Novels

Jun 212011
 
The view from my reading nook.

How much do you charge for digital products? For a decade my answer to that was “nothing!” It was freeing to be able to give away stuff, unhampered by material costs of production. I’ve been giving away e-books since 2000, and I’ve benefited from this in a number of ways.

However — in case you missed it — things have changed in the last decade. The print book market has been becoming less viable, and the digital becoming more so. Also the e-book reading experience is becoming more and more comparable to the print one. At a personal level, I’m reading as much on my phone as I am on the page.

So: I’ve decided to charge something for them now. But how much?

That’s up to you. Whatever you think is fair and whatever you’re happy to pay. If you’re looking for examples, read on.

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Jul 172010
 

Two recent book trades that I felt I got the better deal of — A Dream on Two Wheels and A Book of Tongues.

Wheels is a smart and whimsical cyclist alternate reality written by Sarah A. Chrisman, who not only handmakes her books but also a selection of hats you can wear while reading them. Lovely!

Tongues is a baroque masterpiece. The worldbuilding is as dense and rich as China Miéville’s, and the cowboy sex smells of Jean Genet’s forbidden machismo. The fact that this outlaw confabulation has come from a debut novelist from Toronto and a Toronto publisher of excellent weird spec-fiction just makes me extra-excited.

Nov 252008
 

I’m 2/3rds (AKA 66.6%) of the way through writing the graphic novel follow-up to Therefore Repent!, so I thought I’d post some of the amazing sample pages by the new artist, Shannon Gerard.

I don’t want to give away too many details, but it’s set in Detroit, involves one of the Four Horsemen, and the first 22 pages should be debuting at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May 2009.
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Jun 162008
 

libertyskin.jpgPretty nuts: that goofy Grand Theft Auto 3 video I made five years ago for my zine has been watched by the guy who designed SimCity, the Sims and the upcoming Spore. He actually mentioned it last week in a rather brilliant-sounding videogames-as-art speech.

That video (part of my Pleasure Circuit Overload series of vids about videogames) has gotten a ridonkulous amount of attention for what it is and it seems to keeps bumbling into places it doesn’t belong. (CTheory? The New York Times? Whaa…?)

But just so my head doesn’t inflate too much — I didn’t win the Shuster award for best comics writing I was nominated for last week. My new pal Cecil Castellucci won it for her excellent P.L.A.I.N. Janes graphic novel about a clique of nerdy girls transforming their town with art-terrorism.

Undeterred, I’m diving into researching and writing a new comics project, Time Management for Anarchists: The Comic. Which is gonna be drawn by Marc Ngui, the genius behind the My Trip avatar skins (pictured below).

It seems random, but everything in my life connects if you have enough time and graph paper to map it out. Continue reading »

Apr 282008
 

emilyandlisa-thumb.jpgLocus is a collaboration between two small independent publishers in Melbourne, aduki independent press and Vignette Press, run by Emily and Lisa. They got together to run market stalls (and now also a blog) because they knew doing it with a friend would be more enjoyable than going it alone. They were kind enough to share their advice on selling indie books and zines.

Doing market stalls probably won’t make you rich or sell a truckload of books. Our best market day ever made about $750, mostly we make a lot less than that. Beer money, really. But even if you don’t sell a lot you’re still spreading the word and marketing your product, which is important in the long run. We learned what kind of markets work for our particular books and what sorts of places just don’t. The only way you can figure this out for yourself is by getting out there and trying different markets. Here’s some tips for running a successful market stall. Continue reading »

Apr 172008
 

tcafstrip-thumb.jpgMy comic, it appears.

2008’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, Junot Díaz, was asked what he was reading for pleasure and he named my and Salgood’s graphic novel Therefore Repent! “It’s completely nuts,” he said, which is pretty close to what the Quill and Quire guy said (“unhinged”). Seems there’s a literary consensus on that. When my reader poll came out in favour of Lilith being actually daemonic and not just crazy, I committed to doing something over-the-top fantastical in contrast to my more muted stuff — nice to hear it’s working for people. Junot sounds like my kinda booknerd!

In other flattering news, I’ve been nominated for the Joe Shuster Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer award. Unlike some of the other talent there with a dozen or so comics to their name, I have only TR! and one other strip that appeared in the Beguiling-produced Comic Festival. You can read it on Salgood’s site.

Also: Chicago launch of Therefore Repent! next month!

