ReLit 2016 Nomination!

I am honoured to have The Society of Experience shortlisted for the 2016 ReLit Awards. What are they, you ask, and wasn’t 2016 last year?

The ReLit Awards are, to quote the blurb on their site, “to acknowledge the best new work released by independent publishers — may not come with a purse, but it brings a welcome, back-to-the-books focus to the craft.” In other words, rather than being about money and televised coverage, it’s about quality. One distinguishing element of the ReLit Awards is that they select books from the previous year. Thus, the 2016 ReLit shortlist represents fiction, poetry, and short fiction from 2015.

I am with some good company:

The Capacity for Infinite Happiness, Alexis von Konigslow (Buckrider)
All-Day Breakfast, Adam Lewis Schroeder (Douglas & McIntyre)
One Hit Wonders, Patrick Warner (Breakwater)
Split, Libby Creelman (Goose Lane)
Chinkstar, Jon Chan Simpson (Coach House)
Too Much on the Inside, Danila Botha (Quattro)
Martin John, Anakana Schofield (Biblioasis)
Winnie’s Tongue, Nic Labriola (Insomniac)
One Hundred Days of Rain, Carellin Brooks (BookThug)
The Theory of Light at Midnight, Elizabeth Ukrainetz (Tightrope)
A Superior Man, Paul Yee (Arsenal)
A Free Man, Michel Basilieres (ECW)
The Man Who Saved Henry Morgan, Robert Hough (Anansi)
The Hunter and the Wild Girl, Pauline Holdstock (Goose Lane)
The Society of Experience, Matt Cahill (Buckrider)
Where Did You Sleep Last Night, Lynn Crosbie (Anansi)

I expect the selected category winners to be announced in a month’s time.

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Alberta Tour 2016

Here’s the short and sweet on my upcoming tour of Alberta:

The Society of Experience Matt Cahill Alberta Tour 2016

November 9 — University of Alberta, Augustana (Camrose) campus: reading from The Society of Experience at the bookstore @ 2pm. Books will be sold and signed. If you are in Marina Endicott‘s creative writing class, you will have the added bonus of having me hang over your shoulder and talk about writing and stuff on November 10th!

November 12 — Calgary, Literary House Concert, from 2pm to 5pm: the inaugural launch of a literary salon that is going to be awesome, but due to its intimate location will be RSVP only. Go here to find out more. I’m reading with Nikki Reimer & Shannon Maguire! Books will be sold and signed.

November 13 — Edmonton, at Audreys Books, reading from The Society of Experience. @ 3pm  I’ll be joined by writers Tim Bowling and Greg Bechtel! Books will be sold and signed. Facebook invite here!

Updates will be made as the week progresses. I hope to meet new friends and readers during this whirlwind-ish five days!

 

 

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IFOA Reading, Alberta Tour & A New Essay

I’ve got some great things in store for the next month or so:

October 25th: I’m going to be reading at the Literary Press Group‘s Boos & Books event, which is part of the International Festival of Authors. I’m thrilled to have been selected as well as honoured to be part of the IFOA. Because it’s a Halloween-themed event, I’m going to be reading an excerpt from my short story, Snowshoe (if you haven’t read it, it’s available at Found Press for the price of a cup of coffee – super cheap!)

 

 

 
November 9th – 13th: I’m going to be on a (very fast) tour of Alberta, reading/promoting my novel, The Society of Experience. Current dates are as follows:

November 9 – Camrose (University of Alberta campus)

November 12 – Calgary (location tbd)

November 13 – Edmonton (Audreys Books)

Somewhere in here I’m hoping to make an appearance in Red Deer – stay tuned! I’m looking forward to seeing old friends from when I lived there, as well as meeting readers, not to mention members of the Alberta publishing community (this last part may not sound exciting, but I think it’s significant!)

Lastly, I have an essay coming out in the next Humber Literary Review (due in November). This is a themed issue whose topic is mental health. My essay explores fictional depictions of madness in contemporary mainstream media, their worrisome undertones, and the challenges with working with the idea of madness. This is a very challenging piece, written from varying perspectives (as a psychotherapist, as an artist, and also someone who has a personal perspective on mental health challenges).

Stay tuned for updates — this is going to be a busy last quarter for 2016…

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Hello, Winnipeg!

June is going so fast. I suppose it’s to be expected when you have a full-time job and write books on top of it. On this note, and as mentioned earlier, I’m setting my sights on Winnipeg, Manitoba as the next stop on my (very gradual) book tour.

McNally Robinson Booksellers is, I understand, a gorgeous location for a both a book retailer and a public reading. I will be joining David Lee, author of the YA book The Midnight Games, for a reading and a follow-up conversation with Chadwick Ginther and S.M. Beiko. This is happening on the 6th of July – mark your calendars.

