Some early words about my new novel: IN THE CAGE



As an emerging writer, I’ve been pretty fortunate to have met some established authors, many of whom I’ve admired for years. I’ve been even more fortunate to have some of those writers endanger their good name by offering up quotes or blurbs in support of my work.

Through a series of serendipitous events, I got to be friends with John Irving over the past few years, and he read and gave me a great quote for my story collection, Debris, and again for my new novel, In the Cage.


The architecture of this first novel is faultlessly conceived; the construction of the storytelling is meticulously crafted. Hardcastle has an abiding sympathy for the neglected rural poor. The characters we love will break our hearts; the low-lifes we fear are no less indelibly rendered. There is an aura of foreboding — of tragic inevitability — to the collision course of their lives. And, speaking strictly as a former wrestler, the details are true. John Irving


And, also magically, I have just recently had the new novel read by one of my favourite writers ever, Donald Ray Pollock, author of critically acclaimed, bestselling books like KnockemstiffThe Devil All the Time, and The Heavenly Table. Turns out that Mr. Pollock liked the new novel as well, and this is what he had to say about it…


“Written in taut, tough as nails prose, with a cinematic quality comparable to Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, Hardcastle’s In The Cage, is, to say the least, a wild, unrelenting ride, filled with thugs and desperation and innocents and heartbreak. It’s a damn fine book.” – Donald Ray Pollock


You can find out what people say about my writing, from this book until way back, by checking out that part of my site here.  Otherwise, I’d just like to thank Mr. Irving and Mr. Pollock, and all of the folks at Biblioasis who worked hard to wrangle up some of these kind quotes about the new novel. It is a humbling experience to have authors of that caliber put their words down in support of yours. So I am genuinely proud and honoured to know that In the Cage has been in those hands and did not get tossed into the river…


In the Cage is out on September 12th, for all those interested. There will be a launch here in Toronto, and we’re working on a few other events for you. Keep an eye out for more news on that, later…

KH

Denis Johnson



As many of you likely know by now, the great Denis Johnson died last week, at the age of 67. His work, and especially his short fiction, had a significant impact on my own writing, and I admired the man and his talents very much.

I’ve said something about Johnson the best way that I can in a piece that I wrote for the Globe & Mail, that ran on Friday. The books editor, Mark Medley, asked me if I wanted to write something, and I tried my best to do the man justice.

You can find that article here. I appreciate everyone who read it and said kind things so far. Many, many writers and readers were affected deeply by Johnson’s writing, and by his death, so I did what I could to honour the man and try to show how he shone in his craft and skill.

Take care, all. KH


Will you believe me when I tell you there was kindness in his heart? His left hand didn’t know what his right hand was doing. It was only that certain important connections had been burned through. If I opened up your head and ran a hot soldering iron around in your brain, I might turn you into someone like that. – Denis Johnson (Dundun)

The Journey Prize Stories 29



This has been discoverable information for a little while on the internet, if you were to google the Journey Prize Stories 29, but today I’m posting to tell folks about being a juror for JPS 29, along with past Journey Prizer, and novelist, Grace O’Connell, and award winning author, Ayelet Tsabari.

We were all three asked to be jurors earlier this year by McClelland & Stewart/Penguin House editor Anita Chong, who I’ve known since I had a story in the Journey Prize Stories 24, back in 2012. Grace also had a story in JPS 24, and does not remember sitting across from me at the Writers’ Trust Gala, at the “fun table” of emerging authors, what with my large, unbearded fatbabyhead. It was the first real literary event I went to in Toronto since moving back from the prairies in 2010. And, it is a very strange first event to be at when you know nobody so I drank all the wines and woke up with my shoes outside my apartment…

So yes, it is kind of a full-circle story, and I was honoured to be a part of the process. Selecting the dozen or so stories in the JPS involved a lot of reading and an eventual fightclub at PRH headquarters. No matter, we figured out the book and the finalists and winner, and I got some meat for lunch. All in all, it was a good time.



Anyways, I have to thank all of the McClelland & Stewart people, especially Anita, for their work on the JP, this year and every year. And, I must also thank, in equal measure, the fine humans of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, who have tolerated my behaviour at fancy events for five years now, including two failed Journey Prize campaigns, and a number of other bad personal showings at their events. That means Mandy Hopkins, Katrina Afonso, James Davies, Joe Goulart, and many more. The WT folks administer the prize, give up the monies for it, and make sure that JP authors feel like they are part of the literary community, and welcome at the weird CanLit parties.

