So you want to write mystery fiction, crime fiction, or detective fiction, but your characters don’t crackle, your plots don’t pop, and your mysteries don’t sizzle. What should you do? How’re you going make readers keep turning those pages?
You need to listen to mystery writer S.G. Wong.
Oh, there are other writers, right here in E-Town, who are admirable. We’ve got them in every form and genre, and they do amazing work. But there’s only a handful of people I know who are a combo of outstanding craft, outstanding teaching, and outstanding organising for the writing community. And standing tall inside that select group is S.G. Wong, the creator of the Lola Starke mystery novels featuring a hard-boiled but beautiful detective, a carefully-constructed alternate Earth in which the Chinese colonised what we know as Los Angeles to build Crescent City, and a crackling mixture of magic and ghosts.
Such imagination has gotten SG Wong shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Awards in the Best First Novel and Best Short Story categories. Maybe speaking four languages is an asset to thinking widely and wildly. Wong is a member of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Sisters in Crime (National), and Past President of the Sisters in Crime—Canada West chapter. She’s organised numerous writer events, and taught and spoken more places than I can mention.
Recently SG Wong taught a Canadian Authors Association (Alberta Branch) workshop on crime fiction; she taught plotting, while EC Bell taught researching, and Jane Bernard taught creating voice. Wong and I spoke by web video on October 22, 2018, and we discussed:
If memory serves, I’ve known Craig DiLouie since 2008, and he immediately struck me as an artist with a gravitic commitment to the craft, business, and community of writers. I saw him giving a book trailer-making workshop at the World Fantasy Convention, held that year in Calgary, and right after that I checked his amazing videos, and later devoured his gripping, terrifying zombie novel The Infection.
DiLouie is the author of a whopping eighteen novels including One of Us, the Crash Dive series, Suffer the Children, and The Great Planet Robbery. His books cross numerous genres including horror, apocalypse, zombie, science fiction, fantasy, historical, and military fiction; his work has been translated into multiple languages and been nominated for major awards including the Bram Stoker and the Audie. Because he’s such a heavy-hitter, I always enjoying learn from him about artistic and career development.
So on October 18, 2018, DiLouie spoke with me by web video from his home in Calgary. We discussed:
John Jennings is an amazing cat. He’s a designer, illustrator, writer, and lecturer at Eye Trauma Comix. He’s the artist and co-adapter, with Damian Duffy, of the celebrated hit Kindred based on the novel by Octavia Butler. His other works include I Am Alfonso Jones, Black Kirby: In Search of the Motherboxx Connection, Blue Hand Mojo, The Blacker the Ink, and Artists Against Police Brutality. With Damian Duffy, he’s the co-editor of the celebrated showcases Black Comix and Black Comix Returns.
Jennings is also a professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside, the same institution where Afritopian trailblazer Nalo Hopkinson teaches in the department of Creative Writing.
And now, because of Jennings’ mega-success with Kindred, he’s starting a whole new career as the founding freelance editor for the Abrams graphic novel imprint Megascope. Megascope will feature works by creators of African, Indigenous, Latin American, Asian, and Oceanic backgrounds, with a special on focus on Africentric stories.
John Jennings spoke with me by web video on October 9, 2018. We discussed:
Alternative Radio is a concept, sure, but it’s also the name of a long-running talk-radio show that in Edmonton airs on CJSR FM88 and also runs around the world. It’s a weekly hour of speeches by and interviews with progressive organisers, thinkers, artists, and history-makers that corporate media almost entirely ignores. In these dangerous times, few hours on radio or the web will inform you as effectively as Alternative Radio about who’s making the world worse—and how they’re doing it.
Alternative Radio show has been running for more than 32 years, and the man behind it is David Barsamian. He altered the independent media landscape with his radio show and with his books featuring his interviews with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, and Edward Said.
I spoke by telephone with David Barsmanian on February 25, 2012, just ahead of a speech he was to deliver at the Stanley Milner Library Theatre. As you’re listening to Barsamian list a vast number of US atrocities and the hundreds of military bases around the world that are the muscle of its violent global rule, remember that he’s speaking with me in 2012 while Barack Obama was US president. That’s my way of encouraging you to remember that no matter how evil and deranged Team Trump is, they are not the exception to US power, and that while US Democrats and Republicans rule differently at home on key issues, when it comes to global violence, their victims would have a difficult time telling them apart.
A few months before we spoke, the government of India deported Barsamian for his reporting on Kashmir and other revolts. In our conversation he discusses the sorry state of corporate journalism, the global economic crisis, and rebellions against it.
I’m a lifelong Albertan, and let me tell you, things are always crazy in my home province. We’ve usually had political dynasties that lasted decades each. The last one was the rule of the Progressive Conservatives, and it lasted more than 40 years.
In 2015 we finally elected the New Democratic Party, the somewhat social-democratic, increasingly centrist party that has delivered on plenty of its social-democratic promises but enraged its environmentalist base and many but not all First Nations supporters by pushing for new pipelines and getting into protracted verbal battles with the NDP government in British Columbia and promising to exit the federal government’s climate change plan.
And while all that’s happening, the two major right-wing parties in the province have transmogrified into a single, ultra-right-wing entity called the United Conservative Party or UCP, and to make things absolutely clear, many of its candidates are calling for the destruction of public medicare, and many members are connected with White nationalist media and White extremist movements.
To talk about Alberta politics on MF GALAXY, once a year I sit down with David Climenhaga, the “award-winning journalist, author, post-secondary teacher, poet, and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at the Toronto Globe and Mail and Calgary Herald. He holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the Carleton University School of Journalism in Ottawa. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians.” Climenhaga blogs at AlbertaPolitics.ca.
Climenhaga and I met to talk about: