given the body of work to choose from. And, of course, since the list here isn’t complete, there’s so much more out there that you could potentially be nominating than is readily apparent if you’re just going by what’s up on the CSFL.

And I do feel badly about that because for all the work I, and everyone who has contributed information to this list, have done, the list does still have some noticeable gaps. They’re more evident in some categories than others, and those gaps largely relate to aspects of the…

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Strange Bedfellows

Regular readers here know I’m quite fond of Kickstarter and Indiegogo as a means for creative types to get their projects off the ground.

The current Indiegogo campaign I’m really excited about is for Strange Bedfellows. Author, editor (and now publisher at Bundoran Press) Hayden Trenholm is very close to getting his second anthology of political science fiction tales funded. I’ve chipped in to make this project happen because while I want to sell a story to Hayden, I also really want to read this anthology.

Strange Bedfellows — as in ‘politics makes strange bedfellows’ — will seek short fiction from the best writers in the field: writers who are passionate about the importance of ideology and political action as a source of solutions as well as problems.

As a long-time political analyst and advisor and an award winning SF writer and editor, Hayden Trenholm is perfectly placed to edit this 80,000-word anthology.

Hayden is also a familiar face at KeyCon, Winnipeg’s science fiction and fantasy convention and is planning on attending this year, so if you’re a science fiction writer in Winnipeg, this is the perfect chance to talk to an editor before you write your story and submit.

Below is an interview I did with Hayden about his writing and his then latest novel, Steel Whispers.

CG: Why Calgary? What made that city the perfect home for Frank Steele and the SDU?

HT: I lived in Calgary for over ten years so I knew it pretty well physically. A number of the locales — such as the Garry Theatre and Kaos Jazz bar were places I actually worked in when I was living as an artist. That made writing about it quite easy in the write what you know sense. But Calgary also has this wild west quality — as much imagined as real — and an admiration for corporations and right wing politics that made it perfect as a place that would somehow survive and even, for some at least, thrive in a world gone to hell. They say Calgary has more churches per capita than any city in Canada, but it also has more liquor stores and porn shops. Projecting that sense of anarchy and entitled class inequality — combined with the really fundamental goodness of many of the people who live there — into the future seemed natural.

CG: You make use of the first person point of view for the character of Frank Steele, the quintessential hard-boiled detective, but the remainder of your characters are presented in the third person. Why did you decide to alternate back and forth in this manner?

HT: There were several reasons to do this. First, Frank to work as a noir character had to be in the first person but the story I was writing was bigger than he could encompass by himself. Second, thematically Defining Diana was about the self, Steel Whispers about the family so using multiple points of view allowed me to explore how slippery both those concepts are. A first person narrator is always assumed to be reliable — and Frank is reliable as far as that goes. But he is also biased and sees the world through a very particular lens. By contrasting his views and values with those of other characters I got to show that all narrative — especially our narrative about our selves and our families — is essentially suspect. Third, people kept telling me it couldn’t be done. i can be a little stubborn that way.

CG: The Singularity, the analogy between the breakdown of modern physics near a gravitational singularity and the drastic change in society thought would occur following an intelligence explosion has been a trope of recent science fiction since it was popularized by Vernor Vinge in 1993. You name one of your corporations — a company that has seemingly done the impossible– for it in Steel Whispers. Do you worry that technology will advance beyond our ability to understand it? Is it something you considered in building your world of 2044?

HT: There are huge pieces of technology that most people don’t understand NOW and yet most people muddle along quite well. Take an MRI or any number of other scanning devices. We happily slide into them and let the technicians take their pictures but have no idea what the images actually show. Even the technicians aren’t always sure. Consider for a moment a peasant in rural Nepal or central Africa who has never used a telephone let alone a computer. Hasn’t the Singularity already happened for them? Or how about the 15% of Americans who don’t know that telephones run on electricity? I generally take the view that we, as individuals, learn exactly as much technology as we need to fulfill our desires. My 84-year old mother-in-law uses e-mail and Excel and is on Facebook because it keeps her from being isolated. My boss refuses to learn how to retrieve his cell phone messages because he sees his cell as being for his convenience not that of those who want to call him. Oddly enough, despite the dystopic nature of my novels, I’m generally an optimist — up to a point. The future will be better than the past but the benefits of that future may not benefit everyone equally — unless we make it so.

CG: You name drop Robert J. Sawyer — even having Frank Steele reading one of his novels. Sawyer is known in fandom circles not only for his passion for good science fiction but also for his mentorship of other writers. What has Rob meant to your career?

HT: First and foremost, Rob is a great friend. It’s true that he has been very supportive of me and a lot of other writers but he’s also been a friend to many of us in the truest sense of the word — someone whose company you value for its own sake rather than for the help it might be to you. But Rob deserves all the credit and accolades he gets — both for his work and for his mentoring and supporting other writers. And I will say I’ve learned almost everything I know about being a ‘professional writer’ in all senses of the term.

CG: You are a winner of Anvil Press’ 3-Day novel contest. What kind of madness does it take to attempt this, let alone to win?

