Workshop And Reading In Thompson

Huge thanks to the City of Thompson, The Manitoba Writers’ Guild and Calm Air for inviting me to present a fantasy and horror writing workshop, and for making this trip possible! It’s some auspicious timing also, what with the 22nd being the 20th anniversary of the first Hellboy comic!

I’ll also be doing a reading and Q & A at the City of Thompson Public Library, Friday March 21st at 6pm. Thank you, Thompson Public for the invitation.

writingworkshop_poster_proof2

Northern Manitoba was a huge inspiration in the writing of Thunder Road, and so while I’m heading up north to teach, I’m also hoping to come home with some more stories. I promised one of my Twitter followers that I’d write something set in her home town some day…

Write on!

Weekend Events

I am very excited to join these fine (and utterly horrific) fellows on Friday in a panel moderated by Maurice Mierau and sponsored by ACI Manitoba and the Manitoba Writers’ Guild!

David Annandale is the author of Gethsemane Hall, The Death of Antagonis, and the Jen Blaylock thrillers (also published by Ravenstone Books).

Michael Rowe is the Aurora and Sunburst Award nominated author of Enter, Night. He is in Winnipeg to launch his latest novel, Wild Fell.

Horror Poster

Then on Saturday I’ll be signing copies of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues at McNally Robinson Booksellers from 2-4 pm. Hope to see you there!

Write on!

An Interview With Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia bought one of my short stories for the Fungi anthology she edited with Orrin Grey, and so it was an absolute pleasure to meet her at Keycon 30. I’m very excited about her latest project, Young Blood, a YA vampire novel set in Mexico. She’s currently crowdfunding the book on Indiegogo. I hope you’ll consider donating, there’s still ten days left to make this book happen and I really want to read it.

CG: Young Blood started out as a short story. Why did you decide to expand it into a novel?

SMG: I worked on two previous novels that didn’t pan out and I wanted to try something different, something that was short and had more clear-cut fantastic elements. I decided “A Puddle of Blood” could be extended and work as a YA, and it had been well received, so it seemed like a natural fit and I didn’t think there was anything like it around, so it might have some potential to attract readers.

CG: What appeals to you most about vampires as a monster in general, and your vampires in particular?

SMG: I think vampires are creepy fuckers. Nowadays they are popular romantic heroes, but if you look at legends and folklore, they are scary things. Emblems of the plague. You watch Nosferatu, the black and white version or the colour remake, and even though the vampire seems to desire the leading lady, it is NOT the kind of relationship you’d like to be in. It is deadly. Nosferatu is a horrid-looking thing. Those vampires appeal to me more than the romantic ones.

Even with the romantic ones, there are details that are ignored which I find disturbing. Why would a 100 year-old creature want to spend his life in high school, meeting teenagers? There’s a disturbing thing there. Predator double time.

As for my vampires, Atl is inspired by Caribbean and Latin American folklore. I like having a vampire that is a bit different and isn’t romantic. Some of the other vampires in the book take after European vampires, but they are not romantic, either. It was fun having these creatures going around Mexico City and fighting each other.

CG: Why do you feel it’s important to set fiction outside of the big US cities where we commonly see it?

SMG: I just think it’s odd that everything happens in the US. Every single time an alien ship it lands it’s in New York or Washington. Let’s shuffle it around, no? Also, the reactions of the people in a different cultural setting can be very interesting. If you have aliens walking through the slums of Mexico, I think you’d get a very different reaction. I imagine that if they tried to make it into Tepito, a famous low-class, tough neighborhoud (since the time of the Aztecs), they’d come out dead. There are many untapped possibilities when you go for someone who is not the usual protagonist or you transport the action to a setting you normally don’t see.

That’s why Domingo collects garbage. I wanted to have a protagonist who was not upper class or white or emo. Someone who isn’t heroic in the oh-you-are-the-chosen-one kind of way, but still has street smarts and is brave in his own way. And I wanted to put him against Atl, who is older, more sophisticated, more sure of herself, so that we don’t have the older suave male and the younger naive woman.

CG: I’ve only read the sample chapters so far, but I love your portrayal of Mexico City. How did you capture its flavour?

SMG: Thanks. Mexico City is an awesome city. It’s huge. You can find anything in the world there. It’s also ugly as hell. It’s also beautiful. You can walk into 18th century houses and brand new highrises. It’s a labyrinth. It’s a great monster. I love and hate it. I hope some of those feelings come through in the text: what it’s like taking the subway, walking through some of the streets and the like.

CG: What was the most interesting piece of research you found while working on Young Blood?

