Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Canadian Crime Fiction

In Ireland right now there's a bit of a discussion going on about whether Irish writers are engaging with modern Ireland and one thing that's come out of it is this idea that crime fiction, despite being very contemporary, is entirely left out of the discussion.

Of course, we have this discussion all the time in Canada, beating ourselves up all the time because so much CanLit is stuck in an earlier time. It's not true, of course, there are plenty of contemporary Canadian novels fully engaged with "modern Canada," but like Ireland, crime fiction is entirely left out of the discussion.

An article in the Irish Times put it like this:

THE ASSASSINATION in 1986 of the Swedish prime minister Olaf Palme sent shockwaves through Sweden in particular and Scandinavia in general. One consequence was the emergence of an indigenous crime fiction, a phenomenon taken very seriously by cultural commentators in Sweden and Norway. Today, writers such as Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbø are household names across the world.

(the full article is here)

So, what about Canada? We've had quite a few crimes send shockwaves through our country, from Paul and Karla Bernardo to the Picton murders to the latest arrest of a high ranking military man for two murders and a number of rapes. These are the kinds of crimes that might make us question ourselves in a way that literature could address - or a least start start the discussion.

Have we?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cheap e-books!

E-books have certainly been in the news a lot lately and one of the biggest discussion points has been price.

I've been working with ECW to try and have my e-books priced as cheaply as possible and I'm happy to say that Dirty Sweet is now available for download from Kobo in Canada for $2.29.

Available here.

E-books from Kobo are available as ePub and can be read on smartphones (there's a good iPod app I use), on computers and on almost all e-reades, including Sony.

Hey, $2.29, that's a deal. We're still working on getting Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere on Kobo for the same price and both books on Kindle for less than three dollars.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Week's Bridge - The Unguarded Moment

Air Date: Friday, March 19th, 2010 @ 10pm on CTV (Canada)
Written By: Dannis Koromilas and John McFetridge
Director: Stuart Margolin

Episode Synopsis: A cop is badly wounded during a robbery at a restaurant and is held hostage along with the other customers. Frank is determined to get the cop out alive. But when the Chief orders the undermanned SWAT team to stand down, Frank has to convince the Sergeant in charge to go against the Chief’s orders. Frank quickly takes over as negotiator but when the thieves refuse to make any demands for money, the situation becomes even more bizarre. If the thieves don’t want money, what do they want? As Frank races against the clock, the wounded cop’s chances of survival are quickly diminishing right before his eyes.

All that is from CTV (although I got it - and the picture - from a very well-run Aaron Douglas fansite The Chief's Deck - where I get most of the information about The Bridge).

I was hoping to include the commercial for the episode, I caught it briefly on the TV in McDonalds while I was there with my kids but I haven't seen it again and it doesn't appear to be online anywhere.

Oh well, as it says, I co-wrote the episode with Dannis Koromilas, who developed the show. This episode in which a couple of cops are taken hostage during a robbery and one of them killed is, like many of The Bridge episodes, based on something that happened in Toronto.

It's a timely episode because just this week the killer has been granted, "temporary unescorted prison absences."

When we researched the story it was very emotional and complicated from a storytelling point of view. There were internal problems in the police department between the rank and file and the officers (which is what the whole series is about), there was a shift change during the hostage taking, there were personalities involved, inexperience, unknown elements inside the restaurant. And drugs were a very big factor.

It was a mess.

I wasn't in on all the details about the creation of The Bridge (well, I wasn't in on any of them, of course) but almost all the material we discussed in the beginning was complicated and difficult. We're all influenced by The Wire (and in my case by writing multiple POV novels) and we were eager to dive into the material.

But it's a network show, not cable, so it's more episodic. The kind of character development you see over a season of The Wire - where tensions between characters builds, where consequences take time to play out but you know they will - were played down in favour of 'crime of the week' stories.

Some people really like The Bridge, and I'm glad about that. Some people really don't. The National Post called it the first, "right-wing pro-union show."

And this review is worth reading:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

This Week's Bridge

Friday at 10:00 on CTV:

In this trailer you get a couple of quick shots of the fantastic main set, the union HQ.

And a hint of the complications that will ensue, of course.