Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some Year-End Stuff and new reading dates, plus Canadian paperback and foreign editions of Cataract City

Hello All,

Well, another year is rounding to a close. Seems like as good a time as any to make a few jottings about year-end type of stuff, and other stuff coming up in 2014.

First, there are those "year end" lists popping up right now, and Cataract City has landed on a few. Very fine company to be keeping! I need to read The Goldfinch, clearly.


Beyond that, here are a few dates where I'll be popping up in the new year, reading or talking or just being a weenie, which is my stock-in-trade.

1. Reading at Western University. January 24th. 2:30-4pm.

2. Bonnie Stern's Book Dinner. January 27th.

3. CĂșirt International Festival of Literature. April 8-13. Galway, Ireland.

4. Readings at the Roselawn reading series in Port Colbourne. April 24, 2014. 7:30pm.

5. Friends of the East Gwillimbury Library reading event. April 29th, 7:30pm.

6. Niagara Falls Writer's Conference. May 2nd, 8:30-12:30pm.

7. RiverBrink Art Museum Talk Series, Niagara on the Lake. May 25th, 2pm.

8. Festival America. Sept 11-14. France.

Beyond this, there may be some other dates for the paperback edition of Cataract City, or a few dates when the UK version is released in February, or the US version in July, or the French version in September. I'll add them if and when they happen.

Links to the upcoming editions (except the French) follow below—they're the amazon links, but there are other places to find a copy if you don't want to support that particular behemoth.

UK VERSION OF CATARACT CITY (Feb 6, 2014 pub date)
US EDITION OF CATARACT CITY (July 8, 2014 pub date)

All best, Craig.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"I really WANTED to like it ..."

Hello All,

Every so often, as a writer or other creative sort I'd imagine, one does what one really ought not to do—that is, take the public's temperature towards the reception of one's work.

This is almost never a healthy thing for one to do.

A generation or two ago, as a writer there were only a few vectors to see what people thought of your work. Newspaper and magazine reviews, and I imagine letters mailed to you by readers. Or, I suppose, verbal assessments of your work at readings or wherever else.

Or on the street, even: Hey, you! I read your book and it sucked eggs! 

Or breathy late-night phonecalls: Your narrative transition on page 211 was atrocious. [heavy nasal breathing] You should be ashamed. What are you wearing, anyway?

Today, with the Internet, there are many ways for people to express their sentiments about a given work of writing, a film, a sculpture, a painting, a song and so on. And that's great and vital. But of course those places—amazon, goodreads, IMDB, etc, etc—now exist, and the people who wrote those books or directed or starred in those films or created that song or sculpture can go there and drink in the public's reception to their work.

Sometimes that quaff can be pretty bitter.

But again, that's just something you have to accept on a professional level. And most writers or other creative types I've spoken to do just that. It's the price of doin' business. People gave their time to sample your wares, and it's absolutely their right to weigh in.

But those of us who have been assessed have our little pet peeves, our little bugaboos, things that, over time, kind of get our dander up.

Mine is: "I really WANTED to like this."

It's become a common turn of phrase in reviews that pop up at Internet review sites. I don't think I've ever read it in a review published in a magazine or newspaper or an Internet site with any editorial oversight; I'm not saying it hasn't, I just can't recall ever having seen it.

It is invariably the first sentence and the review that follows thereafter can be, as one may've guessed, pretty scathing.

Why does it irk me? Well, I'm glad you asked!

First of all, I've never gone into a book, or a movie with that particular mindset. Why would I want to like it? That book never paid my mortgage. That film never donated a kidney to me. I have no specific cause to want to like it.

Now there are books or films that I've expected I'd like, based on the fact that I'd liked other books or films by that director or writer or star; I expect to like Stephen King's books, and Dennis Lehane's, and Alice Munro's, and Gillian Flynn's, because I've liked their work before and it seems reasonable I'd like them again. But I don't want to like them; that's the author's burden. To make me like it. And I won't know that until I've read it.

On a totally prosaic and somewhat selfish level I want to like all the books and films I read or view, if only to substantiate the time invested in them. I want those hours of my life to be worthwhile, to enrich me in some way, to make me understand the human condition more deeply or to simply take me away. But I feel that way with every single book or movie or what-have-you. I want to like them because that means my time was profitably spent; otherwise I could've been home counting the pennies in my penny jar or gazing moonily out the window, with no net loss.

I can't envision a scenario where I'd want to like a book before reading it. Maybe if the book was written by someone in desperate straits, like that Aaron Ralston book where he documents having to cut his own arm off to survive; I might want to like it, or be compelled by it, because the event it documents is pretty wrenching.

Or I suppose if a book was written by a friend of mine, I'd want to like it if only so that I could tell that friend I genuinely did like it instead of having to do an awkward dance of praise.

FRIEND: So, you read my book—what did you think?

ME: Ooooh, it was ... swell. Good. I'd definitely say, yes, good. Really good, even.

FRIEND: What part did you like best?

ME: Oh, all the, y'know, stuff. Lots of stuff happening. I guess I'd say that. The stuff.

In that case, I'd hope I liked the book. Which is different than want.

By the same token, I can't envision a scenario where I wouldn't want to like a given creative work. I mean, maybe I wouldn't want to discover that I felt a real emotional attachment to John Wayne Gacy's book of clown caricatures.

That leering clown, Finnegan, really speaks to me man! He's got secrets behind his eyes.

Or I could go my whole life without making the unhappy discovery that Charles Manson's scat poetry totally rocks my world. It hasn't, I don't even know if that whacko writes poetry, but the fact remains.

Those would be distressing, I'm sure, if only because I'd not want to find that my worldview was in some way aligned with theirs. But since being intrigued or fascinated by something written by a terrible specimen of humanity isn't, on its own, irrevocably awful, I don't even think I'd worry about it if were to happen.

Oh but I really WANTED to like this ...

When I think of someone saying this, the fervency of their emotion, I picture them with their eyes squeezed tightly shut, their knees touching and their legs slightly bent: the posture of a person who needs rather desperately to pee.

I really reeeeeeeally REALLY WANTED to like this ...

... but alas.

From my perspective, as a writer, when I read this I think: Okay, so for whatever reason you were predisposed to generosity towards this particular offering; and for whatever other reasons it fell so far short of your hopes that, retroactively, your antipathy grew exponentially stronger. The writer started from a position of strength, having already engendered a generosity of spirit from the reader's side, and s/he failed so cataclysmically that the reader's generosity curdled with every shoddy characterization and weak plot structure until they hated it. So the writer failed doubly. 

Which is a lovely thing to feel, I can assure you.

So, gentle reviewer, before starting your review with that particular gambit, ask yourself: Why, exactly, do you really want to like this film or book or TV show? Is it due to some personal connection with its creator? Did the publisher save you from drowning one time? Do you hold stock in the film company? If so, fair enough.

