Double from Nothing

I didn’t exactly exclaim it, but here’s the first thing you need to know: in September, 2014, I had a book accepted for publication.

Finally, Nobody Looks That Young Here, the short story collection I unwittingly began writing in 2009 in night-school courses at George Brown College, is going to meet the world… in 2018.

Four years is a long time. One could be hit by a bus tomorrow. And the publisher, Guernica Editions, has been top-notch in recognizing this from the get-go, saying up front that “I can’t wait that long” would be a perfectly reasonable response.

But for a first-time author in the financially impossible Canadian small-press publishing business, it doesn’t seem so long. I mean, a posse of publishers wasn’t exactly outside my door with a battering ram, crying “Sell us your short stories or else!” I received a good offer, and as a complete publishing noob—I don’t have an agent, and I had questions about everything!—we were well into October before I understood the contract well enough to sign it.

Privately, it was party time—but publicly, it was way too early. Just think of all the things that happened four years ago that you don’t remember. (Trick question.) I put out a Tweet for posterity, and updated my bios, and with the book’s delivery date not till the summer of 2016, I got back to work on the latest project I’d started: a novella about an apartment haunted by a sexy ghost (not joking).

But, see, I had this other book…

Very late in 2013, I had grouped together the 12 stories I’d published in magazines that weren’t part of Nobody Looks That Young Here and sent them off to New Leaf Editions, a special program run by Thistledown Press that publishes first-time authors in 64-page books. The group was a grab bag, some flash and some longer, and I was thinking that if they fit the bill, they’d make me a first-time author sooner… not to mention, clear my plate, so I could spend more time with my ghost.

Thistledown’s reply came in November, 2014. It wasn’t quite the battering ram, but it was pretty great: they wanted to know whether I had more stories, to produce a full-length book.

I had a couple, and I promised the rest by the end of June. I said “See you sometime” to my ghost and wrote some new stories. I salvaged some old ones. May was a furious month. But I finished it.

And today, I’m doubly happy to announce that, in the spring of 2016, my second book, Hamburger, will be my first.

Thank you for all the support along the way. If I count four years in the other direction, we get back to 2011, when so many of you were voting online, hourly, in an attempt to get my first story, “The Expiry Dates”, into Broken Pencil magazine via its Death Match contest.

We lost that battle, but I told you then: you were launching my career as a writer. I hope you’ll forgive the delay in announcing our victory.

Career’s a big word, but I’m getting used to the idea of using it.

(We’ll see how things go with my ghost.)