2018

“The Old Neighbourhood” – we’ve all got one, don’t we? Someplace that we remember fondly, even though we might be looking at it through rose-coloured nostalgia glasses. I only lived at Queen and Spadina for five years, but man, those five years were intense. This is the neighbourhood where Jack Palace, fictional protagonist of my new crime thriller Yard Dog, hangs his head.

Little did I know four years ago when I began researching a book on the history of reporters on Parliament Hill — before the elections of Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump — that it would be published at the height of a great debate about the future of journalism and the credibility of its practitioners. But as sure as the word “news” follows “fake” these days, as I tour the country promoting Power, Prime Ministers and the Press, interviewers are asking questions that reflect an uncertain public mood about the press. Who to trust? What to believe?

December 5, 2018 — Dundurn Press is thrilled to congratulate author Robert Lewis, whose book Power, Prime Ministers and the Press has been longlisted for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize!

A deep dive into the history of the parliamentary press in Canada, Lewis paints an intimate portrait of the men and women who have have covered the news in Canada for 150 years, from Confederation to the modern age, and asks the vital question, “Does the free press still matter?

When I began writing my first book, Polyamorous, all the stories people in consensually non-monogamous relationships shared intrigued me.

Over the course of a year-and-a-half, I interviewed more than 50 polyamorists across Canada, hearing about their joys, heartbreak, discoveries and challenges. Some of the most interesting experiences, in my opinion, stem from trying to fit within the legal system that’s seemingly intended for couples only.

(Photos by: Dave Butler)

 

Should fiction be used for good, or for evil?

That was the question posed to me at a recent festival where I was giving the keynote speech. I had shared my thoughts with the evening’s participants about how the relatively new literary genre known as eco-fiction has influenced conservation, and vice-versa. I offered a list of books that I believe have played that role, including Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and even Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, among many others.

For about 12 years now, the majority of my days have been spent sitting at my writing desk, creating sentences, hemmed in by a fortress of books on sailing ships & shipwrecks, the British Royal Navy and the naval War of 1812, listening to the movie scores of Master & Commander and Pride & Prejudice (among others) that transport me back in time to a world that has long since passed away, and help me to imagine lives that were once played out on the high seas.  

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get a book published?

It all starts with the author. In the case of my book Blue Monday, about the Montreal Expos (and the infamous day in October 1981 when Rick Monday of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a home run off Expos pitcher Steve Rogers in the ninth inning, giving the Dodgers a berth in the World Series), the journey began in October of 2016. I had initially thought of writing another general Expos history book, but then I decided to zero in on the 1981 team – the only one to make the playoffs in franchise history.

If you grew up in Windsor, you probably first learned about Prohibition through stories told to you by your grandparents. These bootleggers and their wild adventures along the Detroit River are a part of local folklore. As a kid, I didn’t really care how much of it was true – I just thought they were great stories. Then along came Marty Gervais’ The Rumrunners, full of photos, newspaper excerpts, and interviews, and that made it real.

We no longer have any veterans of the First World War still with us, and so we have lost that direct connection with their stories – of the tragedy of war; of the reasons why they enlisted to fight; of the impact of the war on them, their families, and their country. And so it is up to us, a century later, to remember and to learn their stories.

On this hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, let us not forget the many artists who served our country. With photography and cinematography in its infancy, artists covered the battlefront creating maps, diagrams, and sketches used to plan strategy. Moreover, their recruitment posters, military portraits, and depictions of battle fields and human suffering were used to publicize Canada’s significant contribution.

The First World War presented a number of challenges for Canadians, including the Prime Minister, Robert Borden. To begin with, the stress of the job had a huge impact on Borden's health. He was in capacitated by ill health in 1916 and confined to bed rest. As he wrote in his diary, he "was giving no attention at all to his work" as prime minister. Borden regularly got carbuncles or blisters on his neck as a reaction to the stress as well. 

 

 

November 11, 2018 is the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of the First World War. It was also one hundred years ago that my grandfather’s life was saved on the battlefields of France by his younger brother, Jack.

 

It seems like ancient history now – but I knew my beloved grandfather Charles Light very well, since he lived into my adulthood.