Or is it due to the fact you'd prefer that your time isn't wasted? If so, we all feel that way. Do you want to like it, or do you simply hope you'll like it? If it is the latter, then rest assured it doesn't need to be mentioned. We all hope to enjoy creative efforts. They have the uncanny power to entertain or transport us in some way. That's why they exist in the first place, I daresay.

Why would you "want" to like something? That's not your obligation. It's the creator's ambition, to make you like it, and if s/he does their job then perhaps you will.

Or perhaps they will have met their ambition—just not with you specifically.

In any case, carrying that mindset into a work doesn't make much sense to me.

Or are you saying it to stress how dreadfully it failed in some way? Not just you personally, but even the materials it was created with, the paper or celluloid or marble or canvas?

Are you saying that those materials could have been more profitably engaged as toilet paper, or paving stones or boat sails?

Do you want to convey that this particular creative effort failed the human race by sheer dint of its horrible existence?

If so, I suppose that's fine. But you may want to find a different way to express that sentiment.

Or not.

All best, Craig.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Piece in The Walrus

Hello All,

The life of a pseudonym is pretty rough sledding. Or so I've heard. I don't have any familiarity with it, personally.


All best, Craig.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Wormhole / The Great Grape Pop Robber

Hello All,

Please find following a link to my essay, or "Ryeberg" in this case, called The Wormhole.

When I went to Banff as a part of the Wordfest festivities, I was approached by the ever-cool Erik Rutherford, curator of the Ryeberg series, and asked if I wanted to put together something for the event. I joined Andrew Pyper, DW Wilson, and Joanna Kavenna for an afternoon of Rybergs—which are essays accompanied by video clips, put together by Erik. It's a very cool concept and it was a very cool event, and I was happy to be a part of it.

As you might suspect, my contribution was a bit ... odd. You can hunt around the site, if you'd like, and find other great essays by some fantastic writers.


Also while I was at Wordfest, the lovely Maria Turner asked me to tell a story for her Carte Blanche "This Really Happened" reading series. I joined Michael Winter, Todd Babiak, Lisa Moore and Ophira Eisenberg. If you want to hear an audio recording of my scintillating, earth-scorching performance (because, y'know, I'm totally known for my verbal storytelling, scat poetry, and things of that nature ...) then feel free to check it out, too.


All best, Craig.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giller Photos

Hello All,

Want to see all the fun and frivolity and razzamatazz that surrounds a swank event such as the Giller Prize ceremony? Well, too bad—I'm not the type to pose and tell!

Hah! Who am I kidding? Of course I am. I didn't have a camera on hand, because I'm a piss-poor planner, but there were Iphones and such aplenty, so treat yourself to some cellphone camera pics snapped by friends at the gala.

1. (R to L): Big Goofy Dude; Goofy Dude's Incredibly Hot and Elegant Fiancee.

2. (R to L): Superstar Editor Lynn Henry; Superlative Agent Kirby Kim; aforementioned Big Goofy Dude, just taking up space.

 3. (R to L): Goofy Dude and Superlative Agent, with a cool Iphone patina added.

4. (R to ): Big Goofy Dude and Hollywood Director Paul Haggis exchange witty banter (his side of it was witty, anyway).

All best, Craig.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Hi All,

Well, I didn't win. But more to the point, the wonderful Lynn Coady did win. I'm incredibly happy for her. She's been at this a long while, honing her writing, plus she's been through the awards wringer a few times already and this year, the wheel came around and scooped her up. She damnwell deserves it. Dennis would've deserved it too, and Lisa of course, and Dan and even myself I suppose. But Lynn is fantastic, a fantastic writer, dedicated as hell, and I (and the rest of the shortlisted writers) are incredibly happy for her.

It was a hella fun night. Colleen and I got to meet Paul Haggis (I had to confess that I got a little weepy at the trailer for Million Dollar Baby, when I saw it before The Aviator years ago; I'd read the short story collection it was derived from, "Rope Burns" by FX Toole, so I knew what was coming for Ms. Swank) and many other Canadian literary luminaries (Margaret Atwood! Michael Ondaatje! David Adams Richards! Joseph Boyden! Rohinton Mistry! Michael Winter! Elizabeth Hay! David Bergen! on and on it went). Talked about Don Carpenter's Hard Rain Falling with Jonathan Lethem. Wore a pretty slick suit, compliments of Strellson, Sharp magazine and Greg Hudson. Overall it was a hell of a night.

But what I enjoyed most is spending the majority of my time with the people who helped me get to the shortlist: my agent Kirby, my editor Lynn, publisher Kristin, Mark Medley of the Post, and of course Colleen. Would've been nice to have had publicist Scott and my folks and brother there, too—but it's a pretty tough ticket, so I couldn't have smuggled them in ... but as they say, they were there in spirit. Anyway, a guy realizes that he doesn't do anything alone, let alone write a book—people think it's a solitary profession, and it is, but without that critical support and guidance from people you trust and whose opinion matters crucially to you, man, you're sunk. At least I'd be sunk. So that was the jolt I got from the evening. Spending time with the people who were so foundational to me winding up in that ballroom in the first place.

And yeah, it was fun to get drunk with all of those people, plus Paul Haggis (I was drunk, anyway; Paul might've been stone cold sober). Good night. A very good night indeed.

Congrats to Lynn. She's fantastic. She's a marvel. I'm a fan myself. And this is so richly earned for her.

Want to watch the festivities? Click on this link:


All best, Craig.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tonight's Readings at Koerner Hall

Hello All,

So there's a pre-Giller-night reading happening tonight, (Monday) at Koerner Hall in Toronto. The wonderful Eddie Greenspan will be reading from Cataract City. If you can't be here, didn't grab tickets, don't live in the city or whatnot, but still want to watch the festivities, you can see it via livestream starting at 8EST, I believe.


All best, Craig.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Is this the leering and vaporous face of a serial killer?

Hi All,

Ye GODS! I mean, really, Holy Mother of Merciful Angels!

Well, there's another one to add to the collection of the hideous photographs that pepper my existence as a writer; another framed snapshot, a memory frozen in time. It's mesmerizing, isn't it? You can't peel your gaze away from my vacant, tumorous little eyes, eyes that hive with a strange and repulsive avidity.

I think it's less the eyes than the weird set of my jaw, actually. I look like a traveling salesman who'd show up on your step with a briefcase of foot ointment ... but when I open up the case, cockroaches spill out instead as I laugh and laugh with crazed glee. Then I eat your face.

Anyhoo, what can you do? Perhaps I have a face made for radio, as they say. But remember, with the right lighting and proper handling, I can look like a normal human being:

Anyhoo (II), the top photo is a still taken from a video segment done as a leadup to the Gillers. You can watch my interview, and the ones with each shortlisted author, via the link below. They're all worth watching, if you're into that kind of a thing!


All best,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Olives Rule!

