Books and Tea

Books. Tea. Cats. Scribbling.

I’m Still Squeeing over “Into the Spider-Verse”

A promotional image from "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" featuring Miles Morales, Gwen Stacey, and Peter Porker, all in costume.

I saw Into the Spider-Verse a full 2 months ago and I’m still thinking about it. I’ve squeed about it to friends, and have gone into long intellectual tangents about it. I’ve downloaded the soundtrack off of Spotify (and am listening to it while finishing off this post). I’ve been rooting for it hard ever since I found out it was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Film.

And it won last night. And I’m over the moon about it! Having seen 2 of the other nominees for the category, the difference is stark — neither of the 2 Disney movies approached Spider-Verse in terms of plot, emotional/narrative depth, or visual inventiveness.

It’s that last element — visual inventiveness — that’s been taking up most of my thoughts about what makes Spider-Verse so good, and so unique. And it’s this: Into the Spider-Verse may, like most movies based on comic books, be about supeheroes. But it’s not a superhero movie. It’s a comic book movie, first and foremost. And while that may seem like it’s splitting hairs, I think that’s a really important distinction.

While superhero movies generally use comic books and graphic novels as their source material, their primary goal is to reproduce or adapt the narrative of that source material: origin stories, major conflicts, redemption arcs, etc. These movies often take visual/narrative cues from the source material, like costumes, scenery, and even panel compositions. But their primary goal is to use the original comic books as a springboard for telling a particular story, and their plots may diverge wildly from the official comic book canon. For example, in the original comics, Thanos wants to kill half of all life in the universe not because he swallowed Malthusian theory hook, line, and sinker, but because he has the hots for Hel and figures that killing half of all living beings will finally make her reciprocate his feelings.

In contrast, I think comic book movies do something different: they attempt to replicate the aesthetic experience and potential of comic books themselves. If they can get the narrative right, that’s gravy — but the real goal is to make you feel like you’re watching a living, breathing comic book.

Some movies like this already exist; the ones that pop immediately to mind for me are Dick Tracy, Watchmen, and Sin City. But even so, Spider-Verse manages to crack open the potential of comic books on a screen in a way that few movies have dared.

I mean, look at this scene. LOOK AT IT.

Spider-Verse plays with camera angles and framing in a way that would be hard to accomplish in a live-action movie. It tells multiple origin stories in a way that’s as fresh and entertaining the last time as it is the first. It even uses word bubbles as more than just one-off visual gags — though it has plenty of those too, like the little onomatopoeic “thwips” that show up when Peter and Miles use their web shooters. The Lego Batman movie made a big joke about using onomatopoeia during fight scenes, but Spider-Verse just takes their existence as a matter of course by using them throughout the film, like a chef judiciously seasoning a dish.

Most importantly, it manages to play with several different drawing styles in the same frame in a way that looks cohesive and coherent. You  have the realistic-looking characters of Peter Parker, Miles Morales, and Gwen Stacy sharing the frame with Spiderman Noir (who looks like his drawing was inspired by classic noir films, and he has the gangster-film-era accent and slang to match), Peni Parker (an anime girl who pilots a wee little mech with the help of her  pet psychic spider), and Peter Porker (aka: Spider-Ham, who is basically what would happen if you crossed Spiderman with a Looney Toons character).

The amazing thing is that the screen looks like a cohesive, harmonious whole when all six characters are on-screen together, even as these disparate drawing styles are given equal weight and importance. This cohesiveness is especially noticeable when contrasted with the character design for the Kingpin, who doesn’t look like a man so much as a hulking, circular tower of flesh with black, diamond-hard eyes. Despite Peter Porker literally being a Looney Toons pig, his character design is imbued with more flexibility and humanity than the villain.

Then there’s the climax, where Miles fights the Kingpin in an attempt to close the hole in reality that the Kingpin has opened. It’s part action sequence, part acid-trip fever dream, with swirling, psychedelic colours and jagged angles and lines. Probably the closest film analogue I can think of is the stargate sequence at the end  of 2001 — it’s that trippy.

In the lead-up to its release in December, I was aware of the film, but only because Mr. BooksandTea wanted to see it, and because io9 was hyping it up.

Then I saw it, and I was amazed — where on earth did this thing come from, and how come I was only hearing about it through various people raving on Twitter? Where was the massive media push that this movie deserved?

