Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Audio Series: Lies, All Lies


Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was originally hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.

Today, Paul Chitlik joins us, reading an excerpt from his recently released book Lies, All Lies. Paul has written for all the major networks and studios in English and in Spanish.  He was story editor for MGM/UA'S "The New Twilight Zone," and staff writer for Showtime's sitcom "Brothers."  He has written features for Rysher Entertainment, NuImage, Promark, Mainline Releasing, and others.  He has directed episodes and been coordinating producer for “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” and “U.S. Customs Classified.”  He wrote and produced “Alien Abduction,” the first network movie shot on digital video for UPN.  He wrote, produced, and directed “Ringling Brothers Revealed” a special for The Travel Channel.  (He had been a roustabout for Circus Vargas years earlier.)  Most recently he wrote, produced and directed “The Wedding Dress,” for Amazon Prime.  He received a Writers Guild of America award nomination for his work on "The Twilight Zone" and a GLAAD Media Award nomination for "Los Beltr├ín,” a Telemundo show.  He won a Genesis Award for a Showtime Family movie.

He has taught in the MFA programs of UCLA, the University of Barcelona’s film school ESCAC, Cuba’s film school EICTV, Chile’s film school UNIACC, The University of Zulia in Venezuela, The Panamerican University in Mexico City, The Story Academy of Sweden and as a clinical associate professor at Loyola Marymount University.  Now writing full time again and living near his grandson in Chapel Hill, NC, with wife, Beth McCauley.

Click on the soundcloud link below to hear Paul reading from Lies, All Lies

What it's about:

There I stood, all five eight of me, poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, soaking wet in my retro bathing suit, holding a dry pair of tickets to the Emmys that night, in front of a gorgeous woman, and I didn’t know who I was, where I was, or why I was. Or, just as importantly, who she was and what she was to me. Over the course of the next few days I discovered I was a thirty-something Emmy winning writer-actor showrunning a popular sitcom, but I had to learn about that one detail at a time until my memory came back. Then I realized I could be anyone I wanted to be, but I had to decide who that was and what that would mean for my girlfriend, my wife, my kids, my father, my brother, my cast, my agent, my PR maven, my assistant, and a 135 other people who depended on me for their livelihoods or their lives.I had the opportunity to change my life completely, and I did, eventually doing something real for other people while my gay sitcom character came out as straight and flipped the script on my show and my life.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Indie Spotlight: Dave Carty

Welcome to our Indie Spotlight series, in which TNBBC gives small press authors the floor to shed some light on their writing process, publishing experiences, or whatever else they'd like to share with you, the readers!

Today, we are joined by Dave Carty, as he shares the how and why behind his April release 

Red Is The Fastest Color

Check it out! 

Red Is The Fastest Color – the Why and How


I wanted to write a book about friendship, and the important part it plays in the lives of people, especially those who are older, who aren’t in thrall to the hurricane swirl of emotions that is youth. What does it mean? How does it work? Is it worth the effort?

In Red Is The Fastest Color, a woman ailing with Parkinson’s disease calls her brother to ask for help. Her husband, Ben, despite his heroic efforts and devotion, is unable to manage the simultaneous demands of caring for his wife and the upkeep on their small Montana acreage. Jamison, the protagonist, agrees to move in with them, until…  But what happens then is never broached, for all the characters understand the progression of Parkinson’s disease, a disease that has robbed Monna, Ben’s wife, of her ability to paint, the driving passion in her life.

Balancing the complex emotional lives of three people, all of them no longer young, was no easy task. Ben and Jamison are wary of each other at first, and Ben gruffly rejects Jamison’s timid attempts at broaching a friendship. But when Monna’s health takes a turn for the worse, he finally reaches out to Jamison in desperation.

There are a couple of things I didn’t want to accomplish with this novel. I’ve spent all my adult life in the west, first in Colorado, and now, for nearly forty years, in Montana. I’ve grown up with, known, and (too often) drank with cowboys, farmers and ranchers. But too many books set in Montana and elsewhere in the west, by default, are considered “cowboy” books, when, in fact, the vast majority of people in the west don’t live on a ranch and don’t own a horse. I wanted to get away from the mythical west and explore the real west – the west filled with people who have emotional lives like everyone else, but whose lives are indelibly shaped by the magnificent land they live in.

