Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thanks Imagining Toronto

The website, "Imagining Toronto" has a list of, "100 Toronto Books You Should Read" and I'm very happy to be wedged in between Maureen Jennings and Robert Rotenberg on the "genre" list.

Genre Fiction

61. Kelley Anderson, Bitten
62. Rosemary Aubert, Firebrand
63. Linwood Barclay, Bad Move
64. Pat Capponi, Last Stop Sunnyside
65. Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl In The Ring (eagerly awaited: her forthcoming novel, tentatively titled T’Aint)
66. Tanya Huff, Blood Price (or any other of Huff’s Blood series. Bonus point for Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light)
67. Maureen Jennings, Poor Tom Is Cold (or any other of her Murdoch Mysteries)
68. John McFetridge, Dirty Sweet or Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere69. Robert Rotenberg, Old City Hall70. Robert Charles Wilson, The Perseids and Other Stories

The whole list is very interesting.

When I first moved to Toronto about twenty years ago I was writing generic stories without much sense of place - and that's probably a big reason why I wasn't selling any of them.

Then Scott Albert and I wrote, Below the Line, and set the stories specifically in Toronto - on the set of an American movie being filmed in Toronto so we had plenty of jokes about location scouts looking for buildings that looked "New York" or "Chicago," and we included the line someone said once about Canadian crews being, "Mexicans in togues."

Then when I started to write Dirty Sweet I was deliberately trying to get to know the city better, to get into more neighbourhoods and to try to get to the character of the city a little more. I've really just been trying to do that ever since.

Recently someone said that it's become a cliche to say that, "setting is a character," in fiction, especially in genre fiction and especially in serial fiction in which the same characters (including the setting) are in more than one book, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Toronto is a character in my books and a character with some serious internal conflict.

Well, any interesting character is going to have some serious internal conflict, right?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Noir

Over on the Do Some Damage blog we're running Christmas flash fictions all week and they're very good.

Check them out here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Finally - Dirty Sweet for the Kindle

One of the biggest stories in publishing this year has been the breakout of e-readers. We seem to get anothr news story about the increase in e-book sales and the lowering of the price of e-readers everyday.

A little while ago I was given an iPad as a gift and I use it all the time. I have all the book apps - Kindle, Kobo, Stanza and iBooks and I've been buying more books than ever. The price is a big deal. I picked up Keith Richards', Life, for $9.99 an Elmore Leonard's Djibouti for $8.99 when the only other way they were available was as thirty-five dollar hardcovers (or long waiting lists at the library). I also bought, Atomic Renaissance, a collection of crime stories by women writers in the 1940's and 50's - an impulse buy for $5.99, which would have been a lot more expensive and likely a special order from the bookstore.

So, I'm a fan. And now my own books are becoming available as e-books for reasonable prices. Everbody Knows This Is Nowhere has been available for a while at $9.99 for the Kindle and now Dirty Sweet is available for the Kindle for $7.16 (I'm sure there's a reason for such an odd price, but I don't now what it is).

Both books are also available for less than ten bucks for the Kobo.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Crossbow - murder weapon of choice in Canada

In Louise Penny's terrific first novel, Still Life, a murder mystery set in the small of Three Pines in Quebec's Eastern Townships, the murder weapon is a crossbow.

I thought of that this week when a man was killed at a branch of the Toronto Public Library with a crossbow (well, with the "bolt" which is apparently what the thing that gets fired from a crossbow is called).

The crossbow seemed oddly at home in a murder mystery, but it seemed weird in a real murder.

And then newspapers in Canada started running stories with headlines like "Crossbow Incidents in Canada," and it turns out it's a fairly long list:

•In July, a Mission, B.C., father was charged with attacking his son who was shot in the forearm with a crossbow.

•In November 2007, a 26-year-old man was charged with murder and attempted murder after his mother was killed and father was injured by a crossbow in St-Cesaire, Que.

•In October 2002, a dairy farmer was shot in the back and injured with a crossbow in St.-Bonaventure.

•In August 1998, a man asleep in his Hamilton home was shot in the head and injured by a man who fired a crossbow.

•In 1998, Edward Stuart Walker shot a pregnant Stephanie Celestine Thomas with a crossbow, then stabbed her 46 times in Central Saanich on Vancouver Island.

•In September 1994, Yvon Gosselin was driven to a gravel pit near Terrace, B.C., where he was killed with two bolts from a crossbow.

•In May 1995, a man armed with a crossbow entered the Winnipeg Convention Centre shortly before then prime minister Jean Chretien arrived to deliver a speech. The suspect was arrested.

•In January 1993, B.C. Institute of Technology student Silvia Leung, 22, bled to death in the campus parking lot in Burnaby after being hit in the shoulder by a crossbow.

•In November 1991, Ottawa lawyer Patricia Allen was killed with a crossbow by her estranged husband Colin McGregor.

So here's my question, does anyone know of any other novels in which a crossbow is used?