Thursday, January 22, 2015

National Family Literacy Day

This year for National Family Day I thought I'd share a few Saskatchewan authors.

One of our favourite series is the Tunnels of Time. There is a magic about them tunnels that sucks us in!

The very shocking ending and the thrilling writing of Cambrian will haunt ya. 

Who Has Seen The Wind was filmed in a town not far from where I live. 

I enjoyed the very interesting tale of Dust. Love it when magic happens on the prairies.

Margaret Atwood isn't from Saskatchewan, but she is Canadian. So I'll squeeze her in the list, because I can.

Books by Saskatchewan authors

And some French ones. ;) 

Have you enjoyed any books lately by authors from your area?

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Peek Into Your Life, Dave Weaver

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

I am excited to have Dave Weaver in my reality!!! I came across his books because we share a great publisher: Elsewhen Press. And well, his bio had me curious because he claims to write about strange and weirdness, and... well... it's always nice to meet another strange and weirdness writer.

I kept seeing the title page for Jacey's Kingdom and it had me curious. 

In a summary, it is about Jacey and George. They aren't a couple, but there is some type of magical connection between them. Jacey collapses with a brain tumour during a history exam, bringing her exam to life in her mind while she struggles to survive surgery. George is somehow brought into her dreams through a very cool and exciting twist.

I love this type of story and this did not disappoint. It's about dreams and magic interconnecting through history and the real world. Everything flowed naturally taking me from the dream world Jacey uses to survive the coma to the real one... until I wasn't sure which was which anymore! Seeing the modern-world heroes dumped in a magical historical past with kings and knights was amusing, and little bits kept me laughing, especially George and the musician on tour. What I especially enjoyed was how George got a second chance to grow up, just like Jacey. It was a fun read with magical messages interwoven in it and I recommend it for anyone who likes to escape into history every now and again.

Dave has many other books and a great blog CLICK HERE. I can't wait to tackle these reads, too!

But enough about me. Let's meet Dave.

Tell us a bit about Jacey's Kingdom, where the idea came from and what readers should expect.
I'm a big fan of the whimsical films of the early forties, both British and American, which take characters out of their normal situation, usually due to some catastrophic accident or turn of fate ('A Matter of Life and Death', 'A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur', even 'The Wizard of Oz') and place them in a fantasy world inside their own heads. In this threatening yet enlightening environment they are forced to confront a number of symbolic challenges to survive or perish in the 'real' world, which change their perception of their own lives and relationships. 

My first novel 'Jacey's Kingdom' is about a brilliant eighteen year old girl student who collapses with a brain tumour at her final history exam and finds herself in such a world; only this time in early Saxon England, the very subject of her exam. She meets a stranger; a middle-aged man who can't remember his own name after a disastrous accident, and they grudgingly set off to find a way out of 'the dream', helped and threatened by the warring Romano British and Saxon tribes who treat Jacey as an exotic sorceress (she is half-Nigerian) they have apparently been expecting to help them on a dangerous quest for power. 

These stories all play on both modern protagonists' foreknowledge of historical settings and their adapting to the all too real physical dangers they find themselves in. My story also has a time-travelling spin which puts several twists on their personal situation. It also makes it quite funny.

Do you find a message emerges in your writing naturally?
I don't really have a 'message' but the theme I try to pursue is the slippery nature of so-called reality; how we perceive the world in different stress situations, how things we seem sure of are never quite what they seem on the surface. I think karma comes into play in most of my short stories as well, so perhaps the message is 'don't be so sure you know what's going on - you probably don't'. That's as much for the reader as the characters.

Who was your favourite character to write?
Simon from my latest Elsewhen Press book 'The Black Hole Bar'. 

This is a collection of science fictions stories told by a disparate group of writers in a darkly lit and grungy bar high up on level five of Docklands Spaceport near the dirty-bombed ruins of old London. 