 

After a long, satisfying career writing two-minute television news stories, the seed for my first book was planted on a memorable day as I embarked on the job of a lifetime.

 

It was April 2011.  I had just landed my dream promotion:  London-based Europe Bureau Chief for Global National.  The taxi was waiting to take me to the airport to begin my posting, my first major assignment to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  As I said my goodbyes, my wife Isabella handed me a present.  It was a journal with a green leather cover.

 

October 15, 2018 – Dundurn Press is thrilled to announce that Sadia by Colleen Nelson has been nominated for the Forest of Reading Red Maple Award.

Sadia follows 15-year-old Sadia Ahmed as she struggles to navigate high school, her passion for basketball, and her Muslim faith. When the opportunity to play on an elite basketball team might mean having to remove her hijab, Sadia must find the courage to stand up for herself in the face of discrimination.

“I’m sorry to inform you that your husband has been shot and killed.” Words no wife should ever have to hear. Worse yet when the murder was the random result of a case of mistaken identity. Wrong spot, wrong time – gunned down for driving a vehicle similar to one owned by a gangster being hunted by an opposing gang.

 

October 15, 2018 – Dundurn Press is thrilled to announce that Tracker’s Canyon by Pam Withers has been nominated for the Forest of Reading Red Maple Award.

Tracker’s Canyon follows 16-year-old Tristan, a skilled climber and tracker. When his father goes missing, Tristan decides to venture out into Swallow Canyon and find him, but things take a turn when Tristan realizes he may have walked into a trap!

School Library Journal calls Tracker’s Canyon “a great choice for filling the dearth of realistic adventure novels for the middle-school crowd.”

If you’re a fan of The Dark Knight Trilogy, I’m sure you’ll agree that Batman Begins pales in comparison to The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight rises. The villain doesn’t hold up and there isn’t the sense of intrigue into the trials of Bruce Wayne that there is in the second two films.

But the first film is still important because it contains one of the most memorable lines in the series. And save for a few stunners from Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin, it might be the most memorable line in any single Batman film:

I was introduced to Jackspeak when I began my 26-year naval career in HMCS CHIPPAWA on July 1st, 1980. I quickly learned my training base was called a stone frigate, floors were decks, the ceiling was a deckhead, walls were bulkheads, and the upper ridge of my boot sole was called catwalks.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. As a historian, it seemed like a natural extension of the work I had already completed, and the next step towards advancing my career. But, after finishing my dissertation, my enthusiasm for writing a book on the topic I had just spent the previous four years researching and writing about had faded. I no longer wanted to write about how black bears in Ontario were hunted, or how the regulatory process that governed these activities had changed over the years.

When you write for kids, you can revisit all the exciting (or terrifying) things you did as a child.

I learned to sail as a 10-year-old, and have been lucky enough to sail now and then ever since. I love sailing, and that’s why I set much of the action of my newest book, Blackwells and the Briny Deep (book five in the award-winning Weird Stories Gone Wrong series), on a sailboat.

But there are plenty of good reasons to set a children’s horror story at sea…. 

Many Canadians are increasingly nervous about venturing south of the border these days. Some on principle, others fearing that US border thugs may ask if they have ever smoked pot. Besides, Canada has such a vast array of amazing and unusual world-famous attractions, why would we? We have famous train excursions, as well as some of the most recognized fossil sites and Indigenous heritage features. UNESCO has designated an increasing number of heritage sites and biosphere reserves across the country.

When I write, it is often to process and rationalize some troubling factor of the world to myself. So it was with Body Swap. Years ago I read about a tragic accident in the local newspaper. An 86 year-old driver had backed up over a 15 year-old in our mall parking lot during Christmas break and killed her. She claimed her car had accelerator issues which the garage had failed to resolve. The judge must have agreed, as she was back driving the next month.

In Memoriam: Ann Ireland (1953–2018)

Posted on September 24 by AliciaE in News

It was with great sadness that Dundurn Press learned about the recent, all-too-early passing of author and teacher Ann Ireland at the age of sixty-five. Her five novels display a depth of sensitivity and insight into the act of artistic creation whether they deal with music, as in A Certain Mr. Takahashi and The Blue Guitar, painting, as in The Instructor and Where’s Bob?, or poetry, as in Exile.

