Monsters! Aliens! Short Stories! …& Friends!

A couple months ago, I was asked (along with my frequent collaborator, Ben Van Dongen) to host a writing workshop. I said yes, of course, but truth be told I did have some reservations. You see, I’ve been lucky enough to take part in all sorts of writing and literary events since the release of my first book, The Space Between Houses (which turns 5 this year!), but have never hosted a workshop.

What would we speak about? And, more importantly, would anybody care?? After some discussion with Ben, I can say that at least one of these questions has been answered. We’re going to focus on what we know best: short stories and genre fiction.

We’ve since mapped out a series of sub-topics and writing exercises for those attending. It was while doing this that I had an interesting revelation. If such a workshop as the one I myself was going to be hosting existed five or six years ago, it would have taught me how to avoid a lot of the obstacles which plagued the embryotic days of my writing career. Which then made me realize I need to build a time machine.

The workshop itself will be held at Gertrude’s Writing Room; a cozy space with a ton of charm. Ben and I sat in on the last workshop held there (to see what we were in for) and fell in love.

For anyone that is interested, there is a link to the website to register HERE and one for the Facebook event page HERE.

The workshop, now titled Monsters! Aliens! Short Stories! …& Friends! will be a 3 hour class, and it goes down January 19th. The cost is $50

-Christian

P.S. All those who attend will receive a signed copy of our short story collection, No Light Tomorrow.

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Top 5 of 2018!

It’s that time again. Time to shine a spotlight on my favourite books of the year! I really get a kick out of doing this post at the beginning of each year because, A) I’m a book nerd, and any chance to talk books is a good thing; and B) because I think the books I’m gonna talk about were super rad and deserve your attention. 

*Note: None of these books were actually released in 2018, but were new to me.

Last Days

To kick things off, I’m gonna start with a dynamite book by Adam Nevill. I love me a good cult story, and 51LRqN2hAFLthankfully (just to please me, I assume) Adam Nevill wrote one.

The story follows a documentary crew making a film about a sinister cult which seemingly has been dead and gone for like, forty years. Of course, that turns out to be false, and bad shit starts to happen.

One of the things I really dug about Last Days was that it almost has a ‘found footage’ vibe to it (found footage, another thing I love). The pacing is great and the horror is palpable.

Adam Nevill is quickly becoming ‘must-read’ for me, so I won’t be surprised if he’s back on this list next year.

A Head Full of Ghosts

23019294Speaking of a ‘found footage’ vibe, A head Full of Ghosts is all kinds of that.

Now, I usually like to go into books knowing as little of the plot as possible. I don’t even read the entire back cover synopsis most times. And because of this, I had some very different ideas as to what this book was about before cracking it open. As always, my ignorance paid off, as I was happily surprised by what I read.

Although Tremblay’s writing isn’t as memorable as some of the other authors on this list, his writing is perfectly suited for this type of story. The plot flows at a great pace and the twists were fantastic.

Lost Girls

Speaking of memorable writing lol. Lost Girls, the first novel from Andrew Pyper is a lyrical stroll through 1681118some very dark places.

I’ve read a number of Pyper’s books and I am always left in a somewhat depressed state afterward. As a writer, there is nothing better than reading a book and thinking to yourself, hell, I could do that! Well, that doesn’t happen after reading Pyper. Instead, I’m usually thinking, with writers like Pyper out there, why am I wasting my time.

Besides my own personal issues, Lost Girls is a great descent into small town Ontario. And boy, that writing!

Annihilation

220px-annihilation_by_jeff_vandermeerI know, I know, you’re all saying, “But Christian, this isn’t even a horror novel” And I would look you in the face and say, “I don’t give a crap what Annihilation is classified as, this is a God damn horror novel if ever there was one!”

Bleak. Harrowing. Depressing. Terrifying. All these perfectly describe VanderMeer’s Annihilation.

Now, full discloser, I had seen the (amazing!) movie before reading the book, and that may have tainted my overall opinion. Even if that is the case, I still loved this book. The ever-deepening mystery of Area X kept me flipping pages like crazy. I haven’t read the following books in the trilogy, but I certainly will.

And that brings us to the what I consider the best book I read this year…

N0S4A2

I’ve been a fan of Joe Hill since reading his short story collection 20th Century Ghosts, but have always felt like something was missing from his books. That all changed with his horror epic N0S4A2!

This time spanning novel is a masterpiece. As much as I’m sure he hates it, I can’t help but to compare Hill to his dad (a small indie author named…Stephen King!). And if I am going to make comparisons between their work, then I would call N0S4A2 Joe Hill’s It.

There is apparently a television show in the works adapting this fantastic novel, but I would highly recommend reading the book.

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So, that’s what I liked last year, how about you??

-Chrisitan

 

This and that

I’ve been away for a bit now, and for that, I apologize. To make up for it, I’m dropping an update on my novel along with various other things.