Nov 222007
 

they’re always getting defaced… drawn by salgood samBoth critical raves and good sales? Eerie.

Therefore Repent! got a starred review in last month’s issue of Quill and Quire, made the Best of 2007 list in this month’s issue, and actually squeaked into the bestseller list for Canadian graphic novels last week.

Salgood Sam has booked the Montreal TR! launch at the newly opened Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore (211 Bernard Ouest) on Saturday, December 8, 7-9pm. As I’ve been in the baby zone, he’s been taking point lately with an audio ad and tabling at Expozine.

All this and it hasn’t even come out in the US yet! It’s due to hit the stores down south in January via Diamond (# NOV073660) and the US publisher IDW has printed up a great looking 30 page sampler to promote it: drop a line if you want some for your store or your pals. UPDATE: Salgood has a nice interview here, and the Montreal Mirror did an article as well.

Aug 152007
 

tr-arrived-thumb.jpgSo my fifth book and my first graphic novel, a collaboration with Salgood Sam, is finally available. Therefore Repent! is my take on the dark fantasy world established in the Holy Bible’s Book of Revelation. Some folks have asked about its relation to the Left Behind series, also set post-Rapture but with a conservative bent. I haven’t read it (though I have watched the movie starring Kirk Cameron and featuring Toronto’s CBC building as GNN Headquarters) but from what I hear it’s sincere bible fan-fiction, careful not to violate the canon. Mine’s closer to Bible slashfic, what with the bisexual angels and nipple-clamp-enhanced demonic communion. I like to think I’m re-imagining the Bible franchise, like Frank Miller did for Batman. Head over to the store to buy it or keep reading for the back cover copy and to see a hot book striptease. Continue reading »

Jan 172007
 

trpreview-thumb.jpgFour pages of our forthcoming graphic novel Therefore Repent! were published in the winter issue of Taddle Creek magazine, which was great. Taddle Creek dusts off the concept of the literary magazine and allows one to appreciate the quality and yes, even glamour, beneath. A mainstay of Toronto’s writers for the past decade, TC publishes excellent fiction, urban history, profiles where writers are given the star treatment — and they throw great launches. Click through to see the four page preview of our post-rapture comic. Continue reading »

Sep 282006
 

Dog's Blank Eyed StareSo I’m putting together the catalog copy and cover mockup for my upcoming graphic novel, Therefore Repent!, and Salgood’s done another killer job on the art. My favourite comment so far: “When I looked closer the dog’s eyes seem to be, uh, overflowing with evil.” I told Salgood about it and he said he just drew a blank eyed stare and people read it as demonic.

Keep reading to check out the cover it its full glory, wingèd helmet and all…
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Jun 212006
 

cele-bration time!One of the gems I received in response to my offer to trade books was a thin volume named The Giant Squid in… Holiday Hijinx. It preyed on my love of underwater creatures, the antiquated absurd, and needlessly cruel narrators. I’d enjoyed the Ask the Giant Squid columns online for their uppercrust tone and sharp-beaked attacks on monkeymen, but it wasn’t until I read them collected that I began to appreciate the characterization and narrative tentacles twined through. I interviewed the writers(s) via the interweb mail service, mostly with Dave Nelson, about their “3-pronged writing attack” and publishing experience.
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Mar 182006
 

lockpick-thumb.jpgJoey Comeau’s Lockpick Pornography isn’t just a title tease: it puts out plenty of sleaze and theft in a smart and funny queer adventure story. The narrator puts his foot through a television, pulls together a genderfucked super hero team and launches a figurative and literal attack on the straight man’s world. Starting life as an online novel, it’s become a beautifully designed physical object courtesy of Vancouver’s Loose Teeth Press. Joey is launching it with a reading with Derek McCormack at Toronto’s This Ain’t The Rosedale Library Bookstore (481-A Church St) on Tuesday, March 21, 7 p.m. Free.

I asked him a few questions over email about the book.

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Feb 282006
 

quantal-thumb.jpgIt’s a rare time that I like an art show so much that I’ll buy a catalogue — I find the writing in them does nothing for me. They’re as bad as artist’s statements, usually, which (along with the obligatory reading for authors) I consider to be a cultural convention that is deeply broken. But despite the fact that A Beginner’s Guide to Quantal Strife is a catalogue for a show that I hadn’t even seen yet, I read it cover to cover. It’s a thought-provoking and breezy read.