Since the Boer War, cyclists had been used on the battlefield as light cavalry responsible for reconnaissance, scouting, screening, and communications. The thinking was that the “act of dismounting deprived a cavalry unit of the services of the men detailed to care for the horses. As one man could only manage four horses or so, the transition from saddle to boot cost a cavalry unit some 25 percent of its rifle strength.

Recipe for Hate is nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award!

September 19, 2018 – Dundurn Press is thrilled to announce that Recipe for Hate, the first book in Warren Kinsella’s punk political The X Gang series, has been nominated for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s John Spray Mystery Award!

The Irish immigrants who made homes for themselves in mid Canada during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are the subject of my latest book. They achieved extraordinary success. Feats of physical endurance were commonplace. Their pioneering achievements were phenomenal, but, because so much attention has been given in recent times to the suffering the Irish experienced during the Great Irish Famine of 1847, their story has not been told properly.

 

September 4, 2018―Dundurn Press is thrilled that four outstanding Dundurn titles have been nominated for the Heritage Toronto Award for Historical Writing. Don Mills by Scott Kennedy, The Great Gould by Peter Goddard, The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern by David McPherson, and The Toronto Book of the Dead by Adam Bunch all made the list and are in great company with the other nominated titles.

 

It’s that time of year again: back to school.

And what if inclusivity and anti-bullying were the new fashionable accessories for fall?

The popular fashion brand Hollister recently announced a cool collaboration with recording artists Khalid and Noah Cyrus to promote these topics in connection with a fun advertising campaign, because anti-bullying and inclusivity are now back in style.

It’s hip and it’s on point.

And that’s what Clementine Liu, the main character of my new novel, Bonjour Girl, believes too.

Do you believe in ghosts? Yes, I’m talking to you. Well, do you? Do you believe in ghosts?

I’ve always been fascinated by things that go bump in the night. I remember as a child devouring the old Usborne volume on ‘Ghosts’ and being ecstatic when I stumbled upon copies of Fate magazine. My imagination was filled with stories of the restless dead that left my heart fluttering with panic. I didn’t want to imagine what would happen if I actually encountered a spirit that refused to rest in its grave despite being bound with wards and blessing. It was terrifyingly thrilling.

We’d just bought a cabin on a small island off the west coast of Vancouver, British Columbia, and it had a dock.

The contract concerning the dock had this line: “Section 6.1c, Moorage Law Covenants: You must provide without compensation temporary accommodation to any vessel that is disabled or that seeks shelter in weather conditions that would render it unseaworthy.”

As a youngster I was thrilled by the adventures of Jim Hawkins in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, but never gave too much attention to the real nature and history of pirates, even as I went on with my education and eventually became a museum director. The sea, however, has always been a fascination for me, and I answered that interest by being commissioned in the Naval Reserve and doing a fair amount of sailing as a crew member on “tall ships” on the Great Lakes, the Caribbean, and even across the Pacific to Hawaii.

I was invited to attend the British Home Child Reunion on July 22, 2018, in Kitchener, Ontario to launch my new book, Marjorie Her War Years: A British Home Child in Canada. The event was organized by Lori Oschefski of the British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association. It was held at the Waterloo Region Museum.

 

Reunion: the act or process of being brought together again as a unified whole.

 

Dundurn Press, a leading independent Canadian publisher, is hiring a senior publicist in our Toronto office for a one-year maternity leave contract. The senior publicist’s primary responsibilities are to manage the publicity department, successfully plan and secure publicity for a selected number of titles each publishing season, and to develop and maintain strong working relationships with media and authors.

Duties and responsibilities:

Picture yourself fifty kilometers west of Calgary, at the point where natural prairie gives way to densely forested foothills. The hamlet of Bragg Creek sprawls along the picturesque Elbow River; its homes and businesses spread through the heavily-treed valley. Upstream are the Elbow Falls, Bragg Creek’s best-known tourist attraction. The Falls display their glacier-fed beauty in a pristine wilderness guarded by pathways and railings intended to keep the annual flood of visitors safe. Every few years someone chasing the perfect photograph passes a railing and slips off a rock.

