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  • Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    by Craig Terlson

    A collection of short stories where the humour runs dark and the slipstream bubbles up.

     

    ...imagine if Raymond Carver called up George Saunders and Joe Lansdale, and they all went drinking with Neil Gaiman.

  • Correction Line
    Correction Line
    by Craig Terlson

    “… it's clear that Terlson is way ahead of the curve in terms of crafting an engaging premise that reaches for elevated territory and reinvents enduring archetypes of action and suspense.”  J. Schoenfelder


    "Sometimes brutal, often demanding and always complex, this novel will repay the reader who likes their assumptions challenged and is happy to walk away from a book with minor questions unanswered but the big ones definitely dealt with! It’s likely to satisfy those who enjoy Hammet and/or Philip K Dick and who like their fiction very noir indeed."   Kay Sexton

     

    "I love a novel that you can't put down, and this is one of them."  L. Cihlar

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Entries by Craig Terlson (469)

Wednesday
May242017

3...2...1... LAUNCH

Well, the day is upon me - almost. Tomorrow evening, May 25, is the official launch of Fall In One Day at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

It should be a fun evening. I'll do a short reading, and then I'll be interviewed by my friend, colleague, novelist, and English Prof. the amazing Sue Sorensen (follow her on twitter, she's great).

I also have inside information that lemonade and cookies will be served (bring your own gin - and pour me one).

It truthfully all still feels a little surreal that it is happening. And the support and encouragement I've received over the last few months is a bit overwhelming. But I'll do my best to launch this well, smile for pictures, try to be humourous, and not get emotional. (Can't promise anything on the last part, but I'll give it a shot).

See you all tomorrow - stay tuned for some pics.

Tuesday
May162017

Release Day of Fall in One Day

Annnnnnnd we have lift off.

May 16th has been a date in my head for a long time... this bird has flown, Houston we have a novel, release the hounds... I dunno pick a cliché.

Wait, I know the best one: WOOFREAKINHOO! Yeah, that fits.

In a way, it feels like the book has already been out there. I've had many great advance reviews, for which I am deeply grateful for. As well, the book has been in a soft launch mode at the independent bookstore where the launch will be happening on May 25th (McNally Robinson - one of the best independent booksellers anywhere... yes. Any. Where!)

Thank yous will be forthcoming and repeating to all those that helped this book get legs (wheels? Fins?) But for now, I will just enjoy the moment.

Perfect timed is a review an interview that I gave to book blogger extradorinaire Betsy Kipnis. The review contains one of the best synops of the book that I've read (Betsy, can you write my query letters from now on?)
She also asked me to take part in an interview, and asked some great questions.

Here is the start of the interview - if you want to read the rest, hop over to bookisshh.com - and do read her other reviews, she is really quite great. 

And oh yeah, go to one of these places to pick up a copy:
McNally Robinson (Winnipeg)

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Amazon.uk

Chapters/Indigo

More reviews at Goodreads 

 

As synchronicity would have it, I posted a shorthand review which Craig read and sent me a DM via Instagram.  Since the interview we have fun repartee and I’m looking forward to one of his upcoming novels.  Let’s learn a little bit about Craig Terlson.

Betsy:  Something I’ve realized about your book is that as it’s shelved into my mind, relevance keeps pulling it off for further consideration.  Pretty cool effect you’ve got going there.  So what made you write this book?

Craig:  Several ideas floated around for a number of years, and these ideas kept popping up in the short stories I was wrting at the time.  At some point, the memory of Watergate, and what it meant in history, intertwined with the idea of family secrets and somehow the LSD therapies conducted in my home city in the 1950s was thrown into the mix.

Betsy:  There’s a lot of boy types in various states of development in your story.  How did you model these characters?

Craig:  Any writer that tells you their characters don’t have roots in their own beginnings is lying (or has a much better imagination than me).  So sure, these characters were familiar to me at first-but all of them go through what I call the “fiction filter” and they become their own peop;le.  My memory of that era is pretty strong, as it was significant for me.  One of the challenges was to not just take a fifteen year old from our era and plunk them into 1973,  Teenagers are very different now, both culturally, access to information and in some ways maturity wise.

Betsy:  During your story you float the idea of subversion for your readers?  What is it you’d like them to question or challenge?