The year is 2085 and Simon is an in-house hack for Me-Grade methane mining corp, about to catch a shuttle rocket to Titan for six months to write a dull company report. He's a good guy but in a bad way personally, his wife is probably having an affair with her electro real-tennis coach and his son has become a stranger to him. As an alternative to getting insensible he barges his way into a closed writer's night in said bar and persuades them to let him join their competition. 

Each of the motley band read two short stories then all judge a winner for The Rock (a piece of meteorite) but outside events and crises from the world of 2085 keep making their presence felt between the critiques, arguments and sexual sparring inside the bar. 

There's a touch of the hard-boiled world weariness about Simon but underneath he's looking for love and redemption; a lot to find in one night, but not impossible.

What are you currently working on?
The novel I've just finished but not yet had published is called 'The Unseen'. It is about a recovering alcoholic, John Mason, who believes he has special 'second sight' others don't. We join him as he is about to buy a picturesque old cottage in Epping Forest. It's a year since John's wife Judith died in a car accident whilst the couple were on holiday, caused inadvertently by John reacting to a woman standing in the middle of a quiet country road, a vision he tells us only he could see. 

Recently, dreams of the cottage have replaced his nightmares of the crash, to the extent that John feels Judith is communicating with him, pointing him to the place where he can find her spirit once again. But a new, darker dream introduces him to a girl from the early twenties named Evangeline who seems to be haunting the place. With his step-daughter coming from university to stay the summer and other bizarre incidents and visions escalating beyond his control John involves the local village vicar in an attempt to understand and defeat the historic forces at work. The man seems to know far more than he should about the girl's past though. 

There is a twisted eroticism and genuine evil at play around John's new home. In attempting to lay the past he could be in danger of losing the present, not to mention his own mind. The story has a touch of the Hammer Horror but is more of a psychological mystery.

I have goosebumps! Sounds thrilling.

Tell us a bit about how you write and where.
I do my best writing on my laptop at a desk in the bedroom and almost always there although occasionally I do a little after-hours at work. I need quiet, door shut, then just try to get a few lines down to start with; sometimes not much more but usually that can spread to a couple of hours. 

I'm not aware of time passing when I write. I don't do it to a regular pattern, just when I've a few spare hours or late at night; often when I want something to read at my local Writers' group the next night or so. 

Once I'm really into the story I can do quite a bit over a few weeks but it's very ponderous at the start. I don't plan out the story in writing but I have a map of the general way things will go in my head before I start with a few vivid plotline scenes including the end (although that will probably change if something better occurs to me). I'm a pretty sloppy planner generally because either: a) I like to keep it fresh and flexible or b), I'm a bit lazy that way. I'd like to think 'a)' but I'll never be the type of guy who sticks thirty-nine chapter post-it notes around the wall before I begin Chapter One.

I think I underwrite, I don't edit that much and not as I go along unless it's daft or ungrammatical. 

What books would you recommend for other writers?
I recommend Steven King's 'On Writing'; a snappy yet detailed manual on the art of writing a book from concept to application and editing. It also sets down in excruciating detail the events of the traffic accident that almost killed him and slow painful recovery to start writing again. 

To learn how to write with wickedly cruel humour, perfect timing, pathos and humanity, the funniest book I've ever read is 'Billy Liar on the Moon' by Keith Waterhouse. It's simply an over-looked comic masterpiece.

I enjoyed On Writing! I walked around reading quotes from it for months! lol

Give us a peek at what it feels like to be a writer.
I'm proud of my family and the fact that I've managed to have some books actually published, even though I only started writing about thirteen years ago. I love being a writer, it tops anything else I've achieved (not tricky) and although the process can be a bit of a grind, even though sometimes inspired, the end result is one of the most satisfying feelings you can achieve; to take something from inside your own head and fashion it into a real living world full of people you magically conjured into existence. Its not a small thing. 

It is not a small thing, congratulations! And keep 'em coming.

What is the most inspiring place you've been and how did you incorporate it into your writing?
Going to Japan and seeing the landscape and people (my wife is Japanese) inspired me to write my second novel, 'Japanese Daisy Chain', an interconnected collection of dramatic short stories based on the social constructs and cultural habits of modern Japanese society. 