Hello All,

Olives hold a special place in my family, and with my friends. They are perhaps the ultimate love it/hate it food. I love them. Colleen, my fiancee, hates them. My mom and brother love them. My dad hates them. Some of my friends love them, some hate them.

Of course, it's only natural that Nick's tastebuds should be the ultimate battleground and proving ground for the humble olive.

If he hates them, then they are truly the devil's fruit (vegetable? soggy delicious nut? complex alien matter? what genus are olives, anyway?)

If he loves them, then they are truly the food of the gods, as I've always suspected.

Now a few weeks ago, my mother fed Nick a black olive from her submarine sandwich. According to verified reports, Nick squished it, dropped it on the floor, stomped on it and walked away in disgust. The early returns were not promising, I grant you—as far as Colleen was concerned, it was a dead issue. Nick hated olives. All was right in the world.

But it had been a black olive—which, in my estimation, are spongier and more tasteless variants of the green alive (that was a missed keystroke, alive instead of olive, but I'm leaving it because olives make one feel alive, don't they? I'm calling them alives from now on, in fact).

So anyway, the test had to happen again. With a green alive. If Nick hated it, so be it. At least we would know for sure. The following video is documented proof. Nick versus The Olive.

Place your wagers!

All best, Craig.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Except + Writing Life + Interview in Macleans

Hello All,

Here's a fairly long piece in Macleans on Cataract City, plus an interview. Many thanks to Brian Bethune for taking the time, and Daniel for taking the pic. Pieces by the other Giller finalist will run shortly, leading up to the announcement next month.


All best, Craig.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Hello All,

In Banff, doing some events for Wordfest, the Calgary-based writing festival. Lovely weather for this time of year. Love Banff. Love saying the word itself.

Banff. Banff. BANFF!

Here's a piece on Wordfest in the Calgary Herald. I've had the great pleasure of meeting Anthony a few times lately, so it's great to share an article with him. Thanks to Eric Volmers for the interview.


Anyhoo, it's been awhile since I was last here in balmy (for now) Banff. I did a writer's residency (I think that's what it was called) six or seven years ago. A bunch of aspiring writers up here, horsing around, writing poetry and prose for a few weeks in this mountain idyll. A good time was had by all.

And now I'm back for a few days. Staying in the same lodge/hotel as I did back then. Then back home—which, after Birmingham and Calgary, is where I'd like to be. But some of the writers are continuing on to Vancouver, then looping back to Toronto for the festival there. Busy, hectic and for them, I'd hope a lot of fun. For me, right now, I think I'd like to nest for a bit.

Speaking of the Toronto Festival—I'll be there. A lovely festival. I can just hop on the subway and scurry down for my events. Here's a piece that appeared in the Toronto Star about some authors, myself included, you can expect to see there (there are TONS more). It's nice that, in my late-30s, I can still squeak into the "young" category somehow. Also, I like the word "versatile." I've been thinking of a way to describe my curious output, and I think that's the term I'll be using from now on.


All best, Craig.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Uses for Giller Invite

Hello All,

The Giller invite showed up today. Tres classy. Wrapped up in a red ribbon, which we put to good use on our son, forevermore known as Sensei Nick.

Here he is in full battle mode, with the Giller invite ribbon as a headband. He vows to defeat the evil Cobra Kai. The outfit, which my fiancee tells me is a disaster, was put together by my father and I. Never leave two men alone to dress a child ... and expect the outfit to look half-decent, at least. And by "two men," I really mean, "my father and I."

This is Sensei Nick after a long, Bloodsport-like event, ridding the world of evildoers—the Chong Li's of this earth. After that, a baby needs a stiff drink (to all Child Social Services workers who may read this: we didn't give him the drink).

I know you're all gonna be pleased with this post, because I know that's what you come to this blog to find: baby pictures. Well, today you're in luck!

All best, Craig.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

CBC Sunday Edition, October 13

Hi All,

Do you want to hear me ramble on—not in print, but verbally, sonically? On the radio, I'm saying, just to be clear? Well, then tune in this coming Sunday to Michael Enright's CBC program, starting at 9am. Well, I don't know that you'll hear me blathering then, but sometime in the following 3 hours after 9. The schedule is as follows:

Sunday: Concert etiquette; restoring Ghent Altarpiece; nominee Craig Davidson; secret history of lacrosse; materials science

EDIT: I've heard from the producer, who tells me I'll be blathering during the second hour.

If you can't find the time on Sunday, then hey, you can listen to the podcast later on the homepage:

The Sunday Edition

All best, Craig.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Giller Angst

Hello All,

A few people have asked me how I feel about the Giller longlisting on this, the day before the penultimate announcement. I've told them this: Nobody cares about awards ... until they're nominated for one. It was lovely to even get longlisted. I'm quite honestly not expecting anything more. 

Some people have said: Yeah, but it's decent odds. 5 out of 13 books. That's like a 50-50 shot, practically!

Which isn't even mathematically correct, although I appreciate the desire to stretch the odds in my favor. Truth is, as I'm sure everyone knows, it's not 13 ping-pong balls in a hopper and the first five drawn move on. There are books on the list that have a better chance and books that have a lesser chance. Some of that is based on the judges' likes and dislikes in terms of their reading; and there are likely other factors at play that we can only guess at (so why would we bother?).

Simply stated, each book is not equal. Some books have a better shot than others. Which is fair and fine.

Sadly, a few weeks ago, I found myself falling into the mindset I used to have back in grade 8, trying to guess who the basketball coach would pick for the team after tryouts.

Well, Greg Billington is the best player in school so he's on for sure. And Theo Phelps and I play the same position, but Theo's better so he'll make it before me. And the coach bought his car from the dealership that Earl Braggs' dad owns, so maybe he's go an inside track. And the other day the coach caught me picking my nose behind the utility shed, and probably thought it was pretty gross, so he may just cut me on those grounds alone ...

On and on it went. Drawing up a list and trying to figure out where you stood on it, and why, and intuit the reasoning that the coach might use to take player X and cut player Y. It was exhausting, and it was nothing that nourished the soul. Plus, as an adult it's kinda foolish. So I stopped all that.

At this point I'm just going to wake up tomorrow, get my son dressed, take him to playgroup or for a long walk and let him go down the playground slide as much as he wants, romp in the fallen leaves, then mosey on home and by that point it'll be decided. From there I'll just deal with it and get down to writing whatever's next.

UPDATE: Well, holy sheepshit ... 

All best, Craig.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Few Things of Note

Hello All,

Want some links? You got it!

Best Books of Fall from TO Writers

Also, a little screed on where I used to draw motivation. Thanks to Mark Medley for giving me 1500-odd words to put my psyche so baldly on display.


All best, Craig.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Hi All,

So, another review from the Montreal Gazette. Take a read, if'n you please. My thanks to Ian McGillis for taking the time to read it and share his feelings about it.


