Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Evan Munday

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Evan Munday is the illustrator of the novel Stripmalling, written by Jon Paul Fiorentino (ECW 2009), and is the cartoonist behind the self-published comic book, Quarter-Life Crisis, set in a post-apocalyptic Toronto. He works as a book publicist for Coach House Books. The Dead Kid Detective Agency was his first novel, and in 2013, he published Dial M for Morna, the second book in the Dead Kids series. He lives in Toronto, ON.

Send your questions and comments for Evan to writer@openbooktoronto.com

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Evan Munday

Evan Munday is the Silver Birch Award-nominated author and illustrator of middle grade novel Dial M for Morna, The Dead Kid Detective Agency and the graphic novel Quarter Life Crisis: Only the Good Die Yung, as well as the illustrator of Jon Paul Fiorentino's graphic fictional memoir Stripmalling.

Dial M for Morna

By Evan Munday

From ECW Press:

The anticipated second volume in Munday’s Silver Birch–nominated series

October Schwartz and her five deadest friends are back. The holiday season has descended upon the town of Sticksville like an eggnog rainstorm, but October has no time for candy canes or mistletoe. She’s busy dealing with an oddly pleasant new history teacher, her living friends’ new roles as high-school radio DJs, and two (!) new mysteries that need solving before the new year. October and her ghost friends are hot on the trail of the person (or persons) responsible for Morna MacIsaac’s death in 1914 — or as hot as one can be on a 100-year-old trail — when

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

This marks my last post as Open Book Toronto's writer-in-residence, and I want to thank everyone for their support this past month. Everyone has been extremely kind – both those authors, artists, and publishing staffers who donated much of their time to answering my questions, and those people who read and shared the posts they resulted in throughout May.

As I said way back on May 1 (which seems like almost a month ago), I wanted to fill my WIR blog with a bunch of literary conversations, but ideally to remove myself from those conversations as much as possible.To be honest, I sometimes regretted that decision.

Acknowledgements: Stuart Ross, Copy Editor

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

One part of the publishing process that's often overlooked is that of copy-editing. So, I consider myself very lucky that when I was looking for a copy editor to interview, Stuart mother-f'ing Ross answered the call. Ross is, at this point, an institution in Canada's literary press landscape. If Toronto's literary scene had a Mount Rushmore, his would probably be one of the faces dynamited into the stone. He's written a number of books of poetry (You Exist. Details Follow.), fiction (Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew), essays (Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer), and more. His latest book is a collaboration with 29 other writers, Our Days in Vaudeville. In addition to his own impressive writing, he edits an imprint at Mansfield Press, oversees the Patchy Squirrel Lit-serv of Toronto literary events, and runs a series of Poetry Boot Camps. He's also a very fine freelance copy editor, with a number of clients in the book publishing world. He very kindly answered my questions about time constraints, stetting, and dangling modifiers from his home in Cobourg, Ontario. (He even inserted a pretty sly copy-editing joke in one of his answers for the eagle-eyed among you readers.)

Acknowledgements: Elton D'Costa, Librarian

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

Many readers, authors, and publishing workers have fond childhood (and adult … but not, like, adult) memories of the public library. And in Toronto, we're spoiled with one of the world's largest and most frequently used library systems, the Toronto Public Library. While many of us make use of the library's many services, most of us don't know what a librarian does all day. To be perfectly honest, librarians are often unfairly neglected in the publishing ecology, being outside of the normal retail chain of events. Yet few would deny the importance librarians have in introducing readers to excellent Canadian books. The gracious Elton D'Costa has worked for the Toronto Public Library since 1998. Most recently, he was the Youth Librarian at the Parkdale Branch for five years. Currently, he works as Branch Head of Toronto's Humberwood Branch, near Finch and the 427. I dragged him away from his important duties to ask him a few questions about what exactly I was dragging him away from.