June 18, 2018―Winnipeg-based award-winning teacher and author Colleen Nelson is a finalist in the Young Adult category for the High Plains Book Awards for her book Blood Brothers. The awards were established by the Billings Public Library Board to recognize regional literary works that examine and reflect on life on the High Plains.

 

The winners will be announced at the annual awards banquet that is held in conjunction with the 2018 High Plains BookFest on Saturday, October 20, 2018. Each winner will receive a $500 cash prize.

 

Watching the birds at my bird feeder the other day, it was quite clear from the way they puffed out their chests and strutted around that they were auditioning for a title role in some future Birder Murder Mystery. For the benefit of these avian aspirants, I’d thought I would run through the characteristics I look for in a leading bird.

In Memoriam: Walter Pitman

Posted on June 18 by HeatherM in News

Dundurn Press deeply mourns the loss of Walter Pitman, a highly accomplished and impressive Canadian. Walter Pitman was a federal MP and an Ontario MLA, president of Ryerson University, and director of the Ontario Arts Council. He was a Member of the Order of Ontario and an Officer of the Order of Canada. Dundurn knows him best as the author of Elmer Iseler, Music Makers, Louis Applebaum and Victor Feldbrill. 

June 18, 2018―YA novel Blood Brothers by Winnipeg-based author Colleen Nelson has won the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award in the Older Category. The award was given out at the 30th annual Manitoba Book Awards Friday night, hosted by CTV personality Rachel Lagacé at the Robert B. Schultz Theatre in St. John’s College at the University of Manitoba.

 

Seeing the Whole Process - Part 3

Posted on June 14 by HeatherM in Interview

Seeing the Whole Process – Part 3

In my last two blog posts, I discussed the editorial process and the marketing and publicity processes here at Dundurn Press. This month, to continue my overview of how a book moves from a first draft to a finished product on the shelf, I am diving in to the design process! I spoke with our Senior Designer, Laura Boyle, to get the low-down on all of the design work that goes in to turning a manuscript into a beautiful book to hold and read.

 

When do you begin work on a book’s design?

My novel, The Showrunner, features three strong-willed women who work behind the scenes on a TV drama. Ann is the Older Established Boss who is losing her grip, Stacey is the disciplined Younger Up and Coming Producer headed to the top, and Jenna is the Struggling Actress turned Assistant looking out for herself.

 

If you've ever toiled in a competitive, back stabbing work environment – and who hasn't? – you've known an Ann, Stacey or Jenna. Maybe you've been one yourself. Try these quiz questions and find out:

 

The Indigenous peoples of Canada can be forgiven for believing that successive governments over the 150 years and more since Confederation were following a master plan devised by an evil genius to eliminate them once and for all through drastic measures of assimilation. And, of all the cruel steps taken to accomplish this goal, the most vicious was the relentless attack on their children, taking them away from their homes on reserves across the nation to residential schools, little better than reformatories, to forget their languages and families.

My friends often look at me as if trying to understand what goes on in the recesses of my brain. “Where do you get your ideas?” they ask. “You know, for murder and stuff.”

“I’m not really sure,” I usually respond, but the truth is that an idea for a storyline can come from a number of unexpected sources. A writer only needs to be open to grasping onto one when it flashes by.

May 25, 2018―Dundurn Press is thrilled to announce that Full Curl by Dave Butler won the 2018 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel last night at the Arthur Ellis Awards Gala in Toronto. Dundurn acquisitions editor Scott Fraser accepted the award on behalf of Dave Butler. The annual Arthur Ellis Awards by Crime Writers of Canada recognizes the best in mystery, crime, and suspense writing in fiction and non-fiction by Canadian writers.

 

Job Posting: Publicist

Posted on May 22 by AliciaE in News

Dundurn Press, a leading independent Canadian publisher, is hiring a full-time publicist in our Toronto office.  The publicist’s primary responsibilities are to successfully plan and secure publicity for a selected number of titles each publishing season and to develop and maintain strong working relationships with media and authors. The publicist will report to the Publicity Manager.