Craig:  This is a complex question, and does get at the heart of the novel.  There are times when we wonder if we are getting the whole picture of something-we wonder what is underneath, what is hidden?  An extreme example of this would be conspiracy theorists, but all of us experience it on different levels.  Is that politician telling us the truth?  What are drug companies really up to? What are my parents doing when I’m asleep? Can that legal or religious authority be trusted? It’s true that too much focus on subversion can create paranoia, and if you watch movies from the 70s (a prime influence for the novel), that subversion and paranoia is everywhere.  For me, it shows up in a lot of places, even say, in the lyrics of Steely Dan.

Tuesday
May092017

So when did you begin that book? (In the woo-back)

As time draws closer to the release of Fall in One Day (May 16), and the launch at McNally Robinson (May 25),

I thought I'd crank up the woo-back machine - sorry, forgot to turn it on last Friday – and see when I first started blogging about this book.

It looks like about 10 years ago... whoa. I'll pause on that a moment. And I was in the middle of writing class. This is probably the earliest snippet of the novel. And even though it went through a dump truck full of changes, cuts and edits over the years - some of this actually still appears in the finished novel. Kinda cool.
Have a read:

 

 

Fall in One Day

leaves2.jpgI've been working on a new piece for my class. A long one.
Here is an excerpt from "Fall in One Day".

The first week of September is just an extension of summer.School starts and there is an excitement to that, even those who dread the day have to admit it. When the last bell rings, I jump on my bike and the seat burns my ass, which reminds me that last week it was August. Peeling across the soccer field, past the wire cage that surrounds the school, and riding past the pool, it's almost like I could fool myself into thinking that it's still summer, except the pool has been drained and a couple of poplar leaves are stuck on the yellowed bottom.

The wind that pushes me home has the smallest hint of cold, barely there – I sort of think I am imagining it because the calendar tells me its coming. Fall. When we are lucky it last a few weeks, but some years it's a day. It's an amazing windy day where every leaf is torn off every tree and launched into this aerial parade – like soft fireworks echoing the fair that started the summer. I remember watching them with Brian on the bank of the river. How good it felt to lay back on the grass, our shirts dusty and sweaty from a day of riding the Zipper, knocking over bottles with baseballs and breaking our teeth on candied apples. Just like the breeze tells me that fall is coming, and as much as I loved watching those Roman Candles, the fireworks told me that the summer would be over before I knew it.

Wednesday
May032017

Get Bent - Time Travel (woofreakinhoo style)

A writer colleague messaged me this morning and said,

I just read Bent Highway and LOVED it. Where's the rest?

...Yes, indeed, where is the rest?

This should go into the wooback machine - except the story is no longer here on the blog. So some background is in order...

Bent Highway was my first foray into Serial Fiction. Chapters were released a week at a time here at the woo-blog. (I did this again with a certain detective who likes Mexican beer). I loved the rush of having to come up with a new chapter every week, really putting into place my "write like your head is on fire and only words can put it out" adage.)

I am not sure if it's because time travel is a popular subject - or the weirdness of the story - but Bent Highway attracted a lot of viewers. At it's peak more than 2000 readers came to catch up on the exploits of "M".

I catch myself thinking about this story every once in a while. I left the reader (and actually, the writer) hanging. I called it Part One, put it up on Amazon for the grand sum of .99 and that was it.

But now... hmmm. I did really like that crazy-ass story. And my writer friend seemed to as well. I am kind of thinking it might be time for a reboot.

For now, here is how it began...
 - oh, and if you think this is something you'd like to read more of, drop me a note on twitter, or post a comment below. If people want this thing - I will write this thing.

 

Bent Highway
chapter one 

I clacked open my Zippo and held it under the bent coffee spoon. I watched the thin blue flame dance, not thinking of anything, just following the reflections and the metal turning colours. Did I have the guts to put the hot spoon to the barely scabbed over gash that grinned at me like it was about to break wide open and gush red ants – I was going to cauterize the mother.

Crazy shit like that had been going through my brain for over a month, or maybe longer. For me, time was a dog's breakfast shoved in a blender and spun out like a crazy woman's quilt. I knew it had been at least a year since I first started driving. I think I had that right. The handle of the spoon warmed in my hand, I'd have to drop it soon. It was ready. I'd make damn sure nothing would bust out of there.

"Honey, what in the hell are you about to do?"

I jerked back, slammed my lighter shut, and plunged the spoon into the coffee.

"You need a warm up, you just gotta ask."

The waitress was pushing forty-five, but her hair spilled across her shoulders like she could still turn heads at the 7-11. A badge dangled off one of her pointed breasts and shouted at me Dandy Diner, and underneath in a curled script that made me wince, Janine.