The Greeks had at least three ways of defining love: eros, philos and agape. Only eros is defined as the romantic love so popular in modern novels and movies. But it was philos they considered the ideal.  In the way most of us would understand it, philos means brotherly love, relinquishing a part of yourself for  friendship. Red speaks to eros – the love between Ben and Monna, and philos, the brotherly love between Jamison and Ben. Woven between the two is this story.



Dave Carty attended Colorado State University and the University of Colorado, where he majored in journalism. Throughout his early twenties he labored in a variety of mostly unskilled jobs. In his late twenties he sold his first article to a regional humor magazine, then went on to write for an array of national publications and, for the next 35 years, made his living almost exclusively by writing. To date he has published over 1000 articles in national magazines. He is the author of a collection of essays, Born Again At the Laundromat (upon which the Library Journal likened him the “Charles Kuralt of the West,”) and the novel Leaves On Frozen Ground, a haunting family drama set on the south shore of Lake Superior (Guernica Editions 2019). He lives in a small, two-story home he built for himself near Bozeman, Montana.



About Red Is The Fastest Color

Jamison Everett, a shy and lonely man with few friends, is a retired high school English teacher. When his artist sister, Monna, who is suffering from Parkinson's Disease, calls and asks for his help, he reluctantly agrees to leave his apartment in Minneapolis and temporarily relocate to her remote Montana town. Perhaps, in caring for his sister, he will find the friendship he longs for. But Monna's fiercely independent husband, Ben, has a different game plan. Parkinson's has robbed Monna of her ability to paint, and if the doctors won't cure her, then by god he'll do it — by sheer force of will. Jamison, summoning his courage, offers to help, and an alliance is born. Yet neither man can know how much their nascent friendship will ask of them. Only Monna senses what is coming.

Grab a copy here

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

What I Read in March

 Well, it wasn't a record breaking month for me as far as total books read but those I did read were pretty darn good! I got through a total of 9 in March, with one of those being for publicity purposes so I won't include it here. 

Take a look at all the books that just blew me away!!

My Work by Olga Ravn

I had read and loved The Employees so when I saw My Work while browsing the book shelves, you better believe I grabbed it without even really reading the jacket copy.

This one is about pregnancy and motherhood and postpartum depression and the fear that you are losing your shit and trying to journal your journey in case you DO actually lose your shit because getting it all down might be the key to remaining sane, only now you're not sure if you are the one who wrote the stuff you just found or if someone else or perhaps another version of you has written it... and we the reader aren't totally sure of this either.

There a numerous beginnings, middles, and ends. The entries and poems and narrations are not necessarily in any real sort of order. And there's this section of about 100 pages or so that just drags on kinda painfully and repetitively.

A little uneven, a little weird - even for me - and quite the trip down insanity lane the deeper into the book you go. I'm not quite sure what I read there at the end, honestly...

What Mother Won't Tell Me by Ivar Leon Menger

This was a complete impulse buy as I was browsing the bookshelves in the thriller section (a section of the bookstore I don't normally spend time in). The cover and the description screamed buy me, so I did!

I felt it was a little closer to isolation fiction than full on thriller. The tension ran slow and low, but the atmosphere was cranked way up. One of the blurbers described it best as a cross between Hansel and Gretel and Mommie Dearest.

Our narrator, a fifteen year old girl names Juno, lives on a remote island with her Mother, Father, and little brother Boy. For the most part, she's grown up doing all the things regular siblings would do - play games, read books, do their math, learn about nature and how to live off the land. But they also live in fear of the strangers - people from the mainland who wish to do them harm, and from whom they are hiding. Mother promises that as long as they follow the seven commandments she's established, they reduce the risk of being found. Break one of them, though, and both Juno and Boy will suffer the punishment.

That is, until Juno fails to make it back to the cabin in time to hide when the postman arrives. He spots her and she feels compelled to appeal to his kindness, begging him not to let her parents know he's seen her, afraid she'll get in trouble. This encounter kickstarts a chain of events that will leave Juno questioning everything she thought she knew about her home, her family, and herself. What is left for you to hang on to when your entire world begins to unravel right before your eyes?

What Mother Won't Tell Me is an exceptionally quick read. The only thing that was a bit off putting was how young the author made Juno sound though I suppose you could chalk that up to the fact that she grew up completely secluded on an island, with no contact to other kids her age. Overall, a unique look at dysfunctional family dynamics and childhood trauma.

These Things Linger by Dan Franklin

I love when I'm pitched a book I hadn't previously heard about and it ends up being right up my alley!

These Things Linger is ghost horror. But it's also grief horror. And supernatural horror. And small town horror. And oooh yaaassss... it's down-right unputdownable horror.

