The Apocalypse Ark, the third book in the Cross series, has set sail! Well, it just published in Canada, anyway. It’s coming soon to other parts of the world. If we don’t all drown in a rain of fire and blood first, that is. We have it coming, after all. Don’t ask why — you know what you did.
Here’s what some of the early reviews have had to say:
- “A vastly entertaining, fantastical, breakneck hodgepodge quest novel” – Publishers Weekly
- “A spiritual relative to Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and Lavie Tidhar’s Bookman series” – Publishers Weekly
- “One of the strongest, and strangest, literary creations this country has ever seen” – Vancouver Sun
- “If you like your literature with a nitro fueling, you’ll love these” – CBC’s All Points West
- “One of the most entertaining series in recent years” – Examiner.com
- “Roman (a pseudonym for Vancouver Province journalist Peter Darbyshire) writes with the unfettered delight of a gluttonous reader trapped in a library in his own mind, drawing promiscuously from myth, folk tale, religious texts and apocrypha, literature, music and philosophy — seemingly anything that catches his attention” – The Vancouver Sun
If you’re new to the Cross series, here’s the basic premise: Our poor narrator, Cross, woke thousands of years ago to find himself in the body of Christ after Christ shuffled off this mortal coil. He has all the powers of Christ but none of his sensibilities — Cross is a drunk, thief, mercenary and all-around rogue. He’s about as fallen as you can get, the type of person who usually winds up dead in a back alley somewhere. Cross does end up dead a lot, but every time he dies his body resurrects him. There’s a catch, though: he needs the heavenly grace of angels to fuel his powers, and the only way to get that is to kill them. Needless to say, he’s not very popular among the angels left behind on Earth.
The first book, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, follows Cross’s attempts to track down his old nemesis Judas, a trickster god dedicated to destroying humanity — and who is responsible for the deaths of Cross’s one true love throughout the ages, Penelope, and their unborn daughter, Amelia. It spans the centuries and the globe and leads Cross into the middle of a war between the angels. It was an Amazon.ca No. 1 fantasy bestseller and did all right in other parts of the world, too.
The second book, The Dead Hamlets, sees Cross caught in the middle of a murder mystery, as a mysterious ghost with ties to Shakespeare is killing off members of the faerie court, who live in secrecy among the humans. The next victim may just be Amelia, Cross’s dead daughter that the faerie queen stole from the grave and birthed to torment Cross (they have a history). Cross must discover the ghost’s secret to stop the murders, but what he finds may mean even his end.
In the third book, The Apocalypse Ark, Cross faces his most dangerous enemy yet: Noah. For ages Noah has sailed the seas, seeking out all of God’s mistakes and imprisoning them on his ark. Noah is not humanity’s saviour but is instead God’s jailer. But he has grown increasingly mad over the centuries, and now he is determined to end the world by raising the mysterious Sunken City. Only one person can stop him: Cross.
I’ll be posting more about The Apocalypse Ark and its origins in the days to come. In the meantime, I’ll just leave these links here in case you’re interested….
Buy The Apocalypse Ark (paperback)
Buy The Apocalypse Ark (ebook)
(Yes, I know the photo shows a giant squid attacking the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, not an ark. Trust me — there’s a connection between 20,000 Leagues and The Apocalypse Ark.)
“Congratulations. You’re a Canadian now.”
That was what my wife said to me after the Tragically Hip concert in Vancouver Sunday night. Somehow, I had made it into my late 40s without ever seeing the Canuck rockers live. My wife had seen them at 16 at Ontario Place, which made her far more Canadian and far cooler than me.
I’ve been to a few concerts in my lifetime, but none of them have left me as emotionally moved as the Hip show, with the possible exception of Nick Cave. Because Nick Cave. And I wasn’t alone in this — the entire crowd was having a moment for the entire show. People were waving Canadian flags, men and women with grey hair were dancing in the aisles while the younger audience members were waving their smartphones in the air like lighters. Everyone was singing along to the lyrics and screaming enthusiastically whenever the big screens showed Hip singer Gord Downie’s face.
What is it about the Hip that causes such multi-generational love? If you’re Canadian, you just kind of get it even if you’re not really into their music. If you’re not a Canuck, it’s hard to explain. Sure, there’s the fact they’re a group of small-town boys from Kingston, Ontario, who did good. They seem to down to earth, as far as rock stars go. They started the Vancouver concert on time, after all! And I’ve never heard any stories of hotel room trashing or the usual rock and roll fables.
Maybe it’s our shared stories they sing about. Every Canadian knows what Downie is talking about when he sings “Twenty years for nothing, well, that’s nothing new / besides, no one is interested in something you didn’t do.” Or when they name a song Bobcaygeon: “It was in Bobcaygeon / I saw the constellations / reveal themselves one star at a time.” Or songs like The Hundredth Meridian, which marks various borders physical and otherwise in Canada, or Fifty Mission Cap about the Maple Leafs and hockey or I could go on and on but I don’t need to. If you’re Canadian, you just get the Hip.
