Wednesday, December 21, 2011


No details yet, but ECW Press have just signed a deal with to bring out my four novels as audiobooks sometime in 2012.

I only recently started listening to audiobooks as I walk the dog and I'm enjoying the experience quite a bit. Last week I was listening to Philip K. Dick short stories and I had this odd feeling that I was closer to the future he was describing - with my "portable listening device" - than I was to the past in which he wrote the stories.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Accounting for Musical Tastes

My book titles have been from song titles and the books have been full of musical references. When I couldn't find a song title that I felt worked well enough for a book, I made one up, Swap, but I credited it to the band Smiley's People -- a band I was in during the mid-80's.

Finally, with Tumblin' Dice music is front and center as the main characters are in a band, The High, that has regrouped and is playing the casino circuit. And there are crimes. And cops. But mostly there's music.

And it's pretty much all 70's music.

Do I have terrible taste in music? Maybe. For a while there I was embarrassed by my musical taste and my lack of, oh, let's say adventurousness. My tastes are pretty mainstream and stuck mostly in the past.

According to Daniel Levitin, (Associate Professor, McGill University Department of Psychology and the McGill Program in Behavioural Neuroscience, who holds the Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communication) it turns out, "Our musical tastes begin to form in the womb. By 12 weeks, the fetus has a completely functioning auditory system and is able to hear music through the amniotic fluid (it sounds something like listening under water). One-year olds show clear preferences for music that they heard in utero. Until roughly the age of eight, children absorb whatever music they hear, during the time when the brain is working hard to make billions of new connections."

And he goes on to explain that it's pretty common to stick with the music we heard when we were young:

"Just as there are "critical periods" for language acquisition, there appear to be critical periods for the acquisition of music listening. As children hear music, they develop neural systems -— schemas — to capture the structural and tonal regularities of that music. Beginning around age 10, as the brain's mission shifts toward pruning out unused neural connections, musical tastes focus around the music we're used to. At about age 12, music begins to serve a social bonding function and we use music to distinguish our social group from others: this is the kind of music people like us listen to, that music is for them. As young teens, our musical tastes are further refined by what our friends are listening to. Most of us base our adult musical tastes on what we liked when we were 12 to 16. In some cases, through effort, we can expand our musical tastes as adults. But if we had relatively narrow tastes in our developing years, this is more difficult to do because we lack the appropriate schemas, or templates, with which to process and ultimately to understand new musical forms."

Prof. Levitin has written a very interesting book, This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, although I got these quotes from a website.

So, maybe I just haven't put in enough effort to expand my musical tastes. Maybe it's not too late.

But for now, Tumblin' Dice is full of stuff like this:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Swap now available for the Kindle

My novel, Swap, is now available for the Kindle. It's only listed at, not but it does ship (download, I guess) to Canada.

You can find it here.

It is also listed at under the US title, Let It Ride, but that one doesn't download to Canada.

I'm very pleased that my next book, Tumblin' Dice, will have the same publisher for the USA and Canada (ECW Press) and there won't be any of this confusion between territories.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Pitch

My first Kindle book.

The cover pretty much says it all, but here's the Amazon description:

After working as a writer on the CBS/CTV cop drama, The Bridge, novelist John McFetridge (Dirty Sweet, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Let It Ride) began pitching his own ideas for TV shows to American and Canadian networks. The four stories in The Pitch are based on pilot scripts written for three of these potential series; Pulp Life, a comedy-noir half-hour cable series about a crime novelist helping an ex-con write his memoir – and commit crimes; East Coast, a network-style police procedural about narcotics cops on the Maine-New Brunswick border and; Revolution, a spy story set in Montreal in 1968 with a KGB agent as the hero.

One of the two Pulp Life stories first appeared in the Do Some Damage anthology, Collateral Damage, and the story East Coast has been available from Smashwords for a while.

The Second Pulp Life story and Revolution have never appeared anywhere before.

I've had this idea for a while to write e-books as if they're TV series - a "season-long" story arc playing out over 6 or 13 "episodes" but each one also having a self-contained story. Maybe publishing the "episodes" once a month and then also making them available as single collection, like a TV series box set of DVDs.

The stories in this collection were adapted from pilot scripts I wrote so the two Pulp Life episodes are about the same length that half-hour TV shows would be and East Coast and Revolution about the same length as an hour-long TV episode.

If you're interested, you can find the book here.

And maybe you could let me know if you think there should be any more 'episodes' of any of the 'series.'

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Cold Cold Ground

What is it with novelists setting books in the years when they were around ten years old?

I'm working on book now set in 1970 - I was born in 1959.