Alex was raised by his Uncle Matty. Some of his best memories were from time spent together fishing and shooting. One evening, after his uncle hits him in the face with a beer bottle, Alex breaks ties with man and moves away to carve out a life of his own. Years later, engaged with a baby on the way, his learns that Uncle Matty unexpectedly dies. Alex receives notice that he's inherited the trailer he grew up in and feels compelled to make peace. He drives out to the place, unhitches the beat up old boat and takes it out for one last trip to the middle of the lake. In a moment of pure grief, he summons his dead uncle and brings something much darker and a helluva lot more dangerous across with him.

At its core, These Things Linger is a story of love, loss, desperation, forgiveness, and survival. But it's also much more than that. It's a horror novel with heart and carries quite a few gut punches that will linger with you long after the book ends.

So glad this one ended up in my hands. A must read for horror fans!

Letters to the Purple Satin Killer by Joshua Chaplinsky

In Letters to the Purple Satin Killer, we get to know the sadistic serial killer Jonas Williker solely through the letters he received while he was locked away in prision, awaiting the outcome of his trial.

His mother, an old childhood friend, an ex-girlfriend and her daughter, a lonely woman looking for a penpal, the one who got away, fanatics and crazies, a wanna be author, one of the jurors, even a cop who ended up crossing paths with him out in the real world before putting two and two together - they all write him on the regular. And through them, and their letters, we begin to piece together who Jonas was back when, who he is now, or what he could be, to each of them. They love him, they hate him, they want him, they want to hurt him, they are hurt by him, they want to be loved by him...

I wasn't sure how I was going to like it but it didn't take long to realize I was already hooked. Full transparency, for a hot minute I actually wondered if Joshua was writing a fictional account of an actual serial killer. I no-shame googled the name, the states and type of murders, just to make sure I wasn't missing something, it was that good.

And since we're in a no-shame kind of mood, I also don't mind telling you that the last letter... it might have made my eyes a little wet. Damn you Chaplinsky!

It's a really cool addition to the serial killer fiction that's out there and a book that shouldn't fly under anyone's radar. If you're reading this review, you gotta go read this book!

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Oh gosh this book. The prose is chimeral and sorrowful and fragmented. It's familiar, like a sister to Helen Phillips or Laura van den Berg. It's sparse and experimental and it's stabbing me right in the feels, even still, a full day away from having finished it. It's a brainworm. It's very digestible, like a delicious dessert, but it's deceiving because it takes up so much space. It's lovely but it makes my heart ache.

From the Belly by Emmett Nahil

Aquatic horror for the win! And that cover.. I just knew I had to have it!

A whaling ship gets more than they bargain for when a barely-alive man spills out of the belly of their first kill. Under the captain's orders, the unconscious stranger is locked in the brig and crewmate Isiah is tasked with splitting his rations with the man until they can decide what to do with him.

Once the rescued man awakens, strange things begin to happen on board The Merciful and the crew starts to slowly descend into madness as they begin to show signs of mysterious and frightening illnesses. Though he cannot immediately prove it, Isiah knows this is not just a string of bad luck and believes the enigmatic man they locked away below deck is somehow behind it all, and if his dreams are anything to go by, he's terrified they won't survive long enough to make it back to port.

From the Belly is atmospheric and claustrophobic and at times downright brutal. This is not your run of the mill Geppetto story. This is a "what the hell did we bring onboard" story. And a "you can't outrun the horrors that await you" story. And it's sooo good you guys.

The Collector by Laura Kat Young

#bookstagram made me buy it! It might not have made it onto my radar otherwise, so I'm glad I caught it while scrolling my feed. A little weird once you get to "Part Two" but still, sooo good.

Imagine a dystopian world where the government prides itself on ensuring everyone is happy. All of the time. Just smiling and loving life and being happy. And imagine your job is to visit people who have been reported for being a little sad or showing signs of grief so you can record their most cherished memory for The Catalog before their brains are reset. Because the government can't allow anyone to show signs of sadness, or to feel depressed, or to grieve. And imagine how all that collecting of all those memories might start to weigh on you, and so you start to break a few rules. Just little transgressions. Nothing too crazy. Like coming home every day after dropping off those recordings and writing down those memories in a notebook that you keep hidden in the wall. And then during one of your collections, you make a poor decision, a decision of the heart. And then imagine having someone knock on your door to ask you a few questions because YOU've been reported for not seeming like your normal happy self...

