Category Archives: Writing

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

Has the World Ended Yet? – now in ebook!

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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)

“And of course it’s full of angels”

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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.

Starseed: Or, The Strange Transformation of Archimedes Death, now online at Taddle Creek

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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

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.

Related: Beautiful Books: Has the World Ended Yet?

So many gods, such little time

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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.

The Bad Fairy StoryBundle

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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….

Three years of angel-punching action!

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….

 

To all a good night!

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
who
or what
he was

they gave him gifts of warm clothes
hot food and drink
life and
love

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
inside him
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
and unmoving
as a shard of coal
burning
in ice

Originally published in On Spec No. 102 (Fall 2015)