Stephen King has a new book out this week that starts in 2011 and the main character time travels back to 1958 - Stephen King was born in 1947.

Adrian McKinty has a new book coming out in January set in Northern Ireland in 1981 - Adrian was born in 1968.

I like Stephen King's books and I expect I'll read this new one soon and like it well enough but I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of Adrian's, The Cold Cold Ground, and it is a fantastic book.

The back of the book description says:

There may be troubles ahead...Northern Ireland. Spring 1981. Hunger strikes. Riots. Power cuts. A homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera. And a young woman's suicide that may yet turn out to be murder. On the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things - and people - aren't always what they seem. Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with trying to get to the bottom of it all. It's no easy job - especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but last seen discussing business with someone from the UVF. Add to that the fact that as a Catholic policemen, it doesn't matter which side he's on, because nobody trusts him - and Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation. Fast-paced, evocative and brutal, "The Cold, Cold Ground" is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles - and a cop treading a thin, thin line.

I really hope there are more Sean Duffy books, the guy's a great character.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tumblin' Dice

Apparently the ARCs of my new novel, Tumblin' Dice, are going out this week. The official publishing date is March 2012.

I've asked the publisher if we could have some kind of promotion, maybe price the e-books of my previous novels at $2.99 or maybe give away a free e-book of one of the previous novels with the purchase of Tumblin' Dice.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pulp Life

My contribution to the new DS anthology, Collateral Damage, is a short story called Pulp Life – Episode One; The First Rule.

The reason it’s called “Episode One” is because I adapted it from the pilot script to a TV show I was pitching. I have a few more episodes in script form and I may adapt then into short stories as well, if anyone is interested in them.

Here’s how the story begins:


They’re sitting in Angelo’s BMW X5 in the alley behind East End Scrap Metal, been there less than ten minutes when Angelo says, “There he is,” and pulls the ski mask down over his face.

Danny’s looking in the side mirror, seeing a skinny guy getting out of a pick-up carrying a white plastic bag full of take out go up to a steel door with no handle on the outside of it and knock. Danny says, “Okay,” and pulls on his ski mask.

Getting out of the Beemer Angelo says, “You do the talking, they might recognize my voice,” and Danny looks at him, all three hundred pounds, and says, yeah, right, “That’s how they’ll know it’s you.”

“And just say ‘down on the floor,’ that’s all you say.”

Now Danny’s moving down the alley watching the kid as the door opens and Angelo says, “Right?”

“Right, I got it.”

For such a big man Angelo is fast, pushing past Danny and going up behind the kid with the take-out, slamming into him and the guy who’d opened the door, sending them both sprawling into the room beyond.

Danny gets to the door and steps into the office, seeing the kid and the guy who’d opened the door still on the floor and Angelo holding his gun on them – and on the six guys sitting around the table covered with money and cards.

And no one’s saying anything. For what seems like fucking forever until one of the card-players, Little Mickey, says, “So?”

Angelo’s looking back at Danny, his eyes bugging out of the holes in the ski mask and Danny says, oh right, “Yeah, down on the floor, let’s go, everybody, down on the floor.”

The card players all sigh and shake their heads slow and make a big deal of pushing back their chairs and Little Mickey says, “You assholes are dead.”

Angelo tosses a gym bag to Danny who starts picking up all the money on the table and then a book falls off and makes a loud thud on the concrete floor and Danny looks down at it, trade paperback of Wiseguy by Nicolas Pileggi, and says, “Who’s reading the book?”

No one says anything.

Danny leans forward, points his gun at the closest guy and the guy just shrugs so Danny holds his gun in both hands and points it at the next guy and says, “Who’s reading the book?”

No one says anything. The whole place is tense, about to explode and Little Nicky says, “For fuck’s sake, Vinny, the novel?”

Danny says, “It’s not a novel,” and Little Mickey shrugs and says, “What the fuck?”

“It’s not a novel, it’s non-fiction, it’s journalism.”

Everybody at the table is staring at Danny, not saying a word, no idea what the fuck he’s talking about and Little Mickey says, “It’s a fucking book.”
Danny grabs the rest of the money and says, “No one reads novels anymore.”

And Angelo shoves him out the door.

Six months before he started his career in armed robbery Danny Menard saw his third crime novel published to the enthusiastic tweeting, FaceBook posting and blogging of his online friends and the same complete lack of sales as his first two books. He was still teaching Intro to the Novel part-time at Humber College and thinking about writing porn and self-publishing it to Smashwords and Kindle when his agent, Sarah Benson, called him with an offer.

