How many writers does it take to escape a dungeon?

The Broadsword Bandits return for an epic fantasy battle with…. a rug…? Yes, that’s right — in my first foray into Dungeons and Dragons in a legendary amount of time, I decided to go check out a suspiciously nice-looking rug in a room full of ghosts. We all know what nice rugs in a dungeon are….

Mimics!

Anyway, watch how writers Arthur Slade, Adrienne Kress, Kevin Sylvester, KC Dyer and myself figure out how to escape James McCann‘s Rug of Doom!

Episode One Part Two:

Episode Two:

Free mead, you say?

The first instalment of the online D&D game I recently joined with a bunch of fine writers is now live. In typical D&D fashion, we head straight for the tavern and try to get in a bar fight with a quest giver….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7o46JKYXOg

Back to the Beholder Ranch with the Broadsword Bandits!

What happens when a bunch of writers get together to play D&D? I don’t know but I’m sure we’ll all have interesting back stories…. Watch it live Monday, April 26! (Link for livestream.)

If you want the meta back story, this whole project came out of James McCann’s Dungeons and Dragons Resource Guide and the Beholder Ranch.

Put a ring on it

It’s lovely news to hear my most recent book, Has the World Ended Yet?, made the long shortlist for the ReLit Award. Some of you may remember my first book, Please, won a ReLit Award back in… well, let’s just say Life Before the Pandemic.

I’ve been lucky enough to win a few writing prizes over the years, and they’ve all seemed to come just when I was ready to give up on writing altogether. Most writers will recognize that feeling — it’s a lonely affair at the best of times, and self-doubt and imposter syndrome comes with the territory. So it’s nice to get that validation from strangers sometimes that maybe someone out there actually does like your writing.

The ReLit is one of my favourite awards even though there’s no money involved. The prize is a ring made of moveable dials engraved with letters, so that you can spell words with it. It is a lovely little fetish object and the perfect award for a writer. Even though I won it many years ago, it’s still on my writing desk today.

Not only is the ReLit Ring a beautiful creation, it is also a frequent and much valued reminder to myself that other people do care about what I write. Sometimes you need that reminder while staring at the blank screen, wondering what to do with these obstinate characters who refuse to tell you what they want. Sometimes that reminder is enough of a writing prompt that I continue to write when I feel like giving up, and I press on and get through the day until I finish the story or book or whatever mad experiment it is I’m working upon. The ReLit Ring was a prize for a book I had already published, but it’s helped me to write many other stories, and for that I will always be grateful.

Plus, I get to write secret messages to myself with it!

Learn more about the ReLit Ring and the ReLit Awards here: http://www.relitawards.com

(I know not everyone has a spare magic ring sitting around to throw at their favourite writers, but a good review works wonders as well. Please consider making a writer’s day by writing a review for a book you’ve enjoyed. Any writer — this isn’t about me. Trust me when I say it will make a difference.)

Breakout at the Beholder Ranch!

I had the opportunity to talk with James McCann of the Richmond Public Library about Dungeons and Dragons and the creative process, and it was probably the most fun I’ve had during the pandemic. D&D has always been a big part of my life and probably one of the reasons I became a writer — if you can handle creating a D&D campaign, you can probably write a novel or at least a short story! Check out the video interview where we talk about the magic of writing, world building, and why I secretly want to be a necromancer. Also, we come up with the idea for a Beholder Ranch adventure! It’s all fun and games until something kills you with a magic eye….

Happy End Times!

The end of the world is now 30% off! My publisher Wolsak & Wynn is holding an apocalyptically good sale on my book Has the World Ended Yet? and other of their fine titles. Check out these terrifying tales of retired superheroes vs. mysterious angels, travelling deity salesmen, Craigslist miracles, demon investigators and more before the world ends (or Halloween, whichever comes first)! (Use the code “TREAT” at checkout or visit the usual haunts.) https://bookstore.wolsakandwynn.ca/collections/fiction/products/has-the-world-ended-yet

Clearly Gernsback was a time traveller!

I’m always delighted to see a new issue of Taddle Creek mysteriously appear in my driveway, and this work of art is no exception. I particularly like the letter to the editor about my story “Starseed,” published in an earlier edition of Taddle Creek. I’m no stranger to letters to the editor thanks to my previous career in the media, but this was an interesting change from the usual accusations of being a left/right wing shill for Big Publishing/indie anarchists.

Late last year, Taddle Creek, in quick succession, received possibly the two greatest letters ever to grace its e-mailbox. Both were from Kieran Dunn, of Guelph, Ontario, who wrote: “I have just finished reading ‘Starseed,’ by Peter Darbyshire, in the summer issue of Taddle Creek (No. 43). I was perplexed by the following passage: ‘The interior of that starship was indescribable by the likes of me. Perhaps Gernsback and his fellow science fictioneers could manage it, but it is beyond me.’ While I appreciate the homage in this ‘celebration of the . . . pulp magazine,’ I have to wonder when this story is meant to take place. The Battle of the Somme, the concluding event in the story, was fought in 1916. Amazing Stories, Hugo Gernsback’s first foray into what we now call science fiction, was not founded until 1926. It seems unlikely that the narrator, Archimedes Death, would be writing later than 1926 and, thus, unlikely he would refer to Hugo Gernsback as a ‘science fictioneer.’ I would be interested to hear your take on this.”

Read the full letter here at Taddle Creek, including my response. I like the way Kieran Dunn’s mind works!

And if you want to support Taddle Creek putting more beautiful ephemera into the world, there’s always the subscribe option!

When tomorrow’s headlines become alternative history

Ten years ago I published The Warhol Gang with HarperCollins, a dystopian tale of neuromarketing gone awry, viral murder videos, professional insurance fraudsters, an underground resistance to a mutated mall culture, rampaging office co-workers and more. At the time, I worked at one of the larger daily newspapers in Canada, and I was trying to reflect the strange stories I saw trending online — I was trying to write the headlines of tomorrow.

I have to admit I never saw 2020 coming.

So now The Warhol Gang is a quaint little alternate history, where malls are still open (albeit under attack by that underground resistance), people still gather in groups without face masks and murder hornets have not yet come swarming over the horizon. I think I did all right with the Gun World storyline, though….

Anyway, it’s still available for sale as far as I know if you’re looking for a little escapist fantasy reading.

If you’re more interested in contemporary fiction about current events, please check out Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book. It’s pretty strange. But admittedly not as strange as 2020.

Looking for some light reading during the apocalypse?

 

Self-isolating at home during the coronavirus pandemic? Finished watching every single show on Netflix? Built your survival fort out of toilet paper and dried pasta? Remember when any of those things would have seemed strange just a few weeks ago?

Maybe it’s time to hunker down and ignore the zombies and asteroid storms and alien saucers outside with a good read. Here’s a quick list of some of my works you can read for free online. Finish them all and you’ll open the Seventh Seal! Do it quick before the Fifth Horseman arrives!

 

The Fantastic

 

Literary or some such genre

Show cancelled? Donate the tickets!

I was really looking forward to seeing the dance adaptation of Christian Bok’s Eunoia at the Firehall this May, but that won’t be happening now because of the COVID-19 crisis. I donated the value of my tickets to the arts centre rather than ask for a refund. Please consider doing the same for any shows you bought tickets for that have now been cancelled. We will need the arts even more once this crisis has passed, and your donation may make the difference to the survival of arts venues and artists in your community.