 

Duties and responsibilities:

Fabulism

Posted on May 8 by R.M. Greenaway in Fiction, Mystery

In day-to-day life I’m fairly unflappable, but when it comes to writing, I’m a worrier, always finding new things to flap about. Last year it was a concern that there’s an element of the unreal in my BC Blues crime series. I felt that to fit on the shelf labelled “Police Procedural,” a novel has to reflect life to a T, with grit, dirt, cruelty, violence, and all the rest, and should never touch on magic.

May 4, 2018―Dundurn Press is pleased to announce that Full Curl by Dave Butler has been shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in the mystery category.  This is the fourth annual Emerging Writer Prize. The 2018 shortlist, selected by Kobo’s team of booksellers and booklovers—with book completion rates, customer ratings and reviews considered—comprises six books from each genre. Linwood Barclay will be choosing the winning mystery book and that will be announced on the evening of June 19, 2018.

Dundurn Authors Give a Shout Out to Indies

Posted on April 26 by AliciaE in Interview

In celebration of Canadian Independent Bookstore Day on April 28, 2018, we asked Dundurn authors to tell us about their favourite Indie by answering two questions:

  1. 1. What local independent bookstore would you like to give a shout out to?
  2. 2. Can you share an experience you've had with this bookseller, or at this bookstore?

Keep reading to find a great Indie bookstore near you!

 

McNally Robinson Booksellers, Saskatoon

April 20, 2018―Dundurn Press is pleased to announce that Full Curl by Dave Butler has been nominated for the 2018 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel. The annual Arthur Ellis Awards by Crime Writers of Canada recognizes the best in mystery, crime, and suspense writing in fiction and non-fiction by Canadian writers. Winners to be announced on May 24th at Arthur Ellis Awards Gala in Toronto.

Did you know that our country was originally supposed to be called the Kingdom of Canada? This was the proposal made in 1866 by John A. Macdonald, who was to become the first prime minister at Confederation a year later. But the idea was turned down by the British government because they feared it would offend the Americans — a familiar story! Canada was then and is today a constitutional monarchy, a completely different political system from that of the United States.

Secrets from an author and illustrator

In a two-part series, we have a conversation between the author and illustrator of Alex and The Other. First, let’s hear from illustrator Shawna Daigle, as interviewed by author Philippa Dowding.

 

Philippa Dowding: As an “evil twin” story for middle-grade readers, our new book Alex and The Other is possibly the darkest of the four books we’ve done together so far in the Weird Stories Gone Wrong series. Were there any particular challenges you faced as the illustrator, doing a “darker” more psychological book for children?

An Olympic Rowing Crew: A Balance of Personalities

Once we had earned our seats in the boat, our bowman, Gabe Bergen, gave each of us a spirit animal to represent our appearance and personality. Here’s my take on each of my teammates.

Gabe Bergen - Diviner of Spirit Animals

Gabe was the oldest at age 30. Gabe is his own inimitable entity. On first glance, you’d think his perpetually scruffy beard and gleaming eyes were telling of his wisdom. Well, you’d be right. Gabe knew just what to say, and when to say it, to bring either comedic relief in training or the right perspective in competition.

My third young adult novel, The 11th Hour, is a snapshot of the dating relationship between the two main characters, Annika and Dylan. They decide to run away together to start a new life at Dylan’s family cabin. Dylan’s ability to cope in a healthy way is compromised by a series of challenges the couple experiences throughout the day.

Are you nearing retirement and dreaming of a beautiful, tropical paradise to call home; a place where you can pack away your parka and have the easy, laid back lifestyle of a retiree who chose their location well?  Belize could be the place you are dreaming of! In a time when most beach getaways have been commercialized and many have lost the charm that drew everyone in the first place, Belize has managed to avoid this pitfall. Belize is truly the last virgin paradise, and here’s why:

Beth Bruder Retires from a Lucky Life in Publishing

Posted on February 23 by Beth Bruder

Lucky — a word that genuinely expresses how I feel about my life in publishing.

