Western Canadian Tour Roundup

Alberta was a blast, as always.

Edmonton was my first stop on the western leg of my Too Far Gone book tour. I love Edmonton, it feels a lot like Winnipeg to me, which is sort of like saying it feels like home.

My first night in Edmonton I had an event at Audreys Books.

Audreys 1 BGS

(Photo courtesy of Barb Galler-Smith)

Fuck. I look exhausted. Which…I guess I was. Alberta followed on the heels of C4, an event in Toronto, and World Fantasy Con. I also had one of my worst flights in recent memory: surrounded by screaming toddlers, someone tried to steal my seat, and a flight attendant accidentally (I presume) spat in my eye.

If you weren’t able to make it to my launch at Audreys Books, here’s a bit of my preamble to my reading.

I love coming to Edmonton! One of the things that I always try to do while I’m here is walk across the High Level Bridge—which, Eileen Bell warned me, was the only thing I wasn’t allowed to destroy in Too Far Gone.

You have no idea how nervous it made me to bring the book—and Ted Callan—back to Edmonton. I half wanted to kick off the book here, so I could escape before anyone had read the book, in case I got your city all wrong.

But Edmonton has always been very welcoming to me, and in a way, feels more like home to me than any other city in Canada other than Winnipeg. I loved prowling your streets, and writing in, and about Edmonton.

I read one of my favourite bits of Too Far Gone, which is early in the book, and sets the tone well, I think without spoiling much of the book, or needing to over-explain the previous two novels; the scene where Ted takes in a black metal concert outside of Saskatoon.

Thanks though, to everyone who came out and and asked questions, and joined me for a bite to eat and few drinks afterward. And big thanks to everyone who picked up a book, because you got Too Far Gone to #3 on the Edmonton Journal bestseller list!

Edmonton Journal Bestseller

I unfortunately don’t have any photos of Eileen Bell’s launch of Drowning in Amber at Variant Edition. Eileen was gracious enough to ask me along to do a reading with her. It was a blast! Definitely Eileen’s crowd, there was only a handful of mutual acquaintances, but I still sold lots of books. Thanks, Eileen’s friends and family! And thanks, Variant Edition! What a cool comic book store. Danica LeBlanc and Brandon Schatz have created something special there, and I’m really looking forward to visiting them again.

One of the things I was told early on in my writing career was not to read the same passage twice in the same city. I usually adhere to this and prepare a couple readings, so that I can also potentially play to the crowd I’ve drawn. I like to have a spooky reading and a funny reading. At Variant Edition, I went with the funny reading, a bit of Ted and Loki banter, as I I didn’t know many people, and figured “if you can make ’em laugh, at least they’ll remember you fondly.”

I also customize my preamble a bit for each event. It keeps things fresh for me, as much as anything, but it also helps when you have multiple events in the same city to keep people who attend each from zoning out before you get to that second reading.

It’s fitting that the end of the Thunder Road trip makes a stop here, in a comic book shop, because without comics, I highly doubt I would’ve become a reader—or at least, not as voracious a reader as I am. Comics were my gateway, not just to reading, but to the fantastic. To tales of high adventure. And they’ve been an influence on everything I’ve created. Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men, John Byrne’s Alpha Flight, later Mike Mignola’s Hellboy…I wouldn’t be here without them. I’m still a comic reader, and Wednesday isn’t hump day for me, it’s New Comic Book Day.

Wednesday was actually a travel day, and I was keenly feeling the fact that I hadn’t picked up my comics back home for two weeks, but it was also Remembrance Day. I’m glad my host required little prodding to bring me to one of the services in Edmonton. It took place in a place nicknamed “The Butterdome” and it was very reminiscent of the services I’ve attended in Winnipeg at the Minto Armory. I was also cautioned to avoid mocking the Butterdome until after I’d left Edmonton.

After a minor scare due to getting caught up in Whyte Avenue, I made it to my bus with minutes to spare, and headed south to Calgary.

