Prix Aurora Award Nominations

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) while I had my head down trying to finish my latest novel.

Instruction for how to nominate a story 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 participate, and the more they care, the more these awards will matter.

If you’re so inclined, here’s what I did in 2015:

  • Too Far Gone, Ravenstone Books, October 2015, eligible in the Novel category.
  • The Last Good Look, The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, March 2015, eligible in the Short Fiction category.
  • When the Gods Send You Rats, Shared World Volume One, October 2015, eligible in the Short Fiction category.
  • Co-Chair/Artistic Director ChiSeries Winnipeg with Samantha Beiko: “Fan Organizational” category.

Eligibility Lists are here:

I also want to mention the people that helped me create in 2015:

In addition to being my co-conspirator for the Winnipeg arm of ChiSeries, Samantha Beiko steps up every single time I give her a weird ass request, such as: I want to make story cards, or can you draw me a giant, evil cat? Even I want to put a new book together less than a month before Comic Con.

Sam did this great picture of Ted Callan for my story, “New Year’s Eve”

Ted New Year's Eve by SM Beiko

She also illustrated this super fun (and super creepy) Jólakötturinn, the Christmas Cat.

Christmas Cat by Samantha Beiko

and she edited and laid out Shared World.

Sam is awesomesauce. Check out her stuff, and her dream book store, Valkyrie Books.

GMB Chomichuk and James Gillespie also wrote a short story for Shared World. “Kaa-Rokaan.”

SharedWorldposter1

In addtion to being a great writer, Gregory is an amazing artist. His Infinitum was a wonderful, weird read. Time travel noir!

infinitum

He also illustrated Underworld, written by another Winnipeg comics mainstay, Lovern Kindzierski. Greek mythology in modern Winnipeg.

Underworld-Cover

Silvia Moreno-Garcia wrote my favourite book of 2015, her novel debut, Signal to Noise. Silvia’s knows her Lovecraft, and everyone involved in Shared World was chuffed when she agreed to write us a kickass introduction.

signal-to-noise-9781781082997_hr

Michael Matheson was my editor for Too Far Gone. Michael was new to editing the series, anddid a bang up job. I’d love to have a chance to work with Michael again. In the meantime, checkout this anthology published by ChiZine Publications:

Boy Eating

David Jón Fuller was my copy editor for Too Far Gone (and the entire Thunder Road Trilogy) and kept all my umlauts in the right spots. David is also a damn fine short story writer.

His story “Caged” appeared in Guns and Romances, and “In Open Air” appeared in Accessing the Future.

Scott Henderson did this gorgeous piece inspired by Too Far Gone.

TOOFARGONE

Scott also illustrated Richard Van Camp’s graphic novel, A Blanket of Butterflies.

Blanket of Butterflies

Claude Lalumière and David Nickle were my editors for The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir and bought my story, “The Last Good Look.”

New Canadian Noir Cover

This is a killer anthology. I enjoyed reading every story in it.

Sandra Wickham and I are currently writing a novel together. She’s also sort of taken on the Herculean task of getting me back in shape. Her book Health and Fitness for Creative People is a great start.

HealthandFitnessCoverblurb

Kevin Madison has done tons of Thunder Road illustrations for me over the course of the series’ life. Here’s one of his most recent:

Ted with Ravens

Kevin also wrote a comic last year, which was a lot of fun. Different artists illustrating various points in a superhero’s career.

american Eagle2

Here’s some other stuff I really dug throughout 2015, heavily weighted towards comics, because that seemed to be the majority of my reading lately.

I helped back Canadian Corps on Kickstarter. Andrew Lorenz’s writing definitely hit me right in the Alpha Flight feels.

CC1 Front-Exterior-Cover

Donovan Yaciuk did the colours for Canadian Corps, but he also writes this sweet indie comic:

Spacepig Hamadeus

A space-faring pig. ‘Nuff said.

Justin Shauf is the artist on Spacepig Hamadeus and Canadian Corps. He also drew me this SWEET Dr. Fate.

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Rat Queens is written by Kurtis Wiebe, and its one of the highlights of my comic pull list ever time an issue drops.