It felt a bit Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-ish, only not voluntary. It's soft and gentle and subversive, and just absolutely nuts. If you liked Jesse Ball's A Cure For Suicide, you want to get your hands on this one!

Mothtown by Caroline Hardaker

This is another #bookstagrammademedoit book. #FOMO much?!

Full disclosure: I went in expecting it to be something quite different than what it is. That's not to say I didn't like it, because I did. But where I anticipated speculative fiction and magicial realism and the exploration of gateways to different worlds (aka Jeff Vandermeer style), I instead found myself engrossed in grief fiction following a character who is quickly becoming separated from reality.

What you need to know is that David, as a child, was very close to his grandfather. His grandfather believed there was more to this world than we knew, and he was determined to crack the multiverse code. Then, suddenly, amidst a worldwide crisis in which people begin to go missing and unidentifable bodies started popping up in strange places, David's grandfather also disappears. His parents tell him he died, but there were no hospital visits (like there were when his grandmother got sick), and no funeral. David is convinced that his parents are lying to him, and that his grandfather successfully crossed over to a different world, and he becomes determined to find him.

Mothtown is broken up into two alternating parts, Before and After. But where the actual split has occured appears to be left to the reader to decide - before and after when David learns of the death/disappearance of his grandfather at the age of 10? Before and after the discovery of his grandfather's book of instructions in the thrift store as an adult? Before and after his first meeting with Michael, the man with the maps and the knowledge of where the doors are located? Maybe, possibly, yes, to all of it.

I think Nils Shukla's blurb explains it best, "a tale about discovering how to belong". It's a book about feeling unstuck and uncomfortable in your own skin. It's tender and twisted. It's desperate and dripping with dread, but its pages are also imbued with a desire to find the space where your body fits best.

Monday, April 1, 2024

The 40 But 10: Emmett Nahil


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today we are joined by Emmett Nahil.Hailing from a haunted seaside town in Northeastern Massachusetts, Emmett is the author of LET ME OUT (Oni Press, 2023), and a writer of horror and speculative fiction centering marginalized perspectives. His debut novel, FROM THE BELLY (Tenebrous Press) releases May 30th, 2024. His writing has been featured in THE BOOK OF QUEER SAINTS, VOLUME II, Laura Kate Dale's GENDER EUPHORIA anthology, and elsewhere. Favoring the historic, the strange, and the gory, in his other life Emmett makes video games as Narrative Director and co-founder of Perfect Garbage Studios. He can be found most places online as @_emnays.

What made you start writing?

I decided to try it one day. NaNoWriMo was rolling around, and as a person, I fundamentally love a challenge and/or competition. I’ve been a lifelong reader and love to pick at stories. I caught the bug from there pretty immediately.

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a new book?

I usually cap it off with a takeout buffalo chicken calzone. Then I allow myself to finally start thinking about the next one. I’m a pretty sequential writer, and I’m not great at juggling multiple books at a time.

Describe your book in three words.

Moist. Bloody. Sexy?


If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

Ooh. I genuinely, earnestly, would love to spend the day with Stephen Graham Jones. He’s so prolific, and so goddamn good at what he does. His knowledge of craft and the medium of horror is off the charts insane. I’d probably love to peruse a video store with him or something, I dunno.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Maeve Fly by CJ Leede. It rips, it shreds. I’m so excited for her new religious horror title coming up.

What’s the one book someone else wrote that you wish you had written?

There are so many! I wish I was cool enough to not care about what other people write, but I do. Luke Dumas’ A History of Fear is so, so, taut and just….cool. It’s an enthralling book, and I love it. His tension and pacing is gold-standard.

What’s on your literary bucket list?

I’d like to make an honest attempt at epic fantasy. It’s what got me really back into world building, and I have an idea cooking for a series. But I’m usually a standalone writer and an under-writer, so the high page count mandated by the genre is a little daunting. One day I’ll get there.

Do you DNF books?

Oh, absolutely and all the time. Life is too short to read books that aren’t working for you. It’s very healthy to walk away from entertainment that you don’t like, and to not worry about the consequences.

What scares you the most?

The idea of my work not being remembered! I’m such a chump for this, but the idea of screaming into the void really bums me out. But you gotta make your peace with it, because it seems like that’s all there really is, in the end. How’s that for some nihilism?

What are your bookish pet peeves?

Literary pessimism, I guess. “X genre is out, readers aren’t reading, the industry is dying”. That kinda stuff gets me irritated. You really think storytelling is going anywhere? Nah, I don’t think so.