My launch at Owl’s Nest Books was a blast. Great crowd. Great questions. Great store.

imagejpeg_3

(Photo courtesy of Jean Cichon)

In a huge surprise, Professor Michael Cichon who’d invited me to speak to his class in 2013 (and introduced me to Loki beer from Paddock Wood) at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan happened to be in Calgary, so I was glad we had a chance to catch up a bit. It was great to see so many of my friends from When Words Collide as well. Owl’s Nest is a great store, and I’m looking forward to going back some day with another book.

From my Calgary preamble:

I love coming to Calgary. I’ve made some great friends here, and your conference When Words Collide is one of the highlights of my year every August. Calgary also hosted the first SF&F convention I ever attended, and if it wasn’t for the great friends I’ve made along the way since, I probably wouldn’t have thought to make Ted Albertan. Now I just hope you’ll forgive me for making him from Edmonton.

I snuck in a signing at Indigo Signal Hill on Friday thanks to Stacey Kondla (another great WWC person) and it went well. Signal Hill is a huge store with a great SF&F and Graphic Novel collection.

Indigo Signal Hill SK

(Photo courtesy of Stacey Kondla)

I’ve admired the work Kevin Madison has done for his Prix Aurora nominated “Thunder Road Trip” art blog of his reading of my trilogy for ages. It’s one of the reasons I specifically commissioned art from him for “A Simple Twist of Fate” and while I was in Calgary, I got to witness him starting up the next leg of the blog after the launch:

Ted's Back KBM

So cool.

Canmore! I’ve never been to Canmore, or right in the mountains like this.

Mountains and Snow

Too bad it was cloudy and snowy so that I couldn’t see to the tops of those mountains, but it was still amazing. After a lunch at a Mexican restaurant, I headed down to Cafe Books to do my thing.

Cafe Books 2 JC

(Photo courtesy of Jean Cichon)

Cafe Books is a wonderful store. I talked to lots of people, and signed a bunch of books. Cafe Books is labyrinthine, and seems to keep going and going. It feels like you could find anything there. I hope to return someday.

That was my tour! Thanks to Ravenstone for putting me out on the road, and the folks who put me up (and put up with me) along the way.

Write on!

Central Canada Comic Con & Creative Colleagues

I can’t believe that C4 (Central Canada Comic Con) is only a week away!

It’s definitely going to be a mad dash to that finish line to get everything done I’d like to have done beforehand, and an even madder weekend during the con. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Because I love working with friends. And I’ll have a lot of them at this convention.

First off, Prix Aurora nominated artist (for his work on a live blog of his reading of the Thunder Road Trilogy), and illustrator of my 2014 C4 project, A Simple Twist of Fate, Kevin Madison will be at C4 for the first time in Artist Alley. He surprised me on Thanksgiving with this piece:

Ted with Ravens

Love it! Check out more of his work.

Samantha Beiko is the illustrator of a couple of my other projects that’ll be debuting at C4 in addition to being a top-flight editor and author. Sam’s a triple threat, and the real deal.

Here’s a taste of her work:

Ted New Year's Eve by SM Beiko

Samantha will also be at C4 as her alter-ego: Valkyrie Books, a bookstore that until now, has existed only in her imagination. She’ll be selling the latest speculative fiction goodies, as well as a selection of titles by local authors (including yours truly).

I love having a table around GMB Chomichuk, it’s such a good vibe and good energy. We finally got to work together, putting a little story bindup of Lovecraftian Madness together called Shared World. We each contributed a story and Gregory brought his wicked art sensibilities to the cover and interiors. Gregory talked about how the project came together on his blog last week, and how he blames me, but Samantha Beiko made the craziness possible. Thanks also to Silvia Moreno-Garcia for writing us a kickass introduction.

Our first (hopefully of many) Valkyrie Books Secret Editions: Shared World!

SharedWorldposter1

The third (but definitely not last) of my Scott Henderson commissions just arrived. Scott did a killer Thunder Road illustration after reading the book, and I loved it so much I asked him to do a Tilda drawing to celebrate the publication of Tombstone Blues.