They also sometimes get mad at you for submitting a headshot that is a 2009 MacBook photo of 400kb that they have to put on a twenty foot projector screen somehow, and then, out of frustration, they (Katrina) take your author photos on the fly for the next five years. So that is nice…



Oh, there he is.

The authors and stories that are included in JPS 29 will be revealed one by one over the summer, with the finalists named after that. The anthology is officially out in late September, and the winner will be given their monies and hardware at the Writers’ Trust Awards in November. Probably, I will be at that, and that will complete the Hardcastle JP experience, when I possibly get up on stage to hand the award over to one of the many better behaved and educated young writers in the anthology, if I’m allowed in the building by Hopkins.

Until then, thanks to my fellow jurors, and to everyone who is involved in the Journey Prize Stories from beginning to end, not least the writers who sweat blood for their stories, and the journals who published those stories and sent them in for consideration. Most of the best writers in Canada have come to us by way of the short story, and I think we’ve only seen the beginning of it yet.


That’s all for now. Take care and believe in your dreams…

KH

In the Cage is in the States… has a cover.

In the Cage - Cover


At the moment, my publisher, the mighty Biblioasis, are down in the US trying to get some Yankees excited about their fall list. One of the lead books on that list is In the Cage, this novel that I wrote about redneck crime and Mixed Martial Arts and poverty and other nice things.

There isn’t much more to report so far, other than the fact that another set of ARCs will be going out soon, with the above featured cover on there, designed by the estimable Michel Vrana. This might get tweaked a bit before the final run, but you will see something much like this on the final cover of the book, I believe.


There was a temporary cover that went out with the early ARCs to a few lucky/unlucky people. Those were mainly done up so that I could get something into the hands of John Irving and see if he was willing to put his good name and reputation behind another Hardcastle Hillbilly Mayhem title. Turns out that he did. Anyways, that one looked like this…


In the Cage ARC cover


Of course, there was one more magical cover that was the favourite of sicko Andrew F. Sullivan, amongst others. This “art” was made during my bacon-eating at my local place of bacon-eating and sometimes writing (where I am right now, writing this shit). If I sell more than 12 copies of In the Cage, perhaps we will do a special edition with this cover, and blow the minds of everyone in North America and perhaps France and Papua New Guinea…


cropped-in-the-cage-art-cover.jpg


In any case, the book is online now on Biblioasis’ site, and in various other places like Amazon, Indigo, and Barnes & Noble. I have also seen a tweet from yesterday that tells Americans to look out for In the Cage on Edelweiss, which I understand is a place that people go for books and whatnot. So go to there and achieve it, if you dare.

I might have some other hilarious news for you in the next couple of weeks, should everything work out. But, I have to keep it all on the down low for now until it’s all official. Good stuff is on the way though, almost certainly…

Until then, take care.

Hardcastle

Trillium 30th Anniversary Readings – Peterborough, Guelph



In the past few weeks, the OMDC put on a travelling series of readings to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Trillium Book Award. There were stops in Peterborough and Guelph so far, and there will be another three events, two in Toronto (one French, one English), and at least another in Ottawa (though I’m told it might be split into two as well). In any case, I was lucky enough to have been invited to the first two events, along with a number of Trillium Award winners and shortlisted authors.



In Peterborough, we were hosted by Traill College, and the readings were moderated by Trent professor Lewis MacLeod. Above, in this art photo I took, you can see ol’ Andrew Forbes reading from his Trillium shortlisted short story collection, What You Need (Invisible Publishing). That excellent book was also a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Other readers included Jeramy Dodds, Rabindranath Maharaj, and Peterborough based authors, Janette Platana and Caroline Durand.



That is a photo of all of the Peterborough writers, taken after the readings, and between pre-event and post-event rye drinking sessions. Followed by a magical night in downtown Peterborough with some the readers and guests, led by Forbes and Prof. MacLeod, who know all of the best places to find more rye and beer after you have done a bunch of art…



In Guelph, the guest authors were Jess Latosik, Pasha Malla, Kevin Connolly, Madhur Anand, and that bearded hillbilly in the photo. The readings took place at the University of Guelph, in their Arboretum, where birds were beating the shit out of each other outside of the place all the while that we read. So that was nice. I read from the story Montana Border, and mentioned a “shrunk dick” as well as a tooth stuck in a characters hand, and dropped a number of f-bombs in front of a small child who was filming on their phone. As a result, I think that can be considered a true success.