HT: That was the first long piece of fiction I ever wrote so maybe it requires an absolute lack of knowledge about how impossible a task it is. I wrote A Circle of Birds in 1992, just after i moved to Calgary to become a writer. I had a couple of plays under my belt and a few short stories — none of them really good. I decided to try the contest as a way of kick starting my learning process. I was running a lot those days and actually composed the story during long runs along the Bow River. Big chunks of the story are sort of magic realist interpretations of episodes in my own and my father’s life — plus a big dollop of sex and violence that came out of wherever those things come. So, when I sat down to write it — with nothing more than a two page outline in front of me — the first 10000 words came pretty easy. After that I kept writing until I was finished the chapters I had outlined. I guess it worked.

CG: Do you have a favourite fictional detective?

HT: Lots. I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan (I have a Holmes story in the new Gaslight Grotesque collection coming out from EDGE this fall) but I’m also fond of Poirot and Nick Charles from The Thin Man — though I’m not sure if I like the light hearted film version or the darker literary version better. And lets not forget Phillip Marlowe and Joe Leaphorn.

CG: If you could have any piece of tech from one of your novels, what would it be?

HT: One of the cars owned by the Singh Wannamaker Detective Agency.

CG: You won the Aurora for your short story “Like Water in the Desert“, and Defining Diana was shortlisted for the award as well. How important is it in your mind to celebrate Canadian science fiction and fantasy? What do you think would mean more to you, the Aurora, chosen largely by fans, or the Sunburst, which is a juried prize chosen by your peers?

HT: Can’t I have both? Juried awards have more prestige but it still comes down to the opinion of the people on the jury — a voting block of five. Fans have a special place in SF and F — unlike any other genre — so I think getting an award from them does mean a bit more to me. But I’d still like both.

CG: You have one more novel planned in The Steele Chronicles, after that, what’s next?

HT: As I answer these questions I’m about 15000 words in Stealing Home, so it is hard to think about the next thing. However, I just finished the first draft of a young adult SF novel so I’ll probably go back to that once Stealing Home is done. Then I have this big environmental collapse and recovery book I’ve been making notes on — something set about two hundred years in the future.

Manitoba Book Awards Shortlists

The Shortlists for the 2013 Manitoba Book Awards were released yesterday and I was (and remain) absolutely gobsmacked to see Thunder Road show up three times. I am trying to be realistic about my chances. I mean, I share the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction shortlist with three former Book of the Year winners and two of this year’s Book of the Year nominees.

I’d like to give big congratulations to my pal Karen Dudley and my editor Wayne Tefs on their nominations, as well as to Jamis Paulson and Sharon Caseburg for making Thunder Road look as good as it did. It is also great to see so many of my fellow Turnstone Press authors nominated for their excellent work.

Finally, congrats to all the nominees, I am honoured to be in your excellent company, and thank you to the jurors, it’s not an easy job having to choose who makes up those shortlists.

If you’re reading this, I hope you can attend the awards. I’d love to share a drink of commiseration/celebration with you.

For Immediate Release – March 14, 2013

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA – The Manitoba Writers’ Guild and the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers are pleased to announce the Manitoba Book Awards shortlists. The awards will be presented at the Manitoba Book Awards gala, on Sunday April 28th at the West End Cultural Centre and hosted by Ismaila Alfa.  Doors open at 7:15 p.m., with the ceremony beginning at 8:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The shortlists and recipients are selected by a variety of juries, comprised of writers, publishers and other book industry personnel from across Canada.

And the nominees are…

McNally Robinson Book of the Year

  • The Age of Hope by David Bergen, published by Harper Collins Canada
  • Dating by Dave Williamson, published by Turnstone Press
  • The House on Sugarbush Road by Méira Cook, published by Enfield & Wizenty, an imprint of Great Plains Publications
  • Imagining Winnipeg: History through the Photographs of L.B. Foote, by Esyllt W. Jones, published by University of Manitoba Press
  • Monstrance by Sarah Klassen, published by Turnstone Press
  • Whitetail Shooting Gallery by Annette Lapointe, published by Anvil Press

Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction

  • Creation and Transformation: Defining Movements in Inuit Art by Darlene Coward Wight, published by Douglas and MacIntyre and the Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • Dams of Contention by Bill Redekop, published by Heartland Associates    
  • On the Fly: A Hockey Fan’s View from the ‘Peg by Wayne Tefs, published by Turnstone Press    
  • Racialized Policing by Elizabeth Comack, published by Fernwood Publishing

Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry/Prix Lansdowne de poésie

  • Marchand d’intensité by Laurent Poliquin, published by L’Harmattan
  • Monstrance by Sarah Klassen, published by Turnstone Press
  • The Politics of Knives by Jonathan Ballpublished by Coach House Books