I’m still kind of shocked that it was such a sleeper hit. But maybe fewer people will be sleeping on it now because of its award win.

Books I Read in January


It’s funny — now that I’ve given myself permission not to review every single book I read in-depth, I have a whole lot more I want to say about what I’m reading, and why. So here are some capsule reviews about what I read in January 2019.

The Hacking of the American Mind by Robert Lustig

I think I was first turned on to this book by YouTuber Hannah Louise Poston, who in 2018 examined her relationship to beauty products and consumerism by doing a “no-buy” year. In one video, she talked about how she was learning about neuroscience, dopamine vs serotonin, and the difference between pleasure and happiness as a result of this book.

I was intrigued, because I know my own habits need to change. I spend way too much time online, and this book seemed like a handy way to help me understand my habits/addictions (Twitter, Reddit, staying up too late reading the same).

And….oof. Lustig may be a talented endocrinologist, and he may have done the world a service by being a whistleblower about the sugar industry, but The Hacking of the American Mind feels like a classic example of a book’s thesis being undone by poor presentation.

Lustig has A Lot to Talk About, and he does so with the fervour of a zealot. His understanding of brain chemistry is obvious, but his understanding of social issues is not. His thesis is that the American business, politics, and legal apparatus  has been systematically encouraging the American populace to seek short-term pleasure (aka: dopamine, sugar, and consumerism) over long-term happiness (aka: serotonin, healthy foods, and personal development).

The argument itself is sound. But his solutions for undoing the damage this confluence of political and economic interests has caused is not. His solutions? Cook healthy food! Meditate and develop mindfulness! Volunteer in your community!

These are all valuable things, but these are individualistic solutions to society-wide problems. Does he advocate for tax reform and reducing income inequality? No. Does he say that the labour movement needs widescale restoration to regain lost rights? Not really. For all his emphasis on how politics and money corrupt society, he seems surprisingly ignorant about the whole concept of social determinants of health.

Oh, and also Lustig engages in a lot of fat-shaming and neurotypical bias. No thanks.

Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment by Gregory Berns

In some ways, this book was the polar opposite to The Hacking of the American Mind. Both talk about neuroscience, pleasure, and how the brain responds to stimuli, but they do so in very different ways. When I opened Satisfaction, the straightforwardness of the prose in the opening first few pages made me feel like I had just put a cool, soothing cloth to my forehead.

Because of this immediate reaction of “Ah, finally, this author is so decorous!”, it took me a while to feel underwhelmed. In Hacking, Lustig Has A Point, and attempts to prove  it in a frenzied, impassioned, and clumsy way. Satisfaction, however, despite its fine prose, just kinda… sits there. Despite Berns’ discussion of dopamine and brain structures, his book’s thesis — that satisfaction/happiness lies in constantly exposing the brain to new experiences — is boring.

What’s more, the narrative throughline is clunky. There are interesting chapters, like the ones about sensory experiences during a fine meal and travelling to Iceland. However, they are intermingled with so-so ones about topics like BDSM. The final chapter, in particular, contains a lot of woo-sounding advice about long-term relationships, as well as some cringe-inducing passages discussing the author’s own sexual relationship with his wife.

Brother by David Chariandy

Hands down the best book of the month. Growing up, Michael and his brother Francis knew that despite how hard their mother worked to support them and give them a chance to succeed in life, they had few options. Constrained by intersecting issues of race and class, suspicion falls upon them and their peers in the wake of a shooting in their housing complex. Michael finds ways to cope, but Francis’ trajectory is much more tragic. Brother is an exploration of growing up as a marginalized youth of colour in the early 90s, and the prose is spare and haunting.

However, what really made me connect with it is that it’s set very close to where I live. When the opening pages talk about a bridge on Lawrence Avenue in Scarborough, I know that bridge because it’s within walking distance of my house. When Michael recollects escaping into the Rouge Valley, I know where and what he’s escaping to. When Michael talks about the buses and commuter trains and the “good” neighbourhood of “Port Junction”, I know exactly who and what he is describing, because that infrastructure has been with me my whole life.