I’m happy to report the novel is oh so very close to completion (within a month or so) and I can’t wait to set it free (and by that, I mean be done with the damned thing). I gave a few chapters to some agents and publishers a month or so back at a literary event and got high praise and excitement. So, fingers crossed.51LRqN2hAFL

When not writing, I’ve been enjoying a few choice reads. I just snagged the newest Junji Ito effort to make its way across the pond, Frankenstein. I’ve also been jiving pretty heavy on anything by Adam Nevill (if you haven’t read this guy’s stuff, you need to remedy that immediately).

And, as always, I’ve been playing way to many video games. I just finished Prey, a fun enough game about aliens taking over a space station. I’m currently (finally) playing Farcry 4, and plan on jumping into the cyberpunk horror game, Observer (staring none other than Rutger Hauer!!) in the very near future. If you’ve played any of these games, let me know what you thought.Far_Cry_4_box_art

I was recently in the fine city of Kitchener, Ont. with my homie Ben Van Dongen for the Tri-City Super Con. It was a fun enough event, but the turnout was lackluster. For Ben’s thought’s, read his blog here.

Otherwise, I’m gonna keep on trucking, and will hopefully have some info soon on the novel.

-C

Four Years of The Space Between Houses

Distressed cover finalSo, this coming September will mark the four-year anniversary of my first book, The Space Between Houses. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this book, and like having it available in my back catalogue…but, it is currently out of print.

Now, here’s the dilemma. I can get more made under my own press (Adventure Worlds Press), but since I don’t have any of the final files (the original publisher does), I would have to go through the book and literally retype it. This is not a completely bad thing, as there are a few minor things I’d like to change (mostly all grammatical), and this would allow me the chance to do so. The down side is, I’d have to retype the whole fucking thing.

Sigh.

I’m leaning towards doing it, if for no other reason then my next solo book (the long in development novel) will probably not be out for quite some time. I still have No Light Tomorrow and All These Crooked Streets but neither of those are horror, and they are both co-authored.

Double sigh.

I guess I need to think about it some more. I’ll give an update in a week or two once I’ve made up my mind. I just really don’t want to retype the damn thing.

Triple sigh.

Later ‘gators,

Christian

3 Writers!

I was going to get into some of the music I listen to while writing but decided that I would save that for a later date. Instead, I thought I would shine a spotlight on three authors who inspire me.

12977531I’ll get the obvious one out of the way first. Stephen King. Listen, if you are a horror writer, you have probably been influenced by King’s work (whether you like his stuff or not). The man is synonymous with horror fiction. My first experience with King’s work came through my brother. He was (and still is) and avid reader of Stephen King. Because of that, even though it would be years before I would pick up a horror novel (King’s or otherwise) I was seeing his books lying around our house. Since then I’ve read about twenty or so of his books (with many more in the ‘to-read’ pile). My personal favs are The Shining, Bag of Bones, The Talisman and Desperation. But to be honest, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by him (except for The Colorado Kid. That book sucked hard).

219635Next up is one of two Canadians. Michael Slade (AKA John Banks, Jay Clark, Rebecca Clark and Richard Covell). Confused yet? Let me explain. Michael Slade is the pen name of several writers (most of them lawyers), but the biggest contributor, and only one currently writing under the name, is Jay Clark. The Slade books (with only one exception) all follow a division of the RCMP called Special X. Special X are tasked with catching psychopaths who have connections with other countries, requiring the unit to often times work with other law enforcement agencies from around the world. The thing I like the most about Slade’s work is how unapologetic it is. It is vicious, violent, sexy and unfiltered. Although I enjoy all of the early Slade books (some of the later ones aren’t the best), my favs are: Headhunter, Ripper, Bed of Nails and Ghoul. I actually consider Ghoul one of my all-time favourite books.

24497842And that brings me to the second Canadian: Craig Davidson (AKA Nick Cutter). I met Craig a few years ago when I was asked to host The Dark Side Tour on its stop in my hometown. The tour was a cross-North American book tour with Craig Davidson and Andrew Pyper. At the time, I had just taken my first fledgling steps into my writing career and felt immediately out of my depth talking to these two guys. Luckily, they were both awesome and the night went off without a hitch. A perk of playing host was that I was given copies of their new books at that time (The Deep from Craig and The Damned from Pyper), so that I could ask some relevant questions. And although I loved both books, something about Craig’s visceral horror really grabbed me. I went back and read his other offering under the Cutter name (The Troop) and was outright hooked, and have greedily devoured everything since. I’ve been fortunate enough to hang out with Craig a bunch of times over the last couple years, and now consider him a friend. I’ve yet to be disappointed with any of his work, but hands down my favourite is the literary kick to the face called The Acolyte. This book resonates with me on every level. I fucking love it.

So, there you have it. Three authors who have shaped my own writing style and inspire me to keep plugging away. There are many more, of course, but if I started going through them all, we’d be here all day.

-Christian

Update!

I haven’t done one of these in a while, and thought it was time to give you all an update on what the hell I’ve been working on.

