Music Monday: Came Back Haunted by Nine Inch Nails

Edmonton writer S.G. Wong was in town for a reading and workshop with ChiSeries and I had a blast taking her on a haunted tour of Winnipeg’s downtown. She knows I’m not just making up Winnipeg’s haunted nature either, because a street person came up to us before I started my spiel about the old Masonic Temple and spontaneously declared, “That place is haunted.”

Hopefully none of those spectres follow you home.

Ha-ha-haunted
The throat is deep and the mouth is wide
Saw some things on the other side
Made me promise to never tell
But you know me, I can’t help myself
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“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” A Thunder Road Holiday Story

I posted this story last year as a holiday gift for my readers. I’m reposting today with the promise of a new Thunder Road holiday story tomorrow.

My readers have been very good to me. Some of you Thunder Road fans have had images from my work tattooed on your bodies, some of you have taken my work and made art of your own (Like Kevin Madison’s illustration below). You’ve also emailed or tweeted or messaged me to say you’ve enjoyed the stories I have to tell. This has meant the world to me.

So I hope you’ll enjoy “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” a second time.

WhileShepherdWatched

Art by Kevin Madison

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Loki’s Guide To Norse Mythology: Winnipeg

Winnipeg

One great city (to write about).

It was Winnipeg’s slogan, “Heart of the Continent”, that made me want to use the city as the centre of a return to a world of magic.

When I started writing Thunder Road it was going to be set in Winnipeg (and Manitoba) largely because I live here, so it cut down on my costs for a book I had no idea if someone would want to publish, but that I desperately wanted to write.

But I do love my home, and I think it makes an interesting setting. While it may not quite have the concentration of Icelandic or viking stuff that the town of Gimli does, it’s still here. Laxdal road, and Valhalla apartments (Edmonton has them too, more on that later) among them.

When your book deals with the goddess of the dead coming to town, it’s natural to think of every building that is supposed to be haunted, and pretty much every old building downtown Winnipeg is rumoured to be haunted. So that’s where I got a lot of my set pieces for Tombstone Blues. But there are also a few that have mythological significance. The “secrets” of the Knights Templar were big news at the time of writing Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues, as well as their potential connection to the Freemasons. The Manitoba Legislature is full of Masonic symbols, but there are lots of Greek, Roman and Egyptian references too. Winnipeg’s iconic symbol of The Golden Boy was modeled after a sculpture of the god Mercury.

I read up on a bunch of locales that I wasn’t familiar with, and then as the story found its shape I settled on using the ones that resonated most with me. The old Masonic Temple (which I remember best as a Mother Tucker’s restaurant, but it’s been a bunch of other things since. It’s also currently vacant, which allowed me to remake it exactly as I wanted) that became the nightclub, Spectres, The Hotel Fort Garry, the Manitoba Legislature and Union Station.

When I was writing in Winnipeg, I tried to choose neighbourhoods that had strong character attached to them, that I felt would come through on the page even for folks who don’t live here. Every city has its own version of Osborne Village, where night clubs, and restaurants, and tattoo shops all meet. Wolseley and its towering elms, old houses, and granola crunch was chosen because of how much it would irritate Ted to live there, as much as the beauty of neighbourhood.

And the city mostly survived Ted’s tenure as guardian.

Mostly.

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Write on.

Too Far Gone Winnipeg Launch

What a great night!

It’s been a week, and I feel like I’m still coming down from the party.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and for those who couldn’t make it, here’s some photos of the evening.

I like to start with some crowd shots, because these photos of all the awesome Winnipeg folks who came out to support me will definitely help keep me warm when I take Too Far Gone on the road.

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Also, there was cake. Red velvet cake.

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I was introduced once again by McNally Robinson’s John Toews. There is no hyperbole when I say nobody crafts an intro like this man. Many thanks for all your support, good sir!

Tstone pic 5

Nothing says fun, like action shots of someone reading from a book, but here are some of my favourites:

David A pic 1

I wish I knew what I was saying when Gerald Brandt snapped the photo below.

Gerald B pic 1

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Tstone pic 3

Goofing around before the signing portion of the evening started, and mugging for Shen Braun’s camera.

Shen pic 3

Me and Shen, who is one of my oldest friends, and also a very fine writer (for some reason the perspective on this photo makes me look like some sort of Gamma-irradiated Gargantua Chad). Shen was a first reader on Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues, but I finally get to surprise him with the ending.

Shen pic 4

I brought an assortment of pens to make my doodles in each book in addition to a signature, and of course, my “Loki Approved” and “Fucking Magic” stamps.

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A bit of the signing line.

Tstone pic 16

And finally, the last book signed, I was apple to join friends for a post-launch drink.

Friend, inkslinger, and cocktail crafter extraordinaire, Andrew Penn Romine created a Thunder Road cocktail to help me celebrate the conclusion of the trilogy. It’s called The Thunderbolt, and it is fantastic. A variation on the Black Manhattan, and as dangerous as its namesake.

The Post Launch Thunderbolt

Thanks for another launch memorable, Winnipeg.

Write on!

Happy Holidays! Have a Thunder Road Short Story!

My readers have been very good to me. Some of you Thunder Road fans have had images from my work tattooed on your bodies, some of you have taken my work and made art of your own. You’ve also emailed or tweeted or messaged me to say you’ve enjoyed the stories I have to tell. This has meant the world to me.

As a thank you, I wrote you this story for the holidays.

I considered calling it “Merry Christmas, I Don’t Want to Fight” but decided to go with something more traditional. I hope you’ll enjoy “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” with my compliments.

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THIN AIR Voices From Oodena

Sunday, September 23rd I read from Thunder Road at the Oodena Celebration Circle. This is one of my very favourite places in Manitoba, and it’s hard not to feel moved standing in this unique and magical space.

Enjoy a little taste of Thunder Road:

I was joined on stage by Sarah Klassen, France Adams, Rhea Tregebov and Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, and I hope you’ll give their readings a watch also.