It's a wonderfully rich setting for drama and just-beneath-the-surface strangeness quite unlike anywhere else I've been and like most visitors I felt ever so slightly changed by the experience. 

Thanks for the peek, Dave! It was just a peek, but I learnt so much about you and your fascinating stories!

What would you like to ask Dave? Now's your chance while I have him in my reality.

Oh, and check out this awesome trailer!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Books that Move Us

Twice now, a reader told me that they cried while reading Ghosts on the Prairies. Oddly enough it was a different character that triggered each one and a different plot point each time.
Got me thinking about the last book that moved me to tears. I know I mentioned it once before but I was at the dentist reading Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis and it moved me to tears twice! Once it was tears from laughing (see post here) so blasted hard and the other it was tears of pure joy at the way they greeted the freed slaves.

What made me cry? Well, trying not to laugh in public does that to me, and this kid was fun to read. And of course the tears of joy were from the idea of the freed slaves being so overjoyed-- which I find very emotional to begin with. But overall it was the voice. The way this kid captures the moment... magic!

It is a powerfully written, moving story that had me captivated by a fun voice like no other. I dare you to read it and let me know if it gotcha!

So, what has moved you to tears? Is it characters, voice, or plot that getcha teary?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Your Own Adventure

Everyone has a different outlook on life. This is clear. But, I'm about to tell you a story about three dogs going for a walk, and then you tell me, which adventure is for you.

It all started out as a beautiful sunny day. Is it safe to start a story that ends with me covered in frozen drool that way? I suppose so, since it's not really about me. So, I took my couch potato St Bernard and my sister's two bratty, but fun, terrier-type dogs, Buddy and Maggie for a walk. It began simple enough when I opened the front door. Like any adventure, none of us knew what to expect, but we had hope-- this would be great.

Quickly, I discovered that Buddy liked to run in leaps and bounds as if this was the party of the year. He never looked back to see if we were coming. Frankly, I don't think he cared about me at all. So I just let him go. What trouble could he get into, right? He was having fun, that's what life was all about, besides, I liked his life is a party attitude.
My own dog, Sara, stayed deep in the snowbanks, taking the road less travelled. Sometimes, she vanished completely in the snow to emerge in a victorious leap. It was very thrilling to witness. She even dug up something that she swallowed. Not sure what that was about, but she looked right proud of herself. Hmmm. Again, I let it go; her daring, let's go on an adventure spirit was inspiring.

Our journey was called to a halt when I realized we lost someone. Maggie was gone. Missing. Argh. She does that a lot. In fact, I have my suspicions that she's secret agent M, (a partner to that platypus on Phineas and Ferb.) Anyway. We backtracked, because, secret agent or not, I wasn't sure my sister's dog knew the way home, and I was curious where she was this time.

Ah there she was, sitting on Grandma's stoop, so innocently. Once she saw us, she raced home happy that we came back for her. This forced the rest of us to head home, too.

Buddy didn't seem to mind. If ever there was someone living a rockstar life, it was that dog.
Now, Sara was not impressed that her walk was cut short, because someone wanted to visit Grandma, so she played dead. Yup. A 180lb lump in a snowbank who ignored my sweet coaxing. The others came back to watch. I'm sure even the neighbours were watching. This was her idea of fun, not mine.
Frustrated that things weren't going the way I wanted, I got the leash out and climbed in the snow. Big mistake.

it was a trap we won't discuss

We did make it home, eventually. Covered in snow and frozen drool, I walked into the house, with all three dogs. We journeyed the same path. We started at home and made it back at the same time, yet not one of us had the same experience.
Sara took the hard way.
Buddy partied it up.
Maggie detoured to Grandma's for cookies or something. I didn't ask-- secrets agents prefer if you mind your own business, besides she can get a little mean if I confront her about things, so I keep it light.
That left me, trying to control the chaos so everyone else can be happy.

What an adventure life can be, and that was just a walk.

So what path did you walk today?