CBC Books – 17 Writers to Watch in 2017

If you are looking for some books to read this year, by some of Canada’s best emerging writers, check out this list of 17 Writers to Watch in 2017, put out lately by CBC Books.

There are a number of authors on the list that I know and that I know to be excellent, such as Naben Ruthnum, with his new non-fiction book, Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race, and a forthcoming literary crime novel on the way. Also, Carleigh Baker, author of the short story collection Bad Endings, and fellow Trillium Award Winner Melanie Mah, for her novel, The Sweetest One.

Thanks to the CBC folks for including me on the list, and for spreading the word about all of our existing or forthcoming titles. It’s a honour to be part of it.


Preview Excerpt of In the Cage in The Globe & Mail, Most Anticipated List

In case you missed it in the print edition, the fall preview excerpt of In the Cage, along with a short Q & A, are up on The Globe & Mail website as well. You can take a gander at it all here, by clicking on this line.

Thanks to Mark Medley for setting this up, and to Dominic Bugatto for another magical bit of art to accompany my writing. I’ve been lucky with some really exceptional artists and designers producing accompanying work to my writing in journals, magazine, and the papers. And this is another very good bit of work.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Medley’s post on Sunday, listing his most anticipated books of the fall season. It includes excellent writers and/or colleagues like Naben Ruthnum, Eliza Robertson, Nick Mount, Jessica Westhead, Michelle Berry, Kathleen Winter, and Wayne Johnston. For the full list, click on this line.

Thanks to the Globe for making my weekend. There should be some more profiles and interviews and reviews coming over the next few weeks, and I’ll post them as they appear.

Cheers. KH

In the Cage in Kirkus, Quill & Quire…

The mighty Kirkus Reviews has read In the Cage, and has posted a very positive review of the novel. Which you can read in full by clicking anywhere on this line. Here’s a little bit of it…

“This is a masterful mashup between genres, matching the masculine violence of the cage match with country-tinged, Mamet-esque dialogue that elevates these characters into rich portraits of desperate people living for sheer survival.

“A crime novel with the pulse of a sports drama and the bitter toxicity of the best country noir.”

Kirkus is a highly respected publishing mag, and very difficult to get reviewed in, so I am pretty damn happy with this take. I didn’t quite get their elusive Kirkus Star, but booksellers and librarians all over the place read up on the books included in there when they stock their shelves. Thanks very much to the folks at Kirkus, and to Biblioasis for casting a net far and wide for this novel.

The article about In the Cage, by Steven W. Beattie and featured in the Fall Preview issue of Quill & Quire, is also online now for those of you who did not see it in print. Find that by clicking this, and learn all about how I was just copying Hemingway and, later, copying Cormac McCarthy. THANKS, STEVE.

Now I am going to the beer gettin’ place…

Cheers. KH

In the Cage – Full Cover

I have seen the finished cover for In the Cage, and it is magical…

This was posted in the week on social media, but I wanted to put it up here as well. There was a lot of work that went into this thing, not by me, but by the folks at Biblioasis, especially Chris Andrechek, and by Michel Vrana, who designed the cover. Thanks the most to those guys.

Also, I hadn’t seen how they were going to work the blurbs and such, but I am glad that they got them on the actual cover, as there are some good ones from John Irving, Donald Ray Pollock, and Waubgeshig Rice. I was very fortunate to get those, and am proud to have them printed on the cover.

As a bonus, you also get a colour photo of my older, slightly less fat head this time, thanks to Katrina Afonso, who has taken all of my author photos for a last couple of year since I sent her that hilarious Macbook photo for the Writers’ Trust Gala, when I was up for the Journey Prize, and she had to somehow make it fifteen feet tall. Katrina was a huge fan of that wall behind me, and that wall is certainly a very effective wall…

Even Alix Hawley got on there, with a line from her review of Debris for the National Post, from a couple years ago.

The book is out on September 12th, 2017. And we will be launching the shit out of it on September 20th, at The Garrison in Toronto. Check my events page for other launches, readings, festivals, and tour things

Cheers. KH

The ReLit Ring

I have received the magical ReLit Ring

Fresh from the metalworks of Christopher Kearney, in Newfoundland, the famed ReLit Ring showed up at my door the other day. It is handcrafted, with moveable dials that hold each letter of the alphabet, so I can spell as many four letter words as I want before punching an ostrich in the face…

Thanks to ReLit Award founder Kenneth J. Harvey, for choosing Debris as the winner of the short fiction category last year. And, congratulations to Carellin Brooks (One Hundred Days of Rain  Bookthug) and Sue Goyette (The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl – Gaspereau) who won for novel and poems respectively, and who can now also seize power in their own realms.

Cheers. KH

In the Cage featured in the Quill & Quire Fall Preview

If you get the latest issue of Quill & Quire, you’ll find this toeface person at the front of the big Fall Preview section. While that might be weird, please go ahead and read the article, because Steven Beattie had to hear me spew nonsense for over an hour just to get those few quotes.

More importantly, there is talk of my new novel, In the Cage, coming September 12th, 2017 from Biblioasis. I knew it would be in the preview, but didn’t know it would be featured as such, so I am flattered and very thankful to Steve, and to Sue Carter (editor of Q&Q), and all of the people who put this together.

The issue is on news-stands and in bookstores and should be all delivered to subscribers by now. If you do not think I, or the book, sound dumb, maybe you’ll investigate it this fall, and come by the launch (date TBA).

Cheers. KH

Some early words about In the Cage, my novel

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…


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…


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…


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.