Sally McKay, past editor of arts magazine Lola and an artist herself, is responsible for bringing together Quantal Strife. I know her and two of the three artists personally but I was still left with lots of questions as to how she managed to pull this off.
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Jan 112006
 

missy-thumb.jpgI met Missy Kulik at an indie media conference where I was doing a DIY Books seminar. I picked up a couple of her comics and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Her first book, Personal Charm, was self-published in June: or as the copyright page more originally puts it, “First Pressing June 2005.” We chatted by email about her book, which has its roots in ten years of zine making.
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Dec 292005
 

The World is a Heartbreaker cover artSherwin Tjia is a Montreal artist who makes everything from Scrabble-tile lapel pins to schoolgirl comics to mini-CDs inviting us to listen to his friends masturbate. His latest book of poetry, The World is a Heartbreaker, is a collection of three liners: “i don’t want to say/ payback, but you know it’s/ pretty much payback”. It renewed my faith in the power and relevance of poetry the way that the best song lyrics do. I asked him a few questions over e-mail about the book’s development.

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Nov 232005
 

Mummy and Raven and Dog, tooSo what would you do if the Rapture, the biblical end of the world as foretold in Revelation, came to pass? Raven and Mummy go on a roadtrip! To read the 24 page comic for free go here.

The backstory: a year ago, when An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil came out, I posted one entry a day to the faux blog. On it was an online poll that asked readers if they thought the character Lilith was really a demoness or just delusional: I said that I’d write a spin-off story depending on how the vote went. Of the 500 people who weighed in, 55% of you thought she was unholy rather than unhinged.

Supernatural, then.
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Oct 132005
 

Ninj designed the best zine logo ever.Almost ten years ago, at the Imperial Pub at Dundas and Yonge, Jeff told me about his plans for a new zine. Quite different than Yip, his humor zine, it would be about exploring off-limits places. I was concerned about having such a narrow focus for a whole zine. I suggested he give it a broader theme, relegating the exploring to a column or subsection. “You could call it Sneak,” I said, brainstorming other sections for scams and other naughtiness.

Out of spite, Jeff (AKA Ninjalicious) published twenty-five issues of Infiltration, a zine about going places you weren’t supposed to go. And next week, his definitive book on the subject — Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration — is being launched in Toronto, to the dismay of lazy security guards everywhere.
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Jul 272005
 

Click to see the Penguin edition I read.As a life-long reader and an indie publisher it’s a little obvious, but having a good book on the go really increases my quality of life. Most recently it’s been John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, a great book about a post-apocolyptic Britain being terrorized by, erm, walking plants. (Wyndham, who preferred the term “logical fantasy” to describe what he did, manages to make his ridiculous Dr. Who-class monsters a plausible threat in the book. Can’t speak for the movie versions, which look as hilarious as you’d expect.)

But back to the quality of life issue: there’s something about a continuing narrative that is as soothing and enjoyable to slip into as a bath. I notice that I miss it in short story collections, for instance. I have to work at getting into the next story, while a good novel draws me back of its own accord. Occasionally I find a writer’s sensibility is engaging enough to pull me through a collection, as was Kelly Link in her wonderful (and now free!) Stranger Things Happen.

I finished Triffids this morning, and I’m on to The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman. If you’re a little Pottered out but want a fantasy fix, Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is highly recommended. Feel free to add your own good reads to the comments.

Jul 182005
 

Click to see the dome at pole.I met Nicholas Johnson at a Seattle zine fair nearly a decade ago. He was peddling Shark Fear, Shark Awareness at the time, and through a mail correspondence I kept up through his zine projects that were engrossing accounts of his time as a sperm donor (Burning the Ancestral Chi) and an ESL teacher (Kongju-si: Letters from Korea). His fast and trashy vid making was a big inspiration to my own initial forays into making little movies, and he actually wrote a DIY article for this site.

Big Dead Place
(Feral Press, 2005) is his latest and greatest project to date. Nicholas spent the last couple of years living in Antarctica, doing the joe-jobs that keep the research labs based there functioning: washing dishes and compacting garbage. I knew from the couple of e-mails that he’d sent that his stories about the place would be hilarious and fascinating: what I didn’t expect was how deftly he would weave together the historical tragedies of Sir Robert Scott’s bungled exploration with the bureacratic tragedies of bungled room assignments. Populated by lewd characters and outlandish scenarios, it nonetheless ignores the easy targets in favour of putting forth a journalistic work of depth and craft.

I shot him a couple of questions via e-mail.
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