Best Illustrated Book of the Year

  • 7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga by David Alexander Robertson, illustrations by Scott B. Henderson, design by Relish New Brand Experience, published by Highwater Press, an imprint of Portage & Main Press.
  • Imagining Winnipeg: History through the Photographs of L.B. Foote, by Esyllt W. Jones, design by Doowah Design, published by University of Manitoba Press
  • Mike Grandmaison’s Prairie and Beyond, photographs by Mike Grandmaison, design by Jamis Paulson, published by Turnstone Press
  • Romulus + Remus: Issue 1 written, illustrated, and published by Scott Ford

Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award

  • The Age of Hope by David Bergen, published by Harper Collins
  • Dating: A Novel by Dave Williamson, published by Turnstone Press
  • Imagining Winnipeg: History Through the Photographs of L. B. Foote by Esyllt W. Jones, published by University of Manitoba Press
  • What You Get at Home by Dora Dueck, published by Turnstone Press

Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book

  • All Things Considered by Joan-Dianne Smith, published by Goldfish Publishing
  • Sonar by Kristian Enright, published by Turnstone Press
  • Thunder Road by Chadwick Ginther, published by Ravenstone, an imprint of Turnstone Press

John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer

  • Kristian Enright
  • Kevin Marc Fournier
  • Katherena Vermette

Manuela Dias Book Design of the Year

  • Bedtime Stories for the Edge of the World by Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, design by Lisa Friesen (Winnipeg Art Gallery), calligraphy by Nicole Coulson, published by ARP Books
  • I Know Who You Remind Me Of, stories by Naomi K. Lewis, design by Relish New Brand Experience, published by Enfield & Wizenty, an imprint of Great Plains Publications
  • The Marsh Keepers Journey: the Story of Ducks Unlimited Canada by Bruce Batt, design by Jeope Wolfe, published by Ducks Unlimited Canada.
  • Warehouse Journal Vol.21 co-edited by Nicole Hunt and Brandon Bergem, designed and published by the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture

The Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

  • The Age of Hope by David Bergen, published by Harper Collins Canada
  • Eleven Pipers Piping by C.C. Benison, published by Doubleday Canada
  • The House on Sugarbush Road by Méira Cook, published by Enfield & Wizenty, an imprint of Great Plains Publications
  • The Only Man in the World by Faith Johnston, published by Turnstone Press
  • Thunder Road by Chadwick Ginther, published by Ravenstone, an imprint of Turnstone Press
  • What You Get at Home by Dora Dueck, published by Turnstone Press

Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher

  • Dams of Contention: The Rafferty-Alameda Story and the Birth of Canadian Environmental Law by Bill Redekop, design by Dawn Huck, published by Heartland Associates
  • Food for the Gods: An Epikurean Epic by Karen Dudley, cover design by Doowah Design, published by Ravenstone, an imprint of Turnstone Press
  • Imagining Winnipeg: History Through the Photographs of L.B. Foote by Esyllt W. Jones, design by Doowah Design, published by University of Manitoba Press
  • Mike Grandmaison’s Prairie and Beyond, photographs by Mike Grandmaison, text by Jan Volney, design by Jamis Paulson, published by Turnstone Press
  • Thunder Road by Chadwick Ginther, cover design by Jamis Paulson, interior design by Sharon Caseburg, published by Ravenstone, an imprint of Turnstone Press

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Older Category

  • 7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga by David Alexander Robertson, published by Highwater Press, an imprint of Portage & Main Press
  • The Green-Eyed Queen of Suicide City by Kevin Marc Fournier, published by Great Plains Teen Fiction
  • The Last Song by Eva Wiseman, published by Tundra Books

Le Prix littéraire Rue-Deschambault

  • Les enfants de Tantale par Lise Gaboury-Diallo, publié par  Les Éditions du Blé
  • Poème Pierre Prière par J.R. Léveillé, publié par Les Éditions du Blé
  • La Révolution Tranquille par Raymond M. Hebert, publié par Les Éditions du Blé
  • Li Rvinant par Rhéal Cenerini, publié par Les Éditions du Blé

The administrators of the Manitoba Book Awards gratefully acknowledge the support of the following Book Awards partners: Aqua Books, the Canada Council for the Arts, Friesens, the Manitoba Arts Council, the Manitoba Foundation for the Arts, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, McNally Robinson Booksellers, the Winnipeg Arts Council, and The Winnipeg Foundation.

The full shortlist will also be available at:http://www.manitobawritersguild.com

For more information please contact:

Natasha Peterson



Ferocious Opening

I just found out that a friend of a friend has a movie opening in Winnipeg tonight. Pretty cool stuff!

Ferocious is Robert Cuffley’s third feature and was filmed on location in Saskatoon. Go Canadian indie film!

Ferocious is about Leigh Parrish (Amanda Crew), a likeable, small-town girl, now famous actress, who takes increasingly drastic steps to protect her fame. Michael Eklund plays Eric, a bartender and former boyfriend of the long-gone celebrity. Kim Coates plays Maurice, the sleazy nightclub owner that has been extorting cash from the rising celebrity over an unsavoury secret Leigh is determined to bury forever.

Ferocious opens in theatres in Winnipeg Friday March 15th at the Landmark Cinema 8 Theatre (301 Notre Dame Ave).