County Road Six

I’ve been slow to post on the site lately, but I figured I’d finish up this one I start a little while ago to let folks know about what I’ve been working on. As you can see by the photo at the bottom of this post, I have been writing, scribbling notes, and drinking many diet beers. During this I’ve managed to write a solid first draft of a new novel.

I finished County Road Six back in July, but have been working on revisions around my teaching schedule and other work. After getting some very wise and succinct notes from my friend (and peer in Georgian Bay mayhem) Cherie Dimaline, I’m going through the revisions now before sending it back to my agent, and seeing what might be done with the novel.

I don’t have an official synopsis yet, but I will say that this novel is much longer than I expected, though I imagine it will be pared down some.

The novel tells the tale of the four O’Hare sisters coming back to a wasted farmstead off County Road Six in North Simcoe County, outside the fictional town of Marston, Ontario on the southern reach of Georgian Bay. Recently orphaned after their father’s death, they rally around the house they were raised in by him. The mother of the eldest O’Hare girls (Beth and Mara) is long gone, with the mother of the youngest (Kaitlyn and Emma) lost to illness when they were children. Their father’s reputation and violent local past has broken any link to their maternal lines, and left only his hand to guide them as they navigate their lives in the town, and try to find a way out of the dangers of rural poverty and violence.

As they join at their familial home again to reclaim the acres that have fallen to them, a stranger arrives at the farmstead who appears a monstrous likeness to their father, and who begins to prowl the town and the farmstead. In trying to discover the identity of the man, they find secret corners of the property where their father, Arthur O’Hare, kept leavings from his life before them. What they uncover hints at a far more sinister and troublesome past than they suspected for the father, one that has haunted them as they grew up in the region, even without knowing the depth of it. In coming to terms with their father’s sins, they dredge up old resentments that risk driving the sisters apart at a time when they are the distinct focus of a very vicious and determined man.

While the stranger keeps returning over time to stalk what he believes to be his birthright, the town of Marston is hit by catastrophe that lays it low, and sees a surge in gang violence from warring bikers in the county, along with mayhem in the hilltowns and bloodfeuds spun out of control. As the region begins to come apart at the seams, the stranger closes in. The O’Hare sisters have no choice but to come together and protect their home, and each other, with everything they’ve ever had in the balance, including their very lives.

If you’ve read my work before, you know that my influences range from folks like Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell, Donald Ray Pollock, Stephen King, Eden Robinson, and other authors who meld literary fiction, rural crime, elements of horror, and who focus on atmosphere and tension in their work. This novel is squarely in that territory, and meant to get a little more than weird when shit hits the fan in ol’ Marston town, and the surrounding woods and waters.

Anyway, I hope that serves as a decent primer for County Road Six, and I hope to have some news in the next while about what might happen with the novel. The publishing world is all over the place, so that isn’t great, but I hope that there is a place for the work here, and possibly in some of the other places where my stories have gotten some readers.

More when I’ve got some. Until then, take care and keep the dream alive…
KH

County Road Six completed, late on a summer night.

Short stories to read while you’re holed up

It has been a strange few weeks for the world, including for people who write and read books and who might’ve had their lives and schedules disrupted. Indie bookstores around Toronto, where I’m at, are doing their best to deliver to customers, and authors are going online to read fiction or poems or talk about their work with readers. Considering how isolating this all can feel for some folks, I hope that some of this can keep us connected and inspire writers to keep at their work while they’re at home.

If you want to drink whiskey and play Skyrim all day and night, that’s all good. So is finishing Netflix and going through your catalogues of old movies, or watching the Raptors whoop up on everyone during their playoff run to become NBA champs. I’ve been on the screens with friends around the land as well, warbling at each other digitally some nights, and that has made me less weird.

Given that books cost money and not everyone has it, or that they might be harder to come by depending where you live, I started to think on all of the short stories out there that you can dig up online from journals and such. So, I gathered up a bunch of stories by writers that I know and/or admire and who can write their asses off, and I’ve got them listed below for you, with links to each and all…

(Note: There’s no pattern to this other than my scanning through my shelves, some of which have writer pals grouped together, in case you are worried about the pile of dinks at the start.)