SMG: I read a lot about the current crime troubles in Mexico, the narco stuff. It’s quite disturbing. If you think fiction is bad, try browsing through some newspaper articles. In a way, writing about these kind of crimes is a bit cathartic because it’s just so freaking scary knowing what’s going on in the place where I was born. I can process the horrors better this way, if it makes any sense.

Anyway, the most interesting factoid is how the narco system began. It started in the 1940s. Farmers in Sinaloa started growing opium poppies. The government of the United States needed an alternate supply of morphine during World War II. They couldn’t get it from Asia due to the war. So they encouraged farmers to grow it for them. They planted the seeds of the cartels. Though the United States loves to talk about the War on Drugs, they got us started on this path.

CG: Do you have any further plans for Atl, Domingo, and Rodrigo if Young Blood gets funded?

SMG: I don’t like doing multi-series books, so this will be the end of them. Unless someone wants a graphic novel. Then GMB Chomichuk can draw it.

CG: I’d definitely buy that! Thanks, Silvia, and good luck with Young Blood!

You can read Chapter 1, 2, and 3 on Silvia’s website. Here’s the trailer for Young Blood:

Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia lives in beautiful British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes speculative fiction (from magic realism to horror). Her short stories have appeared in places such as Fantasy Magazine, The Book of Cthulhu, Imaginarium 2012The Best Canadian Speculative Writing and Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction. Her first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, is out in 2013.

Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian micro-publishing venture specializing in horror and dark speculative fiction. The Innsmouth Free Press website features daily non-fiction and tri-annual fiction issues. Innsmouth Free Press publishes several  high-quality anthologies and novels during the year.

She has co-edited the anthologies Historical LovecraftFuture LovecraftCandle in the Attic Windowand Fungi. The upcoming Dead North will be the first anthology she edited solo.

In 2011, Silvia won the Carter V. Cooper Memorial Prize (in the Emerging Writer category), sponsored by Gloria Vanderbilt and Exile Quarterly. She was also a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize.

To contact Silvia e-mail her at silvia AT silviamoreno-garcia DOT com. You can also find her on Twitterand Google+.

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).

Last Recommended Reading Post For A While…

Aside

My previous recommended reading post featured all Canadian authors, but I did read a bit outside of my nation in 2012. In the spirit of fairness, here is some work I really enjoyed by American and U.K. writers.

  • Folly of the World, Jesse Bullington. Orbit Books, December 2012
  • The Steel Seraglio, Mike Carey, Linda Carey, Louise Carey. CZP, April 2012
  • Silver, Rhiannon Held. Tor Books, June 2012
  • Libriomancer, Jim C. Hines. DAW, August 2012
  • The Warlock’s Curse, M.K. Hobson. Tesla, October 2012
  • Soul Trade, Caitlin Kittredge. St. Martin’s Press, September 2012
  • Greatshadow, James Maxey. Solaris Books, January 2012.
  • Discount Armageddon, Seanan McGuire. DAW Books, March 2012
  • Forged in Fire, J.A. Pitts. Tor Books, June 2012
  • This is Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman. CZP, November 2012
  • A Pretty Mouth, Molly Tanzer. Lazy Fascist September 2012

Most of the short fiction I read in 2012 was Canadian, but here’s a couple of American standouts from Fungi:

  • “Last Bloom on the Sage”, Andrew Penn Romine, Fungi, Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Orrin Grey eds., Innsmouth Free Press, December 2012
  • “Tubby McMungus, Fat From Fungus”, Molly Tanzer & Jesse Bullington, Fungi, Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Orrin Grey eds., Innsmouth Free Press, December 2012

In The Spirit of Christmas, Have A Free Story

A few years ago, I extended a challenge to my writing group for our December meeting: write a 500 word Christmas-themed fantasy story. That meeting was mostly going to be a potluck anyway, so we agreed to read the stories aloud rather than critiquing them. Most of us played along, and it was a lot of fun (if you like stories about Christmas slashers and wishes gone wrong–apparently we had some issues with The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.).

So here is my contribution, which remains the first (and only) piece of flash fiction that I’ve written:

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Nicholas stepped nimbly over the coals, still smoldering, within the fireplace. He had years of practice, and nary an ash clung to his polished, gleaming black boot.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall. He smiled at the old joke. Practice.

But in all those years, this was something new. It was new, and that bothered him. He pulled the long parchment list from within his heavy coat. Checking it once, he didn’t like what he saw.

He checked it twice.