Acknowledgements: Carrie Gleason, Managing Editor

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

Few titles in book publishing are more mystifying than 'managing editor.' And that's partially because the job description can oscillate wildly from publisher to publisher. In general, however, managing editors do more managing than editing: they'll shepherd the manuscript (or 'lamb,' in this case) through its schedules and deadlines, with particular attention to what happens after the substantive editing (i.e. 'big picture' stuff) has been completed. This includes copyediting, layout, proofreading and more, though whether the managing editor does this him/herself or arranges for it varies from publisher to publisher. Either way, a managing editor is both an author's personal guide and horsewhip in the journey from manuscript to bound book. The managing editor oversees the editorial workflow for the entire list, and if you have a list as big as Canadian publisher Dundurn, that's a pretty hefty task. Luckily, Carrie Gleason, a seasoned editor of children's and YA books, is more than up to the task. Though Gleason is a relatively new addition to the Dundurn family, she's worked as associate publisher and in editorial at a number of other Canadian publishers, and has quickly picked up her managerial duties at Dundurn. (She's also a published children's author!) She scheduled some time to answer questions about the tasks of a managing editor.

Words & Curds: Ben Hatke, creator of Zita the Spacegirl

On May 11, I whisked comics creator Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl, Flight) away from the Toronto Comics Arts Festival to enjoy some poutine and undergo an interrogation. The American writer and illustrator has just released the third (and final) Zita adventure, Return of Zita the Spacegirl, with First Second Books. We visited Big Smoke Burger, just across the road from the Toronto Reference Library, where TCAF was taking place. We both ordered a traditional poutine, and both – in an unusual turn of events – finished our poutines. (Or close enough.) I don't want to infer too much, but I think he was kind of excited that a poutine lunch was part of his Canadian itinerary. Over our lunch, we talked about the terrifying Wheelers in Return to Oz, the importance of costume design, and scrapple.

About Zita, the Spacegirl: (adapted from the First Second site): When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Horse-sized mice and living cannons are strange enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don't even phase her.

Down the Hall: Léonicka Valcius and #diversecanlit, Part 2

I met with Léonicka Valcius, organizer of the #diversecanlit, on Tuesday, May 6, to talk about the the issues, challenges, and solutions involved in making CanLit a more diverse enterprise. Part one of the interview appeared yesterday. The continuation follows. If you'd like to participate, you can join in the Twitter chats every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (EST). Just use the #diversecanlit hashtag.

Down the Hall: Léonicka Valcius and #diversecanlit, Part 1

If you're new to the world of Canadian literature – heck, even if you're not – you could be forgiven for thinking it's very … well … white. Not just the authors – the staff of publishing houses, as well. Organizations like CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts) are doing work and counts to shed light on the gender imbalance in Canadian publishing (and reviewing in particular), but what about diversity along other criteria?

Acknowledgements: Sarah Jackson, Intern

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work for little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

If book publishing is like the small intestine, interns are the villi. Sure, the small intestine could still absorb nutrients from food without villi, but it would absorb so many fewer. (I never took Biology in school; this analogy would be entirely wrong.) Essentially, interns are extremely valuable and make so many projects and efforts beyond the bare bones of editing and distributing a book possible at a publishing house. As the Canada Book Fund says,'internships provide valuable training for new Canadian book industry professionals, who in turn accomplish useful tasks that the firm might not otherwise have had the resources to carry out.' Sarah Jackson just completed an internship for Toronto literary publisher, Cormorant Books, and kind of impressed her coworkers as a bit of a polymath. 'She was great at everything we asked her to try. Prepping press releases, helping out with cover copy, proofing manuscripts, reading submissions, designing e-vites, helping out with e-blasts.' Noted for her 'open mind and thirst for any and all knowledge throughout her time [at Cormorant],' Jackson answered a few questions about how an intern fits into the publishing ecosystem.

Words & Curds: Ed Piskor & Tom Scioli, Pittsburgh cartoonists extraordinaire

On May 6, Toronto's streets were already alive with cartoonists and comic book artists. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival was just days away and a number of acclaimed comic-makers were roaming the city's laneways. So I invited two of Pittsburgh's finest cartoonists, Ed Piskor and Tom Scioli, out for a poutine. Piskor is the creator of, most recently, Hip Hop Family Tree. Scioli is creator or such projects at Godland and American Barbarian who is now working on G.I. Joe vs. Transformers. We met at The Beguiling and walked over to the Annex location of Smoke's Poutinerie. Ed Piskor had the 'Hogtown' (topped with mushrooms, sautéed onions, bacon, and pork sausage). Tom Scioli had the 'Veggie' (using vegetable gravy), and I had the 'Veggie Deluxe' (topped with mushrooms, sautéed onions and peas). We talked about comics (naturally), the pop culture mecca of Pittsburgh, graffiti influences, and pierogies. The interview wound up being a nerd's paradise. (You've been warned.) In an unexpected turn of events, all three of us finished our poutines.