Perhaps, when the snow melts and the sun comes back, I’ll share some pictures of the Rouge here, so you can conjure them in your minds eye when you decide to read this magnificent book.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 9: Squirrels Fall Like Dominoes

As I have mentioned previously, I love Squirrel Girl. So any time a new volume comes out, it’s a delight. This time, the crux of the story involves her friendship with Kraven, a Marvel villain, and how she encourages him to turn a new leaf. Kraven is always a delight whenever he pops up in the SG universe, so it’s nice to see him get an extended plot arc here.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

I read Hacking and Satisfaction at the beginning of the month because I wanted to understand my own brain, and to see if these books would give me some insight into how to “rewire” myself away from constantly needing to be connected to the internet. I should have just ignored both of these and read The Shallows instead.

In this book, Nicholas Carr manages to find the happy medium between the other two. It contains both the literary quality of Satisfaction and the hefty neurological exploration of Hacking. More importantly, The Shallows goes into detail about how exactly technology changes our brains without sounding alarmist — even when those details themselves are, in fact, alarming.

What’s also surprising is that although this book was written 8 years ago, and thus discusses the technology of 8 years ago, it doesn’t feel dated. The trends he identified have only become amplified since then – the chapter on Google’s quest for “content” in order to develop truly functional AI  is particularly relevant.

January’s reads were kind of a mix, but in a good way.  In February, I hope to continue this mix of fiction and non-fiction, while also focusing on Black authors for Black History Month.

The year ahead - plans for 2019

What I want 2019 to be like

The year ahead - plans for 2019

This is going to be a somewhat long and rambling post, so please indulge me. (Especially since this is adapted from something I just wrote on Facebook.)

What happened in 2018?

In 2018, I don’t know why, but I felt mentally paralyzed. I wanted to do All The Things – volunteer work, blogging, staying on top of the news, etc. I had big plans about interviewing people for this site and writing book reviews, as you may remember.

However, I could never muster the energy to do so in a sustained manner because it always felt like something I had to do, or promised to do, rather than because it was something I wanted to do. To be honest, one of my goals was to write enough good posts in 2018 so that I could be nominated for an Aurora Award. I’ve learned, however, that I really don’t do well with putting that kind of pressure on myself.

What do I want to do differently in 2019?

Thus, I’m officially giving myself permission this year to change my approach to reading, writing, and a whole host of other things, like social media.

Writing

I’m going to be doing some personal writing every day. It may be on this blog, or it may be in a notebook. The stuff in the notebook is going to be not-great, and I’m okay with that. You know that quote by Ira Glass about how when you start out being creative, there’s a gap between what you’re capable of, and what you want to be capable of? This one right here is what I mean:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.

Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

I haven’t written any fiction, or any stuff just for me in a while, and I want to wake up those muscles again. Who knows what will happen by the end of the year, but for now, I’m just doing random writing prompts and bits of fan-fic because they’re FUN.

Reading and reviewing

In 2015, when I started Books and Tea, one of my unstated goals was to review every book I read. That worked okay when I started out and was full of enthusiasm. But in 2016 and 2017, my reviewing slowed way down, and in 2018 things ground to a halt since I decided then to pivot to interviewing authors. I’m still planning on doing interviews, but I’m also giving myself permission to read books and think about them without reviewing them. I may write a review, but I’m allowing myself to not feel obligated to.

Social media

I’m trying to rethink my relationship to social media (which is funny, since I first wrote this out on Facebook at 7 AM, go me). I’m not going to cut it out of my life, but I am going to make a greater effort to spend less time on it, and more time on analog things – like reading and writing, above. I spend way too much time on Twitter and Reddit, and it ruins my sleep. I need to get better about that.

Building relationships

Finally, I want to strengthen my 1-on-1 relationships. The thing that really brought this into focus for me was an email I read this morning that arrived in my work inbox last night: I’ve been accepted for a mentorship program for women involved in Canada’s technical and communications industries. I applied to be a mentee last year and never heard anything back, but apparently I made it in! So that’s exciting.

In addition to being a mentee through this program, I’m going to be working with Community Living Ontario to be a mentor to someone else. I find the symmetry of that really pleasing, and knowing I may be both a mentee and a mentor has really crystallized what I want 2019 to be like.

A Look at The Quantum Magician with Derek Künsken

Derek Künsken writes science fiction, fantasy, and, sometimes accidentally, horror. After publishing shorter works in many different markets, this month marks his novel-length debut with The Quantum Magician, a sci-fi heist story set in the far future involving time travel, wormholes, space battles, political intrigue, and even a little bit of romance.

