Category Archives: Writing

The apocalypse is not evenly distributed

I haven’t had much to post of late because I’ve been busy writing. I’ve finished a number of stories and a new novel, and I’m partway through another novel. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to read some of them soon. In the meantime, I’d thought a post a few things from the archives. Here’s a Halloween interview I did with Open Book a while back for my collection Has the World Ended Yet? (it’s looking increasingly likely).

I realized early on that the stories I was writing were all kind of apocalyptic but in very different ways. I came up with a few ideas to link them but they all felt kind of forced, so I let them go. The book now has a chaotic, crazed feel to it — “Wait, how does this demon investigator story go with the retired superheroes battling angels?” But I really like the way that the structure of the book reflects its subject matter. We’re all mad here, right?

So the stories are both linked and not linked. The book is like a broken mirror. That said, there are a few easter eggs in the book where stories speak to each other, if people are willing to look for them.

Angel apocalypses, casual miracles, travelling deity salesmen, elder god placement agencies, aging superheroes and more — this collection has all the Halloween treats you can imagine! Buy a box today to give out to the kids in your neighbourhood! (Just remember to lock the doors and turn out the lights when the mob of angry parents shows up.)

The doctors said there was nothing wrong with me

In honour of that strange time before the pandemic when we used to get out and socialize more, here’s a story from the archives about spying on my neighbours. It’s from my first book, Please, which really is from a different time.

“An appropriate apocalyptic pulpy cover”

Interview from the archives: All Lit Up talks to designer Michel Vrana about the design process for my book Has the World Ended Yet? I still think this is a beautiful cover, and the retro images inside are just a bonus.

Have you downloaded the apocalypse yet?

As we head into the season of endless night, it’s important to make sure you have enough reading material to keep your mind occupied so you don’t notice what the shadows are doing. Here’s a friendly reminder that my latest book, Has the World Ended Yet?, is available in ebook format so you can download it and immediately start reading its tales of travelling deity salesman, Craigslist miracles, angel invasions, elder god job placement agencies and more.

Buy Has the World Ended Yet? on Kindle | Kobo | iBooks

And if you’ve read Has the World Ended Yet? and liked it, please leave a review in your preferred Book of Judgement (Goodreads | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com). If enough people demand it, we may be able to release the Has the World Ended Yet? expansion pack: My Pandemic Superpower Is….

(Image taken from Has the World Ended Yet?, which has many retrofuturish images for your nightmarish pleasure.)

The angels of inspiration

It’s quite lovely to see my book Has the World Ended Yet? included in a list of recommendations from the Edmonton Public Library and Shawna Lemay. Some of these creators have been an influence on my own writing, so it’s both gratifying and humbling to be on this list. Shawna talks more about influences and her forthcoming book, Everything Affects Everyone, over at Transactions with Beauty.

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.)

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