The other readers were very good also, and a special mention goes to Pasha Malla for following up my inappropriate set with a bunch of talk about hand jobs in reading from his Trillium winner, The Withdrawal Method. Also, props to Jeff Latosik, 2009 Trillium Award winner in poetry for Tiny, Frantic, Stronger, and my possible ride to the event, for leaving late from Toronto after a long day of teaching and dog-walking, and showing up exactly at the start of the event. I did not believe he would achieve it, but he proved me wrong.

Here’s a photo of all of the authors together, along with our gracious moderator, author James Grainger…



That is the last of the Trillium readings for me, but I was honoured to have been invited to both events, and to have had the chance to do a few more readings between books. If Debris hadn’t won the Trillium, or at least been shortlisted, I wouldn’t have had this chance, and may not have been invited to London Wordsfest this past November, or to participate in IFOA in the Lit On Tour series, and as a delegate for the main festival.

Thanks goes out to all of the OMDC, for their hard work setting all of this up. And special thanks to Bianca Spence, Program Coordinator, and hero, for escorting me back and forth from both readings while I yammered on about many things (and for giving Ms. Jenna Illies a lift to the Guelph event). Bianca also arranged and set these readings up with Janet Hawkins, Program Consultant for the OMDC, and I’d like to thank Janet for putting up with me through all of the Trillium related events, and for inviting me to be a part of it all.



Keep an eye out for the rest of the Trillium Award 30th Anniversary Readings, especially if you are in the Toronto or Ottawa area. You can click on this line for all of the details. They are good people, those who give out the awards and those who have been lucky enough to be up for them, and to read from their works as part of the series. So, get out and show your support, if you like literature and would like to see and hear from the authors in person, and to encourage strange Ontarians to keep at the writing…

KH

DEBRIS wins the ReLit Award for Short Fiction



Earlier this week I got a phone call from writer and filmmaker Kenneth J. Harvey, founder of the ReLit Award, to let me know that Debris had won in the short fiction category for 2016. That turned out to be a pretty good Wednesday.

The ReLit Award was established in 2000, as an alternative to the pressure and big monies of the major CanLit prizes like the Giller. As a result, many excellent works from independent Canadian presses have been recognized by the ReLit. There are three prize categories: Novel, Short Fiction, and Poetry.

Here is the full list of ReLit winners this year:

Novel: Carellin Brooks for One Hundred Days of Rain (Bookthug)

Short Fiction: Kevin Hardcastle for Debris (Biblioasis)

Poetry: Sue Goyette for The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl (Gaspereau Press)

Each winner will receive the unique ReLit ring, designed by Newfoundland artist Christopher Kearney, with “four moveable dials, each one struck with the entire alphabet, for spelling words.” It has been rumoured that the ring holds special powers and enchantments, but none of this has been confirmed or denied by any previous winners.

Anyways, I am very happy to see Debris recognized for this unique award, and to have been included in the long-shortlists with writers like Anakana Schofield, Jess Taylor, Daniel Scott Tysdal, Jon Chan Simpson, and many more. It is a real honour.

Now I am to find a place to size me up for that magical ReLit ring. After that, I will see if I can emerge from my Annex hobbit-hole in Toronto and rule Middle-Earth in a hilarious manner…

Thanks to Mr. Harvey for reading and considering my work, and congratulations to the other winners and nominees.

Cheers. Hardcastle.

Trillium Readings across ontario – I’ll be at a couple


both-trillium-reading-posters


As you can see by the posters above, the OMDC are putting on a series of readings for the 3oth anniversary of the Trillium Book Awards. And, hilariously for Peterborough and Guelph, I am involved in some of them.

You can find the event information for both of these by clicking on the link for either town below. All of the event details are included, as well as a button to register to attend. All events are FREE:

PETERBOROUGH – Trent University – March 9th
GUELPH – University of Guelph – March 16th

In P-Town, you can also see readings from Trillium finalist and my partner-in-crime as runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, Andrew Forbes. Also, there will be readings by Peterborough based writer, Janette Platana, Caroline Durand, past winner Rabindranath Maharaj, and more…

In Guelph, we’ll have the wizardry of Jeff Latosik, Madhur Anand, Pasha Malla, and Kevin Connolly. All past winners or finalists for the Trillium.

There will be two more events in Toronto in the months to follow, and one in Ottawa, with the participating authors to be announced. So keep checking back for info on those. They should be some good times, so please come by and listen to some tales and poyems…

Cheers. KH.