Some nice reviews of “Toutes les chances qu’on se donne” (Debris translation)

The French translation of my short story collection, and first published book, Debris, was officially put out into the words just over a week ago, and I’ve been seeing some social media posts and reviews show up over in France and other parts of Europe.

Toutes les chances qu’on se donne was published by Éditions Albin Michel, and translated by Janique Jouin de Laurens, both of whom I owe my admiration for their hard work on the collection and, a few years ago, the translation of my novel In the Cage as Dans la Cage. The response so far has been encouraging as I wait on word about my latest novel and keep on writing new work in this ongoing pandy. So I decided to share some of the reviews I’ve got from book bloggers and book club members that contribute to a robust base of French readers that is frankly to be envied over here in Canada.

Here’s a few lines from some of those, with links to the blogs they might appear on, where possible:

Over the course of these eleven short stories, Kevin Hardscastle’s pen is flawless again, blending beautiful descriptions and punchy dialogue… “Bandits”, “Hunted by coyotes” and the eponymous short story “All the chances we give ourselves”(Debris) would not be out of place in the Daniel Woodrell collection “The Outlaw Album” or Chris Offutt’s “Kentucky Straight”.

Clete – Nyctalope

Kevin Hardcastle is a great writer, it shows in his way of weaving stories that grab your guts and never let go. These characters are the witnesses of life as it is, without falsity… “All the chances we give ourselves” is a formidable collection drawing from the noir novel the literary pulsations that vibrate our hearts of readers. This has just been published by Albin Michel in the very beautiful “Terres d’Amérique” collection. I warmly encourage you to read it.

Frédéric M – Culture in all its forms

This collection in my opinion has a big problem: it is too short! The characters come to life within a few pages and despite the darkness we would like to accompany them longer. Written in a simple yet sure-handed and impactful style, all of these stories are bursting with a mixture of violence and hope.

Madame Tapioca

There are more of them out there that I’ve seen mostly on Instagram and whatnot, but I’ll leave it there for now. I had a feeling this one might be less polarizing to readers in Europe, despite covering similar territory and sharing that style and tone and atmosphere that comes with all of my work. Nonetheless, I appreciate all of the readers that have found the collection and have recommended it to other readers. You are truly champions, and I hope all of your dreams take flight on the wings of a pegacorn…

I’ll keep an eye out for others, and for reviews that might show up in the papers and such, as they did with Dans la Cage. In the meantime, I’m back to sitting outside in random spots in Toronto and chopping away at the latest work.

Take care of each other out there, and keep the dream alive.
KH

“Toutes les chances qu’on se donne” officially published in France

As of this week, Toutes les chances qu’on se donne, the French language translation of my short story collection, Debris, has officially been published in France by Éditions Albin Michel. I’ve posted about this earlier, as I’ve had little in the way of book news while waiting to see what happens with the novel I finished last year in the pandy (County Road Six). But, it has been great to see readers with the book in their hands over the last few days, and to see some positive reviews and social media posts by readers who came across my work a couple years back, with the translation of In the Cage as Dans la Cage, also by Albin Michel.

If there is anyone you know who digs short stories and would like to read them in French, this collection might speak to them more than the novel, given the variety of tales and the kind of terrain you can cover in eleven stories, as opposed to one continues longer narrative. I’ve already seen some kind words written about this one, from readers who liked the novel and those who had a harder time wrestling with the subject matter of Dans la Cage. I always knew that a book about an MMA fighter might be a challenge for some, but it was the only way I could tell that story as needed, so I knew that it’d be interesting to absorb the responses that readers had as they went on that journey. Nonetheless, there were a bunch of readers who loved the writing, but felt that particular story wasn’t for them. With the collection, I’m hoping that the variety and range of those stories will help draw them to the work and to at least a few of those tales. That seems to be the case, so far…

I have to thank the shit out of Francis Geffard, the publisher at Albin Michel who found my work and has championed it there. I don’t think I quite realized the gravity of his role, and that publishing house’s role, in book publishing in Europe, but it has been an amazing turn of events for a few books published by an independent press in Canada (Bibioasis).

Mega thanks also go to Carol Menville, who also edited my work at Albin Michel, and to Janique Jouin de Laurens, who translated both book and asked many key questions about pickup trucks, urinal troughs, and prairie grain silos, all of which led to getting the right words in the right places for French readers.