The whaling vessel Merciful has just made its strangest catch yet: a massive whale containing a still-living man secreted within its stomach lining. Sailor Isaiah Chase is tasked with keeping the enigmatic man alive. 

 As their relationship grows, a series of accidents, injuries and deaths quickly befall the ship and its crew. Isaiah is plagued by strangely prophetic dreams, even as the crew continues their endless quest for whale oil under the command of an increasingly unhinged captain. 

 As events spiral further out of control, the mysterious man confesses what Isaiah has begun to suspect: the crew of The Merciful has fallen into a cycle of punishment for their greed and destruction. Isaiah must confront the sea's vengeance made flesh, and choose between this new, strange love and the fate of the ship itself.

 Link to Purchase: https://tenebrous-press.square.site/product/from-the-belly-preorder-a-novel-by-emmett-nahil-softcover-includes-ebook-/117?cs=true&cst=custom

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Audio Series: Deadpan


Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was originally hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.

Richard Walter will be reading an excerpt from his new novel Deadpan (published by Heresy Press). Richard is an author of best-selling fiction and nonfiction, celebrated storytelling educator, screenwriter, script consultant, lecturer and retired professor who led the screenwriting program in the film school at UCLA for several decades. He has written scripts for the major studios and television networks; lectured on screenwriting and storytelling and conducted master classes throughout North America as well as London, Paris, Jerusalem, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and Hong Kong. Subscribe to his podcast on Substack and blog on Medium, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Click on the soundcloud bar below to hear Richard an excerpt from the book: 

What it's about: 

Deadpan is a quintessential Heresy Press book—gloriously incorrect and daring in its zany, madcap humor, while simultaneously bolstering the principles of liberal humanism. An equal-opportunity offender, Deadpan combines no-holds-barred comedy with a nuanced regard for history and human motivation. Set during the 1970s international oil crisis, the novel’s protagonist—a vaguely antisemitic failing West Virginia Buick Dealer—is magically transformed into a beloved Jewish comedian. 

You can grab a copy here or here

Monday, March 25, 2024

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Craig Rodgers


In 2023, I decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Craig Rodgers is the name appearing on several books ghostwritten by a gaggle of long dead Victorian spirits.

Describe your book poorly.

The mountain is on fire and everybody's having a different adventure.

If you could cast your characters in a movie, which actors would play them and why?

They'd be played by whoever the Coen brothers think fit the characters best.

If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

Raymond Chandler. I'd ask him a ton of questions so I'll know what I'm doing if I ever try writing a Philip Marlowe novel.

What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

The Sundial by Shirley Jackson is an easy favorite. Anything by Cormac McCarthy. Anything by Robert Aickman. You know what's good? Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze. It looks like a basic pulp noir, but it's not. It's an odd book.

What are you currently reading?

I'm running through F Scott Fitzgerald's books. I'd read Gatsby as a kid and again years later, but I'd never gotten to the others and the idea hit me at the right time.

Do you think you’d live long in a zombie apocalypse?

I grew up with a kid who kept a go bag. He wasn't allowed to have caffeine and he carried a massive knife. I might not do great in a zombie apocalypse, but I know who to go to for a fighting chance.

Are you a toilet paper over or under kind of person?

Over. Good lord.

What is under your bed?

 A stack of notebooks. I have notes for a couple novels going in various stages, along with a ton of short story concepts that aren't so fleshed out.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve given/received as a gift?

A friend I grew up with passed  a dollar bill back and forth with me for years. On holidays, birthdays, sometimes just because. We'd hide it in other gifts. Inside the sleeve of a mix cd or taped to the bottom of a lamp, that sort of thing. We'd write notes on it, so it was covered with scribbling.

Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

I have books saved that went through a house fire. Their covers are soot stained black and they absolutely stink, but I kept every one. Letting go of books is like letting go of memories. Eventually it's bound happen on its own, but we're not there yet.



The Mountain Is Burning Down is a set of shorts all taking place on the same mountain during a wildfire. Some are grit noir, some are fables, one might be a children's story if you squint just right.

Grab a copy here: 


Monday, March 18, 2024

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Sheldon Birnie


In 2023, I decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Sheldon Birnie is a writer, dad, and beer league hockey player from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and the author of Where the Pavement Turns to Sand (Malarkey Books, 2023). He can be found online @badguybirnie


What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m a reporter by trade, so my weekdays are spent interviewing, researching, and writing stories about the community I call home. I have two small children, who keep the rest of my time pretty busy with various activities and day-to-day stuff. I play hockey an evening or two a week, occasionally get the old band back together to play some music, and generally just hang around home or the vicinity of my neighbourhood, reading and writing for fun when possible.

