There are several people on my mother’s side of the family who possess a natural aptitude for language(s) and a love of words (and crossword puzzles), but despite this ours is not a “family of letters.” There is, however, a maternal great-great-grandfather who published poems in a newspaper in the 19th century. I’ve known about this ancestor for a few years—one George Samuel Betts (1841-1888) who was born in the shadow of Westminster Abbey and established himself as a bricklayer in Ottawa, before falling from scaffolding and succumbing to his injuries in his late 40s. He was at work on a new YMCA building (likely the one pictured) that no longer exists, which sat at the northeast corner of O’Connor and Queen. I spent some time a few years back trying to find a trace of his poetry in local newspaper archives, but alas no joy.
My bibliography is outdated — the last short story I published was in 2014. That’s because I’ve been expending all spare time and energy on novel-writing for the last 4 years — an arduous preoccupation that takes much time to create and even more time to release into the world. Books 1 and 2 are drafted and beta-read (and now on submission, with some promising nibbles from agents asking to see the full manuscript), and Book 3 is starting to take shape. This secondary-world epic fantasy, which has been brewing for nearly two decades, may never find the light, off-template as it is from a publisher’s point of view. But the words come regardless. This alternate world insists on being and there’s not much I can do about that. I sit in front of my laptop whenever I can, and simply obey.
I may be biased, because it takes place in my hometown and it’s organized by friends of mine, but Can-Con for my money is the best annual speculative fiction gathering in Canada, hands down. I HATE missing it, because the panels are great and the people even greater. I only miss it if I’m literally across an ocean (which is happening more and more), and October has a big hole in it if I can’t enjoy the festivities. Below are the panels I was on this year, and here in this string is a very heartfelt thank-you to the people who make this event possible — the organizers and a horde of volunteers deserve every props, as 2017 was yet another success. Many people attended for the first time and are now utterly devoted, for good reason. I will be living abroad this time next year and must miss Can-Con 2018, and I’m already grieving. If you love fantasy, science fiction or horror, and if you can get to Ottawa, make this con your fall priority. I mean, where else can you get to randomly have supper with natty gent Steven Erikson (!) or pitch a novel at DAW’s Sheila Gilbert (!)? This con is all love, skill, and wonder, and it’s getting bigger every year.
The Illusion of History (with Charlotte Ashley, Cathy Hird, Fiona Patton, Gregory A. Wilson)
King of the Dead: A Retrospective Discussion of George Romero (with Jay Odjick, Sean Moreland, Matt Moore)
The Books We Don’t Admit to Reading (with Violet Malan, Peter Halasz)
I’m happy to be able to attend and panel at Can-Con again this year, after missing out in 2015 because of travels. It’s my favourite SFF con; many of my friends are there, it’s a ten-minute walk from my home, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds every year so it’s fun to watch the evolution. I always meet interesting people there, as well, and I’m happy my city gets to host SFF fans, writers and publishers. Much praise for the organizers, who are so good about putting out feelers and staying on top of what needs to be done to make Can-Con welcoming and energetic. Looking forward to this weekend —here’s a list of panels I’ll be on, and my fellow panellists:
Friday 8pm – STORY STRUCTURE
With: Leah Bobet, Sam Morgan, Nina Munteanu, Sheila Williams
Saturday 11am – WHY DOESN’T EPIC FANTASY GET ANY CRITICAL RESPECT, OR DOES IT?
With: S.M. Carrière, Peter Halasz, Evan May, Ed Willett
Saturday 5pm – CAN THE EXORCIST WORK IN THE MODERN WORLD?
With: Madeline Ashby, Timothy Carter, Matt Moore, Mike Remar
You can find the full schedule here.
*Poster art by Jay Odjick
I’ve been asked to join the judges’ panel at this year’s Ottawa Geek Market, along with my friend and colleague Sean Moreland. We’ll be judging the best stories in the Horror and Fantasy categories, and we’re excited to award each first-place winner a $1,000 scholarship for post-secondary studies. Congrats in advance to the winners…
I am beyond delighted that “Charlemagne and Florent,” first published at Myths Inscribed, made it into Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. The anthology was born this month but contains what the editors feel are the best speculative Canadian tales of 2014. It’s nice to be a part of the Chizine Publications family, however small that part is, and it’s extra nice to be included in a book for which Margaret Atwood wrote the introduction. (Pinches self.) This antho is a brick at 500 pages and features piles of talented Canada-associated writers. Super worth picking up at evil Amazon or elsewhere because it’s a great read and supports a Toronto indie press that does valuable work.
I was invited by the organizers of Writefest in Houston, TX to talk about the writer/editor relationship with new(ish) writers (and editors, it turns out). Because I wasn’t able to make it down in person, I got to have my shining hour via Skype. And it was very shiny, being on the same speaker roster as Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, Mike Allen of Mythic Delirium, the McSweeney’s gang and others. The session was moderated by writer and editor Julia Rios, and it was great to “meet” her at last, as we’ve been linked on Facebook and Twitter for some time. I only wish I’d had a chance to Skype-meet co-organizer Layla Al-Bedawi, as well, who seems to be a righteous person indeed. The talk was fun, the questions were great, and I had to think hard about what makes an editor “good” versus “bad” in a world where subjectivity has much weight and where the publishing game is in roiling flux. The Huffington Post has a lovely writeup, and I’m just one of many who wish Writefest a long, perennial life.