You can find Toutes les chances qu’on se donne on Albin Michel’s site, which links to the booksellers that carry it. It’s also available through Indigo/Chapters in Canada, for those French readers who are over on this side of the Atlantic.

Toutes les chances qu’on se donne (All the chances we take)

Today I’ve been sent the cover for the Editions Albin Michel’s translation of DEBRIS, now titled “Toutes les chances qu’on se donne” or All the chances we take. This is the second book I’ve had published there, with IN THE CAGE released a couple years ago, and they really are a juggernaut in the French publishing world. I’ve been very impressed with their production and attention to detail, and I think this cover is a great example of how deeply they get what I’m going for in my work.

This book of short stories, like the novel, will be published under their Terres D’Amērique banner, where they translate the work of so many excellent North American authors like Colson Whitehead, Craig Davidson, Claire Vaye Watkins, Christian Kiefer, and Guy Vanderhaeghe. Good company to be in, and a list that shows the quality of the work they publish (and this dingbat someway).

The pub date is May, as far as I know, but I’ll share full details when I have them. In the meantime, stare at this lonely little house on a hill and ponder your deepest feelings and emotions over a case of Michelob Ultras. I know that I will…

KH

Take my Intro Novel Writing course this Winter

For those of you who might be interested in writing the start of a novel, or who might know somebody looking to stir one up, I’ll be teaching a section of the Writing the Novel: Introduction course at University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies yet again, with this one starting on February 22nd, 2021. Here’s the description from their site:

If you want to write a novel but have no idea how to begin, this course will help you get going. You’ll review literary technique with respect to the novel, and spend lots of time writing – and reading – to help you discover your own style. We’ll cover basic skills, tips and techniques to improve and polish your writing. By the end of the course, you will have written and edited the opening of your novel.

You can find the link to the course by clicking this line, and also check out more information about other offerings at the school, and how they’ll improve your writing and get you where you need to get. I usually would be scheduled to teach the advanced section of Short Story II as well, but it seems to be on the shelf for now. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.

There will be weekly modules to keep authors on track as they work toward the beginnings of their novel, along with weekly webinars where I’ll share my thoughts and best practices and other useful tidbits. I’ll also be teaching Brother by David Chariandy, and Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson. These are two of the best writers out there and their books are magical.

While we’re holed up and trying to stay busy, it has helped me tremendously to finish the draft of my latest novel, County Road Six, and I think that dusting off your pens and keyboards is a fine way to do something meaningful, and safe (unless you are one of the characters in my stories). So, give this a whirl and feel free to share away if you like. I appreciate it.

Take care,
KH

DEBRIS to be published in France this spring

I’d been waiting to hear about this news for a little while, since IN THE CAGE (Dans La Cage) was published by Éditions Albin Michel back in Fall 2018, and I went over to Festival America, but with the publishing world going through the pandemic and trying to figure out the best way forward, I knew that it might be awhile before I found out when the translation for DEBRIS would make it onto their slate.

Last week I got word that the translation was being planned for Spring 2021, and that Albin Michel’s mighty publisher/editor Francis Geffard was working through the rest of the edits and production details. When I last spoke with them about possible pub dates to follow DANS LA CAGE (as both books were sold together, and always scheduled to be released novel-first, then collection), I learned that they usually would take at least a year and a half between books. As 2020 was a wash for many reasons, a possible spring date then was kicked down the road a year.

The title that has been suggested is Parmi les décombres, which translates to “Among the Debris.” Which is apt and to the point as the original. But we’ll see if that is the eventual title that sticks.

I worked through translations with Janique Jouin de Laurens at the same time as the translations for IN THE CAGE, so I’m not sure how much more is going to be asked from my end, but I’ll share any more news as it comes in, as well as any news about the new novel, COUNTY ROAD SIX, finally gone back to my agent after some extra revisions. Now that 2021 is underway properly, we’ll see what shakes out there. It’s a tough go in many ways during even normal publishing times, but I’m trying to stay positive and busy with new writing while I wait and see if there’s a place for this kind of writing at a publishing house that gets what I’m laying down. Things were looking promising before, but you can’t take any of this shit for granted. Just keep on writing while the cogs turn.

Until I got more, take care and be safe all. Cheers.

KH

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