It would be just like me to kill my old websites, start a new blog and then forget to update it. That’s totally a thing I would do. Case in point: I just did it. I had a good reason, I suppose. I was knuckling down and trying to get the next draft of my second book, ZeroWave, done by the end of November. Well, that didn’t happen, but I’m still making headway with it. Onwards and upwards, forward motion. At this point I’m looking toward early 2015 for closure on the next draft. It’s coming!
In the meantime, if you haven’t read my first book, Molotov Hearts, I recommend you check it out while you’re waiting. It’s available in hard copy and Kindle form through Amazon, or PDF/mobi through my webstore or Gumroad. Punks in love! Heartwarming makeouts! Badass fist fights! Drunken basement shows! Everything you need to get you through a cold winter!
OTHER WRITING (A.K.A. SWITCHBLADE QUEENS) UPDATE:
The other bit of writing that people are probably curious about is what’s going on with my 1950s girl gang serial, Switchblade Queens. Well, that’s coming too. I put that on hold so I could finish ZeroWave but ZeroWave‘s been taking me longer than I expected it to, so everything’s gotten pushed back.
The last two years have made me acutely aware of how long it takes me to actually write/edit/layout/produce my fiction, as opposed to how long I THINK it should take me in my head. WHIMSICAL BRAIN: “You can probably finish that novella in a week!” LOGICAL BRAIN: “Allocate six months, dumbass. At least.” I am getting better at scheduling my creative life, but it’s taking me time to perfect. (haha, “perfect”)
Anyway, I work with comics at my day job and it’s near the end of the year and sometimes people ask me what my recommendations are for comics, so here’s a few of my picks for the Best Graphic Novels of 2014:
- Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (McElderry): This is Emily Carroll’s first full-length graphic novel and it’s hands-down my favourite book of the year. Through the Woods is a collection of fairly straightforward ghost stories but it’s atmospheric, creepy as hell and possesses an incredible amount of style (see picture above). Emily Carroll is doing things with the comics medium both online and off that few people come close to touching. Through the Woods also wins points by being appropriate for almost any age (assuming the reader is of an age where they take nightmares in stride). Everyone’s got their favourite story, but mine’s probably ‘Our Neighbour’s Hat,’ which takes place in deepest winter, so read it while there’s still snow on the ground. (Yuletide Bonus: Emily Carroll posted a Christmas comic on her site and it ties in with Through the Woods’ ‘The Nesting Place’!)
- Climate Changed by Philippe Squarzoni (Abrams): Also terrifying but in a this-is-completely-real-and-happening-to-us-now-right-this-very minute, Climate Changed breaks down the science of climate change and explains it easy to understand terms. Clocking in at over 450 pages, this is far from a light read and its conclusion isn’t rosy and bright (SPOILER: we’re pretty much fucked), but it is essential knowledge.
- Ms. Marvel: Volume 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel): Marvel was totally killing it in 2014. This is the year they finally won me back after driving me away for decades. There’s a bunch of books in Marvel’s roster that are excellent reading right now, but the sheer awesomeness of having a teenage Muslim girl as the protagonist in a superhero book is on a level all its own. Good diverse superhero fun coming out of the House of Ideas these days.
I don’t know if I read sooooo many books this year that I can assemble a Best-Of List, but there were two that stood out for me (okay, one average-sized book and one set of four):
- Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado is the best book I’ve read on working poverty (those economic straits where you have a job but still can’t make ends meet). It’s unapologetically matter-of-fact and doesn’t pull any punches (one of the chapters is called “Poverty Is Fucking Expensive”). Linda Tirado was the woman who wrote the essay “Why I Make Terrible Decisions,” which you may remember from viral social media a year or so ago, and Hand to Mouth is basically a book-length version of it. A must read for anyone who wants (or needs) a better grasp of what it’s like to be living below the poverty line or needs an empathy booster or needs to have their classist opinions brutally kicked out of them. Recommended.
- On the other hand, Designers & Dragons, Vols. 1-4 by Shannon Appelcline has a decidedly narrower reach. It is the history of the tabletop roleplaying games industry divided up company by company with each decade (’70s, ’80s, ’90s & ’00s) comprising an entire book. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’ve ever been interested in how Dungeons & Dragons came to exist and how the medium of interactive storytelling changed and evolved over the past four decades, Designers & Dragons is required and compelling reading.
There was too much good music this year for me to even try to approximate a Best-Of List, but I think my favourite release was Priests’ Bodies and Control and Money and Power. Priests captures everything good about the ’90s riot grrrl movement and then transplants it now and renews it. Vital feminist punk. BaCaMaP is pretty much the best. Also their track “USA (Incantations)” was my jam this year.
If you’re interested in the music I like generally, a lot of what I listen to I buy on Bandcamp and I have a profile set up there. Follow me if you want, or if you’re feeling particularly generous, buy me an album on my wishlist.
Anyway, I guess I’ve prattled enough for this update. I probably won’t be back again until at least Boxing Day (that’s December 26th for non-Canadians), so have a safe and happy holidays, everyone!