Rat Queens

I adore Fiona Staples’ art on Saga. Another book that’s never disappointed me.

Saga Staples

Jim Zub’s Wayward is another great fantasy comic.

Wayward01A-585x900-web

No matter how much I read, it still seems like it’s never enough! I feel like I’ve got a lot of cramming to do before I put in my nominations. What have you created or read that I should check out before nominations close?

Write on!

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Free Comic Book Day and Authors for Indies Day!

Today is two great days for readers! Authors for Indies and Free Comic Book Day.

I’ll be hanging my hat at McNally Robinson Booksellers from 1 pm until 2 pm recommending books, and maybe signing a couple of my own. I’m also set up virtually over at Valkyrie Books with a guest post.

Before I head to McNally, I’ll be trucking on down to my local comic shop, Mighty Comics, to get my Free Comic Book Day haul. One thing to remember about Free Comic Book Day, the comics are free for you, but not for the stores, and neither is staffing the shop, or keeping the lights on. So how about you buy something while you’re there to show some support. Cool? Cool.

Write on, read on.

A Few Questions About Writing

My northern Manitoba colleague, Lauren Carter, author of Swarm, tagged me recently and asked me to take part in a blog tour happening in the literary community across Canada. The gist of it is that I’m assigned four questions and then invite two other writers to join in. Here goes:

What am I working on?

I have a number of projects on the go right now, most notably the third book in the Thunder Road Trilogy, which you should see in Fall 2015. I’m also polishing up some short stories set in the world of the trilogy to keep you all occupied until next year.

In addition to my Norse Myth-influenced work, I’m editing the first book in an entirely new urban fantasy series, trying my hand at comic book scripting, and co-hosting and organizing the Winnipeg arm of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series with fellow author Samantha Beiko.

How does my work differ from other works in its genre?

Since my series is influenced by Norse myth, I’m not retelling the big ending of that myth cycle–Ragnarök, the Fate of the Gods–in the Thunder Road universe, that fate has already been dealt. In the Marvel Comics take on Thor, Ragnarök has happened at least three times, but what struck me as a myth fan was how interesting the stories that came after were to me. When Ragnarök is on the table, that is the only place the story can go. It’s inevitable. Having that great battle in the past also allowed me to avoid “ruining” any stories people might have loved from the sagas. They are there. They happened. My only caveat to this is that in my books, Loki survived his prophesied death (because if anyone could weasel his way out of his fate, it would be him).

Another notable difference is probably my use of Manitoba as a setting–not a place most people think of when they think of magic. I’ve read very little fantasy that uses Western Canada (and Manitoba in particular) as a setting, and I think there’s a lot to left to be said in this part of Canada.

Why do I write what I do?

I love juxtaposing the magical and the mundane and the Urban Fantasy genre is great at that. I grew up with old Tarzan and Lone Ranger stories, so adventure was set in my bones from an early age. When I went to listening to stories to reading them, comic books were my gateway (and I still read them) and I went from those to Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasies. I can’t imagine wanting to write anything else. Fantasy allows me to write anything, and unlike my more realistically inclined writing colleagues, I get to have dragons and robots too.

How does my writing process work?

Barely. Ba dum bump.

But seriously…

I am what is usually referred to as a “pantser” (as in I write by the seat of my pants). No plotting, no outlining. For me, writing is a lot like driving at night: the headlights allow me to see just enough to keep going, even when I can’t see my destination.

I’m a huge music fan (all of the chapter titles in Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues are taken from songs) and I also write to music, so it has seeped deeper into my process. One of the first things I do when I’m starting a new story is make a large playlist of songs that feel like how I want the story to feel. As I write and listen, I winnow them down to about twenty or so that form my book’s playlist. That soundtrack also happens to be an emotional outline of how I want the book to feel.

There are exceptions to this. The third book in the trilogy turned out to be something I couldn’t “pants”. I had built up the architecture of the series, and wrote certain scenes as they came to me while drafting the first two books. Because I wasn’t entering the world fresh, by necessity it required a bit more of a structured approach to writing than I am accustomed to. Not a bad thing, just not usually my thing.

Next up, author and illustrator, GMB Chomichuk and author and Valkyrie Books proprietor, Samantha Beiko!