New stuff. Every year, of course, holds something new. Some of it you expect, and some of it is unexpected. I was, and remain, excited about 2014 for several reasons. I’ll break it down for you.
So, around two years ago, my editor, Annalee, at Portage & Main Press, gave me a curriculum sheet and asked me if I could come up with any graphic novel stories around the curriculum outcomes. There was tons of stuff on there, and I’d never be able to remember it all, but it centered on Canadian history. I ended up pitching a new graphic novel series (7 Generations had just ended) on Indigenous historical figures, and through them there’d be an opportunity to match various curriculum outcomes. Tales From Big Spirit was the result. It’s been a long journey. Writing six graphic novel scripts in a period of a year and a half was really busy, but now that we’re near the end it all was worth it. Over the spring, all six graphic novels will be available, and there’s an awesome collection of well-known and more obscure Indigenous heroes.
The series’ heroes are: Tommy Prince, Thanadelthur, Gabriel Dumont, John Ramsay, Shawnadithit, and Pauline Johnson. You can buy some of the books already. Check out the series in the New Works section of my website. There’ll be a trailer out for the series soon as well. It was great, too, to work with a team of illustrators that are all incredibly talented. My frequent partner in crime, Scott Henderson, did three of them, while Andrew Lodwick did Gabriel Dumont and Wai Tien did Thanadelthur and John Ramsay. Each book has its own personality, narrative style, and atmosphere. Look out for some “easter eggs” as well in the pages of this series. A seventh book in the series is already in the works!
All that graphic novel writing can be tiring. Now, I’ll never stop writing graphic novels, but at times I do need a break. Well, it’s not so much about a break either. It’s about change, sure, but it’s also about expanding my skills as a writer. So over the last while I’ve been doing some other things, and that’s been exciting for me. I’ve had some poetry published in CV2, will have a story published in Prairie Fire this spring, and have done television writing as well. For the television writing, I’m the co-creator and writer for a series called The Reckoner. The producers right now are shopping the series to networks. The writing team (which includes Sara Snow, Jordan Wheeler, Lisa Jackson, and SB Edwards) has completed six scripts, and they kick ass. I’m confident at some point it will land at a network and you’ll get to watch it (or set your PVRs for it!). It’s a dark, supernatural mystery that I describe as a mix of Lost, X-Files, North of 60, and then whatever excellent teen drama you want to plug in. It works! More on that soon…
What I’m probably most pumped for, however, is my novel. That’s right, I’ve written a novel (without pictures!) that is going through the editing process right now. It will be out in the fall of 2014. The novel is called The Evolution of Alice and it’s listed in my New Works section. The novel has been an enormous challenge and an amazing experience. It’s a novel in stories, which means that it is read as a novel, but the storyline is broken up into a collection of short stories. You can read each one on its own, but all the stories together tell a larger narrative. The stories all concern the main characters of Alice, Gideon (her best friend), Alice’s girls (Grace, Kathy, Jayne), and some other recurring characters.
I want to tell you about a few influences that helped me immensely in writing this novel. The story itself came to me from a terrible incident that occurred on a reserve I was doing work with a few years ago. A young girl around the age of three was hit and killed by a vehicle one night while playing in her driveway. The vehicle left the scene and, to my knowledge, has never been found. As a father of four, this story stuck with me like crazy glue. Eventually, I had to process the loss through writing (that’s what I do). It started out as the short story that Prairie Fire accepted, and then, after my publisher loved it, grew into a novel. So, The Evolution of Alice is about how Alice, and her family and Gideon, is impacted by the loss of her youngest girl, Grace. I’ve done a lot of reading while writing the novel – a bunch of great books. In my opinion, you have to learn from the best and that’s what I’ve tried to do. So, some of the books that have guided me in terms of structure and storytelling techniques are Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, In Our Time by Ernest Hemmingway, and a few others. I can’t wait for you to read it. I will post an excerpt soon!
I guess that’s enough reading for one blog post. I’ll talk to you all soon!