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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Angry Young Spaceman 5 Years Young Today

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May 032005

Click to zoom.On May 3, 2000, I had the Toronto launch for my second novel and the first No Media Kings book, Angry Young Spaceman. I then set out on my first book tour ever, taking the train across Canada with alien exhibit creator Sandy Plotnikoff to spread the word of teaching English on other planets.

The first printing has been sold out for a while, but happily Peter at The Beguiling (and organizer of the much anticipated Toronto Comics Arts Festival) snagged a box of the US edition for me. They’re not in mint condition–heck, they’re 5 years old after all–but to make up for that, the first 45 people who buy one will also get one of the remaining “TEOOP Program” nametags I gave out at the original Canadian launches (click thumbnail at left to zoom). Also, their names will be entered into a draw to get the full colour, 3x4ft. laminated poster of the lovely cover art by Mike Brennan.

Feb 252005

Click to enlarge.The Vancouver Public Library has been kind enough to fly me out to do a reading a week today (Fri. March 4th, 7:30pm, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St., free). I was in the city launching An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil just this November but it’ll nice to get together with friends and not have the “catching up” portion consume the entire time together–I usually visit annually if I’m lucky. And as we’re into the slush season here I’ll be happy to be able to stroll without sloshing. While I’m out west I’ll also be going to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, cheering for N to win the Indie Games Festival.

At the Vancouver show I’ll be showing some of my latest vids, reading my contribution to the recently published Gamers anthology, telling the embarrassing story of how I left Vancouver, and enacting some rituals of the urban occult. Y’know, like worshipping the false god Ramen.

Jan 312005

A quick shot taken at Book City.While I rarely found myself sitting beside friends in classes where the teacher decided to place us in alphabetical order, I do find myself in exceptionally good company in the “M” section on the bookshelf. Three of my favourite authors are Alice Munro, Haruki Murakami and China Miéville. If you don’t already know them, come meet my neighbours!
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Aug 082004

When Kate discovers that her roommate identifies as a demoness, she figures it’s too sacrilicious a secret to keep to herself: she tells all on her blog,

This is the basic gist of my new book, An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil, a tale of the urban occult told entirely through Kate’s entries. Starting today, I’ll be posting one a day to the faux blog until all 88 entries (the whole book) are up. [UPDATE: the blog is down.] After that I’ll be writing a spinoff story based on how the poll on the site goes. [UPDATE: This became The Bold Explorers.]

Feel free to add your comments. I’m curious to see how people read this blog version of the book.

Jul 152004

I recently gave a talk about indie press to a group of librarians, and I tried to communicate the level of enthusiasm the zine and DIY community have for libraries. They were an essential part of an enriched childhood, allowing us to sate our voracious book nerd appetites — the fact that there was no financial risk to taking out something new encouraged us to read widely and expand our tastes. As adults on a broke artist budget they allow us to research and read while saving our money to produce our next book or CD or movie or zine.

A lot of readers first encounter my books through the library. Unlike some misguided writers, I think this is awesome and I want to encourage this. So if you want to support an indie press and the public libraries in one fell swoop, I’ve set up an option to donate a book of mine to the library: I’m calling it the NO MEDIA KINGS, YES LIBRARY BLING Drive.
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Apr 162004

In a few days the No Media Kings 5th anniversary edition of Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask will be back from the printer.

My first book has been out of print for the last few years. The idea of pumping money into an old project wasn’t nearly as exciting as realizing a new one, so even though I got the rights back from HarperCollins I held off for a while. But fans of the book and booksellers alike kept asking about how they could get a copy–and they almost always wanted one with the Canadian cover, so I couldn’t just tell them to buy the still-in-print US edition.

So thanks to everyone who enthused this book back into print. “It’d make a great movie!” is something people say flatteringly often, and so I got the idea of promoting the re-release with movie-style trailers for the book. Two groups of indie filmmakers were into the idea and they did a great job, producing very different but intriguing adaptations.
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Mar 312004

A bunch of people have recently drawn my attention to the product placement
of Ford cars in Carole Matthews’s novel The Sweetest Taboo. My Past Due letters were a response to a similar situation, Faye Weldon getting paid by Bulgari to mention their brand — I proactively invoiced the companies whose brands I mentioned in my novel of a hyper-marketed future, Everyone In Silico.

The cover of The Sweetest Taboo has the tagline, “The best things in life are never free.” I’ve decided to retaliate against this smug sentiment by releasing a free e-book version of Everyone In Silico. I’ve distributed thousands of copies of my previous novels in free e-book form since the 2000 release of Angry Young Spaceman, but not for EIS — I was curious to see if it would impact my sales significantly.

It hasn’t.

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