Words & Curds: Ondjaki, author of Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret

It was Wednesday, April 30. Poutine time once again! I met with one of Angola's most acclaimed authors, Ondjaki, who has brand-new English translation, Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret (translated by Stephen Henighan), published this spring by Biblioasis. Ondjaki was visiting Canada on a tour that involved Blue Metropolis, the Ottawa Writers Festival and the IFOA Weekly Series at Harbourfront Centre. We visited The Watermark Pub, on Queen's Quay, where we both ordered the Daily Poutine Special, which just happened to be peameal bacon. He was so close to finishing his, too. We talked about growing up in the '80s under Soviet influence, the importance of spaghetti westerns, beat cops (?), and suitcases full of potatoes.

About Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret: (adapted from the Biblioasis site) By the beaches of Luanda, the Russians are building a grand mausoleum to honour the remains of the Comrade President. Granmas are whispering: houses, they say, will be dexploded, and everyone will have to leave. Can the children of Luanda steal the Russians' dynamite, decipher Comrade Gudafterov's letter, and save their homes? With the help of his friends Charlita and Pi (whom everyone calls 3.14), as well as assistance from Dr. Rafael KnockKnock, the Comrade Gas Jockey, the rather gruff and smelly Gudafterov, and Crazy Sea Foam's pet alligator, our young hero must decide exactly how much trouble he's willing to face to keep his Granma safe in Bishop's Beach.

Acknowledgements: Athmika Punja, Operations

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

The title 'Operations Coordinator' may be one of the most mystifying of all publishing. What are these operations? Isn't everything that happens in publishing an 'operation' of some sort? Athmika Punja, who has been at ECW Press, one of Canada's largest independent publishers, for about a year and a half, is listed on the site under 'general office inquiries,' but as our interview reveals, she's responsible for a lot more than that. If she doesn't show up to work, books don't get to stores, events, and authors on time, bills might not get paid, cheques might not get deposited, and credit card statements might not get reconciled. If you work with ECW – either as an author, bookstore, event organizer, or vendor – you've probably contacted Punja. In the world of printed books, shipping is key. Which makes Punja the keymaster. She jokes that she could be replaced by a 'Linux-based robot,' but she also notes that 'better planning comes from better humans.' The Canadian publishing industry would probably agree that, by that measure, she must be a truly outstanding planner.

Words & Curds: Alena Graedon, author of The Word Exchange

On April 23, I met with debut American author Alena Gradeon, who just released her first novel, a language-based dystopian thriller called The Word Exchange, published by Random House Canada. Graedon, originally from Durham, North Carolina, currently lives in Brooklyn and was in Toronto to read at the IFOA Weekly Series at Harbourfront Centre. We visited Smoke's Poutinerie, where Graedon ordered the 'Veggie Deluxe' (topped with mushrooms, sautéed onions and peas) and I ordered the 'Butter Chicken' (kind of self-explanatory). We talked about Hegel, the rock stars of the dictionary, and empanadas. Usual stuff.

About The Word Exchange: (adapted from the Random House Canada site) In the not so distant future, the forecasted 'death of print' has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are a thing of the past, as people spend their time glued to handheld devices called Memes that have become so intuitive as to hail cabs before people leave their offices, order take-out at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called The Word Exchange. Anana Johnson works with her father Doug at the North American Dictionary of the English Language, where Doug is hard at work on the final edition that will ever be printed. When Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, Anana uncovers the clues he's left behind and begins a journey down the proverbial rabbit hole in search of something called 'The Diachronic Society.' But before long, Anana's problems compound when a vicious word flu strikes the populace, causing speakers to rapidly lose language.