She poured the coffee into the cup with my rocket hot spoon. It had made a little sizzle when I dunked it in the murky brew.

"Good and hot now. Anything else?"

I shook my head. I waited for her to say something about a rough night or some other corn-pone inquiry – you out slamming  cougars against the rose bushes again? I shouldn't be hard on poor Janine. She probably had herself a trailer park boyfriend with a pack of cigs rolled up his sleeve, a tattoo that said bitchin' and a piece of shit car he treated better than her.

Here was the thing: between the black patches of my so called memory and the pictures in my head that were soaked in flourscent dye, I couldn't tell if I had a rough night, week, month or life. I sipped my coffee and considered that I'd finally lost it, checked into the faraway hotel, which was a helluva lot worse than the one in California, and a damn sight harder to check out of.

I finished the last greasy egg before it slid off my plate and guzzled the coffee. Okay, my body and mind ached bad enough for it to be hungover. But where the hell did that cut come from? That was a big-ass scab. 

 

Here is a link to a bit more about the story.

And here is the amazon link - but tell you what. If you like this thing, and send me a comment - I'll send you part one for free!

Friday
Apr282017

Woo-back - Ford vs Gaiman

It was funny, and illuminating, to go back and read this post from 2009. I think I might voice it differently, now.

I still love, love, Ford and anything he writes - but I think I was a bit harsh with Gaiman. With the upcoming American Gods show, I thought this was timely to bring up again.

And same goes with Stephen King - since that time 8 years ago, I've read some more King, admired his On Writing book. More importantly, I've further understood the brilliance of Gaiman. My favourite of his is still Neverwhere (I have an autographed copy from the one time I met him.)

I recently reread Ford's story, Empire. And once again read that excerpt aloud to my patient wife.

From the Woo-back machine - cage match: Ford/Gaiman.

 

It's better in a FORD

odin.ford.jpgTonight, my bookclub is discussing American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It's a bit of departure from a club that in the past couple of years has looked at Moby Dick, Children of the Alley (Naguib Mahfouz) and Gilead (Marilynne Robinson) - those of you who are genre-jumpers like me know that "departure" is an understatement.

I like Gaiman's work, but I don't love it. American Gods doesn't have the deep resonance of a book like Gilead – though, that is really like comparing apples to Winnebagos. But I admire his storytelling ability, in the same way that I admire (but don't love) Stephen King.

It got me thinking about plot and story, and specifically, how much happens in a story. Gaiman has people tied up in trees sitting vigil for Odin as other gods swoop down on thunderbirds and the true god of Easter makes dead plants live and wives come back from the dead, and mystic moon goddesses produce golden coins and magic, and blood and, and, and....
Yes, it is a sort of breathless fiction.

Then I read this from the other book on my bedside.

"The train flashed through a small Montana town without stopping – two crossing gates with bells and red lanterns, a row of darkened stores, an empty rodeo corral with two cows standing alone under a bright floodlight. A single car was waiting to cross, its parking lights shining. It all disappeared. Sims could hear a train whistle far off."

On man, how I LOVE Richard Ford. The above is from his story, "Empire", from Rock Springs. I came across that paragrah and I immediately wanted to slow down, to read it again, to be there on that train, seeing the cows, the lights, hearing the whistle. It is so evocative of mood and place and full of resonance. But why? Isn't it just a couple of cows in a nowhere town? Where the hell is Odin and that crazy moon goddess? Could somebody please blow something up?

And that's the strange thing. Gaiman's work moves at a breakneck speed across the page, in my brain and right out again. Nothing sticks. Don't get me wrong, I am NOT a book snob - I say if you love it, hell, even if you just like it, then READ IT! (Notable exception: Any book by Dan Brown - which should be banned in schools, not for content, but for promoting horrible, shallow writing) I digress.

Richard Ford stories get into my head and they stay there. That's why I read and re-read his work. And Gaiman, yeah, I'll read another one, because like a ice-cold Coors Light on a blazing summer day, it tastes good - but it goes right through ya.
I guess I try to place my own fiction somewhere between these two. I strive to create moments of resonance like Ford can, but once in a while I want to blow something up – to create something that will make the reader go, "Hey, that's cool." Because I know cows under streetlights doesn't do it for everyone.

Link to interview with Richard Ford on publication of, "A Multitude of Sins" - another book I am re-reading.

Gaiman's official site.