And/or, you can read this profile by Martin Knelman of the Toronto Star. Martin is one of those old-school newspapermen who I've had the good fortune of stumbling across once or twice in my career, full of better stories than the ones I try to tell. So my thanks to him for the piece. The photo, taken at our home in Toronto, looks kind of vertiginous. Like maybe we like to hang our paintings off-kilter, which makes me look a little dizzy. Maybe this is even the case—who knows? Somebody needs to come over and tell me if all our paintings are hanging crooked-ass, and I'll try to fix it!


And finally, a story. It's called The Vanishing Twin, and it may (will, likely, but it's not totally my call; my editor has a big say in this) be included in the short story collection that will follow Cataract City at some point. This story was published in The Fiddlehead, UNB's journal. Thanks to Gerard Beirne (a wonderful writer, btw; check out his book TURTLE) at the Fiddlehead for putting the piece forward, and to The Center For Fiction for republishing it.

It's a long one, so if you're not a fan of reading longform stuff online, well, maybe you'll want to print it up? It's also a little nasty, so be warned.


All best, Craig.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Hullaballoo Regarding a Fellow Awards Nominee ...

Hi All,

Well, I woke up this morning to see quite a firestorm raging away on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. I wasn't on the computer much at all yesterday, and with the time difference it meant I missed the exploding heart of the controversy and woke up today to sort through the shrapnel.

For those who aren't aware:


The question that some have asked in light of this is—will it dampen his chances at the Giller prize this year? Certainly there is an argument that a person's personal beliefs and fixations shouldn't be held against the work under contention ... but, people being people, jurors being jurors, awards bodies being awards bodies, there may be some blowback from this.

With that said, here are a few newspaper headlines I'd be interested to see over the next few weeks.

[dek] Noted writer discovered at site of fire, wild-eyed and frantic, screaming: "I hate orphans, always have and always will!"

Or how about:

[dek] Award-winning writer flies to South Africa on own dime, barges into to living saint Mandela's bedroom, screams in his face.

Or maybe:

[dek] Baker's dozen of shivering, leather-clad little people rescued from basement of respected writer Michael Winter's bucolic Newfoundland homestead.

How about some breathless tabloid-style headlines?






... anyway, you get the point. I'm just trying to improve my odds here, people! Surely you understand. So please, fellow nominees, do me a favor and be on your absolute worst behavior over the following weeks and days. You'd be totally doing me a solid and I'd not soon forget it.

All best, Craig.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just a little heads-up for Canadian Amazon shoppers

Hi All,

For the edification of my fellow countrymen: there are two versions of Cataract City up on

This one:


... and this one:


If you want the book right now, you'll want that first option. The other one is a very early preorder for the US edition, which comes out next summer. I'm not sure why it's given as an option on the Canadian Amazon site, but hey, it happens.

I'm sure my Canadian publisher would prefer Canadians grab the version available right now; and I'd surmise that my American publisher would be happy to let that happen, too. And certainly Canadian readers, if they want the book, like, quickly, should go with the first option.

Just wanted to put it out there in case someone orders the US edition and then starts harassing the postal worker after a few weeks go by, grabbing them by the lapels and shaking and demanding their book. I mean, I do that regularly just to keep my postman on his toes, but I wouldn't want anyone else feeling the same need.

All best, Craig.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Buncha More Stuff ...

Hello All,

In Birmingham, safely esconsed, getting down to some serious writing. Missing my family for sure. May as well make this time work for me.

Things are coming a little more fast and furiously than normal, so I'm slamming a lot of content up on ye olde blog lately. So if you're a regular reader—ie: if you check every so often because updates were more sporadic—you may want to scroll down and see what you've missed.

Today, we've got three items.


2. An interview/essay by Daemon Fairless up at Hazlitt. You'll want to keep an eye out for Daemon's book, which I think will be out this year or next.


3. ... and if you're not sick and tired by then, try listening to this interview at, conducted by Joseph Planta. I'm happy with this interview, actually, the parts of it I was able to force myself to listen to. A little bit about the new book, the old books, and basically my life as a writer and a non-writer and all points in between.




All best, Craig.

Friday, September 20, 2013

According to the Internets, Paul Haggis is enjoying Cataract City—plus a CBC profile on the book

Hi All,

This was kindly passed on to me the other day. Mayhap I'd've missed it otherwise. If he does end up finishing it and liking it overall, it'd be a mutual admiration society kinda thing, as I've always enjoyed Mr. Haggis's work; The Black Donnellys was fantastic.


Also, you can watch me dipsy-doo on about the book, and read a little from it, in this CBC video:


And in other news: this looks a little creepy, but looks can be deceiving. Apparently it's about a pair of retirees who, uh, retire to a quiet little island in Florida (with pine trees—weird!) and come up with a great hot sauce recipe—hence the ribbons of hot sauce (not blood) on the cover. However, my German's shoddy so I may've gotten some of the translation wrong. But it sounds like a quaint feel-good book, really low-key, about relationships, getting old, and falling even more deeply in love. And hot sauce. Plus Stephen King blurbed it, so that's always cool.

All best, Craig.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Birmingham ...

Hi All,

So, I'm in Birmingham. Writing this at 11:10 am local time, 6:18 am my body time. So suffice it to say, having not slept on the plane, I'm in that dozy temporal space where nothing seems quite real.

Air travel. I know it's a time-honored wheeze of standup comics, but for good reason. It's hellish. Really, it's like, the 3rd circle of hell. The circle of seatrest-stealers and seatback-kickers.

Hyperbole? I think not!

I was on a discount airline, because, well, I'm poor and it suits my pocketbook. Very tight quarters. I got shuffled around here and there, seat to seat—there was a large family who all wanted to sit together, and I understand that—and ended up in the second-to-last row of the plane beside this old guy.

I like old guys in general. They're cranks, sometimes, and I like that. Or storytellers, and I like that too. I think old dudes are fun. I hope to be a fun old dude one day.

This old dude wasn't all that much fun.

This old dude kept farting.

On me, pretty much, because where else is the smell going to go?

Maybe I'm being unkind. I haven't slept in nearly 24 hours. Maybe I'm a little punchy and vitriolic. I mean, maybe he couldn't help himself. It was a long flight. But, I mean, man—come on! He was even lifting himself up, aiming, like passing wind in my direction was preferrable than into the aisle, where it might harmlessly waft around.

I'd discovered the 4th circle of hell: a window seat on a crowded airplane with a gassy, devious old man blowing hot rancid wind at you.

Anyway ... is this gross? You don't want to read this, do you? The travails of your intrepid blogger under assault from a cruel old farter. You should stop reading now. But I mean, what could I do? I'm asking because I've never faced this particular dilemma. What if he really had some kind of condition? If I'd said: Sir, your flatulence is alarming, and I'd prefer you visit the lavatory to void your demonic winds—and he'd collapsed, weeping in shame and horror? 

Perhaps I could've returned in kind, Guns of Navarone style. But that's a very dark road to go down.