But there was no disputing it. This house wasn’t on his list. Nicholas shouldn’t have stopped here. There was no longer a reason for him to have stopped here. That poor little girl. He shook his head. There had been nothing he could have done. Not all wishes, he sighed ruefully, can be granted. And not all pains can be soothed with toys. It had broken his heart, what she had wished for, but it just wasn’t within his power to grant.

There were no decorations in this house. No tree. No garland. No mistletoe. Framed photographs lined the mantle of the fireplace, but no stockings dangled beneath the images of a once happy family.

Nicholas turned his back on the unhappy dwelling and started back towards the chimney. A creak on the stairs stopped him in his boots. It was a soft noise, followed by the shuffle of fabric over hardwood.

A child’s slippers.

“Santa?” a weak voice rasped from the stairs.

He couldn’t be seen, unless he chose to be. That was the one rule that governed, and protected him. Him, and the magic of Christmas both.

He often chose to be seen.

“Yes, my child,” Nicholas answered as he turned; ready to flash the hundred watt smile that would bring a rosy cheeked, dimpled grin to the girl’s face. Perhaps the list was mistaken?

The smile died as he saw her, now practically on top of him. She’d crossed the intervening distance between them in a flash. Her breath, coppery and rank, wafted over him, and her grip upon his mittened hand was too firm to shake.

“You didn’t bring me what I asked for last year,” she said petulantly as she pressed her tongue to an oversized canine. A bead of black blood welled up slowly from the small wound. “But someone did.”

Nicholas screamed as she jerked his head down by his snowy white beard. Blood sprayed across the girl’s little face.

His blood.

She lapped at the arterial spray, like an animal. Her face was a vision of ecstasy. His eyes stopped focusing as she whispered in his ear.

“Now every child in the whole world will get my wish.”

#

Later, in every house that still believed in such things – and there were many – children left out plates of homemade cookies, and tumblers of milk, beading with condensation. Wherever they had succumbed to slumber a voice whispered through teeth that glinted like knives, and a stained rusty beard.

“I never drink…milk.”

Fin

Chilling Tales And Apparitions Too…err 2

I just donated to Michael Kelly’s Apparitions 2 on Indiegogo.

Much like with my Kickstarter addiction, I am quite fond of this, the Canadian equivalent, and am hopeful that my streak of endorsing winners continues. I had a chance to interview Michael a while back, in fact, it was my first ever story for Prairie Books Now (it was also a lot of fun). I finally had a chance to Meet Michael in November during the 2012 World Fantasy Con. We also shared a table of contents in Tesseracts 16, and I can tell you, Michael is one hell of an author–and one hell of an editor.

Chilling Tales, also edited by Michael, was in my mind the strongest Canadian anthology of speculative fiction to come be released in 2011, and any number of its stories deserved a place on a year’s best list. If you’re into horror and crowdsourcing, Michael Kelly’s new anthology is definitely worth funding.

This interview originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Prairie books NOW.

chilling-tales

Chilling Tales Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd Did I Live

Michael Kelly, Editor

Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy

$14.95 pb, 224 pages

ISBN: 978-1-894063-52-4

Underneath that cool Canadian reserve, a dark heart beats, believes Michael Kelly, editor of Chilling Tales: Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd I Did Live.

Chilling Tales features stories from Canadian horror fiction mainstays Brett Alexander Savory, Sandra Kasturi, and Nancy Kilpatrick, as well as some of the nation’s brightest (or should that be darkest) up and comers such as Gemma Files. Robert J. Wiersema, best known for his literary fiction, leads off the collection with a honky-tonk infused ghost story.

Kelly sensed a distinctly Canadian worldview, a “tangible loneliness” and “disquieting solitude” permeating the stories of his collection. But he feels Canadian writers are “merely doing what comes naturally—in this vast, sprawling land of ice and prairies, of wind and rock and water, of major urban centres encroaching on the barrens with spreading tendrils—exploring the other, that vastness.”

Anthologies such as Chilling Tales have been something of a rarity, although Don Hutchinson’s Northern Frights series left “an indelible impression” upon Kelly.

“There’s no easy answer,” he says, of the dearth of all-Canadian horror collections. “Part of it, I surmise, might be that Canadian genre writing is somewhat marginalized by the bigger publishing houses.”

It’s no surprise to Kelly that the two most recent such volumes were published by Chilling Tales’s publisher, Brian Hades at Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy. “It is the smaller houses with an indie spirit that will take a chance on a project like this.”

Kelly felt it was time to showcase Canada’s dark heart. There was no open call for submissions; instead he went hunting for authors that “shared that strange dark worldview” he was conjuring.

