After an especially nasty winter with massive amounts of snow, we're finally enjoying a beautiful spring
in Ottawa. To give you some sense as to what we had to contend with this year, here's a picture of MaryAnn
taking Johnny for a walk on our street.
Johnny has brought heaps of joy into our daily lives. Like any doting parent, I can't resist showing off our boy
as a puppy school grad. This little guy is 100% love. Who could ask for more?
Though he can be a bit of a brat, too. Just before writing this, MaryAnn and I spent awhile in the back
yard (any excuse to get outside in the nice weather) to patch the holes in the various fences with
newly-purchased chicken wire. When we were done, we let himself out to run around by himself for the
first time in his own back yard, and naturally, he wouldn't come back in. Oh well. Eventually
he'll get hungry...or lonely...
I've finally turned in my Tor novel. Its working title is The Mystery of Grace, but that may change, as there could be some
confusion about the book (it's not technically a mystery). We'll see what the Powers That Be have to say. The Mystery of
Grace isn't set in Newford, but rather in the same Southwestern setting as Yellow Dog (see below). I thought it
was time to let go of Newford and its regular cast of characters, although I'll miss visiting them and catching up on the gossip.
I'm now working on a new book (no rest for the wicked) and let's just say that I'm thoroughly enjoying getting to know a whole
new cast of characters.
My new young adult novella Dingo is selling briskly at Firebird (Penguin) and has garnered some excellent reviews,
including a starred one from Publishers Weekly. More here:
Reviews for Dingo
What the Mouse Found is due from Subterranean Press at the end of this month. This is a collection of obscure
and unpublished children's stories, most of which were based on soft sculptures and dolls made by MaryAnn. The stories
were written for the kids who received the art. Included in the book are photos of the pieces that inspired the tales,
with a cover featuring our niece Kmoré kissing a frog. Reviews of this book are also great, and can be found here:
Reviews for What the Mouse Found
Subterrananean Press is publishing another of my Triskell Press chapbooks. Yellow Dog will be printed
in two colors throughout, with a cover and several interior illustrations by me. This story takes place in
the American Southwest. It will be available as a chapbook or a hardcover. You can get more info here:
Yellow Dog from Subterrananean Press.
(If you're a collector of advance proofs, see MaryAnn's News below.)
MaryAnn is still doing her vintage thing at the Ottawa Antique Market and is enjoying her new spot there.
She's put one of the What the Mouse Found advance proofs on eBay, and she's also auctioning a copy of
Riding Shotgun—a limited edition chapbook that was only available briefly as a promo from Subterranean Press. MaryAnn's auctions are at:
If you were planning a trip to Ottawa with a stop at Patty's Pub this spring/summer, take note that our Thursday
nights are on hiatus until September, when the students return to university. The pub relies heavily on the
student trade, so our break came at the same time as school was wrapping up. We'll miss our regulars and look
forward to starting up again in the fall.
MaryAnn and I had the pleasure of seeing Brock Zeman play at a local pub last week. Brock put on a great
show as always. He tours a fair bit (just back from Texas) so check out his site and if you get a chance
to see him live, don't miss it. In the meantime, I highly recommend all of his albums (with a new one due
in just a couple of weeks) as his songs & lyrics are consistently outstanding. I think he's probably my
favourite contemporary songwriter, capable of writing with immediacy and timelessness, all in the same
breath. The fact that he's totally irreverent on stage helps, too, since sometimes performers can take
the whole thing a little too seriously. Check out his Web site if you have a minute.
We'll also get to see Fred Eaglesmith very soon at our favourite bar—The Black Sheep Inn
in Wakefield, Quebec. Fred has a new CD called Tinderbox, which you could describe as alt-gospel. It has
no choirs, and the religious elements are definitely approached from a different perspective. I've heard
that some of his fans don't like it (but there are fans of his that always hate the new album—until
the next one comes out, and then they ask him, "Why couldn't you have made an album like X?", X being the
album they hated previously). But I love it.
I guess I've been in a more rockin' frame of mind lately, because the artists getting the most play around
here lately turn the amps up. There's Momofuku, the new Elvis Costello that sounds so fresh and
smart, it could have been the follow-up to his first album. Street date is May 13th.