I'll probably delete this post when I wake up. Maybe I will. I'm so tired I'm seeing into this weird 4th dimension. Things are licking and snapping around the peripheries of my sight ...

Then, behind me, this woman ... they've got these touchscreens on the seatbacks now, of course. They've added games. So instead of a little tappy-tapping while the person selects a movie and watches it for a few hours, followed by maybe a little more tapping ... you've got this person playing I-don't-know-what-the-hell, a game called Crazy Pokers perhaps (not the card kind, oh-ho-HO no, this is the finger-poking craze that's sweeping the nation!) or maybe Poke-tastic Pokeriffic Pokers, the game where you poke the screen real hard like you're stabbing it to death!

You ever wonder how it might feel to be a weevil inside a dead tree with a woodpecker hammering at it, trying to get inside and eat you? I sort of do, now.

I did end up rearing up over the seat and saying that to her, pretty much. She feigned ignorance and said: "Oh, is that bothering you?" And I said: "I thought you'd tire of it, but you really really like that game."

Of course, the danger here is that the person doesn't lay off. Then what? You've got to escalate matters, don't you? In the end, when she went back to Pokeroo and the Pokey-Pokes, I put my seat back—which I honestly didn't want to do, seeing as she was up against the bulkhead and couldn't recline herself—and I guess that rendered her poking angle less than ideal, because after a few cholicy attempts the poking stopped.

The farts? Still going great guns, sadly.

So I get to Brussels clad in a terrible miasma of old-guy poots (or so I assume), find out my connecting flight's cancelled. I can either zip onto the early flight and say bye-bye to my luggage until it finds its way to me, or take a flight 8 hours later. I take the early flight. I have to fill out this immigration card. It asks my profession. I'm always a little weirded out by that. I depends where I am in my life. I could've written "student," but at my age that seems sort of sad. At other times I've written whatever I was doing to make money: Bus Driver, Librarian, Magazine editor, Derelict, Carnival roustabout, etc.

So this time I go with "writer," because hell, for the time being it's the truth. I'm making my living at this, long may that persist (it likely won't).

Of course, it can lead to conversations like this:

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: Writer, yeah? Anything I may have read?

ME: Ah, I doubt it. They made a movie out of my first book. Rust and Bone.

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: Oh! I know that movie! Didn't like it at all!

[Who SAYS that? Oddly, more people than you'd think. Writers get slagged a lot. Or I do. What can I say in return? I've seen your work, Mr. Immigration Officer, and I find it lacking. Your stamping technique is piss poor—piss POOR, I say!]

ME: Ah. Well. Sorry for stealing two hours of your life then.

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: Come on. It was more than 2 hours.

ME: Okay, two and change.

After filling out a form to have my luggage delivered WHENEVER, I moseyed on over to my lodgings, only to discover that I can't check in until 2pm. Makes sense! Hey!

Where the hell is the pub? I hear this country is lousy with them.

All best, Craig.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CBC Excerpt of Cataract City

Hello All,

Still wondering whether you want to pony up for a copy of Cataract City? I get it. Lots of good books out there. If you wanted a taste of what it's about, here's an excerpt courtesy of the CBC. My thanks to Maria Turner for the interview portion, too.


Also, here's another excerpt, from the same section (the first part of the book), published at Boulderpavent. Between them it gives you a sense of the book, I think.


All best, Craig.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cataract City covers / PhD a-startin'

Hello All,

Well, I thought I'd show you some of the foreign Cataract City covers that are trickling in. They all take a different tack on the book's narrative. I think they're all cool.

But first, my son Nick shows some love for the Canadian edition:

He's a big reader ... The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Each Peach Pear Plum, etc. This is a little higher-level for him, but his glasses (he's a little farsighted) have convinced him that he's very erudite and ready to tackle grown up literachurr.

Here's the US cover, coming next year from Graywolf:

It's got the bases covered nicely: wrestling, prison, greyhound racing. A cool geometric approach to things. Thanks to Ben Percy for the quote, too!

The UK cover, which I may have posted eons ago, coming next year from Atlantic UK:

So, the two main characters as boys. I like this one a lot, too.

In other news, I'll be heading over to the UK tomorrow to start my PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. It's distance ed, so I'll only be there 2 weeks every year and the rest I can do from home. It's a 3-year program and it allows me to more or less live the life I'm living now, in Canada with my fiancee and our son, so hopefully the status quo will continue apace. I would like to say that I'm going to see a lot of England, but I'm likely to be holed up in my room, writing furiously to finish the second book of a contract. But surely I'll get out for a pint at a pub the odd night. I'll miss my family terribly, of course, but Colleen's Mom is coming to town to help out while I'm gone, seeing as she's back at school pursuing her Master's of Social Work. Busy times at the ole hacienda.

I'll finish with a video that I found on the memory card holding the pics of Nick, seen above. In it I'm drinking a beer (it's past noon, I swear!) and reading a book to Nick. I have a habit of changing the narrative of these kid's books, sometimes poisonously so, not that Nicholas knows. Colleen tried to film me doing so, but I was wise to her ways ...

All best, Craig.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Giller Longlist / Precious Cargo re-post

Hello All,

File under: some days even the blind squirrel finds a nut; some days the sun'll even shine on a dog's ass:


A lot of bloody good books and writers there. Pleased/surprised to be part of it.

Also, some people have written me regarding a nonfiction story I wrote, Precious Cargo, about my year driving a special needs bus. Below is a link to the cleanest/most easily readable version to be found online.


All best, Craig.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Reviews, interviews, and etc

Hello All,

I'll post reviews of Cataract City here, though I won't be reading them—as I may've mentioned in this space before, perhaps ad nauseum, they kind of do my head in. I'm in the finishing stages of a new novel and to read a review of a book I worked hard on, to see the way another person reacted to it ... sometimes that's just not wise. A few years from now I can revisit them, maybe. But I'm sure that all the reviews will be honest, critical where they ought to be, and, y'know, obviously truthful to that reviewer's impression of the book. I appreciate Noah Richler and Deborah Dundas (two top-shelf reviewers whose reviews and other critical writing I've frequently read and enjoyed) for taking the time to give their sense of Cataract City.

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail's review came in, too. So, the trifecta in one day. I'm appreciative to Steven W. Beattie for his review; as with the other reviewers, Steve is a pro and I value his opinion, which is why I won't read the review for awhile—but that shouldn't deter you one iota.

UPDATE AGAIN: Quill and Quire's review has been posted. By James Grainger, who interviewed me before I got my ears boxed at Florida Jack's, and also happens to be an excellent writer and reviewer. I've been really lucky with the reviewer talent. So, did I read this bad boy? Hell no! Should you? Absolutely, especially if you were thinking of ponying up for the book at some point!

TORONTO STAR REVIEW (I dig the illo!)