“I also mentioned that they could recommend some authors to me, as well. It was a bit of word-of-mouth and also me soliciting authors I admired.”

A writer himself, the Pickering, Ontario-based, Shirley Jackson Award-nominated Kelly enjoyed the challenge of editing the collection.

“There’s a certain order to the stories, a flow, whether you’re moving from something short and shocking, to something literary and poetic, to something prosaic. It’s a balancing act,” he says. “When I’m writing fiction, I just want to tell a story. I’m writing for me, though, no one else. When I’m editing a commercial anthology, I’m cognizant of the reader.”

The result? An eminently readable, page turning collection, tales that leap from the page, burrowing into you. It is as if the authors are kids around a campfire, each trying to one up the other with the imaginatively macabre. From ghosts, to issues of faith, to the very unusual skin condition in David Nickle’s “Looker”, Chilling Tales has a velocity that keeps its reader huddled up for just one more story.

“I’m hoping this first volume will act as a benchmark for future volumes,” says Kelly. “I wanted to show that Canadian writers can be as literate, entertaining, edifying, and as scary as their contemporaries. Of course, I already knew that. Now, everyone will know.”

My World Fantasy Convention Roundup

Another World Fantasy Convention has come and gone, and as my blog readers seem to enjoy these reports (if my site stats are to be believed) here’s the WFC2012 report.

Better late than never, right?

World Fantasy is my favourite convention, hands down. Maybe I imprinted on it somehow, World Fantasy 2008 in Calgary was the first away from home conference I ever attended. I talked comic books with Tad Williams, football with George R.R. Martin and Hemingway with Joe Haldeman. I met tons of people who became good friends. That is bound to make an impression on a guy.

This year’s convention was also held in Canada, so I knew I’d also have a lot of friends to meet up with. It was an early start for me, as I flew off Thursday morning with friend and fellow Turnstone Press author, Karen Dudley. We’d hoped to meet up with another Manitoba writer, Shen Braun, who was arriving at the same time as us, but on a different flight, and split a cab from Pearson airport to the conference hotel (it was quite the jaunt as World Fantasy Toronto was actually in Richmond Hill, or so I kept being told). Unfortunately, Shen didn’t get in on time, but Karen and I did share the plane with Winnipeg writer Gerald Brandt. Even more luck, our mutual friends Eileen Bell and Ryan McFadden were on route to the conference and near the airport, so they swung by to pick us all up. It was a tight squeeze with five writers and their luggage in a Toyota Corolla, but we made it work.

Arriving at the hotel was a homecoming of sorts. Every time I turned around, there was someone else I knew. A great feeling. Over the weekend, I not only connected with friends who are scattered across the continent, but met many new friends.

After ditching our bags, we had to hustle to get through registration and grab our swag bags (the swag at WFC is truly epic, this is only what I could fit in my luggage, I left at least this much behind on the trade table.)

We had to hustle because Thursday night, Turnstone was sponsoring the Ravenstone Books Launch Party for Thunder Road and Food for the Gods. I’m glad the party was Thursday, it meant I didn’t have it hanging over my head for the entire weekend. I know the way I roll, and there was no way I’d have been able to relax and enjoy the convention until the launch was over. Marie Bilodeau from Ottawa served as our host and Bakka Phoenix was there to sell copies of our novels. We managed to get the room set up, and just finish having a bite to eat before it was time to open the doors and the worrying began. What if no one shows up? What if everyone shows up? Fortunately, we had just the right mix, the room was full, but not so packed that we couldn’t move about and mingle. I had a great time, signed a bunch of books, and met a few people I’d only know through Twitter or Facebook. It was over too soon, but it did teach me how stressful organizing an event can be. My hats off to people who do it all the time.

Friday:

I took in Julie Czerneda’s reading from her forthcoming fantasy novel, A Turn of Light. I’ve been curious about this one for a long time, as I’ve always had my feet deeper in fantasy than in science fiction, looking forward to reading the whole book. The samples Julie read were enough to entice me to read the book when it releases.

At my very first World Fantasy Con, I met Chandra Rooney. She was on a panel about writing tie-in fiction. I read her Tarot Cafe novel, The Wild Hunt, and interviewed her here. It was great to be able to chat for a bit after her reading. The samples Chandra read are unpublished right now, but you’re in for a treat when they do see the inside of bookstores.

I think the only panel I took in this year was Sandra Kasturi’s interviewing World Fantasy special guest, Tanya Huff. Sandra’s a riot and Tanya is also funny as hell, and a consummate pro to boot. She shared some great stories from her career with a packed and eager room. Good times.