COWAN by Kris Bertin
THE VERY FIRST GIRL IN THE WHOLE WORLD TO WIN THE DAKAR by Amy Jones
COMMON WHIPPING by Naben Ruthnum
GOAT by Andrew F. Sullivan
WHAT YOU NEED by Andrew Forbes
AFTER ‘WHILE by Cherie Dimaline
HASHTAG MAGGIE VANDERMEER by Nancy Jo Cullen
ESPERANZA by Trevor Corkum
THE GODDESS LISA by Erin Frances Fisher
NEVER PROSPER by Liz Harmer
MOM IS IN LOVE WITH RANDY TRAVIS by Souvankham Thammavongsa
THE ORIGIN OF THE LULLABY by Canisia Lubrin
THREE TSHAKAPESH DREAMS by Samuel Archibald
FIREBUGS by Craig Davidson
A SONG FOR ROBIN by Heather O’Neill
WE WALKED ON WATER by Eliza Robertson
A LOVE LIKE IN THE MOVIES by Casey Plett
DON’T COME IN HERE by Andrew Hood
SPIRES by Tamas Dobozy
COMPLICIT by Khalida Venus Hassan
BENEATH THE TAPS: A TESTIMONIAL by Anakana Schofield
ONE HUNDRED KNIVES IN THE AIR by Pasha Malla
THE MANY FACES OF MONTGOMERY CLIFT by Grace O’Connell
DIFFICULT PEOPLE by Catriona Wright
MULTICOLOURED LIGHTS by Jess Taylor
WHAT BOTHERS A WOMAN OF THE WORLD by Seyward Goodhand
WAR OF ATTRITION by Carleigh Baker
ACCIDENTAL by Julie Paul
PROPERTY OF NEIL by Téa Mutonji
KIINT by Bill Gaston
LIVES OF THE POETS by John Metcalf
GAIL IN WINTER by Alex Pugsley
I WANT IT ALL, I WANT IT NOW by Ian Williams
LIPSTICK DAY by Leah Mol
THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS by Jack Wang
THROWN OVERBOARD, MANACLED IN A BOX by Cody Klippenstein
1 DOG, 1 KNIFE by Daniel Scott Tysdal
RIVER HOUSE by Amanda Leduc
CHASER by Daniel Perry
HARD TO KNOW by Sophie McCreesh
SUMMER ’16 by Natasha Ramoutar
BLISS by Sofia Mostaghimi
MASADA by Kathy Friedman
NEW YEAR’S EVE 1984 by Troy Sebastian
GOAT MOUTH by Pamela Mordecai
NEUTRAL BUOYANCY by J.R. McConvey
IN THE DARK by Sarah Meehan Sirk
HAPPY TRAILS by Kerry Clare
SWIMMING LESSON by Jessica Westhead
HEART LAKE by Rudrapriya Rathore
LAGOMORPH by Alexander MacLeod
HAD IT AND LOST IT by Ryan Paterson
HAROLD by Michael Melgaard
HOW LONG AND WHAT A MARVEL by Zoey Leigh Peterson
BUTTER TEA AT STARBUCKS by Sharon Bala
IMPERFECT HOMES by André Babyn
THE HOUSE ON MANOR CLOSE by Kathy Page
LATE BREAKING by K.D. Miller
WHAT CAN YOU DO by Cynthia Flood
SHOW ME YOURS by Richard Van Camp
MORIAH by Paige Cooper
THE MOST PRECIOUS SUBSTANCE ON EARTH by Shashi Bhat
THE STUNT by Michael LaPointe
I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE, AND REAL by Sara Peters
SMALL GAME HUNTING AT THE LOCAL COWARD GUN CLUB by Megan Gail Coles

There are so many more out there that I’m sure I missed or couldn’t find links for. But I wanted to get this up now and I’ll add more as I go. These are mostly Canadian-based writers, but I may add others to the list, as I do have a lot of faves from elsewhere. One thing about Canadian journals that I gotta give them props for is that they have a lot of work available to all online, and that is pretty cool for the authors and their readers.

I hope you find something good in there, and please do what you can to support writers and booksellers during these weeks. Many of these folks have books you can buy if you like what you read, so check those out if it floats your boat.

Cheers friends, stay safe and batten down the hatches.
Hardcastle

Resources for aspiring writers, as referenced during my TPL residency

Above: The first story I ever had in print, shown during my TPL short story program.

I have been meaning to get this information up for a little while, following some of my programs at the Toronto Public Library, and my meetings with aspiring or emerging authors about their writing. In any case, this post is just a short list of the resources I shared during the programs, and meetings, for members of the public who might not have been able to gather them all up during my events.