Here’s what he cooked up for Too Far Gone:

TOOFARGONE_INK

This is just the inks, to see the full colour amazing, you’ll have to come by my or Scott’s tables at C4. I fucking wept to see it. Also, sorry for all the stuff that happens to you in Too Far Gone, Edmonton.

Finally, speaking of creative colleagues, Dave Gross hosted me on his blog’s Creative Colleagues feature! Send him your clicks please.

Write on.

2015 Prix Aurora Award Nominees Announced

I was attending a write off with friends over the weekend when the Prix Aurora nominees were announced, which was kind of cool. Even cooler that one of the nominees was there to share her excitement. I was very happy to see lots of friends made the short lists this year (seeing the novel list, I’m pretty happy that I don’t have a book up against those authors. That’s a pretty strong list). It was nice to see two ChiSeries nominations on the ballot (congrats, Toronto and Ottawa!). I am ecstatic that two of my Winnipeg creative friends received a nomination, so congratulations, GMB Chomichuk and Sherry Peters! And I am beyond thrilled that Kevin Madison’s amazing artwork from his Thunder Road Trip liveblog of reading my books was recognized in one of the fan categories. Good show!

Thunder Road Ted Parkade

(From Thunder Road Trip)

Here are the nominees in all categories:

Best Novel – English

Echopraxia by Peter Watts, Tor Books
The Future Falls by Tanya Huff, DAW Books
My Real Children by Jo Walton, Tor Books
The Peripheral by William Gibson, Penguin Canada
A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books

Best Young Adult Novel – English
Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Tor Books
Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf by Sherry Peters, Dwarvenamazon
Out of This World by Charles de Lint, Razorbill Canada
Rain by Amanda Sun, Harlequin TEEN
Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
Twist of the Blade by Edward Willett, Coteau Books
The Voices in Between by Charlene Challenger, Tightrope Books

Best Short Fiction – English
Crimson Sky” by Eric Choi, Analog, July/August
Jelly and the D-Machine” by Suzanne Church, Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction, EDGE
Mecha-Jesus” by Derwin Mak, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
No Sweeter Art” by Tony Pi, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #155, September 4, 2014
Soul-Hungry” by Suzanne Church, Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction, EDGE

Best Poem/Song – English
A Hex, With Bees” by Tony Pi, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
Aversions” by Helen Marshall, Goblin Fruit, October
The Machine” by David Clink, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
The New Ways” by Amal El-Mohtar, Uncanny Magazine, November
The Perfect Library” by David Clink, If the World were to Stop Spinning (Chapbook)

Best Graphic Novel – English
Cassie & Tonk by Justin Currie and GMB Chomichuk, Chasing Artwork
It Never Rains by Kari Maaren, Webcomic
Raygun Gothic Vol. 2 by GMB Chomichuk, Alchemical Press
Treadwell by Dominic Bercier, Mirror Comics
Trillium by Jeff Lemire, DC Comics-Vertigo

Best Related Work – English
Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction by Suzanne Church, EDGE
Gifts for the One Who Comes After by Helen Marshall, CZP
Lackington’s speculative prose edited by Ranylt Richildis
Strange Bedfellows
edited by Hayden Trenholm, Bundoran Press

Best Artist
James Beveridge, cover for Tantamount and Out Dweller
Erik Mohr
, cover for The Door in the Mountain and ChiZine Publications
Derek Newman-Stille, cover for Elephants and Omnibuses
Dan O’Driscoll
, covers for Bundoran Press and On Spec magazine
Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk & Steve Fahnestalk, “Walking on the Moon”, cover for On Spec, No. 95 (Vol. 25 No. 4),

Best Fan Publication
Broken Toys edited by Taral Wayne
Ecdysis edited by Jonathan Crowe
Pubnites & Other Events edited by Yvonne Penney
Space Cadet edited by R. Graeme Cameron
Speculating Canada edited by Derek Newman-Stille

