Novel Excerpts & Short Stories Available for FREE downloading:
I’m happy to offer readers the opportunity to sample some of my work: short stories, novel excerpts, poetry, essays.
Most of that material can be found over at Scribd, all of it free for reading and downloading.
But I’ve also posted some of my favourites here, just keep scrolling down.
This is your chance to see for yourself if the boy has a major league fastball. Some of these short stories and prose works have been previously published in books and anthologies that are out of print or next to impossible to find. Others appear here for the first time, available nowhere else in the real or virtual universe. You’ll find quite a diverse mix of material: slipstream, sci fi and even, gasp, a fair amount of mainstream fiction.
That’s part of my problem (if you want to call it that): my writing doesn’t fit comfortably into any niche. I draw hope and inspiration from people like Paul Auster, Steve Erickson, Jonathan Carroll, Nicholas Christopher, Cormac McCarthy and Jonathan Lethem, authors unafraid to cross boundaries, refusing to be limited or constrained by genre conventions. I consider myself a literary writer and anthology appearances with the likes of Graham Swift, A.S. Byatt, Umberto Eco and Louis De Bernieres shows my fiction holds up well with the best authors anywhere.
These selections represent three decades of putting pen to paper. Read on…
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In late 2014 I reissued my first short story collection, Sex & Other Acts of the Imagination, originally published back in 1990, with a new Introduction, story notes and cover art by yours truly. This is the book that really got things rolling for me, garnering critical praise and drawing the attention of folks like Timothy Findley. There are nineteen stories in all, chilling fare for fans of psychological suspense, dark fantasy and horror. Here’s a sampling of some of the tales:
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Still not enough? Here’s more of my short fiction, new stuff and old:
“Among the Invisibles” A day in the life of Little Po, a street urchin scratching out a meager existence in an unnamed urban war zone. A product of automatic writing, my pen moving across the page with no advance planning or preparation. A tale from the perspective of someone barely clinging to existence, his fate all but determined from the moment of his birth.
Click here for free download of Among the Invisibles
In my opinion, this is my best short story. It originally appeared in Crimewave IV (UK) and was aired on CBC Radio. One of the most terrifying tales you’re ever likely to read…and yet there are no vampires, zombies or werewolves in evidence. These monsters wear human faces. Read on:
“Finding Charlotte” features two characters from my supernatural thriller So Dark the Night. It’s a Christmas, story, shweetheart, a case from the early days of the Cassandra Zinnea/Evgeny Nightstalk partnership. A missing girl, two distraught parents…but there’s more to this affair than first meets the eye…
“Bedeviled” was written in April, 2010. Inspired by real-life crimes committed by people who were clearly delusional…as well as the Roland Topor novel (adapted into a brilliant 1977 film by Roman Polanski), THE TENANT. A scary and, I think, authentic depiction of a human being whose brain operates differently from ours’…but that doesn’t make him a monster. Click on the link and you’ll find out what I mean:
“Death Threats” I admit it, I love this story. Non-genre, just a straight ahead work of literary fiction. A real melancholy feel to this one, with a conclusion that will break your heart. Download it…and enjoy.
“New World Man”–selected by Jonathan Gates (Goldmann Publishing) as one of the 20 All-Time Best Science Fiction Stories. Well, anyway, it’s a good tale and a cautionary look at a near future world. I call it “the last cyberpunk story” and once you finish it, I think you’ll know why. The story is also a big tip o’ the hat to one of my literary heroes, Philip K. Dick. This one is for you, Phil…
Click here to for your free download of “NewWorldMan“
“Also Starring” leads off my Reality Machine collection and earned that coveted position because…well, because it’s a terrific fucking short story. Film buffs will love it and fans of the surreal and macabre will recognize its twisted appeal. “Also Starring” appeared in a number of major anthologies, including The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror and City Dreams.
Click here for your free download of “AlsoStarring“
“In Dreams, Awake“–another one from my Reality Machine collection and as the jacket copy on this one read: “The end of the world finally happens…but everyone sleeps right through it“. Couldn’t have said it any better than that.
Click here for your free download of InDreams
“Matriarchy” is, to put it simply, the best short story I’ve written in a long while. A mainstream offering of grieving, loss…and revenge. From the summer of 2007. Enjoy…
“Adult Children”, another mainstream story, deals with Herman, an essentially decent man, who is forced to act as a kind of surrogate parent for his mentally ill mother. I love this modest, little tale and I hope you will too.