Also, a print interview conducted by Mark Medley, the hardworking and very cool editor of the National Post's book section. This I did read, and enjoyed it just as much as I'm able to enjoy things of this nature (ie: things that I'm a primary part of). Mark's a pro, a terribly good guy, and I really appreciate him taking the time to drive up to Cataract City with me while I nattered his ear off.

And also to Glenn, for his dogged photography session. Dig that classic "writer looking into the nebulous middle-distance" thing I've got going on! I was probably looking down Clifton Hill to the Funnel Cake stand, thinking that I'd like to eat the hell out of one of those bad boys but realizing I'm already getting a little bit of a dad-belly and knowing my feral metabolism wouldn't abide the insult. Sigh ...


UPDATE: Also, this interview with Victoria Ahearn, whose ear I also yakked off with all my yakkety-yak-yakking.


All best, Craig.

PS: If any readers come across other reviews or Cataract City miscellanea and want to email me to point out their whereabouts, I will certainly post them. Don't worry if it's a less-than-stellar review, as I won't be reading it anyway! As I refuse to type my name or the book's name into google, I really don't know if there are other reviews or where they may have appeared. It's tough being a cyber-hermit.

Monday, September 9, 2013


... for those of you who can't get enough of stammering gingers.


All best, Craig.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Global TV Morning Show

Hello All,

Want to watch some more awkward conversating by yours truly—this time with a bubbly, fun, highly professional morning TV crew? Yes? You can't get enough, you gluttons for punishment! Okay, then sit back and watch me hoover the air out of the room:


All best, Craig.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Hello All,

Book's out today in Canada. Go forth and buy ye a copy! Or online works, too:

I can't possibly watch this, but if you'd like to, here it is:

My thanks to Bev for the lovely interview. I could use some TV grooming, cutting down on tics and such (I haven't watched, but I'm sure this is so), but remember, I'm an amateur, and be kind.

Also, some new/clarified tour dates:

October 2 – PORT HOPE (event with Mary Swan and Anthony De Sa)
October3 – WATERLOO (event with Mary Swan and Anthony De Sa)
October 14 – 20: CALGARY (WordFest)

1. This really happened, storytelling series. Oct 16, 9pm, location TBA
2. October 17 at 12 noon, Calgary – On the Wrong Side of the Law
3. October 19 at 3:30 pm, Banff – Ryeberg Live
4. October 20 at 11 am, Banff – Blokes and Brawls

October 24 – November 3: TORONTO (IFOA)

1. Reading
Friday, November 1, 2013 8:00PM
Fleck Dance Theatre

2. Brave New Word: How to be a Writer
Saturday, November 2, 2013 12:00PM
Lakeside Terrace
Moderator: TBD 

November 21 — Fanshawe College, LONDON
November 28 — Niagara Falls public library, LaMarsh Room, 7pm.
January 24, 2014 — Western University, LONDON

All best, Craig.

Monday, September 2, 2013

First Review of Cataract City

Hello All,

Here's the first review of the book (at least that I've seen), courtesy of Maclean's. Thanks to Mike Doherty at the magazine for taking a look at it.

Cataract City review

All best, Craig.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Media Appearances

Hello All,

So, you want to see me fumbling and stumbling on live TV, do you? Well, you've got a few chances over the coming weeks.

I was on Off The Record, a sports program, years ago. That was fun. Beyond that my TV appearances in North America have been rare, though I've been on TV in other countries, where writers tend to appear a little more often. I'm grateful to the Doubleday publicity department for convincing a few producers that I might make for an appealing segment. I will do my level best to be entertaining and only sweat a little.

Tuesday Sept 3, 8am or so: Canada AM, CTV

Wednesday Sept 4, 8am or so: The Morning Show, Global Television

Monday Sept 9, 8 am or so: CH Morning Live, CH TV

All best, Craig.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Real Smooth, Davidson ...

Hello All,

Well, isn't that always the way it happens? Right in time for the book release, just in time for the handful of TV appearances and photos ops, who goes out for a friendly game of basketball and gets his head split open by an accidental elbow?

That's right—this guy. Long night in Emerg—which, as an aside, is there a more saddening place on earth than an Emergency room at 2 o'clock in the morning? I was sitting in a little curtained stall beside some poor girl going through the DTs, who kept complaining about the young boy down the hall who wouldn't stop crying (he kept crying because his elbow had been dislocated, although his parents couldn't exactly explain how). I'm slumped there thinking: My dear, you're a heroin addict going through the DTs in an Emergency room with only the barest nod to personal privacy—it's a little much to take umbrage at a child crying because his elbow is twisted rudely out of joint.

Anyway, neither here nor there. Wounds heal, ladies dig scars, glory lasts forever. Of course there's very little glory to be had with a pickup basketball-related injury, but I might start telling people I got it wrestling a 'gator or getting in a wee bit of a dustup at a bar with some bouncer who looked at my cockeyed. Yeah, that's the ticket.

All best, Craig.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fall Books

Hello All,

Here's an article about some of the books coming out over the next few weeks here in Canada. There are some heavy, heavy hitters here. And then there's me! (read down a bit ...)


All best, Craig.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hey, Are You Getting Into a Fight?

Hello All,

Well, as Cataract City's day of publication nears (September 3rd—yeah, I'm gonna repeat it ad nauseum; it's my dang blog, I can do as I please!) I've had a few emails from people wondering, quite directly, if I'll be getting my head, brisket, breadbasket, haunches, loins, and other anatomical extremities pummelled in some manner or another as a way to promote the book.

The answer, as it now stands—and sadly, for all you bloodyminded individuals—is no. The Fighter kind of ruined me for promotional craziness; those were some long months of training, boxing, recuperating from a beating, then training again, boxing again, and recuperating.

For those of you who aren't familiar with that bygone time in the life of your humble blogger, I was able to dredge up a few videos. I absolutely can't watch them, in the way that I wouldn't want to watch myself get thrashed by the schoolyard bullies back in elementary school—not that either of my opponents were bullies, I asked for the fights and got them (oh, did I ever ...). But for you, I gladly present them!



Then, of course, there were the steroid adventures, which I assumed would improve the book—a bit more participatory horseplay that I'm sure wrecked my body just a bit ...


... so anyhoooooo, I feel like that promotional foray was pretty intense. And another thing I learned, and my publishers too, is that sadly, putting needles in your bum and in funneling veterinary drugs or getting your face stove in will fill a room and attract a decent amount of attention, but it won't really compel anyone to buy the book you're trying to get people to read. Lesson learned!

Looking back, I'm still damn glad I did all that. It was a hell of a time and it actually helped me become a more dedicated person—because, crazy as those events were, they required a huge amount of training and, y'know, pushing myself places I didn't want to go. If the end result wasn't exactly what I was expecting, well, a great deal of life can be summed up that way, can't it?

Of course, with a precedent like that, some people have a hope/expectation that I might do something equally batty this time around. The book's set in Niagara Falls, so why not, say, go over the Falls in a barrel? That would be compelling, wouldn't it?