Best Fan Music
Brooke Abbey, Weirdness from 2014, Bandcamp
Copy Red Leader, Crossing the Streams CD, The Pond Studio
Debs & Errol (Deborah Linden and Errol Elumir), OVFF Concert (Ohio Valley Filk Fest)
Kari Maaren, YouTube Channel
Stone Dragons, Dream of Flying CD, Stone Dragon Studios

Best Fan Organizational
Sandra Kasturi, Chair, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Toronto
Derek Künsken, Farrell McGovern, Caycee Price and Elizabeth BuchanKimmerly, Executive, Can*Con 2014, Ottawa
Randy McCharles, Chair, When Words Collide, Calgary
Matt Moore, Marie Bilodeau and Nicole Lavigne, Co-chairs, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Ottawa
Alana Otis-Wood and Paul Roberts, Co-chairs, Ad Astra Convention, Toronto

Best Fan Related Work
R. Graeme Cameron, weekly column in Amazing Stories Magazine
Steve Fahnestalk, weekly column in Amazing Stories Magazine
Kevin B. Madison, Thunder Road Trip
Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating, Canada on Trent Radio 92.7 FM
Lloyd Penney, fan writing for fanzines and e-zines

The awards will be given out at Canvention 35, hosted by SFContario 6 in Toronto, Ontario on the weekend of November 20 – 22nd. Full details about CSFFA, the awards and voting can be found at www.prixaurorawards.ca.

Write on!

Pulp Fiction Thunder Road Covers!

Thunder Road Trip artist, Kevin Madison is back at it. This time he’s created two versions of a variant pulp-influenced Thunder Road cover.

First up is Ted with his dwarf-inscribed tattoos:

Pulp Ted with Tattoos

Second, is Ted without the tattoos:

Pulp Ted no tattoos

Everything about these feels right to me. From the tag line to the faux-distressed cover treatment, and especially how thuggish Ted looks. I also really want to climb into that GTO and hit the highway.

With Too Far Gone a light out there on the horizon, and burning closer every day, I for one cannot wait to see what Kevin cooks up next! Check out more of Kevin’s work here:

Write on!

One Month Left To Nominate For The 2015 Prix Aurora Awards

While I had my head down to finish Too Far Gone, nominations opened for the Prix Aurora Awards (and a whole mess of other awards too–though it’s the Auroras that are most likely to impact ’round Thunder Road Way).

There is still a month left to nominate, and if you’re so inclined, here’s what I did in 2014:

  • New Year’s Day: Published by Ravenstone, January 2014, eligible in the “Short Fiction” category
  • Runt of the Litter: Published in the Spring 2014 issue of On Spec Magazine, eligible in the “Short Fiction” category
  • A Simple Twist of Fate: Self-published October 2014, eligible in the “Short Fiction” category
  • A Taste of the Other Side: Published in Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls, October 2014, eligible in the “Short Fiction category
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks: Self-published, December 2014, eligible in the “Short Fiction” category
  • Co-Chair/Artistic Director ChiSeries Winnipeg with Samantha Beiko: “Fan Organizational” category

Eligibility lists are here:

Please also consider the people that helped me create in 2014.

On Spec Magazine is eligible in the “Best Related Work” category.

Spring2014_frontcover_outer

Kevin Madison’s work during his “Thunder Road Trip” art blog read of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues, is eligible for “Best Fan Related” category

Tombstone Blues Thor and the Dead.finished

Thunder Road Einherjar Finished

Runt of the Litter Grim and Loki.finished

Ted and Ravens

Ted Callan

and the cover and interior illustrations he did for “A Simple Twist of Fate” are eligible in the “Artist” category.

TR ASTOF Cover Finished

I’d also like to give a shout out to Scott Henderson in the “Artist” category for his stunning illustration of Tilda as a valkyrie from Tombstone Blues.

TILDA_VALKYRIE_C copy

Scott also has a graphic novel that’s eligible this year: The Chronicles of Era.