An homage to Andre Breton and the gang. On Spec published this one.
Dedicated to my friend Mark Ziesing, bookseller extraordinaire.
“Eyes in the Sky” has an intriguing premise: what if the atom bomb was a bust, the Space Age never happened and both superpowers had to find other, less conventional methods of keeping track of each other? A daring and spooky alternate history, a possible past that might have been. Below, you’ll find an excerpt of the 10,000 word novelette…if you’d like to read the tale in its entirety, you’ll have to seek it out on Amazon, I’m afraid. Or pick up a copy of my next short story collection, which should be out December, 2012. (That is, if the Mayan calendar has it wrong…)
or buy the entire novelette from Amazon
Dedicated to my friend, Stacey Shannon.
I don’t have exact figures but I’m almost certain “Strays” is my most-rejected story of all time. It was written as an homage to my hero Cormac McCarthy, taking the piss out of the old boy. This is a Western, of sorts, and a satire. Peter Watts, fine fellow and superb writer, gives a very funny account of the reception “Strays” received when it was submitted to ON SPEC magazine and the origins of the Cliff Burns Memorial Veto Bomb. I’ve provided a link to his site–so have a look and then come back and read the story to see what all the fuss was about.
Drama & Radio Plays
“The Break: 10 The Hard Way”—ten dramatic monologues on the theme of breaking up. Written a number of years back; performed at the Refinery Theatre in Saskatoon with Josh Beaudry starring. Portions were also aired on CBC Radio’s “Sound XChange”, produced by Kelley Jo Burke.
Click here for your free PDF copy of The Break
And…here’s the extended version of my radio play “The First Room”, which aired nationally on CBC Radio’s OutFront program a few years ago. A highly personal look at “one writer’s beginnings” (with apologies to Eudora Welty).
Intense, confessional, cathartic…and I hope this short drama will offer some insights into why I write like I do…and a quick glance behind the Wizard’s concealing curtain.
Click here for your free PDF copy of First Room
Poetry & Prose Poems
While suffering through a lengthy writer’s block, I came across the surrealist notion of “automatic writing”, just putting your pen to paper without pre-planning, bypassing the critical part of the mind and plugging directly into the un/subconscious. What happened next was astonishing and somewhat unnerving. Words, sentences, stanzas erupted out of nowhere. This chapbook was originally published by a tiny Canadian press (Greensleeve Editions) back in 1992. I’ve done a few touchups but this version is almost identical to the original. Take a look:
Click here to get your free PDF copy…Wound-Bearing Layer
Originally published by a small U.S. press in 1993. The title is derived from a review I read that used just those words to describe Neil Young’s guitar playing technique. Zang! Perfect! The prose bits in Primitive tend to be longer than those in Wound-Bearing Layer, still highly personal, intense, surreal. Short, sharp shocks. There’s humor but it’s dark–have to admit reading these two early chapbooks is troubling, even for their author. At times, it’s hard not to avert my eyes. There’s a lot of me in these prose poems and often I don’t like what I see. Some of these offerings are twenty years old now so, obviously, I’m not the same person. But I’m still prone to some of the fears and insecurities so starkly presented here. I regret that this format doesn’t allow me to reprint the collage-style illustrations Sherron created for the book. But at least you’ll have a reproduction of her original cover. Working with her is always a delight; she’s artful and intuitive, the best possible collaborator you could ask for.
Click here to get your free PDF copy…Primitive
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I’m not a great poet or even a good one…but I’m pretty good and that will have to suffice. Apocalyptic, filled with dread and fury and yearning, my poetry is the most personal of all my writings. I rarely submit it for publication and when I do, the responses I receive range from indifference to bafflement. The editor of one major Canadian litmag wrote that “while the writing is very good, I didn’t understand your poetry”. Yet another reason why I think most editors and publishers should be fed, feet-first, into a wood-chipper.
violins in the void is my first poetry collection, originally published through my Black Dog Press imprint back in 1996. I limited the print run to 200 and was astonished at how quickly copies were snapped up. Ten years worth of verse, distilled down to about seventy pages. The concluding section features some of my favorite prose poems. Most of these works were composed while we were living on Baffin Island, in the Canadian Arctic. I was a new father, living in one of the ugliest, most barren locales imaginable. The mood was bleak…and it shows.
Click here to get your free PDF copy…Violins in the Void