The short answer is: the novel. I say “the” novel, because this thing has been my Everest for the past few years. I’ve probably talked about this before, but I can’t be bothered to look back so I’m gonna go over it again. Without getting into all the details, I decided last summer to throw out my debut novel and write it again from scratch. This might seem like a drastic (and extremely foolish) thing to do, but after writing Sugar’s Last Dance for the All These Crooked Streets anthology, I knew it needed to be done.

So, where am I? Well, I am happy to say I am about a month or so away from finishing it. At least, finishing it enough to send to publishers and agents (it’ll need an edit from there). Speaking of agents, I met a few lately and gave them the first bunch of chapters and they really liked it. They even asked me to send it to them when it was finished. This was a nice surprise.

Anyway, after a wrestling match of epic proportions with the second draft, I feel like I’ve ironed things out and it should be (fingers crossed) smooth sailing until the end. I’m not going to lie, I’ve thought long and hard about putting this thing on the shelf and moving on to the next idea (a real dozy I can’t wait to write!), but I refuse to let this thing get the better of me, so I’m going to see it through.

On a completely different note, I feel like I’ve been neglecting this blog, so I have made the decision to start posting more often. Every Monday will be a post revolving around what inspires me to write (be it music, movie or book), with updates on Friday. So, come back often and tell your friends!

-Christian

Action!

I’ll be at Action! this Sunday (Feb. 18th) from 10 – 5. This is going to be a super fun convention (there are some great guests). I’ll have copies of the new book, All These Crooked Streets, as well as a handful of No Light Tomorrow and The Space Between Houses. If you’ve been waiting to grab one (or all of them), Sunday would be a great opportunity to do so, and you can even get it signed!

For more on Action!, check out their website www.actionwindsor.com

Or you can go to the Facebook page here, and the event page here

See you Sunday!

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Sugar’s Last Dance: Behind the Scenes part 3.

Sorry gang, this took a bit longer than expected (life and all its unforeseen eddies have pulled me off course). But, as promised, the real life person who inspired Ana.

Like last time, don’t worry if you haven’t read the story yet, there will be no spoilers here.

A bit of history first. A few years back, I watched a Spanish horror movie called Blind Alley. This film, which was about vampires, was a rather dull affair. It was a case of great cinematography…and nothing else. Except, there was something else, the lead actress. This woman was quite possibly the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. The kind of beauty that entrances all who witness it.

I quickly added her to the mental list we all carry around. You know, the one that says if we had a chance with so-and-so, we would gladly risk our marriage and or our family to do so.

bapos (1)Flash forward a bit. I was sitting down with the newest Eli Roth flick (his return after a few years away thanks to negative reviews of Hostel 2), Knock Knock. While the movie was laughably bad (mostly thanks to a subpar performance from Keanu Reeves. Seriously, go watch it, he has no fucks to give in that performance), to my great surprise, the lovely actress from Blind Alley was back. And a blonde to boot!

I poured over every one of her scenes. I’m not going to lie, I was in love.

When the time came to write Sugar’s Last Dance, I wanted to make the main character the most beautiful woman ever, which got me thinking. Who do I think that person is? And bam, it came to me. Ana de Armas!

I modeled the protagonist after Miss de Armas, using her appearance in Knock Knock as my inspiration. I even when so far as to call my main character Ana.

ana-de-armas-in-vogue-magazine-russia-october-2017_4To my great delight, Ana de Armas has started getting some bigger roles in Hollywood. She recently appeared—and was amazing—in Blade Runner 2049 as the utterly loveable Joi.

Now, just to be clear, I modeled my Ana off the real thing in physical appearance. I’m not sure, but I doubt that the real Ana de Armas would do some of the things that her namesake gets up to. Or maybe she would.

So there you have it. I almost never model characters in my stories after real life folk, but this time, I couldn’t resist. I felt like this was as close as I would ever come to meeting this lovely woman, so went with it.

-C

AnadeArmas1

By The River

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Hey! Look what’s out! My first published poetry is hiding inside this gorgeous looking book. Here’s a blurb from the publisher (Urban Farmhouse Press).

‘Exploring new poetry and prose by the working writers that make the area around Windsor, ON Canada home. These are the stories, songs, and voices of those that have come to call the south shore of the Detroit River Narrows theirs. Discover the voices forming the roots of a thriving literary community that is now gaining its due attention in the literary world. Masterfully edited by Windsor poet Laurie Smith this collection showcases the breadth and strength of voices from the place where Ontario begins.

Featuring new work by Marty Gervais, Dorothy Mahoney, Mary Ann Mulhern, Peter Hrastovec, Lenore Langs, Dawn Kresan, Vanessa Shields, Karen Rockwell, Christian Laforet, Ben Van Dongen, Denis Robilliard, Justine Dowsett, Irene Moore Davis, Teejai Travis, Erik Johnson, Dave Rocha, Amina Abudulla, and Rosalind Knight.’

If you’re interested in a copy, you can snag one on Amazon or hit up Urban Farmhouse Press

-C