If you like your daily literary and culture news with a twist of the knife, Bookninja is back.
Some of you may remember when George Murray and I started up Bookninja many years ago to talk books on a more or less daily basis. I eventually left to focus on my own writing and because I had kids. Who has the time to do anything on a daily basis when you’re a parent? George grew Bookninja to global infamy on his own before he shut it down himself to also concentrate on his own life. His kids must be grown up now or something, because he’s started up Bookninja again.
Here are George’s comments on the resurrection of the ninja:
Over the last couple years, though, I realized that the unmitigated dumpster-fire known as “The Literary World” had driven me completely underground. I could barely read the news, much less comment on it. I hate living like that.
Recently I realized that when my kids ask me what to do when they feel out of place or under siege by life, I say things like: “Well, then create your own space” and “Time to sally forth with your troops and break the siege.” Which kind of makes me a hypocrite for hiding for seven years.
Further, I feel like I was always out of the loop in terms of what’s happening in the world. Bookninja gave me a chance to go out and seek out daily news that I was interested in.
So, this is me not being a hypocrite anymore. And me trying to “get out” more.
Give Bookninja a follow if you haven’t already. I think you’ll like it. Maybe if enough people start reading it George will make more comics.
I’m thrilled to announce I’ve got a shiny new story in Taddle Creek’s “pulp spectacular” issue. Taddle Creek has always been one of my favourite mags – and not just because they’ve published a few stories of mine, like “Neighbours” and “The Code” (from my first book, Please), as well as “If You Lived Here” (from my second book, The Warhol Gang). They even published one of the stories that wound in my latest book, Has the World Ended Yet?
That last bit actually brings us around to my new story, “Starseed (Or, The Strange Transformation of Archimedes Death”). The story is my take on a Superman kind of story, where I imagined what would happen if someone like Superman found himself on Earth with no formidable enemies and the conscience of a man who realized no one could stop him, no matter what he did. No one, that is, except for perhaps a reluctant scientist hero by the name of Archimedes….
I’d originally considered including the story in Has the World Ended Yet? because it was a good fit for the collection in terms of content and tone. But my editor, Paul Vermeersch, felt it wasn’t quite ready when it came time for the book to go to print, and he was right. We kept it out and I worked on it for a few more drafts, until I got it to the point where I’d truly captured that pulp feel. Then Taddle Creek editor Conan Tobias asked me if I had anything for a special pulp issue he was planning and here we are.
Anyway, check out the issue if you can. It’s done up in true pulp form specially for the issue, with more wild and crazy authors than you can shake a tentacle at. Check out the table of contents if you don’t believe me!
And, as always, thanks for reading.
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods seems to be getting a lot of attention these days, which makes me happy. I had the chance to interview him over sushi many years ago, when I still worked in the media, and he was one of the nicest and most honest writers I’d ever met. Plus there’s all that creative stuff. He’s the kind of writer you really like to see succeed and blow up in mainstream popularity, especially given all the work he does on behalf of others.
I also like seeing American Gods get lots of attention because of that time Robert J. Wiersema went on the CBC’s Next Chapter and suggested readers of American Gods may also like my first Cross book, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice. Check it out if you haven’t heard it already – the segment starts around the 41 minute mark.
My first Cross book, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, is included in The Bad Fairy StoryBundle. Pay what you want for 10 books! Find out why The Mona Lisa Sacrifice is “like if Quentin Tarantino made Howl’s Moving Castle”!
My book aside, it’s a pretty good deal. 10 books for less than the price of a coffee each – and no DRM! It’s almost too good to be true, like some sort of fairy trick….
“Give me the impossible city, the perfect Paris,
its people wearing shoes made of saltwater,
its streets full of whipped cream and opera,
its fire-breathing street vendors selling
both balloons and bourbon bottles.
Give me books written on illuminated
garlic skin by domesticated foxes;
the cloud-breaking Eiffel Tower
afloat on the buttery backs of croissants.”
(Photo is of me in a gallery in Paris, many ages ago. Long before I’d dreamed up Cross and The Mona Lisa Sacrifice!)