Not that they sing strictly about Canadiana. They’ve got plenty of songs that don’t reference Canada at all. The crowd went nuts for Grace, Too at the show I saw — the line “I come from downtown, born ready for you” being the equivalent of a national anthem for some.
And what other band could make a hit song about poets: “Don’t tell me what the poets are doing / those Himalayas of the mind.” Poets, man. Poets.
If you’re Canadian, the Hip have been the soundtrack to your life — whether or not you’ve actually ever owned any of their albums. They’re just always playing somewhere wherever you go. I was having a flashback of my life during their show — listening to New Orleans is Sinking while working the night shift at a grocery store, dancing to Locked In the Trunk of a Car while in university, making a mess of a romance to Ahead by a Century. And so on. We all have our own stories.
So when news came that Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, it was like the entire country had been sucker punched in the gut. It was like finding out a family member was dying.
The Hip announced they were going to do another tour. Partially to support their new album, sure. But let’s face it, the tour was also about connecting with their fans one last time.
“What we in The Hip receive, each time we play together, is a connection,” the Hip said in a letter on their website, “with each other; with music and its magic; and during the shows, a special connection with all of you, our incredible fans.”
And that was what I felt in that concert in Vancouver: a connection to the band, to all the people around me, to the great country of Canada and its stories. I said on someone’s Facebook thread that it felt like a communion, and that seems as good a description as any.
“Enjoy those one-night moments,” Downie said in an interview with Strombo some time ago. “We’ll only be here tonight, this bunch of us in this room, doing this. That’s live performance. Let’s try and find some point of transcendence and leap together.”
I definitely felt that transcendence during the show, and I’m still feeling its lingering after-effects. And I’m having trouble imagining a Canada without the Tragically Hip. The band is like another province to us, the state of mind we all want to live in.
I suspect the Hip’s final show, which the CBC is going to broadcast live Aug. 20 from Kingston, the band’s hometown, will be a moment this country has never seen before.
Well, let’s just see what the morning brings.
If you liked my first book, Please, you’ll probably enjoy this. Well, enjoy may not be the right word, as the stories in Bad Things Happen mainly focus on the characters’ lives coming apart. But there’s a certain brilliance and weird transcendence to be found in the cracks and wounds of their lives. These are stories where bad things do indeed happen — take that, CanLit — but the stories are less about the events the characters are caught up in and more about the quiet revelations found in the smoke break staring up at the stars, or the long drive into the night, waiting for the gas to run out. You know, the moments where we all think: This. This is my life.
Here’s the jacket copy:
The characters in Bad Things Happen—professors, janitors, webcam models, small-time criminals—are between things. Between jobs and marriages, states of sobriety, joy and anguish; between who they are and who they want to be. Kris Bertin’s unforgettable debut introduces us to people at the tenuous moment before everything in their lives change, for better or worse.
I enjoyed the hell out of this novella by Kelly Robson, who happens to be an amazing person as well an insanely gifted writer. You can read it for free at Tor or buy it through Kindle, etc. Here’s the blurb:
“Waters of Versailles” by Kelly Robson is a charming novella of court intrigue in 1738 Versailles as a clever former soldier makes his fortune by introducing a modern water system (and toilets) to the ladies of the palace. He does this with magical help that he may not be able to control.
It’s witty, charming, funny and surprisingly touching. Joy.
Anyway, I just read Corey Redekop’s short story Moot, which he’s giving away free for another few days. It’s an ode to noir detective fiction mixed up with zombie horror, because Corey does zombies like no other Canadian writer.
Here’s the blurb:
When a beautiful heiress hires Dudley Pasco to find her missing sister, he figures he’s got everything he needs to solve the case. He’s got the fedora, he’s got the gun, he’s got the patter.
The only thing he doesn’t have is a pulse.
Pasco is a moot, his body having decided that death is only a state of mind. Being moot isn’t always a problem for him, but when the trail leads to Greytown, Pasco is forced to face the horror of his own non-existence.
A mixture of hard-boiled detective noir and zombie horror, Moot is proof that dead men do tell tales.
Previously published in The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, “Moot” is now available as an eBook from Husky Monkey Publications.moot
Here’s the link:
“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.” — Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
I’ve only been back in Canada a few days since my Italian adventure, and already I am missing Italy. In particular, I miss my customary breakfast from Venice.
Also, the festive town squares. They’re civilized gathering places in Europe, as opposed to our pot rally and riot zones in Canada.
I was taken aback by the bad graffiti everywhere, but there were a few works of art that made me smile, such as this scene in Venice:
And this interesting one in Florence — not sure what the mask is all about, but I like the effect:
The random underground caves beneath people’s houses were also pretty fascinating. This one served as an Allied munitions cache and a church for the locals during the war years. Now it’s a nice place to escape the heat, although the severed doll’s arm was a little disconcerting:
I also miss the ease of train and canal travel:
Although there was the odd gondola traffic jam:
The locals weren’t much good with directions if you got lost, unfortunately:
And the street signs were a bit confusing:
I even got caught up in a pilgrimage to the Vatican, where tourists excitedly snapped photos of the priest telling them not to take photos:
Lots of naked guys everywhere, too. The Italians like to party au naturel, apparently:
And I did work out some ideas for the new Cross book while touring one of the many museums, so it wasn’t entirely unproductive.