I look forward to visiting Winnipeg and meeting new people. I hope you are able to make it out!

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THE SOCIETY OF EXPERIENCE Gets a Sunburst Award Nomination


My debut novel, THE SOCIETY OF EXPERIENCE, has made the longlist for the 2016 Sunburst Awards! It’s with such esteemed company as Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last, Andrew Pyper’s The Damned, and Giller-winner André Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs. The shortlist will be announced in early July. I’m very happy to have SOE receive this sort of attention, and grateful. I’ll keep you posted on whether it makes the cut!

In the meantime, the book is available in stores in Canada and the USA, online at various merchants, and the ebook is available for worldwide download.

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The Society of Experience Chosen As Must-Read By Harper’s Bazaar

I cannot believe how the stars aligned for this, but Harper’s Bazaar – a massive, Hearst-owned fashion and lifestyle magazine – put out a list of their Top 15 “must-reads” for the fall of 2015. And I’m #11. Along with Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Patti Smith, Isabel Allende, David Mitchell, and I’ve lost my mind. It’s the only debut novel on the entire list (and the third Canadian title)!

Link: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/art-books-music/g6211/best-fall-2015-books/

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The Importance of Self Care

I was reading this article in the National Post, about a psychiatrist whose trained specialty is analyzing and working with violent sexual predators, who recently experienced a breakdown as a result of what is believed to be symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). He has worked on cases involving Paul Bernardo, Robert Pickton, and most recently Russell Williams: all of them so-called sexual sadists, all of them convicted murderers.

To put this into context for those reading from outside Canada, each of these convicted – by virtue of the severity and depravity of their crimes – is a poster boy for reinstating capital punishment (which, for the record, I do not support). They have individually terrorized regions of the country when they were active. It’s important to understand all of this due to the nature of being a mental health professional – someone trained to see people as people no matter who they might be or what they might have done – working with people of this description.

The article describes how Dr. John Bradford simply lost his ability to keep the burden of content (and ostensibly the affect of said content) from seeping into his consciousness, whereas before he was able to separate the explicitly graphic information he worked with from getting to him. What stood out in the article for me was the following:

What he wouldn’t realize until he went into therapy was that the videos from his many cases had been gradually taking their toll and they rushed back to haunt him on that long drive home.”

 

In particular, the phrase “until he went into therapy”, which implies that he wasn’t seeing a therapist until this point. Assuming this conjunction isn’t sloppiness on behalf of the writer, I find it appalling that Dr. Bradford could have such a role and somehow not be mandated by his employer (or his governing professional society) to be in some form of regular personal therapy. It boggles my mind, actually.

We live in an odd time when the general public are being told (rightfully) the importance of mental health and not allowing toxic environments to fester within them and yet someone tasked with watching videos of killers’ victims doesn’t walk into a therapist’s office until he is exhibiting signs of PTSD and is forced to take a month off work?

Let me be clear: to my knowledge there is no explicit mandate for said procedure. I am not implying that Dr. Bradford was in any way professionally negligent. I am however suggesting that the past and current culture of psychiatry, with its “detached” experts, should reconsider its standards for those tasked with a specialty like Dr. Bradford. Self care goes both ways: it allows patients/clients/non-professionals to seek help and understanding for their issues; it also allows professionals an opportunity to explore how their work impacts their lives.

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Kensington Market Essay in BlogTO

For those who don’t live in Toronto, there’s been a lot of discussion about my neighbourhood, Kensington Market, in the news. Much of it is about preservation vs development. I offered to write an op/ed for BlogTO and they published it today. I’m quite pleased that they kept the essay intact (you never know what an editor’s going to do sometimes). You can read it here.

It feels good to work on my non-fiction chops, and even better when something gets published.

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Robertson Davies: Elitist

I was once accused by the chaplain of Massey College of being a gnostic. He was very angry with me indeed. But part of being gnostic was using your head if you wanted to achieve salvation or even a tolerable life. That is something that the Christian church tends rather to discourage. Salvation is free for everyone. The greatest idiot and yahoo can be saved, the doctrine goes, because Christ loves him as much as he loves Albert Einstein. I don’t think that is true. I think that civilization—life—has a different place for the intelligent people who try to pull us a little further out of the primal ooze than it has for the boobs who just trot along behind, dragging on the wheels. This sort of opinion has won me the reputation of being an elitist. Behold an elitist.

This is from a wonderful interview with the multifaceted author, Robertson Davies, for the Paris Review. His responses are well-considered, done as they were before everyone felt pressured to distill themselves into soundbites. He provides a wonderful perspective on fiction writing, the role of the writer, what his own background lends to his writer’s toolkit, as well as an assortment of miscellany (including a very interesting reflection on the differences between Freudian and Jungian psychology, no less). He was a true character.

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