My lack of updates (at least over the last few years) represent activity elsewhere (offline, or online somewhere else). In April I had the wonderful pleasure of being accepted at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity for a self-directed writing retreat. I hadn’t been to Banff since I was in my teens, so it was a great refresher on a very unique part of the country. It was also my second time visiting Alberta in the space of 6 months (previously over 20yrs before that), so with all that (including altitude and time changes) it was an intense, and dizzying, yet ultimately productive week.
When I say “productive” I mean that I’ve been working on the next novel. I can’t say that I achieved any fist-pumping wordcount, but the quality of the content was my focus. I realized when I began to work that I’d written much of the “easy” stuff beforehand, leaving this idyllic escape the setting for me to enter a very challenging series of character mindsets. Not fun. There was beer.
This past weekend, I got to take a getaway to Prince Edward County for some much-needed not work/not writing time away from home. I really love that neck of the woods. I have an affinity for rural environs: the smell of manure, the birdsounds, the expanse. And yes, the wonderful wine and beer, and cheese. Yet, coming back to Toronto, I realized that there were things missing that I would struggle to live without. Rural areas don’t have a lot of diverse culture (I will say that Picton has a very nice movie theatre, and Bloomfield has a cool-looking drive-in), and they also happen to be very white. By “very white” I mean they are almost exclusively enclaves of white people. I grew up in those sorts of enclaves and I am in no rush to return without some evidence that [wherever I fancy moving to one day] welcomes POCs (persons of colour).
I’m working through a lot of ideas as a result of these two trips, some fictional, some filtered through autobiographical experience. Along the way, I’m hoping to begin posting writing-related ideas here (I say “ideas” because I’m not comfortable with “tips,” which springs from my work as a psychotherapist who eschews advice-driven approaches).
It’s been a hell of a run. I am exhausted and happy to focus on my (very busy – not complaining) day job.
November’s tour of Alberta was wonderful, and I’m happy I pushed myself to make it happen (and grateful my publisher was able to wave her travel grant wand my way). I met readers, old friends, new friends, and relatives. I saw Alberta — a place I haven’t set foot in for almost 30 years — with fresh eyes (and a driver’s license). I could not have asked for a smoother tour, and I am thankful.
I am also tired, and am happy to put The Society of Experience to rest so that I can focus on the next book. I don’t want to publicize anything for a while. That said, I will have an essay coming out in the next issue of the Humber Literary Review, looking at our skewed depictions of madness in film and literature – that’s coming out in January, I am told.
If you are reading this, I hope you have a good December, and are able to find light in what was quite a dark 2016 for many.
Here’s the short and sweet on my upcoming tour of Alberta:
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.
I do a lot of talking about my novel, The Society of Experience, however that’s not the only work of fiction I’ve had published. Found Press, who has published my stories in their unique digital singlet format, is experimenting with the idea of creating limited print editions of select authors’ stories. I’m happy to say that one of those chosen is Snowshoe, my spooky piece about a father trying to get his son to sleep only to realize the boy is haunted by something more ominous than the wind outside.
Snowshoe handbound print edition (5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″)
This is well-timed since I read from Snowshoe on October 25th for the International Festival of Authors and it got a great reception. I have in my possession 15 copies – that is the extent of the initial print run since they are handbound. I am selling them for $15 each (optionally signed, if you wish). Or, if you haven’t yet read The Society of Experience (longlisted for the Sunburst Award, fave of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, as well as Emily Saso’s favourite book of 2015) I will sell a bundle of SnowshoeandThe Society of Experience (regular $37 if bought individually) for $32 (and yes, optionally signed, if you wish). Crazy cheap bargain Cahill stop it.
The Society of Experience bundled with Snowshoe
Obviously, I only have 15 copies of Snowshoe, and while there will most likely be more in production (I can tell you there is a lot of interest from independent bookstores here in Toronto in this and other FP titles) because they are hand-made they don’t exactly slide off a conveyor by the hundreds. In other words, there’s no guarantee when more will be available.
If you are interested, get in touch: matt [at] mattcahill [dot] ca. Note: postage is extra (but reasonable)
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 & Booksevent, 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)
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…
This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a book club in Brantford, Ontario. It was my first experience and I truly enjoyed it. I valued the perspective of the readers and was able to hear questions I often wouldn’t get a chance to hear in professional Q&As, which end up being rather tightly formatted. The questions I received were often challenging and thought-provoking. It was also fun talking about my history there (I spent a chunk of my early years in Onondaga), which was referenced in the Brantford Expositor last year.
I wanted to share this because if anyone reading this has a book club and would consider having myself (and my book, The Society of Experience) make an appearance, please feel free to get in touch. My contact info is on my author page: http://mattcahill.ca. I can’t always guarantee my availability, but wherever I can make it work, I will. I’m happy to make a visit in-person, as well as field a Q&A via email, or take part in a Skype session.
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!
I have two new gigs lined up over the next few months. I have to say that my visit to Ottawa was wonderful — everyone involved, organizers and audience alike were very friendly and great people to chat with (in case you were curious, or thought these were terribly serious affairs). If you’ve been thinking of making it out, it would be great to see you at either of the next two events.
June 10th @ The Belljar (2072 Dundas St W, Toronto)
I will be reading from The Society of Experience as part of a launch for indie musician Kyp Harness’ debut novel, Wigford Rememberies. We will be joined by poet Mark Sampson, reading from his new collection, Weathervane. Details of the event can be found here. Authors’ books will be sold via Another Story Bookstore.
July 6th @ McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg, MB)
I will be joining the ChiSeries once more, this time for my first reading outside of Ontario! Also reading that night will be David Neil Lee — we will be joined in conversation by Chadwick Ginther and S.M. Beiko. Details can be found here. I haven’t been in Winnipeg before so I’m really looking forward to it.
Speaking of Ottawa, the people at Silver Stag Entertainment managed to tape my reading. I normally can’t stand the sight of myself reading (or hearing my voice), but it ain’t bad. The audio quality is a little rough, as you can overhear bar patrons in the room next door, but I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy!
Lastly, I’m hoping to announce a brief Alberta tour that will be happening in September. It’s in the planning stages, so fingers are crossed!
Late April/early May is going to be busy with appearances! First up, I will be participating in the 35th annual Ad Astra Convention (happening April 29-May 1 in Toronto). UPDATE: I’m appearing on Sunday the 1st of May at 2pm on the panel The Trials and Tribulations of Writing About Time Travel (along with fellow authors Kari Maaren and Kelly Robson).