A guy named Angelo Gonidis had been a member of the Rebels motorcycle gang in Toronto and was getting out of prison after six years and he’d written a book. A memoir. Sarah said it was good, while he’d been in prison the Rebels had patched over to the national Saints of Hell and become big business and Angelo was pissed off about that and was telling everything in juicy detail but the writing was terrible. She already had publishers interested (bigger publishers than the one publishing Danny’s books) and even a movie deal in the works.

So Danny agreed to ghost write it and went and visited Angelo in Millhaven Maximum and they got along pretty well. Once every couple of weeks for six months Danny took the three hour bus ride from Toronto to Kingston and sat in the visitor’s room with Angelo and listened to his stories. At first Danny figured if Angelo’s book was no good he could use the stories in his own crime fiction and then Angelo made parole.

It was a bit of a surprise. He’d told Danny before the hearing that it would probably take him one more time, see the nice people again in another eighteen months, and Danny had said, “So that’s what this is about,” and Angelo’d said, “What?”

And Danny said the whole book deal was just to look good for the parole board and Angelo said, “No way, man, I’m serious about this,” and Danny had to admit that Angelo’d read all the books he’d dropped off, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Angelo said, is this guy supposed to be a loveable loser?), Swag (gotta watch out for the chicks), The Big O (get better guns, man, and again, watch out for the chicks) and a couple of the biker memoirs (be better of they weren’t trying to suck up so much and pretend they didn’t like what they were doing).

So, no doubt, Danny liked Angelo and wanted to help him.

But the thing was, Angelo wasn’t finished with his life of crime and he took Danny along. They’d been at it a week, robbing Angelo’s old buddies, his partners in crime, as he called them that didn’t want him back. So fuck them.


And it goes from there. Nerdy writer Danny gets better and better at crime and lifelong criminal Angelo gets more and more interested in writing a really good book.

It was supposed to be one of those half hour cable series like Entourage or Weeds, a comedy but with sex and violence.

So, what do you think, should there be more episodes?

And if you'd like to read the whole story, it's in the anthology, Collateral Damage, available for the Kindle here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just In Time for Father's Day - a DSD collection

Available here for Kindle (other formats to follow).

Once again the eight authors of bring together eight stories of murder and mayhem in these linked stories.

TERMINAL DAMAGE, a Spinetingler Magazine nominee for best anthology, featured stories linked together by one awful day in an airport.

The brand new COLLATERAL DAMAGE builds on the success of the earlier collection, this time focusing on Father's Day.

This collection boasts stories from Joelle Charbonneau (SKATING AROUND THE LAW, SKATING OVER THE LINE, the Paige Marshall mysteries), John McFetridge (LET IT RIDE, DIRTY SWEET), Dave White (WHEN ONE MAN DIES, WITNESS TO DEATH), Russel D. McLean (THE LOST SISTER, THE GOOD SON), Sandra Ruttan (THE FRAILTY OF FLESH, SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES), Scott D. Parker (HANFORD: A Harry Truman Mystery, ROUND ONE), Jay Stringer (OLD GOLD, SCORCHED EARTH), and Steve Weddle (NEEDLE Magazine).

From the introduction:
Collateral Damage:

A Father’s Day Collection of Mayhem

To follow the immense fun -- um, I mean HUGE FINANCIAL SUCCESS -- of our TERMINAL DAMAGE collection, we came up with this book.

TERMINAL DAMAGE was tied together in that all the stories took place at an airport on the same day – when all hell broke loose.

The eight stories in COLLATERAL DAMAGE are tied together by Father’s Day. Revenge, mysteries, killings and more bleed through the pages of this book.

We hope you enjoy this one as much as folks seemed to enjoy TERMINAL DAMAGE.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Evening of Mystery at Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto

Thursday June 9th from 7:00 to 9:00 ECW Press is hosting an evening of readings by crime fiction authors at the NEW! IMPROVED! (actually I haven't been to the new store yet but I know it'll be full of books and Marion and JD will be there so it'll be at least as great) Sleuth of Baker Street at 905 Millwood Road (which isn't that far from the old location on Bayview).

There will be readings by Anne Emery, Mike Knowles, Brent Pilkey, Ross Pennie and me.

I think because I live closest to the store I've been asked to act as MC for the evening and introduce everyone. Rather than stand there and read biographies I've taken from each author's webpage I had this idea that I would ask each author a question.

Any suggestions for questions I should ask?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How I Came To Write This Book

My friend Patti Abbott runs a series on her website once in a while featuring writers talking about how they came to write a particular book and today it's me talking about how I came to write Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

The blog is here.