Behind the Scenes of The Last Good Look

I’ve liked crime fiction almost as long as I’ve liked fantasy. So I’m really chuffed that my story “The Last Good Look” was selected to be included in The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir.

New Canadian Noir Cover

One of my writing mentors was fellow Ravenstone author, Michael Van Rooy, who passed away far too soon. You should do yourself a favour and check out his Monty Haaviko crime novels (An Ordinary Decent Criminal, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Criminal, A Criminal to Remember) they are all great reads.

100616-MichaelVanRooy-03.jpg

(Photo Credit: Janek Lowe for the Winnipeg Free Press)

Michael has always been a huge inspiration to me, but was especially when it came to “The Last Good Look”.

Earlier in my writing career I was selected to be the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at the now sadly defunct Aqua Books. Michael had also been one of the Writers-in-Residence there. While I was writing in my office, which had been his office, and trying to finish up the as-yet-unsold Tombstone Blues, I had an idea for a rough-and-tumble troll tough guy.

And so Neelak (Neal to his friends) Trollborn, Wizard of Runes was born. I wrote the first four pages of his story and before long, Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues had sold to Ravenstone, and so I had to set Neal aside.

But I never forgot him.

When Claude Lalumière and David Nickle put out the call for submissions I was so excited to have the reason to figure out the rest of Neal’s debut story. He surprised me a lot, Neal did.

Every good noir also needs its femme fatale. Neal found his in one of my coworkers at the time: artist, photographer, and model, Holly Halftone.

I’ve rarely so blatently stolen someone’s appearance, so I asked Holly if she was okay being written into the story and thankfully she said yes. I had used “Halftone” as a temporary name in the text while I was drafting, thinking I’d eventually come up with something I liked better, but nothing else worked as well, and so Holly got to be a double inspiration on that particular dangerous lady.

Holly Halftone by Alexa Lachuta photography

(Photo Credit: Alexa Lachuta)

Pretty stoked to have this one in print. I hope you enjoy it.

Fellow New Canadian Noir contributor, Corey Redekop, interviewed Keith Cadieux and I about our stories (as well as a bunch of the other authors) over on his blog.

It’s still a long way off, but the Manitoba boys in the anthology, me, Keith and Corey will be doing readings at McNally Robinson Booksellers May 27th. I hope I’ll see you there.

Write on!

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2013 Manitoba Book Awards

I was absolutely thrilled to attend the 2013 Manitoba Book Awards gala and for Thunder Road to be the recipient of the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (the award is presented every two years). Michael Van Rooy was a good friend as well as a mentor, so this award means the world to me. To be able to share the ballot with my friends Karen Dudley and David Annandale who were also close with Michael made the nomination even more special.

Michael Van Rooy Award

(Photo by Angeline Schellenberg, I’m pictured with THIN AIR director, Charlene Diehl who presented the award)

Yes, I had to pretend to be one of the Sand People so that I didn’t break down in tears (and even then, it was a very near thing by the end of my acceptance speech).

Congratulations to all the award winners, and to all of the nominees for a great slate of books. Thank you, THIN AIR the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, Prairie Fire magazine, and The Writers’ Collective for sponsoring the Genre Fiction Award. And thank you to the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers for putting on a great event.

This year’s award winners in thirteen categories are:

 
Lansdowne Prize for Poetry
Prix Lansdowne de poésie

  • Tether by Laurelyn Whitt, published by Seraphim Editions


Best Illustrated Book of the Year
Meilleur livre illustré de l’année

  • 300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba by Bill Wright & Dave Craig, published by Great Plains Publications, design by Relish New Brand Experience Inc.


Manuela Dias Book Design of the Year
Prix Manuela-Dias de conception graphique en édition

  • 100 Masters: Only in Canada by Stephen Borys and Andrew Kear, published by the Winnipeg Art Gallery, design by Frank Reimer


Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book

  • Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One, by Aimée Craft, published by Purich Publishing Ltd.


Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction

  • Thunder Road, by Chadwick Ginther published by Ravenstone (an imprint of Turnstone Press)

Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award
Prix littéraire Carol-Shields de la ville de Winnipeg

  • Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, photographs by Bryan Scott, text by Bartley Kives, published by Great Plains Publications.


Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

  • The Insistent Garden by Rosie Chard, published by NeWest Press

 
Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction
Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais

  • “Indians Wear Red”: Colonialism, Resistance and Aboriginal Street Gangs by Elizabeth Comack, Lawrence Deane, Larry Morrissette & Jim Silver, published by Fernwood Publishing

 
John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer
Prix John-Hirsch pour l’écrivain manitobain le plus prometteur

  • Jonathan Ball

 
Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher
Prix Mary-Scorer pour le meilleur livre par un éditeur du Manitoba

  • Manitoba Butterflies: A Field Guide by Simone Hébert Allard, published by Turnstone Press


McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award

YOUNGER CATEGORY:

  • Powwow Counting in Cree, by Penny M. Thomas, published by HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press)

OLDER CATEGORY:

  • The Fall, by Colleen Nelson, published by Great Plains Teen Fiction

 
McNally Robinson Book of the Year

  • Kisiskatchewan:The Great River Road, by Barbara Huck, published by Heartland Associates Inc.

The full list of nominees can be viewed here: http://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/

 

Thunder Road & Tombstone Blues Shortlisted At Manitoba Book Awards!