Derek was kind enough to send me a copy of his book before its release this month and let me pick his brain after reading it. Here’s a brief look at the wider world in which his novel is set. Thanks for your great answers, Derek!

Note: The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.


Me: The Quantum Magician takes part in the same universe as stories you’ve published previously. For those who aren’t familiar with them, what stories are they, and where can people read them? How does the book tie into this shared universe?

Derek Künsken: I’m a big fan of the way many of the stories of Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter are parts of the same world, allowing those authors to explore a much larger cut of time and space. I modelled my universe after theirs. In chronological order, here are most of the stories:

  • 2100: Events introducing the vacuum-living skates living around a pulsar in the novelette Schools of Clay, Asimov’s Magazine, February 2014, also available in Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015 Edition, and in audio at Starship Sofa
  • 2215: Events on Venus in the novelette Persephone Descending, from Analog Magazine, Nov, 2014, available in The Year’s Best Military SF and Space Opera from Baen, or in audio at Starship Sofa
  • 2255: Events on Venus  and the formation of the Congregate in the novel The House of Styx, in press, Oct, 2020 [projected publication date]
  • 2325: Events introducing the Homo eridanus in the short story Beneath Sunlit Shallows, from Asimov’s Magazine, Jun, 2008
  • 2350: Events at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom in the novelette Water and Diamond, in Asimov’s Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018
  • 2475: Events introducing the Sub-Saharan Union in the novella Pollen from a Future Harvest, in Asimov’s Magazine, July, 2015
  • 2515: Events of the novel The Quantum Magician, from Solaris Books and soon in audio from Recorded Books and previously available in Analog issues Jan/Feb – May/Jun 2018
  • 2515: Events of the novel The Quantum Garden, from Solaris Books, Oct 2019
  • 2720: Events of the far future of the Congregate and the Anglo-Spanish Plutocracy in the novelette Flight From the Ages, from Asimov’s Magazine Apr/May 2016

One of the things I find really interesting about the setting is how the conglomerates that control policy and trade have relationships that are roughly analogous to colonial periods, and how the whole motivation behind the heist – for the Sub Saharan Union to end its client/patron relationship with the francophone Conglomerate — is pretty explicitly a decolonization story. Is that something you were hoping to tie into the work when you started writing it?

DK: Yes, but perhaps my thinking wasn’t so explicitly reflective of history. I wasn’t so much thinking of the international power and wealth imbalances of the past, but of the ones we will make in the future. Regardless of what current international law says, the first nations into space will get first pick of space resources, and the second nations into space will get second pick, etc. The solar system is big, but there are strategic positions and monopolies to be had that will magnify imbalances. The rich and technologically advanced countries will be first and become richer, and poorer nations will, if they are lucky, be allowed into the solar system by the rich nations.

The patronage relationships I showed in The Quantum Magician are one way these imbalances may play out, and resentments they might generate aren’t hard to imagine. History has some repeating themes, even future histories, unfortunately.

The Puppets in your story are a group of people who have been genetically engineered to feel subservient towards another particular group of people, and to feel religious awe in their presence. Where did that idea come from? The way that their culture plays out, and how the Puppets rationalize a relationship that, to outside observers, seems incredibly abusive and warped, is really unusual. (And frankly, also somewhat unsettling.)

DK: Haha. Sorry. I keep apologizing to readers for the Puppets! The name “the Puppets” was kicking around my head for a long time with no definition and no place in any narrative. When I started pulling together the elements of The Quantum Magician (a con, a quantum man, the deep divers, the Congregate and the Sub-Saharan Union, the stable wormholes), I had room to create more, and so the Puppets started coming into focus, partly with my reading on microbiomes, on some research on the neurology of religious experience and on religious cults.

Thinking as a former biologist, I thought of what would be needed to make a slave species, and what kind of people would commit that crime against humanity. We have cults and extreme religions in the present day, where a ruling class oppresses an underclass and I wanted to explore that dynamic. The Rise of the Puppets was an important part though, so that the Puppets would be protagonists in the story, morally compromised, but morally complex.

Let’s talk Easter eggs! I noticed a few, like the fact that one of Belisarius’s aliases is Juan Caceres, and the fact that Trenholm disease, a fictional malady in the story, shares a name with Hayden Trenholm. But what others are there?