What’s the best money you’ve ever spent as a writer?

I bought an office chair from Costco a couple months back. $90 I think. Beats the hell outta the kitchen chairs I’d been sitting on to work/write for the past few years.

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a new book?

A nice size glass of the good bourbon.

Describe your book in three words.

Gritty, grimy, weird.

What is your favorite way to waste time?

If you can spend 20 minutes just laying around, doing absolutely nothing, just watching the leaves blow in the wind, that’s time well spent if you ask me.

What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

Impossible to single out even just a few, but I’ll giver a go here… I was a big Ray Bradbury and Stephen King fan as a kid, and still enjoy their stuff today, and can see how early exposure to their work, particularly short-stories, informed my own writing even today. In my late teens, Philip K Dick was a big influence, then in my early 20s, I became obsessed with the work of Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, and Cormac McCarthy. Over the past 10 years, I’ve tried not to let any writers in particular exude such a smothering effect on my own work. I’ve come to really appreciate the work of Margaret Laurence and Alice Munro, while trying to read as widely as I can, both contemporary and older writers I’ve somehow missed. Paul Quarrinton’s a beauty, both Whale Music and King Leary are top notch. Over the last couple years, I’ve been digging on Shirley Jackson, William Gibson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Denis Johnson, Charles Portis and Raymond Carver, among many others lately, and am excited everytime I see something new from Willy Vlautin, Bud Smith, Claire Hoppel, Andrew F. Sullivan, Jon Berger, Kyle Seibel. The list goes on and on forever, really, and the party never ends.

What is your favorite book from childhood?

Was a big Lord of the Rings fan too back in Grade 6/7, but have found it impossible to get back into it since then, even just in reading The Hobbit to my son, who is 8 (we both agreed to put it aside, try again later) and I’ve never even made it through those three films. I’ve found that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy holds up as an entertaining read, and I’d have to say that reading Trainspotting in junior high blew my young mind, back then, and I’ve enjoyed re-reading it a few times since.

What are you currently reading?

Right now, I’ve got Saga of the Swamp Thing Book 5 by Alan Moore on the go, loving it. I’ve also been working my way through The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols and Liberation Day by George Saunders, enjoying both on the whole. I also just started in on The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, after seeing some chatter about it online, and though it’s early going still, I’m digging it.

What genres won’t you read?

Self-help, though I could probably use some.

What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

Hard to say, but I hope my buddies will play Todd Snider’s “Play a Train Song” at my funeral when I die, if I haven’t outlived them all.


Ride along on a journey with these 20 stories by Sheldon Birnie through the wild and wondrous backwoods of the Canadian prairies, out to where the pavement turns to sand and the possibilities are as endless as the horizon…

From close or would-be encounters with extraterrestrials, lycanthropes, bigfoot and the Ogopogo, haunted hockey skates and more, Sheldon Birnie’s new collection of short-fiction Where the Pavement Turns to Sand takes readers on a midnight cruise through the Canadian prairies before dumping you back on your doorstep, unsure as to what exactly just transpired.

A golf pro claims he was abducted by aliens before the big local tournament, though townspeople figure he finally fell off the wagon. A line cook comes face-to-face with something from his worst nightmare only to be mocked mercilessly by his peers. A beer league hockey player worries he didn’t do enough to help a former teammate, with tragic consequences. In these 20 stories, the mundane and the menacing meet over a pint at the local rink on the darkest night of the year, or around a midsummer bonfire beneath the stars on the shores of a deep forbidden lake.

Where the Pavement Turns to Sand is a collection of working class, everyday heartbreaks and bad decisions. In a refreshing rural Canadian setting, the characters in these slice of life tales stumble through divorce, debt, bad sex, and boring jobs, but also curling robots, aliens, jackalopes, wendigo, lots of legs wet with urine, and (maybe) sasquatches with an unexpected whimsy. What makes it work is Birnie’s signature dark humor and conversational style that makes every story feel like it was your neighbor telling it to you over a beer around a campfire, or at the rink. Surprising, entertaining, grimy and weird.

– Meagan Lucas, author of Songbirds and Stray Dogs and Here in the Dark, Editor in Chief of Reckon Review.

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