I’m very excited to say that both of my books are shortlisted for awards at this year’s Manitoba Book Awards, Thunder Road for the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction, and Tombstone Blues for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. I’m also very pleased to see so many of my friends on the shortlists as well: congratulations David Annandale, Samantha Beiko, Anita DaherKaren Dudley and Janice MacDonald!

Being nominated for the genre fiction award is especially wonderful, as Michael was a friend and mentor when I was getting started on the writing path. One of my first blog posts was about what Michael means to me. If you haven’t given his Monty Haaviko crime novels a chance, please do, you’re in for a treat.

Congrats to all the nominees, and see you at the gala!

Write on!

Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-FictionPrix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One / Aimée Craft / Purich Publishing Ltd.

Canadian Policing in the 21st Century / Robert Chrismas / McGill-Queen’s University Press.

The Constructed Mennonite: History, Memory, and the Second World War / Hans Werner / University of Manitoba Press

“Indians Wear Red”: Colonialism, Resistance and Aboriginal Street Gangs / Elizabeth Comack, Lawrence Deane, Larry Morrissette & Jim Silver / Fernwood Publishing

Best Illustrated Book of the YearMeilleur livre illustré de l’année

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright & Dave Craig / Great Plains Publications / design by Relish New Brand Experience

Confessions sans pénitence / Lise Gaboury-Diallo / Les Éditions du Blé / graphiste Philippe Dupas /  illustrations par Denis Devigne

Itty Bitty Bits / Anita Daher / Peanut Butter Press / illustrations by Wendy Bailey / design by Melanie Matheson, Blue Claw Studio

Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot! / by Beryl Young / Peanut Butter Press / llustrations by Jason Doll / design by Lee Huscroft

Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One / Aimée Craft / Purich Publishing Ltd.

Happiness Threads, The Unborn Poems / Melanie Dennis Unrau / The Muse’s Company, J G Shillingford

The Lake and the Library / S.M. Beiko / ECW Press Ltd.

Carol Shields Winnipeg Book AwardPrix littéraire Carol-Shields de la ville de Winnipeg

Rebel Without a Pause: A Memoir / Nick Ternette / Roseway Publishing, an imprint of Fernwood Publishing

The Silent March / by C.M. Klyne / Self-published

Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg / text by Bartley Kives, photographs by Bryan Scott / Great Plains Publications

Tombstone Blues / Chadwick Ginther / Ravenstone Books, an imprint of Turnstone Press

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press.

John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer

Jonathan Ball

Melanie Dennis Unrau

Laurelyn Whitt

Lansdowne Prize for Poetry | Prix Lansdowne de poésie

Sûtra /  J. R. Léveillé / Les Éditions du Blé

Tempo / Barthélemy Bolivar / Les Éditions du Blé

Tether / Laurelyn Whitt / Seraphim Editions

Manuela Dias Book Design of the YearPrix Manuela-Dias de conception graphique en édition

100 Masters: Only in Canada / Stephen Borys with Andrew Kear / the Winnipeg Art Gallery / design by Frank Reimer

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright & Dave Craig / published by Great Plains Publications /design by Relish New Brand Experience.

Confessions sans pénitence / Lise Gaboury-Diallo / Les Éditions du Blé / graphiste Philippe Dupas / illustrations par Denis Devigne

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow / William Dumas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press) / design by Relish New Brand Experience Inc. / illustrations by Leonard Paul

Powwow Counting in Cree / Penny M. Thomas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press), design by Relish New Brand Experience Inc., illustrations by Melinda Josie

Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

The Insistent Garden / Rosie Chard / NeWest Press

Sebastiano’s Vine / Carmelo Militano / Ekstasis Editions

Ten Lords A Leaping / C.C. Bennison / Doubleday Canada

Wolf River / Margaret Riddell / Self-published

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press

Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba PublisherPrix Mary-Scorer pour le meilleur livre par un éditeur du Manitoba

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright and Dave Craig / Great Plains Publications

Condemned to Repeat: A Randy Craig Mystery / Janice MacDonald / Ravenstone, an imprint of Turnstone Press

Manitoba Butterflies: A Field Guide / Simone Hébert Allard / Turnstone Press

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Younger Category

A Walk in Pirate’s Cove / Marisa Hochman / 36 Peonies Publishing Inc.

Powwow Counting in Cree / Penny M. Thomas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press),

Surviving the Hindenburg / Larry Verstraete / Sleeping Bear Press

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Older Category

The Fall / Colleen Nelson / Great Plains Teen Fiction

The Gypsy King / Maureen Fergus / Penguin Canada Books Inc

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow / William Dumas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press)

McNally Robinson Book of the Year

The Constructed Mennonite: History, Memory, and the Second World War/ Hans Werner / University of Manitoba Press

Kisiskatchewan: The Great River Road / Barbara Huck / Heartland Associates Inc.

The Secret Mask / Rick Chafe / Playwrights Canada Press

Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (2012/2013)

Food for the Gods: An Epikurean Epic / Karen Dudley / Turnstone Press

Gethsemane Hall / David Annandale / Dundurn

Thunder Road / Chadwick Ginther/ Turnstone Press

The Manitoba Writers’ Guild would like to thank this year’s awards sponsors:

Canada Council for the Arts
Friesen’s
Manitoba Arts Council
McNally Robinson Booksellers
Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Sport and Consumer Protection
Prairie Fire Press Inc.
Winnipeg Arts Council
The Winnipeg Foundation
Winnipeg International Writers’ Festival.

The 2013 Manitoba Book Awards take place Sunday April 27, 2014 at the West End Cultural Centre. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the ceremonies begin at 7:00 pm. Admission is FREE.