You can find a sample cover letter below…

Here are some links that list publishers, agents, and literary journals that accept submissions from authors:

National Magazine Awards Canada – List of Literary Journals

Association of Canadian Publishers – Publisher Search

The Writers’ Union of Canada – List of Literary Agents

Finally, here are some pages from the document I’ve been using with lists of resources you can dig into (the most of which was drawn up by my friend and fellow author/instructor, Amy Jones, and that I added some to later – THANKS, JOJO). That’s about all for now, so I hope these are useful. Thanks, all. KH

Im Kafig on the German TV, and more…

Im Kafig, known to most as In the Cage, just showed up on German TV in a hilariously magical turn of events. I didn’t know what the link was I saw at first from Polar Verlag, but the very kind Jürgen Ruckh, managing director of that publishing house, shared with me a link to the actual video of the novel getting some coverage and AN UNSOLVED MYSTERIES STYLE RE-ENACTMENT/ENACTMENT (latter for legal reasons) on their Kulturzeit, an arts and culture show on German channel 3sat.

https://www.3sat.de/kultur/kulturzeit/im-kaefig-102.html

I may or may not have just put the video up on here too, but we’ll see when I hit print. The link is in the paragraph before, if this don’t work.

I also saw another print review of Im Kafig in German paper, Der Tagesspiegel, and it is good from what I can read in the translation. You can find that one by clicking anywhere on this paragraph.

“Canadian writer Kevin Hardcastle spent four years working on his debut novel. His sentences are artfully laconic, if it did not sound so cliché, one could speak of a hard punch . The killer Tarbell, who works with a sawed-off shotgun, is reminiscent of the crazy staff of Donald Ray Pollock’s Southern Noir novels. One can dodge blows, not shots.”

– Christian Schröder – Der Tagesspiegel

Thanks to the fine folks of Kulturezeit and Der Tagesspiegel for covering the novel, and, as always, to Polar Verlag for taking a chance on this book. Much appreciation and respect to you all.

Hardcastle

I am the fall Writer-in-Residence at the Toronto Public Library

For the months of October and November, I’ll be at the Toronto Reference Library in a secret cave of the third floor, where they keep the current Writer-in-Residence. For this term, the focus is on short fiction, which I’m pretty familiar with as a form. If you ask some people. Others may say I’m crap at it, but they can get bent.

I found out that I’d be WIR for the library later in the summer, and officially took my spot there at the beginning of October, and am starting to settle into my office and do some writing and reading of other people’s writing in that space. I’m not there everyday, but I’ll be in and out a fair bit to do work and meet with aspiring and emerging writers who have submitted short stories to be read and critiqued. There is a cap on how many stories I can read and meet to discuss, and we’re almost full-up, but there should be a few more spots if you want to submit yours.

The WIR page has all the info you need for that, so you can click this line to find out how to still get some work in for me to read.

There will also be programming that I designed for the library (as you can see by the fancy pamphlet that just showed up around the library the other day). It’s all taking place over October and November in the Reference Library. The first one is soon, on October 10th, and it’ll be an introductory event for me, and a discussion about finding and navigating writing community. I’ll be joined by bestselling author and long time CanLit frenemy Amy Jones, author of the new novel Every Little Piece of Me.

The link to the other programs is right here, and you can look forward to more guest authors for the November events too, as the library has been kind enough to let me invite them in, and bring a wider perspective and a bunch of smart art people along to share their words and experiences with you.

It’s an honour to be Writer-in-Residence at the TPL, one of the busiest municipal library systems IN THE WORLD. :O. So, I thank them for having me during the fall term this year, and I’ll do my best not to get throwed out and to give all that I got back to the public and to aspiring and emerging writers who send their work or attend our programs.

See you around the library, folks. I could be anywhere…
(But seriously I’ve learned nobody checks to see if I’m still there when the library is closing so I could really just be in there at any time).

KH

Im Kafig reviewed in Tages-Anzeiger

I’m playing catch up on the wordpress these days, as I’m not had a ton of news to report, and have been writing the shit out of this new novel, while also putting together some other projects as well. After the publication of Im Kafig in Germany, by Polar Verlag, I haven’t had much book stuff to report on regarding the first novel and its translations.

But, I did see this one fine review of Im Kafig, in a Swiss-German paper Tages-Anzeiger, and it is worth sharing, so, you can click here and read it in translation, or in German if you are smart and cultured and whatnot or just actually speak German.

Hardcastle’s storytelling impresses. He describes the exciting story quite calmly. Mercilessly accurate. Very cinematic. Action. Dialogues. Hardly explanations. No inner monologues. Emotions only when they are visible. No superficial dramatizations. And yet, this book shakes you

– Hanspeter Eggenberger, Tages-Anzeiger

That’s a bit of the review from the translation I got on their site, four stars out of five overall, but do make sure to check out their hilarious rating system. I think our Canadian papers should take note of this and get their shit together about giving us the right amount of Spannungs, whatever the overall review says.