Alex Turner (of the Arctic Monkeys) has teamed up with a fellow named Miles Keane to form a side
project called The Last Shadow Puppets. Their first album is The Age of the Understatement, and if
you like Turner's work in his day-job band, you'll like his collaborations here just as much.
I don't know anything about The Duke Spirit, but I love their new album Neptune.
And lastly—no, I haven't given up on Celtic music. Another album getting a lot of play lately
is the new release from an Australian Celtic band Súnas. It's called a breath away from shadow and
if you check the back cover you'll see that hidden away in this talented collective is my pal Paul
Brandon. He wrote or co-wrote much of the material, proving he's just as good at penning songs and
tunes as he is novels. Of course I always knew what a great guitarist he is. I doubt you'll find
this in your local music shop, so point your browser to:
Tell him Charles and MaryAnn say hello!
So the big news, which has nothing to do with me, is that my pal Charles Saunders is hitting the
book shelves again with a collection of his Dossouye stories. I think it's criminal the way his
work has been neglected over the years and I don't know why. Maybe it's because it's often been
labelled heroic fantasy in a publishing environment where heroic fantasy is considered
neither edgy nor cool.
Personally, I think of his work as historical adventure fantasy because the stories are set
in a meticulously researched real historical background, but there is magic. Didn't know that
Africa had cities and a wide-spread civilization in the long ago? Neither did I until I read
Charles' work and then went back and followed the path of some of his research. Utterly
fascinating stuff, but more to the point, Charles writes an adventure story that'll keep you on
the edge of the seat from the first page.
For more info on the new book, point your browser to:
I get a lot of books sent to me for review, but few of them are Young Adult, so to fix my jones
for YA, I usually trawl the local bookstore's shelves at least once every couple of weeks to see
what's new. I don't always come away with fantasy books. Truth is, I rarely come away with fantasy
books because there's such a wide choice and so many good writers out there working in YA that I don't
want to limit myself to simply reading one genre.
Recently I came across a book called Snitch by Allison van Diepen (Simon Pulse, 2007), which
is set in the street gang life of NYC. It intrigued me enough to take home and read, but it wasn't
until I got to the end of this riveting book and read the little author's blurb that I realized she
lived right here in Ottawa. When I mentioned that to my friend Pat (who manages another bookstore),
she said I had to read Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet by Joanne Proulx (Viking Canada, 2007)
and proceeded to get a copy into my hands. Another great book, this one about a sort of loser kid
who has premonitions of people's deaths, written by another local author whom I hadn't heard of before now.
I really need to get out more. But in the meantime, I recommend both titles to you, along with
van Diepen's earlier book Street Pharm (Simon Pulse, 2007).
There's going to be a new one up on the site, culled from the pages of Dark Horizons #52—the
very cool magazine of the British Fantasy Society. Also, last year's music essay
from The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror will be going up. Check the site in the new week or so.
But in the meantime, my friend Kim Antieau, author of some of my all-time favourite books (like
Cowboy Cowgirl, for just one) has a fun blog. Recently she decided to interview some authors
in her blog and I'm there along with a bunch of other writers that I really like: Alice Hoffman,
Jane Yolen, Joanne Harris, and Jimmy Santiago Baca. (I didn't know his work until I was talking
to Kim about him—man, can this guy write a powerful poem. But if you're not a poetry
reader, try his memoir A Place to Stand. It'll kill you, it's so good.)
Anyway, the interviews are all up at:
It's that time of year again, when we haul out all the hundreds of review books that I've
accumulated over the year. No doubt the crowds will be as anxious as ever for us to cut
the tape and let the frenzy begin. I really should take pictures of our long lane lined with
books from end to end, but we're always too busy to pull out the camera. Suffice to say that
it's a popular event and one that we much enjoy. MaryAnn will have her beautiful treasures as
well, and folks always enjoy seeing what she has to offer. Watch my Web site for details:
I hope to see you there, but until again, be well and take care of each other.
P.S. In case you were worried about Johnny—outside on his own—hardly five minutes went
by with him being out there and he was at the back door, asking to be let in...