My calendar reminds me it’s been three years since the publication of The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, the first in my Cross series of supernatural thrillers. I wasn’t sure where the tale of Cross and his angel enemies and mythical friends would lead me, but it turned into a wild and unpredictable journey. Shakespearean spirits and faerie intrigue! Strange, magical libraries! Undead Atlanteans, literary vampires and crazed angels! The difficulties of being a single parent to a ghost child! The horrors of monstrous royal families! The complications of love among immortal beings! And a host of characters that seem to have been born more from their own imaginations than mine – including, of course, Alice.
I think as a writer the thing you hope for most is to create a world that hasn’t been done before – and that wouldn’t have been made up by anyone else. Something that is a unique creation, a world that other people want to visit for a time and return to at different points in their lives, be it for discovery, nostalgia, comfort or joy. Those are the books that live on in my imagination. Hopefully Cross and his friends are creating such a world for some of you.
Also, I have recently finished the first draft of the fourth book in the Cross series. With any luck, you’ll have a chance to spend more time with Cross and his friends – and enemies – in the near future. Which, with Cross, always means a trip into our secret pasts….
Can’t view the ancient parchments? Read it below:
and to all a good night
once a year the elves rouse him from the long winter of sleep
with their screams, their burning bodies dancing through his nightmares
he wakes to their ancient bones scattered around the workshop
white as the snow and ice that bury the ruins in silent, eternal night
the same elves that had found him under the world tree
as dead as all the other world trees
and had unwrapped him from the bonds of his frozen grave
root and chain and stone and bone
lost there for so many nights
he no longer remembered
they gave him gifts of warm clothes
hot food and drink
until he burned inside
like a furnace
they took him into their workshops
and showed him impossible things
wonders made real
what some would call science
what others would call magic
what they called wishes
but all the wishes of the elves couldn’t save them
from the fire that burned out of control
and the ice and cold
of his soul
and so he sleeps forgotten again
in the ruins of the workshop
waking only once a year
on that anniversary
when their screams drive him out
into the snow and ice and long night
in search of other sleepers
so he can whisper in their dreams
the secrets of the elves
of impossible things
of the end
so he can free himself from the burden
of their gifts that could never be
and slumber for another year
his mind frozen hard
as a shard of coal
Originally published in On Spec No. 102 (Fall 2015)
I woke up this morning to Facebook reminding me of the Facebook Live I did a year ago to talk to the Vancouver Writers Festival about my new book, Has the World Ended Yet? A lot has happened since that time — the Great Bot Uprising, the alien ghost infestation, the angel viruses, and of course that whole Sunken City episode — but the Writers Fest FB Live still remains one of my favourite experiences in this dark timeline. So I’ve reproduced my original post here, to remind us of the time the sun still existed.
I had a great time at the Vancouver Writers Festival this year – it’s always such a treat to meet smart, creative readers and talk writing and books with gifted people like Lydia Kwa and Sean Cranbury.
I’m not sure what I’m saying in this screen grab – I think maybe: “The road to salvation is that way, not with this tawdry, earthly book down here.”
If Shakespeare and Faulkner had a knife fight in a back alley, the blood they spilled would be the ink Ian Weir used to record The Death and Life of Strother Purcell. The tale of a legendary gunman and his outlaw brother is as mythic as it is down and dirty, crossing years, borders and near every moral and ethical boundary imaginable as the estranged brothers head for a reckoning that is sure to be as apocalyptic as it is inevitable. It’s fit for those who like the westerns of Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx in equal measures: as literary as it is lurid, as epic as it is eerie. Picture John Wayne riding into a Greek tragedy and you’ll have a notion of the peculiar brilliance that is The Death and Life of Strother Purcell.
In 1876, the fabled lawman Strother Purcell disappears into a winter storm in the mountains of British Columbia, while hunting down his outlawed half-brother. Sixteen years later, the wreck of Purcell resurfaces – derelict and homeless – in a San Francisco jail cell. And a failed journalist named Barrington Weaver conceives a grand redemptive plan. He will write Purcell’s true-life story. All it requires is a final act…
What unfolds is an archetypal saga of obsession, lost love, treachery, and revenge. A deadpan revisionist Western, refracted through a Southern Gothic revenge tragedy, The Death and Life of Strother Purcell is a novel about two cursed brothers, a pair of eldritch orphans, the vexed nature of truth, and the yearnings of that treacherous sonofabitch the human heart.