Chronicles of Era

Check out the awesome sketch he drew in mine:

DSC_2001[1]

If you’re a member of CSFFA, please add eligible works to their data base, please nominate, please vote. The more involvement there is in the award from folks who care about Canadian speculative fiction, the more meaningful the award is.

Instructions on how to nominate are available on the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association’s site. But why should you vote? Ottawa author Matt Moore wrote an excellent blog post on why we should participate in the Aurora Awards. The more people that participate, and the more they care, the more these awards will matter.

I still haven’t put my ballot in, so if you know of something from 2014 that absolutely shouldn’t be missed, drop me a line and I’ll add it to my to-read pile.

Thank you, and write on!

A Simple Twist of Fate–A Central Canada Comic Con Exclusive Thunder Road Short Story

Central Canada Comic Con is this weekend and I’ve been cooking up something special to debut for my readers: an original Thunder Road story!

Comics are a huge reason why I’m a reader and I’ve always kind of wanted to see my name on a comic book. So I made one.

Sort of.

“A Simple Twist of Fate” is a short adventure starring the hero of Thunder Road, Ted Callan. It’s an illustrated story that I had printed to look like a comic. The printer just dropped my copies off and they look gorgeous! This project came out of talks with GMB Chomichuk, and the coolness of the limited print editions of his Raygun Gothic comic (seriously, check it out). “A Simple Twist of Fate” takes place after the events of Tombstone Blues for the continuity nerds out there. Cover and interior illustrations are by Kevin Madison, and book design is by Samantha Beiko.

Here’s a peek at the cover image:

TR ASTOF Cover Finished

There will only ever be 200 of these. Come by Booth 328 to find these signed and numbered bad boys (and me!).

Write on.

Some Pics From My Alberta Research Trip Part One: Badlands and Stephansson House

So, it was no secret that I was going to Alberta for research for Too Far Gone (the Winnipeg Free Press reported on it before my third book even had a name). These pictures are from the first part of my trip. Also, I will take any excuse to hike through the Alberta Badlands.

I regret that my photographs aren’t as good as Paul Weimer’s (seriously, check out his stuff. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful photos), I’d blame it on the fact I didn’t bring a proper camera and was taking pictures with my phone, but that would be a lie. I’m just not a skilled photographer.

These are from my hike in Horseshoe Canyon.

1407464033698

Unlike my last trip to the Badlands, I actually had proper hiking shoes instead of on-their-last-laces tennis shoes. I also went hiking before I’d spent an entire weekend dehydrating myself with hotel air and Irish whiskey.

1407464034941

It involved a bit of doing to stay dry in some parts of the canyon. Which I didn’t manage. Not that I was going to return those new hiking shoes.

1407464035941

There were a couple scrambles that reminded me that I was out of shape. And that I was one good tumble away from feeding the coyotes.

DSC_1075

There is an “inuksuk graveyard” in Horseshoe Canyon, where hikers build cairns of stone.

DSC_1077

This one was one of my favourites.

1407466750817

Seriously, how can you not love this place?

Heading further north, and near to Red Deer, and down an assortment of back roads, I found Stephansson House. (Thanks to Johanna Brierley’s mother Marcia for the suggestion–and for the loan of one of Stephansson’s books of poetry!). Stephansson was an early settler in the area, and a noted poet.

DSC_1049

One of the things, besides scenery, that I was looking for on this trip was Icelandic ties to Alberta. Those ties paid off creatively for me in writing Thunder Road and there was some neat stuff to be found here. You’ll have to read and find out about that, I think.

1407445895776

But I did meet this awesome dog.

The staff at the museum didn’t know the dog. She must’ve just wandered into area looking for shade. She was quite friendly.

DSC_1019

Stephansson House is a beautiful house. I also felt like a giant inside it. Which was good to know. Also interesting to learn, Stephansson’s son was struck by lightning. The boy died, but afterwards, the house’s roof sported numerous lightning rods.

DSC_1044

Some of which you can see in the photo above.

That’s part one! Big thanks to Kevin Madison for driving me around Calgary and environs.

Write on!