Publishing is reading, or more accurately the love of reading. When you speak to anyone in this business they express their love of reading — something quite different from their love of the day-to-day business of producing a book. Most of us really don’t care what we read, as long as it transports us to another world. It could be magical fiction, true crime, a wonderful history, or whatever else you want.

Seeing the Whole Process - Part 1

Posted on February 22 by Kathryn in Teens

Publishing is an exercise in patience, collaboration, and organization. Everyone at Dundurn Press plays an important role in getting books from a raw manuscript to the finished product you end up reading.

I started working at Dundurn Press last September as the editorial intern. While I had completed a publishing program and had a broad understanding of the industry, I was still completely surprised by the amount of time and teamwork it takes to create a book from scratch.

I wrote the fifth Dan Sharp mystery, The God Game, during the much-publicized political antics of what became known as the Ford Nation. Its self-proclaimed leader, Rob Ford, was then mayor of Toronto. Like many, I was appalled by his aberrant behaviour, but dismissed it as a passing phase in Canadian history. Not for a moment did I think it was just the beginning of what in many ways is now the defining ethos of our current political era.

“Well, no,” I say, a little taken aback. “I was on the subway during the bombing, so I totally don’t think it’s okay, but it also doesn’t seem right to just let innocent people die.”

Sandra nods. “I understand. But tough times call for tough decisions. We’ve done this to ourselves. Humans...the most destructive species ever. We’ve ruined the biosphere — The Earth — and overpopulated ourselves.”

— excerpt from Finding Jade

 

Who isn’t curious when a police car shows up at the house next door? Or when a fire truck screams up your street? Or an ambulance? Something unusual has happened. Your community now has a mystery. Don’t we immediately imagine the story behind it? Maybe there was a break-in, a fire, or some other emergency. Hopefully no one was hurt, and  the neighbour is not in any trouble. Doesn’t our neighbourhood, and, by extension, our lives, instantly become more exciting?

How to Move on From that Toxic Relationship

Posted on February 6 by Kyle

New year, new me.

You’ve probably seen a ton of social media posts spewing these types of positive affirmations in the last few days. The New Year always seems to ignite this kind of ultra “girl power” sentiments along with diet tips to help you shed those pesky pounds put on over the holidays.

Another saying most of us are very familiar with is “easier said than done” and if you’re in the middle of a messy break up you already know shedding that dead weight can seem impossible — but it isn’t.

2017 was a watershed for Canadian housing as some suburban Toronto markets experienced markedly lower prices for the first time in more than a decade. Regulators tightened the rules for mortgage and housing finance. Experts say these changes mean that home buyers will have as much as 20 percent less borrowing power starting early in 2018.

Mortgage fraud-related troubles at alternative lender Home Capital of Toronto and the court-ordered receivership of one of Alberta’s oldest and largest home builders could be harbingers of the beginning of the end of the Canadian housing bubble.

Sadia Book Trailer

Posted on January 17 by Kyle in Teens

We're very thrilled to share the book trailer for Colleen Nelson's YA story on friendship, tradition, and resilience.

Watch the trailer for look at the book.


REVIEWS FOR SADIA BY COLLEEN NELSON

Fifteen-year-old Sadia Ahmadi, a Muslim immigrant from Syria, learns that young voices can still be powerful in Nelson’s story about being loyal to one’s beliefs.

Don’t ask me why, but, being a science editor at a large Dutch newspaper, somehow fate has it I write about incomprehensible stuff mostly. Ripples in spacetime, the interior of the proton, lottery statistics, the Big Bang, reproduction of eels, molecular cars, the Higgs particle: a science editor is supposed to write effortlessly about it all. And I do.
What do you do? It’s a simple question, but so many companies screw it up.

Rather than giving a clear and concise explanation, they pontificate and use puffy language. They talk about how many years the company has been in business, or the exciting projects they’ve recently completed.

If a customer can’t understand your brand in 10 seconds or less, they tune out. This is as true on your website, as it is in person. Your customers are craving clarity. In clear, concise language describe your brand and what makes it unique.