I learned today that Rachel Held Evans, one of my favourite authors, has tragically passed away at the age of 37 after a brief and unexpected illness.
I am heartbroken for the loss, for the life and writing and inspiration we won't get to witness, and, especially for her husband and two kids, who've lost everything. And I'm heartbroken because the literary world has lost a fierce giant, bold and humble and gracious, and I've lost my favourite Christian writer. Simply put, her writing has made me want to read about faith again. She questioned, raged, triumphed, and wept her way to a faith that inspires, despite the doubt and scars. Perhaps because of the doubt and scars. I really looked forward to meeting her someday and having her sign Searching for Sunday, her best book. Now I won't get that chance, until later, maybe, in that idea called heaven, where although I won't be allowed to carry my dog-eared copy of her book, I imagine we'll have a whole lot more interesting things to write and talk about.
Her light still shines, though. Read Searching for Sunday, and all her work. Her family will receive the royalties, and you'll be blessed. Guaranteed. Also, her medial bills will be epic, so a number of her good friends have set up a GoFundMe page (click here). Do that, too.
Mark your calendars! Dundurn Press has set the following release dates:
BOY: A NOVEL — May 30, 2020
NOTHING BUT LIFE: A NOVEL — October 31, 2020
I'm so pleased (and stunned, in the best way) to share that Dundurn Press, who recently picked up my novel BOY (to be published April 11, 2020), will also be publishing NOTHING BUT LIFE, a YA novel, later in 2020!
Who's spinning? This guy.
Here's a little bit about NOTHING BUT LIFE: A NOVEL:
How quiet the bells of heaven must be, cold
with stars who cannot rhyme their brilliance
to our weapons. What rouses our lives each moment?
Nothing but life dares dying.
~ from "26," a poem by Rachel Eliza Griffiths (used with permission)
Dills and his mom have moved back to Hamilton, her hometown, looking to start again. He can’t talk about the day his stepdad Jesse came into the Wilkson Middle School library and opened fire. The memories are simply too raw. Plus, it’s hard to think about how many lives Jesse stole and the families he tore apart. Yet Dills doesn’t think he's a monster. Before Jesse became the Wilkson Shooter, he was just a Hero Stepdad, a haunted combat vet who loved his family as fiercely as he fought his demons.
And Dills still loves him.
Months after the move, Dills starts hearing Jesse telling him to come home. But Jesse tried to kill himself after the shooting and is wasting away in a Wilkson hospital bed, so Dills knows that the voice is probably just a product of his own bruised psyche. But what if it isn’t? What if Jesse is somehow reaching out to the only person who could possibly listen? Dills has go back. He owes it to Jesse. To himself. Even if there are no answers to be found.
Watch this space for more details.
Days you feel like a real writer...
I was invited to visit the Dundurn offices yesterday and had a lovely chat with Rachel Spence, the Acquisitions Editor. I also got a tour of the space and was able to meet some of the other staff. Dundurn is doing some really cool things, and it's exciting to be a part of it.
Mark your calendars, everyone: BOY will be published on April 11, 2020!
After an incredibly challenging 2018 and first couple months of 2019, I'm so pleased and excited to announce that BOY, my next novel, will be published by the excellent Dundurn Press in early 2020!
So many emotions, so many challenges, so many disappointments, but for now they all get eclipsed by this opportunity, and I'm pumped to be working with Dundurn, an awesome independent publisher. Watch this space for updates and more information, which I'll share as soon as they become available.
Here's a bit about BOY: A NOVEL:
Boy’s final year of high school is unraveling. Fast. He had it all worked out, from crushing his final exams to military school to a guaranteed career in the air force. But his family’s tragic past and its complicated present have caught up to him, and his marks are slipping, jeopardizing all of his plans. When Boy befriends Mara, a homeless man who can seemingly stop and restart time at will, he’ll have to weigh his family’s needs and his own conscience against the potential contained within Mara’s mysterious and powerful gift. And he’ll learn hard truths about time: the past can’t be undone, memories are as fragile as moments, and the future rarely turns out like we think it will.
Can't wait to put it in your hands!
I'm so, so pleased to report that my short story "Bayfront" and my lyric memoir "Gone Supernova" have been picked up for publication by The New Quarterly, which has featured my work in the past and remains my ab-fab Canadian literary journal. "Bayfront" will appear later this year, and "Gone Supernova" will be published sometime in 2019.
Soms shouts-out are in order here: first and foremost, thanks again to Pamela and Susan at TNQ for believing in and supporting my work; second, to authors extraordinaire Michael Christie and Madeleine Thien for lending me a few of their words in "Gone Supernova"; and third, to my UBC fiction peeps, who workshopped "Bayfront" even though it was way too long.
FYI, Michael Christie's If I Fall, If I Die is an amazing novel—get a copy, and be changed. Madeleine Thien's sublime Do Not Say We Have Nothing is fiction to aspire to, and well worth a read.
Writing is a solitary sport, with days and weeks and months often spent toiling away in blissful, heartbreaking, and mostly unacknowledged solitude, often staring at blanks screens and pages.
But not this week. This week has been a corker.
1. I received news that my novel SAINTS, UNEXPECTED has been shortlisted for a Hamilton Arts Council Literary Award. Winners will be announced on Nov. 27, so fingers crossed.
2. My essay "You'll See the Sky" was given an honourable mention for a 2017 Short Works Prize.
3. My short story "Drift, maybe fall" has won subTerrain's 2017 Lush Triumphant Literary Award (best prize name ever!), which nets me a nice cash prize and publication in one of Canada's coolest magazines.
4. I received my contributor copies of the sublime 2017 Short Story Advent Calendar (which is still available for yourself or the story-lover in your life—order by Nov. 15 to ensure delivery by Dec. 1!), got paid for two stories, have been asked to present an award, and am participating in a 6-Minute Memoir event.
It's amazing to have some recognition and a little extra cash to throw at the mortgage, but more importantly, this week I get to call myself a working writer, for which I'm humbled and grateful.
Thanks for the support, everyone.