Every World Fantasy Convention also includes a mass signing, putting every author in one big banquet room for two hours, and lets the signature hounds go wild. It was a better experience than I was expecting. I did actually sign some copies of Thunder Road, despite Fantasy giants like Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss being in the same room. I handed out a bunch of my temporary tattoos and had fun chatting with Neil Godbout from Prince George (who’s debut YA novel, Disintegrate, is well worth checking out) and Robert Sawyer.

After the signing had concluded I made my way up to the hospitality suites and flitted between the EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Fall launch, the Tor Books party and the Con Suite. I happened to be around when it was announced that James A. Moore had wrote a story about Dr. Doom and Barbie. There was a bet of some kind involved, I never did suss out all the details, something about 55$ and popcorn. James joked it was the best per word rate he’d received to date. Christopher Golden read the story aloud to a dozen or more listeners. The story, about 1200 words, complete with a beginning, middle, and end, was evidently written in about 45 minutes. It was amazing. James promised to put it up on his blog at some point. As soon as it surfaces, I’ll link to it, because it’s too good not to read.

I picked up a copy of Shanghai Steam (complete with an awesome story by my bud, Shen) and read the first five minutes of “Back in Black” from Tesseracts 16, joined by fellow contributors Michael Kelly, Sandra Kasturi, Adria Laycraft and Randy McCharles.

Saturday was mostly spent taking in readings:

James L. Sutter, author of Death’s Heretic and fiction editor at Paizo did a short reading, and then led a fun Q&A about writing and gaming with his audience. I’m still holding out hope that Paizo will let him write a novel set in his Distant Worlds Pathfinder Campaign setting. It’s may be a bit of a fringe product, but it was one of the coolest game accessories I’ve seen in years, and it was obvious James had a real passion for it.

Another Paizo author, Dave Gross, had the room next. Dave read from Queen of Thorns. It was a saucy reading for 9:30 in the morning. Man, I love the character of Radovan! I picked up Dave’s previous book, Master of Devils after Dave’s reading at When Words Collide 2011 in Calgary, and have been looking forward to his next book ever since.

Suzanne Church won the Aurora Award for her short story “The Needle’s Eye” so I wanted to check out her reading (also, she promised candy). Suzanne read snippets from a few different stories (bought her issue of Clarkesworld while I was picking up my “rejected by Clarkesworld card), all very different, but all excellent.

I had to run to make Helen Marshall’s reading from her new collection, Hair Side, Flesh Side, but it was worth it. A very intriguing story, and perfect delivery in the reading.

I made it back from supper in time for the epic ChiZine party. I’ve met so many of the ChiZine authors, and they’re all awesome people in addition to being great writers, but the gravitational pull of that much awesome in one room made for a very crowded party. So I wandered the halls roaming between the consuite party, ChiZine party, and the hotel bar.

It sounds bad, but I mostly behaved (mostly). I had to be up at 5 to get ready for my flight home.

I survived the weekend on two hours of sleep a night and managed not to pick up any con crud despite seemingly being surrounded by coughers and flu carriers (Looking at you, Mrs. Dudley). It was also quite the change of gears to go from drinking bourbon with friends for four days and being on no one’s schedule but my own to plunging back to the incessant ringing of telephones and vague requests for “that blue book, you know the one.”

Next week the western leg of the tour starts! Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, I am coming for you…

Write on.

Lurching Home From Brandon

Home from Brandon now, and I had a blast attending Corey Redekop’s reading of Husk at the Evans Theatre. I tagged along with Corey and THIN AIR GM, Perry Grosshans, for the drive out. It was cool to see a bunch of my Prairiecon gaming buddies come out for the event, and to see Brandon SF writer Patrick Johanneson on his home turf. A great (and also gross) reading from the book preceded a brief Q&A, and then Corey signed a bunch of books.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Husk, AKA the Great Canadian Gay Mennonite Zombie novel, here’s the book trailer:

After the signing, the Evans Theatre screened the new Canadian Zombie Comedy (don’t call it a Zomedy, PLEASE) A Little Bit Zombie. The movie was a riot, the cast was great, and the audience was laughing out loud. I’ll definitely watch the flick again, as there were a bunch of jokes I’m sure I missed in that laughter. Also, if I ever see a can of Tactical Bacon at Safeway, I’ll be buying it.

Check out the trailer for A Little Bit Zombie:

Thanks Perry and Corey, for letting me join you for the ride out, and thanks to writing chum, Shen Braun, for letting me crash at your house, without your generosity, I probably would have missed an awesome event.