Today I signed the contract for something that has been somewhat secret for a little while. My novel, In the Cage, will be published by Biblioasis, likely in fall 2016.
This book was turned down by every single publisher in this country, and a bunch south of the border, and I focused on writing short stories while I watched the rejections pile up. Early last year I got a call from John Metcalf about a short story of mine, Old man Marchuk, and this led to us working together on my forthcoming short fiction collection, Debris, which will be launched this fall by Biblioasis. As the stories had been put through the wringer by a lot of good editors at various journals (The Malahat Review, Little Fiction, The Puritan, PRISM international, EVENT, The New Quarterly), and Metcalf got what I was trying to do with the prose, there wasn’t a ton of editorial overhauls to be done. At least not at the moment. Metcalf knew I had this unsold novel, and asked if he could read it. About two weeks later I got a letter from him saying that we should work on the novel next.
Over the past months I’ve been focusing on writing and editing new stories to fill out the collection, and these ended up getting picked up by Joyland, Shenandoah, TNQ, and The Walrus. With the collection well in hand, I’ve been revising In the Cage line by line, and getting it up to the same level that some of my stories were at. When that’s done, Mr. Metcalf is going to get out his hatchet and sort this novel out.
I’d guess the main reason nobody bought this book, other than my relative newness to the scene, was that it needed a proper, old-school editor with the time to work on it and nobody looking over their shoulder, and those are hard to come by for a book like this. The novel is about a washed up MMA/cage-fighter who does muscle work for the local gangsters most evenings, to make ends meet for his wife and daughter. There are fights and gunfights and limbs removed and plenty of blood. There are robberies in the city and killings in the boonies, and a bunch of trees and snow and various landscapes in north-central Ontario. It is not a long book, but it is heavy and involves a lot of ugly things (much the same as my short fiction), and it certainly wasn’t something many editors were willing to risk their job over.
So, after banging my head against the wall about this two years ago, everything worked out better than I could have hoped. I got the editor the book needs, and I got a publishing house in Biblioasis that understands my work, and what I’m trying to do with it. This gives me two books with them in two years, and some real serious work to handle, and that is what I need at this point in my career.
As more details come out over the year, I’ll write a little more about the novel. I’ll be getting ready for the fall 2015 launch of my collection, Debris, for most of the year, while working on this as well, so you’ll be hearing about both as things develop. In the meantime, thank you all for the support over these years, and thank you to everyone who read any of my stories. I’ll keep you all posted about details for the launch this fall. I can guarantee it will be hilarious.
Otherwise, there are a few little things of note, and they’re as follows:
– A story of mine called Most of the houses had lost their lights was accepted for publication by The New Quarterly, and will come out, along with a Metcalf/Hardcastle interview, sometime next year. That is Metcalf’s favourite story in the collection, and Pamela Mulloy, as usual, is my hero and really just gets me.
That is it. Thanks again and believe in your dreams, as always…