DK: Easter eggs! I’m surprised you found Juan Caceres! I occasionally used the name Juan Caceres myself when I was living in Bogotá. He was the trickster hero of my fantasy story “Juan Caceres in the Zapatero’s Workshop” and there’s a con man called Juan Caceres in the 2200s of my universe who was edited out, but I’ll add him back somewhere because tricksters always come back!

Some Ottawa readers may know the Westbook in Westbrook Station, and the relationship to the Trenholm virus. Will Gander also assumes the name Geoff Kaltwasser as part of the con. If you have the occasion, you might want to ask Geoff Gander where the name Kaltwasser comes from.

Close readers will also notice that Vincent Stills, the Homo eridanus has the same name as Vincent, the protagonist of “Beneath Sunlit Shallows”. That’s deliberate and I can’t wait for readers to notice in later novels and stories that the mongrels have really peculiar naming customs, very much related to their history and the middle finger they give the world. More than a few of the Anglo-Spanish names are from places I’ve visited in Colombia and Honduras, and the Congregate names are often from Gaspésie in eastern Québec, although those get foregrounded a lot more in The House of Styx. There are other Easter eggs too, but they take more digging 🙂

The Homo quantus are an unusual creation – a group of people who have been genetically modified to go into a savant-like state conducive to observing quantum events and identifying unusual patterns. Where did this idea come from? I especially love the idea of the electroplaques!

DK: Thank you! I’ve wondered about what quantum perceptions and thinking might be, as long as I’ve understood the basics of quantum theory. In 2013 or 2014, I was reading Stephen Baxter’s collection Vacuum Diagrams and it contained a short story about a quantum man. I was impressed, but also inspired to do my own take on it.

In designing someone who might be able to have quantum perceptions though, the biggest challenge was figuring out how to avoid quantum collapse due to human or conscious observation. One interpretation of quantum theory (not a dominant one) contends that consciousness itself is partly responsible for the collapse of quantum phenomena into what we see and experience. So I felt that in science fictional terms, trying to knock out consciousness might be a way to explore this kind of world, to have the Homo quantus offshoot of humanity to be truly alien, moreso even that the Puppets who are behaviorally and morally alien, or the mongrels who are physically and environmentally alien.

Will there be sequels to The Quantum Magician, or future books set in the same universe?

DK: Yes! They haven’t been publicized yet, but I’ve already delivered The Quantum Garden to Solaris Books, which stars most of the characters from the first book. And we’re negotiating on the sale of The House of Styx, the first novel in a duology that is set about 250 years before the events in The Quantum Magician, and is set in the clouds of Venus and details the very humble beginnings of the interstellar post-Québécois empire that we see as the Congregate in The Quantum Magician and The Quantum Garden. I have some thoughts on one or two novels after The Quantum Garden, but haven’t started outlining yet.


And that’s that!

The Quantum Magician is published by Solaris books and is available for sale online and at major book retailers like Amazon and Chapters.

A Walk Through the World of Graveyard Mind with Chadwick Ginther

The cover of Graveyard Mind, by Chadwick Ginther, shows a graveyard and tombstones silhouetted by a cloudy horizon.Chadwick Ginther is the Prix-Aurora-Award-nominated author of the Thunder Road Trilogy and has just released Graveyard Mind, his first book with noted Canadian spec-fic publisher ChiZine Publications. His short fiction has appeared recently in Tesseracts, Those Who Make Us and Grimdark Magazine. With Samantha Beiko he is the co-creator and writer of the comic series, Mythfits. He lives and writes in Winnipeg, Canada, spinning sagas set in the wild spaces of Canada’s western wilderness where surely monsters must exist.

Chadwick was kind enough to answer questions I had about Graveyard Mind earlier this summer while he was on the road promoting it. Talk about dedication and stamina! I hope you like this brief glimpse into a new and eerie fictional world.


 

For the uninitiated, what is Graveyard Mind about? Not just from a plot perspective, but what themes were you aiming to work into your story?

Graveyard Mind is an urban fantasy novel featuring Winter Murray, a necromancer of the Compact. Winter’s job is to keep Winnipeg’s dead in their tombs no matter what laws of gods and men she must break to do so. She’s been doing the work solo since her mentor’s death  when a past she thought buried comes back to haunt her when a death cult moves on her turf.