I do miss those cappuccinos, though.
“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.”
— Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
I love this Goodreads review of my latest Cross book, The Apocalypse Ark. I’ve finally been called “bonkers” instead of “unhinged.” Now I just need someone to call me “deranged” and I can retire.
And did I mention there are libraries? Again, this book collects libraries of history, myth and legend and brings them together in one collective narrative. The books in these libraries are not ordinary books. They are accounts of the future masquerading as fiction, history cloaked as myth, escape routes out of impregnable fortresses, stories that unfold with the unraveling of the world’s secrets.
I’ve got a short piece in the new On Spec. I think it’s a poem but the poets would probably argue that. Anyway, it’s a festive Christmas thing, complete with elves and genocide!
I believe my new novel, The Apocalypse Ark, is now available at all the finest online bookstores and ancient scriptoriums everywhere. There was a short technical glitch where ebooks were unavailable in the temporarily human-occupied territory known as the U.S., but I believe the imps responsible for that unfortunate incident have been banished to Azathoth’s tummy until Atlantis rises again. Speaking of which, Atlantis is the one place you can’t buy The Apocalypse Ark, on account of their protectionist tariffs — and being overrun by the Deep Ones. I’ve created a petition to open up Atlantis’s bookstores, libraries and flooded cafes to foreign books once more. Let’s make Atlantis apocalyptic again!
ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia!
Direct link to the petition in case your device has sanity filters: https://www.change.org/p/peter-darbyshire-let-s-bring-the-apocalypse-to-atlantis?recruiter=537308522
(I found the illustration online and don’t know who created it. Message me by water serpent if you know the secret identity of the artist.)
When I was at Ad-Astra recently, I took part in a panel discussion called “How to Go Beyond Getting Started and Get Something Finished.” I was secretly hoping to learn something — and I did! There were some really great ideas put out there during the panel from both panelists and audience members, and I left thinking I had lots more to say on the subject. That’s always the sign of a good event, so well done to the organizers and all those who attended.
Given that I still had things I was excited to share, I thought I’d add my comments here in the form of a few blog posts, starting with a shoutout to Scrivener. If you’re a writer and you haven’t used Scrivener yet, you should give it a try. It’s an incredibly useful tool, and I say that as someone who only uses a small portion of its features. Scrivener bills itself as “your complete writing studio,” and that’s a fair claim. It lets you store your research all in one place, organize your ideas and notes, create your outlines — and even write your novel! You can use different tools for all these things, of course, but Scrivener lets you store everything in one place, which is helpful for scatter-brained authors working on large projects.
I mainly use Scrivener for novels because it’s so handy for outlining. The program has a built-in feature that breaks up novels into chapters that you can see in sort of virtual index cards pinned to a corkboard. I add notes to the index cards talking about the plot beats in the chapter, how the chapter fits into the rising action of the book, what I need to set up in the following chapters, how this chapter builds on the previous one, etc. It’s a very handy way of seeing all the complicated stuff of the book in one glance — the story, the rhythm, the character arcs, the little subplots that need wrapping up, whatever. Before I started using Scrivener, I struggled to keep all that stuff in my head, which meant I was editing more than I needed to as I realized I’d totally forgotten to reveal what had become of that character stabbed in Chapter 3 — he died, they all died — or why I put that talking horse’s head in Chapter 5. Still not sure about that one, to be honest….
The breakdown of chapters into separate files makes it easy to move sections of the book around, save cut scenes, etc. I will admit that I have actually edited parts of my books simply by dragging and dropping. Some of you may not be surprised.
It’s also great for productivity to have your research files stored within Scrivener, so you don’t have to leave the application to look up the history of that castle on the web again, and seeing as you’re already online you may as well check Facebook — wait, what did that person say about my book? Now I have to write an angry response on Goodreads under a pseudonym!
It’s easy to export Scrivener files to Word and epubs and whatever else you like, and there is an iOS app. I haven’t used that yet so I can’t comment. I’m sure it’ll work well, though, as the desktop app has always been solid for me.
If you take this writing thing seriously, you should at least take a look at Scrivener. It may mean the difference between a never-ending work in progress and your next novel sale.
I was sorry to see the end of Ad-Astra. I had a great time on the panels and the ChiZine reading I took part in — pretty funny to see six authors try to read in an hour, but we pulled it off with time to spare! It was lovely to see some old friends and meet some new ones and just to generally soak in the amazing creativity that was everywhere — the events, the costumes, the questions and answers, the readings, the games, the dealer booths, etc. I’ve actually been trying to do less events as I focus on my writing and family, but damn, Ad-Astra kind of made me want to do more!
The airport part drained me, though. The pic above is from the underworld of Pearson airport, where I found myself wandering aimlessly for a time while searching for a flight. I felt like Sisyphus….