Category Archives: Writing
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.)
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
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!
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.
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!
- Has the World Ended Yet? Well, it’s getting there. In the meantime, an excerpt from my most recent published book. (I’ve written others, but it’s hard to find the time to publish them when I’m fighting off tentacled zombies on my doorstep. Always with the procrastination and excuses….)
- Starseed: Or, The Strange Transformation of Archimedes Death. A mysterious and dark superhero in the First World War! A super scientist determined to learn the truth! Mechanical alien spiders! Trench warfare! No plagues!
- The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse. The first in my series of stories about the angel gunslinger Azrael.
- The Angel Azrael Delivers Small Mercies. “Mercy” is a loaded word when you’re an angel gunslinger.
- The Angel Azrael Delivers Justice to the People of the Dust. “Justice” is also a loaded word when you’re an angel gunslinger.
- The Princess Trap. A sheepherder and a dragon come to an arrangement of sorts. Hapless knights pay the price.
- We Are All Ghosts. My first (and only) Lovecraftian superhero apocalypse story! An updated version of this appears in Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book.
- We Are a Rupture That Cannot Be Contained. Ghosts erupt out of pipelines and the world ends. Hey, the price of gas is low right now! An updated version of this appears in Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book.
- We Continue to Pray for Something to End Our Prayers. Gotta say, this isn’t the way I expected the world to end. An updated version of this appears in Has the World Ended Yet?, my latest book.
Literary or some such genre
My latest book, Has the World Ended Yet?, is now available in ebook format — Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iTunes, the usual suspects. Now it’s simple as opening an app on your phone to bring about the apocalypse!
Buy Has the World Ended Yet? (ebook)
You can also buy the ancient, bound physical tome if that’s more your thing. Probably makes better kindling for cooking fires after the collapse of civilization anyway.
Buy Has the World Ended Yet? (paperback)
I was surprised and delighted to see my latest book, Has the World Ended Yet?, mentioned over at Shawna Lemay’s Transactions With Beauty. Lemay is one of my favourite writers and Transactions With Beauty is one of my few must-read sites, so this is a great honour for me. And I love the photographs!
Plus, it’s probably the only time in my life I will ever be included with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Radiohead and the Rolling Stones.
A mysterious and dark superhero! A super scientist determined to learn the truth! Mechanical alien spiders! Trench warfare! My latest story, “Starseed: Or, The Strange Transformation of Archimedes Death,” is now live at Taddle Creek!
Previous: Pulp Spectacular
UPDATED: “Starseed” is now live at Taddle Creek’s online emporium of wonders!
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.