As for themes, redemption was definitely one I wanted to explore. Winter is hunting for a redemption she doesn’t believe she really deserves—being a necromancer isn’t a job that lends itself to above the board actions, and she’s done a lot of dirty deeds in her time. Another theme was family. I didn’t think about this one so much during the writing, but I realized it was important to me when I decided upon the dedication; the person this book is dedicated to isn’t here to read it. The found family theme tends to turn up a lot in my writing; Ted accretes a new family during his adventures—Winter struggles to maintain hers. I also enjoy writing about people who think they are monsters and people who definitely are.

Your book contains many elements found in urban fantasy books, but your choice of setting, Winnipeg, is pretty unusual. Aside from it being your hometown, what drew you towards setting Graveyard Mind here? What possibilities do you see in Winnipeg as a setting that other places lack?

I don’t see it as Winnipeg as a setting having something that other cities lack, really, other than exposure. But since my Toronto or New York will never be as evocative as one written by someone who lives there, why not capitalize on the hometown advantage and give readers not familiar with my home something they haven’t seen before?

Mostly, though, I love writing about Winnipeg and Manitoba. While it’s not a location that’s usually thought of when one thinks of fantasy, I see endless story potential here. While a small city, Winnipeg is a multicultural one, and with the surrounding farmland and nearby lakes and wild spaces, there are lots of places for monsters to hide.

Winnipeg’s reputed hauntings definitely played a role in choosing to set Graveyard Mind here. I have a travel guide to supernatural Winnipeg, and like to give out of town friends my own custom haunted tour of the city. But everyone who lives in Winnipeg can list a few of these supposedly haunted landmarks.

In your Thunder Road books, your protagonists have to deal with the mundane reality of their world being stripped away to reveal the supernatural, and they balance walking that line throughout. Graveyard Mind‘s protagonist, Winter Murray, has to deal with the same thing – trying, and failing, to present a facade to the normal world. Is this a common thread throughout your work? What about this idea is so attractive to you?

One of the things that drew me to urban fantasy as a genre was that intersection of the supernatural and the mundane. Writing Thunder Road was transformative in that regard, as until I drafted that book, most of my early writing was second world sword and sorcery. I still write some secondary world fiction, but the majority of my published work has taken place in a fantastically skewed version of our world.

Stories are how we deal with things we don’t understand, or want to understand better. Using a lens of the fantastic to examine issues from our world is something I find very rewarding. I also really enjoy wrecking up my favourite landmarks.

Your main character, Winter Murray, has unusual abilities because she’s actually a chimera – she absorbed her unborn twin sister in the womb.  What was the inspiration for this?

An episode of CSI and reading Stephen King’s The Dark Half were probably my introduction to the idea of a human chimera. Dungeons and Dragons is where I honed my love of undead as monsters and antagonists. It just felt natural that someone with a bit of dead tissue in them would be a necromantic natural. That idea was one of the first things that got me excited to start writing Graveyard Mind.

What is your favourite moment in the book, or what scene/element/quote is your favourite?

My favourite extended sequence is the first introduction of the Kingdom—the Land of the Dead—leading up to Winter’s duel with her old mentor. But any time Frank was on the page was a lot of fun, as was writing Winter’s friendship with Lyssa.

You’ve put a lot of work into imagining a wider world in Graveyard Mind, from the Compact, to various types of death-magic, to how various mythologies got things about the afterlife right or wrong. Will there be a sequel, or related short stories? It feels like there’s a lot left to explore.

I’d love for the world of Graveyard Mind to take off and become a more open ended series. Works like Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid and October Daye series, Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson books, Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld, and Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville novels are the reasons I love urban fantasy.

I am working on a sequel now, and am roughly half way through my discovery draft. The second book seems to be featuring more of the inner workings of the Compact, but that’s all I can say of it for sure right now. I’ve published two short stories set loosely in the world of Graveyard Mind. Both of those stories star a costumed adventurer in the mold of the Shadow and Batman, named Midnight Man who hunts necromancers because of what they did to his family. There are definitely more stories set in the world of Graveyard Mind on deck. Whether those stories will feature Midnight Man, Winter and Frank in haunted Winnipeg, or bits of Winter’s world outside of Manitoba that were only briefly mentioned in the novel, I can’t say yet.


And that’s that! You can buy Graveyard Mind online or in major bookstores.

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