In the Cage has officially been published. A pretty good little Saturday.

Today is the official publication date of my novel, In the Cage, from Biblioasis out of South Detroit (Windsor), Ontario. I’ve had it for a little while, but it is always a weird feeling to land on the actual release day. The book is widely available, and in bookstores all over the land. You can also order it online through the following:


The above photo is from the Bay & Bloor Indigo in Toronto, just a stones throw away from where I first dropped my bags and drank my first university beer some 18 years ago, almost to this day. At Victoria University, within the University of Toronto. I’d gone to see Stephen King’s IT at the movies this past Saturday, and stopped by on the way out to see if In the Cage was in stock. As you can see, they didn’t mess around at that store, and that sort of hit home to see it on the shelves like that, especially so close to where I first started my post-secondary education, a pivotal moment for me as a human, and as a writer.

The fact that I’d seen a Stephen King movie beforehand was fortuitous, given that Mr. King was a formative influence on me when I was writing as a young person, and it was reading his books, probably far too early, than made me want to be a proper writer. And, at the time, a horror writer. I later traded in my horror aspirations for more historical, less overtly supernatural awfulness in the work, in no small part because of my reading Cormac McCarthy. But, I kept the focus on atmosphere and tone, above all, and learned the importance of writing real characters that the reader can empathize with, especially working class characters, and that all came from King first. Something that separates his work from many peers, even those deemed more “literary,” and that makes him such an effective writer of the downtrodden and waylaid.

I figured, since I was going down a nostalgia hole, I’d saunter through campus and see the old buildings and grounds where I’d spent those early adult years reading literature and getting my ass handed to me in my first writing classes. On the way through, I passed Northrop Frye Hall, where I took my second, and most significant creative writing course, with the great poet and professor, A.F. Moritz. That is where I got my stories hammered into shape, after a rough start to the course (Moritz did not like my faux-Kerouac ramblings or latent horror tics, soon to be abandoned). Those stories got me into grad school in Wales, where I did the work that became the bedrock for what I’m doing now. All that happened here, and without it, who knows where I’d be…

So, now the second book, and first novel, is here. All of the things I’ve mentioned are ingredients that went into it, somehow or someway, and it was strange to have so many of them involved in that one day. Nonetheless, they are appreciated very much. As are all of the people who worked on In the Cage at Biblioasis, foremost the mighty John Metcalf, and also Dan, Casey, Chris, Meghan and others who have come and gone. I’ve also made no secret of the debt I owe to readers Jenna Illies, Naben Ruthnum, and Kris Bertin. And to the kind endorsements and support of writers I admire, like Donald Ray Pollock, Waub Rice, and, especially, John Irving. Thanks also to Michel Vrana for one hell of a cover.

I hope that readers who find the book get a charge out of it. My writing isn’t for everyone, and it’s not for the faint of heart, or those who like their caricatures and tropes to stay put, but I’ve been lucky to have some loyal supporters and readers so far, and hope to build on that. I’ll do my best to keep writing stories that matter to me,  and that I think will matter most to my readers, however they’re likely to sell or be accepted by CanLit, whatever that is and will be as time goes on.

I’ll be touring in support of In the Cage throughout the fall, and perhaps longer if I’m lucky. You can find all of those dates and locations here. I’ll also have an interview featured on The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers this season, and have a few more interesting things in the works, like an interview between John Irving and me for Electric Literature, and that will likely be published after my US pub date of October 10th.

Until then, thanks to everyone, sincerely, for the support and for following my work. You are all champions and legends of the fall. In closing, to show my appreciation, I will leave you with this photo from my Saturday adventure where I made the mandatory post Vic trip past Trinity College aka U of T Slytherin…

Take care all. KH

In the Cage shows up on the Toronto Star Must-Read list, some new reviews, more…

In this past Saturday’s Toronto Star, my new novel, In the Cage, got a mention as one of the must-read titles for the fall of 2017. Thanks to the magical Deb Dundas. Here’s the link to that full article.

There were some other writers on there that I admire, like Naben Ruthnum, author of Curry, Dina Del Bucchia, with her new book Don’t Tell Me What To Do, and a fellow that I’ve mentioned in recent interviews as an influence on my work from the earliest beginnings, Stephen King. So that was alright. There are many other formidable writers on that list, so you should check them all out.

Otherwise, I’ve also got this nice review from fellow Journey Prize finalist, and Guelph-based ginger, Andrew Hood. The author of such books as The Cloaca and Pardon Our Monsters. Hood has posted his review on The Bookshelf, and you can find it there…

Thanks to Andrew for the words. They are on point, and I really appreciated his reading of the novel.

To that end, you can go on places like Goodreads and weigh-in with your thoughts on In the Cage, and post magical five or one star reviews. Hopefully with some kind of hilarious dismissal or endorsement of this thing.  I expect it to be equal parts liked and loathed, and that’s a good thing, given what goes on in the novel. So, please share your take on it if you are inclined.

More to come soon. Tomorrow is the big day. Though I have seen that people have got the book already, after ordering online or heading to certain booksellers. Thanks to those folks, and I apologize somewhat for the ruination of your feelings and your week.


Shelagh Rogers likes IN THE CAGE, other good things…

On Monday, I sauntered down to the CBC headquarters in downtown Toronto to record an episode of The Next Chapter with the magnificent Shelagh Rogers. I was apparently the first interview of the new season (though the air-date is TBA), and we had a good, hour-long chat about my novel, In the Cage, and many of the ingredients that went into it. As folks in the business know, TNC is a nationally syndicated program that gets a lot of listeners, and can really help you move some books. Not least because Shelagh is such a fine reader and interviewer and supporter of literature.

I enjoyed our conversation (I was told I didn’t suck entirely, but who knows?), and I hope you do too, and that it is interesting in as far as it explores things like writing craft, mining real life for material, and lesser-heard voices in this country’s literature. I’ll share the scheduled airing as soon as I have it (they have a very busy docket), and I hope you’ll tune in and listen.

The following day, I noticed that I got tagged in a CBC Books video where Shelagh and Candy Palmater discuss their favourite books leading up to the fall season. I didn’t know that I’d be on there, but Shelagh included it in her picks. You can view the video by clicking here, and please check out the full list of fancy titles both Shelagh and Candy chose by visiting this post on the CBC Books site. I owe Shelagh many beers…

CBC Books has been good to me over the last little while, along with The Globe and Mail, and I’ve also showed up on lists of writers to watch, and anticipated fall fiction titles. I’ve posted most of those links, but there is one more I’ll drop below, if you want to check it out. And please keep an eye out for other writers on these, like multi-talented jerk Naben Ruthnum, Canadian export to UEA, Eliza Robertson, and former Walrus fiction editor, and legendary U of T prof and cap-wearer, Nick Mount…

– 20 Works of Canadian Fiction We’re Excited to Read (CBC Books)

When there is more news or more reviews, I’ll report back about it and post the info on here. Also, my reading and festivalling and event list is building, so keep checking back on the Readings & Events page on this site if you want to know where i’ll be at and when.

Cheers. KH

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