It would! But I'm not going to do it. I am a fuddy-duddy. I have a fiancee and a baby. I can't go around hurling myself over the Falls! Maybe it'll be a cozy wine-and-cheese kind of a thing ... it's unlikely a fistfight would break out there, and I wouldn't have to go to the hospital as a precautionary measure. That would be a treat.

So keep watching this space for news of any launch plans—so far it's pretty low-key, and I'm perfectly fine with that this time around. But things could always go sideways.

All best, Craig.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

They Arrived in The Fall ...

Hello All,

Here's an interesting project I participated in. 11 writers collaboratively tell a story. As one might expect, the results are a little wacky (but in a very good way, I think). Kudos to Mark Medley at the National Post for setting this up.

They Arrived in the Fall

All best, Craig.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Look what showed up from the publisher on Friday ...

Hi All,

Fresh off the presses. Nice looking book. A tiny bit rain-damaged, as the postman left it outside the door while we were gone and it rained overnight. Ah, well. Dig those deckled edges.

Now you can pre-order your own copy at any of the online retailers listed here:


Or don't do that, and hurt my feelings. Go ahead and do that, you big meanie.

All best, Craig.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cataract City Excerpt

Hi All,

If you'd like to read 2000-odd words from the new book—a section detailing the abduction of the two main characters, Owen and Duncan, by their childhood idol—then it's here to be read, courtesy of Boulderpavement. Thanks to Zach Alapi and the rest of the editors for giving it a nice showcase.


All best, Craig.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Art based on article

Hi All,

I thought this was interesting. I've had illustrations based on something I've written from time to time, but usually those have been commissioned by the publication putting out the piece. This was just an artist who decided to do something on his own time, under his own inclination. I think it's cool to get a look at the process, too.


All best, Craig.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Covers

Hi All,

One thing I've always been interested in is book covers. I'm fascinated by how they come together, the interplay between artist and writer (actually, there's very little of that; more like between artist and editor/publisher/marketing reps) to come up with a cover that conveys what the book's about, maybe, or else hits on certain sweet spots for the designated market or demographic.

I came across an interesting piece on that topic, linked to below:


It got me thinking about those 70s and 80s science fiction covers I used to love; I often found them more appealing and understandable than the words lodged between them. We used to have a huge box of them in our basement when I was a kid; I don't know how they got there, as neither of my parents were sci-fi lovers.

They didn't get read much, but I'd dwell on those covers forever. There were ones where it  seemed as though an immensity was going on—I remember one cover in a green patina, this endless phalanx of insectoid warriors trundling out of one of those typical sci-fi cities—spires corkscewing up to platelike living quarters, buildings canted sideways, everything beggaring both physics and gravity. There were ships zipping about in the air, alien zeppelins floating about; the entire cover was just seething with activity and it was kind of dizzying to look at. You really felt that whoever had drawn this, envisioned it, saw the world on a completely different level than the rest of us, the way some writers can envision scenarios that wouldn't dawn on 99.99999999% of us.


I also love Clive Barker's Books of Blood covers, the ones he drew himself. So much going on. I used to read the stories then stare at the covers, trying to pick out who might be the yattering, which person might be Clive himself, trying to find the cenobites or whoever. Great covers.

PS: I think that's Clive in the tattered photo, the one held by the grinning dude with the knife in his melon.

PSS: Clive Barker's a genuis.

Of course, there are my own covers. For Cataract City, there were two main covers, shown below.

They both dwell on different aspects of the book. The first touches on the fact that the narrative concerns two boys, friends, who are in ways mirror images of each other; so there's the Janus angle, I guess. But we couldn't use that image. So the other, final cover deals with greyhound racing, which is another aspect of the book. Two very different images.

I also came across this recently, posted below. It's the website of John Vairo, an illustrator and graphic designer who does a lot of book covers. Clicking on any cover and scrolling down will show you the different iterations a cover went through before a final, definitive image was settled on.


EASTER EGG: a book of mine is amongst those covers.

All best, Craig.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cataract City Canadian Tour Stuff

Hi All,

Are you champing at the bit (some use "chomping," but my highfalutin' English research has indicated that "champing" is actually how you phrase it—weird, no?) for novel news?

Of course you are!

You can't wait, can you? You're all aflutter! You're practically urinating yourself, you're so excited! Every day you wake up, "X" off another day on the calendar and say: Only a few more days until Cataract City comes out on September 3rd! Goodie goodie gumdrops!

And then, as the day draws nearer yet stays so tantalizingly far away, you despair, wondering if you can soldier on until that impossibly-far date. You consider suicide, as is natural. You consider building a sophisticated time-portal to bend the laws of God and physics—would you use this great advance to go back in time and kill Hitler, or stab Lee Harvey Oswald outside the book depository? No, you'd go AHEAD in time, but only a few scant months, to buy a warm fresh copy of Cataract City.

Of course that's what you'd do, because you're just so danged excited!

Okay, clearly nobody's doing any of that. But the day approaches nonetheless, and so why not give a heads up as to where I might be wandering this Fall?

Here you go!

October 2 – PORT HOPE (event with Mary Swan and Anthony De Sa)
October3 – WATERLOO (event with Mary Swan and Anthony De Sa)
October 14 – 20 – CALGARY (part of the WordFest. Exact events dates to come)
October 24 – November 3 – TORONTO (IFOA)
November 21 — Fanshawe College, LONDON
January 24, 2014 — Western University, LONDON

There may be an Ottawa date chucked in there, too. Or maybe not. As to the bookstores in Port Hope and Waterloo where the readings will occur, I really don't know yet. But that info will pop up here when I do.

So sleep well, my Canadian darlings, safe in the knowledge that you'll be able to see my clownish, sweaty self reading from the novel at some time over the ensuing months.

All best, Craig.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Walrus Podcast

Hello All,

Want to hear me natter on and on like a fool? Well, you're in luck! Check out The Walrus's podcast. Many thanks to Matt McKinnon and Chris Berube at the magazine for setting it up and asking me some great questions.


All best, Craig.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The New Yorker — Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Hello All,

I've never been published in that august periodical and mayhap I never will, but at least in a friend-of-a-friend, six-degrees-of-separation kind of way, I've managed to associate myself with it somehow.

Thanks to Daniel Fromson for noticing The Marineland Dreamland, and hopefully throwing a few more eyeballs in its direction (scroll down to find the mention):

New Yorker Weekend Reading

All best, Craig.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Precious Cargo / The Marineland Dreamland

Hello All,

A few links for you. First, I was really fortunate to have an article I'm really fond of, Precious Cargo, get nominated for a National Magazine Award in the essay category. Wonder of wonders, it won. Which is a very lucky turn of events, and I'm really pleased it happened because, of all the nonfiction pieces I've written this one is the most dear to me.

So if you'd like to read it, the link is here:

Precious Cargo

Many thanks again to Kathe Lemon at Avenue for taking it, and helping me muscle it into shape.