Thanks to Hanspeter Eggenberger and Tages-Anzeiger for covering the novel. If I get any others passed along, I’ll share them. Either way, at least I have been reviewed in German, which I probably did not think would ever happen with this novel about rural Simcoe County fisticuffs, poverty, mayhem, and family. Cheers. KH

Im Käfig published in Germany

As it is now July somehow, and up in Toronto we’ve gone straight from winter to summer with about four minutes of spring, it kind of snuck up on me that the German translation of In the Cage, published as Im Käfig by Polar Verlag, is actually out and on shelves in Hamburg and elsewhere.

You can find it on their website by clicking here, and, if you want to grab a copy from somewhere there are fine German booksellers that can help you out with that online. I’ve not got my hands on it yet, but am looking forward to seeing the first hardcover I’ve ever had published. So it goes in Germany. Pretty alright.

Big thanks go to editor Wolfgang Franßen, and translator Harriet Fricke, who I’ve likely mentioned on here before. And to all of the staff that worked on the translation and publication of the novel. I think I may well be their only Canadian author, and I’m in there with the likes of David Joy, William Boyle, and Attica Locke, to name a few. Not too bad at all.

Keep an eye out for more news, and if I can get over to Germany at some point, I’ll let everyone know. In the meantime, take care and believe in your dreams…

KH

Im Käfig will be out in July

If you check out the Polar Verlag website, you’ll find a new title that they’ve got coming out this summer by a fellow you may know and perhaps want to punch a little. Regardless, the translation of In the Cage that I told you about before, by Harriet Fricke, will be out in Germany in July. That’s pretty fucking alright by me.

Hopefully I’ll get my hands on a copy soon, which I think is in hardcover, a first for this indie writer who is still wrapping my head around the fact that this novel will be travelling Europe for consecutive years in two of their largest markets. Perhaps I’ll get over there as well and see if I can’t talk to some German readers in person as I did in France. We’ll see how it shakes out…

Cheers, all. KH

Take my Intro to Novel Writing course at University of Toronto

Starting on May 7th, I’ll be teaching an Introduction to Novel Writing course at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, where they’ve developed quite a program over the years. I know a number of great writers who have taught some course or another there, and I’ve now been added to their roster of instructors, so that is pretty alright.

I actually did my undergrad at U of T, starting right before the turn of the century (actual), but I never figured I’d be teaching at some part of it years later. During my writing career though, I’ve had some very rewarding experiences mentoring emerging writers, speaking at universities to their creative writing students, and being on many panels and at a bunch of festivals where trying to give advice and guidance to emerging writers has been a highlight.

So, if this all appeals to you, or anyone you know, who is within travellin’ range of Toronto, please check out this link for the course, which is now up with my bio and such. There are only three sections this spring/summer, so get enrolled quick in case my section (165) fills up.

For more information on the School of Continuing Studies, and their formidable creative writing wing, you can click on this line and find the overall site with all of their course offerings. There have been some really exciting success stories for writers who’ve taken this certificate, and the faculty rivals any other MFA or MA in the land.

Now they’ve got their rural Ontario mayhem and poor people writing spot shored up with this guy, so spread the word and I’ll see some of you folks in May. Cheers, all.

Polar Verlag to publish German translation of IN THE CAGE

I’ve known about this a little while, but since my publisher has been handling contractual duties, I waited to announce this until I knew for sure it was a done deal. In any case, I’ve been contacted to work through another translation of IN THE CAGE, so I figure it’s safe to tell you that the rights to that novel have been bought by German publisher, Polar Verlag. Though they’re a newer press, they have a mandate to put out uncompromising, gritty books by authors that German readers might not be aware of. And, with the likes of David Joy and Ken Bruen under their roof, amongst others, I think that we’ll be a great fit.

The novel’s German language rights were acquired by Wolfgang Franßen, founder of this exciting new independent press. Though I’m not sure when the pub date is for sure, I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve got more info. I was lucky enough to get to France last year with the Dans La Cage, translated and published by Editions Albin Michel, and hopefully there’ll be a chance to get to Frankfurt in 2020, where Canada is the country they’re focusing on, as it was at Festival America.

Not bad for a Canadian book put out by an indie press, about rural mayhem and MMA and poverty and some feelings and such. So, I hope that I can keep on expanding into other markets with the next novel as well. In the meantime, I better keep writing that fucking new novel, I guess…

Take care. KH