Also, a new piece, "The Marineland Dreamland" is up at The Walrus. Many thanks to Amy McFarlane for working with me on it, and to Brad Dunne for fact-checking it. Of all the pieces that you can add to your tear-sheet as a fact-checker as evidence of your dedication and skill, this would be one. Thanks also to the Writer's Trust of Canada for its unexpected but very kind support of the piece.

The Marineland Dreamland

All best, Craig.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cataract City, Final Cover Copy and Flaps for Canadian Edition

Hello All,

I had to split it into 2 screenshots, but you get the idea. You may need to scroll over to get the whole picture.



All best,

Friday, May 31, 2013

PhD A-Doin' ...

Hi All,

For those few people who read this blog to keep up with the profound (and when I say "profound," I mean, of course, "unremarkable") minutiae of my life, then this will fit perfectly into said minutie:

I've decided to do a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. This is pending full administrative acceptance, but I have it on faith from the director of the program that it's more-or-less finalized.

I thought about whether I wanted to do one of these for awhile. I have an MA, an MFA, but the PhD wasn't something I was sure that I'd ever want to pursue. It's a much longer degree to attain, generally, and it's expensive without funding, and I really didn't have 4 years free-and-clear to pursue one.

Then I was talking to two friends who are professors of English and they "hipped" me (because I'm 70 years old and talk like that) to this distance ed PhD in the UK. You go there 2 weeks a year, check in with your instructor, hash over your thesis and so on, then you head back home and get on with your life. The PhD CW thesis involves writing a novel—which I was going to be doing anyway—and a critical paper to go along with it. Plus it's 3 years rather than 4 or more.

So overall, it seems like something I can do while still doing whatever else comes down the pike in my life. I'll be off work next year, taking care of the boy while my partner pursues her MSW, so I'll be able to make a good start on the novel (working nights). I feel it's possible, at this point in my life, to just get a PhD in the midst of all the other things in my life; I'm pretty disciplined, manage my time well, and the bulk of the workload in this case (a novel) is something I'd already be working on.

It's sort of like a plumber earning a PhD in, uh, Plumb-ology when the requirements happen to be:

1. Plumb daily.
2. Write a report on said plumbing.

The truth is, I've applied for the odd Creative Writing professorship and I haven't even gotten a SNIFF. Not an interview, not even a personal rejection saying: "You suck, but still, we received your application and didn't like it." I get sort of ticked at that. It's a bad part of my personality, really. I don't stew over it (much), but a little. So I figure if I get a PhD and still don't get a sniff, I've got to ask myself what's the matter with me. The fact is, there are likely many things the matter with me (my penchant for thrill-killing drifters and offputting, onion-soup aroma, to name a few) but still, I enjoy a new challenge and this should count as one.

So, for you handful of minutiae-collectors (I know there aren't any, not really, but I like to flatter myself from time to time) there's a tidbit for you.

All best, Craig.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Hello all,

Here's a link to a short story, "Firebugs," recently published in The Walrus. It'll be part of a story collection, untitled as yet, coming out on the heels of Cataract City. For those interested, I've got another story from the same collection in the current issue of Agni called "Medium Tough." And another one, "The Vanishing Twin," will be in the summer issue of The Fiddlehead. All set in Niagara Falls, aka Cataract City.

I'd like to thank Nick Mount for accepting Firebugs, and making some really excellent edits. Also thanks to Sven Birkerts and Bill Pierce at Agni, and Gerard Beirne and Mark Jarman at The Fiddlehead for the same help. Also thanks to all The Walrus's factcheckers (I've never had a piece of fiction fact-checked, but it was a pleasant experience) and the sundry copyeditors and proofers who helped round these stories into publishable form.

I'll have a nonfiction piece next month in The Walrus. It's to do with Marineland, the embattled amusement park in Niagara Falls. That'll be in the July issue, so watch for it if you happen to give a damn.


All best, Craig.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cataract City

Hello all,

The new book, Canadian edition, with official cover:

CC Cover and description

It's a new cover; the first one, posted below, couldn't be used because the image was already in use for a book in the US.

Out September 3rd, 2013 in Canada. 2014 in other places.

All best, Craig.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Druid!

Hello All,

So I'm going to the Horror Writer's Weekend, the Stokers, in New Orleans in June. As some may know, I've written a few horror books under a nom de plume, and who knows? I may do so again. In any case, my lovely partner and I were thinking it'd be nice to go. We've got friends here in Toronto who we like a great deal who are going, and it's New Orleans, which is spooky and boozy and fun, and the hotel we're staying in is apparently haunted, and there's plenty of folks in the horror world that I've known informally for years but never met and my folks are coming to help with the baby, so it seemed like the thing to do.

But I had to sign up as an HWA member for the weekend; it's basically how you get into the event, the readings and signings and so on, and if you want to sign your own books, you need a membership to get into the dealer's room. Now I'm usually up for a hotel party or two, but it's rare that I spring for a membership at any Con. But in this case my publisher's got a whack of ARCs for me to sign and give away, so I had to get the membership.

The other day my publisher gets in touch and says: "Hey, dude, the HWA says you're not signed up. You need to buy a membership."

So I hunted through my email inbox and found the receipt for the membership, which I'd paid for last November. Curious, but certainly no big deal.

Today my publisher gets back and says: "Yeah, they checked and it turns out you're registered, but not as Craig Davidson. You were listed as 'The Druid.'"

I thought about it and realized that Colleen and I were goofing around as I'd signed up. The sign-up form asked how I'd like to be known on my nametag—which you have to wear around your neck at these things, letting everyone know who you are.

"Wouldn't it be great if I used another name entirely?" I said.

Colleen agreed and, in short order, I signed up as The Druid. It sounded fun to walk around New Orleans in my whiteboy clothes, not a goth-y stitch of clothing on me, the most inoffensive redheaded guy imaginable, with a nametag that read THE DRUID. How mysterious! I could be cooking up potions in the lobby bar bathroom, muttering incantations in the parking lot, whatever it is druids do.

Anyway, I totally forgot I'd done this, so it caused a fair amount of perplexity at first until they matched my credit card recepipt to THE DRUID.

It's still there, on the HWA membership roll call:

    Strand, Jeff , Tampa, Florida
    Sundquist, Aric , Marquette, MI
    Swanson, Stan , Largo, FL
    Taff, John F.D. , Eureka, Missouri
    Talley, Brett J. , Jasper, AL
    Templeton, Patty , Des Plaines, IL
    The Druid, Toronto, Ontario
    The_Seer_King, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire
    Tole, Pam, Yorktown Heights, NY
    Turzillo, Mary , Berea, OH
    Urbancik, John , Tallahassee, FL
    Vander Laenen, Jan , Brussels, Brussels
    Varnell, Kendall , Brandon, MS
So beware, all ye who attend the HWA weekend. THE DRUID lurks!

All best, Craig.