Acknowledgements: John DeJesus, Production

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

If you've ever visited Toronto's Coach House, home of both Coach House Books and Coach House Printing, or called the company for a print estimate, you've probably encountered John DeJesus. A few months ago, publishers Wolsak & Wynn posted a photo of DeJesus on their Facebook page with the caption: 'A rare photo of John at Coach House Printing. He's been shepherding our books through their presses as long as I've been publishing and always does the impossible. I can't count the number of times he's pulled books out of nearly thin air for us. And he's saved us from one or two nasty mistakes over the years.' The same statement could be made by a number of Canada's independent presses. Though they tend to shun the limelight, DeJesus and the entire crew at Coach House are responsible for the production of hundreds of Canadian titles of poetry, fiction, drama, and nonfiction every year. And as production manager, DeJesus oversees the entire printing process. In an interview with Open Book, the secret hero of indie presses talks a bit about what the production manager does at Coach House. If you ever need an estimate on a book, he'd be happy to help.

Guttersnipes: Matthew Daley and Cory McCallum

TCAF is the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It is an annual week-long celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, featuring readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and culminating in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2014 will take place Saturday, May 10 and Sunday May 11, at Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street). Admission is free. Leading up to the Festival, I'll be interviewing some of the dazzling comic writers and illustrators – particularly the Canadian ones – who have brand-new books out for TCAF.

Guttersnipes: Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

TCAF is the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It is an annual week-long celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, featuring readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and culminating in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2014 will take place Saturday, May 10 and Sunday May 11, at Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street). Admission is free. Leading up to the Festival, I'll be interviewing some of the dazzling comic writers and illustrators – particularly the Canadian ones – who have brand-new books out for TCAF.

Words & Curds: Matthew Zapruder, author of Sun Bear

On April 22, I met with American poet Matthew Zapruder, the poet behind such books as the acclaimed The Pajamaist (Copper Canyon, 2006) and Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon, 2010). In addition to his poetry, he was also the co-founder and is an editor at Wave Books, a publisher of beautiful books of poetry. Though originally from the Washington D.C. area, he now lives in Oakland, California. The collection Sun Bear was recently published by House of Anansi, and he visited to Toronto for their annual Poetry Bash. We visited Smoke's Poutinerie, and both ordered a 'Veggie Deluxe'(topped with mushrooms, sautéed onions and peas). We talked about the San Francisco Giants, reading poetry at the Twitter offices, and the many varieties of burrito. I finished my poutine. Zapruder failed to. This interview has been edited (somewhat) for length.

Guttersnipes: Meags Fitzgerald

TCAF is the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It is an annual week-long celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, featuring readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and culminating in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2014 will take place Saturday, May 10 and Sunday May 11, at Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street). Admission is free. Leading up to the Festival, I'll be interviewing some of the dazzling comic writers and illustrators – particularly the Canadian ones – who have brand-new books out for TCAF.

Guttersnipes: Emily and Karen McGratten

TCAF is the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It is an annual week-long celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, featuring readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and culminating in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2014 will take place Saturday, May 10 and Sunday May 11, at Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street). Admission is free. Leading up to the Festival, I'll be interviewing some of the dazzling comic writers and illustrators – particularly the Canadian ones – who have brand-new books out for TCAF.

Acknowledgements: Gillian Fizet & Jolise Beaton, Rights

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

Rights sales are often viewed as the icing on the cake of a book's publication. But how good is a cake without icing, am I right? Who wants a pound cake for her birthday? Selling rights to a book means additional income for the author and publisher, and can also introduce an author's work to new audiences through foreign translations and editions, or even with adaptations into film or other media. Did you know there are sometimes staffers at publishing houses who dedicate all their time to this? These rights sales don't fall out of the sky. They're usually the culmination of months of hard work. And two of the hard-workingest people in rights management are Gillian Fizet and Jolise Beaton, Rights Manager and Assistant, respectively, at House of Anansi and Groundwood Books. Anansi is one of the most (if not the most) successful Canadian-owned publishers in selling rights to its titles around the world. Here, Fizet and Beaton talk about the nuts and bolts of the rights game.

Guttersnipes: Georgia Webber

Guttersnipes: Elisha Lim

Guttersnipes: Réal Godbout

Words & Curds: Jonas T. Bengtsson, author of A Fairy Tale

On April 16, I met with Danish author Jonas T. Bengtsson, whose newest English translation, A Fairy Tale, has just been published by House of Anansi. He was in town for the IFOA Weekly readings. We visited Smoke's Poutinerie, and upon my suggestion, we both ordered the 'Hogtown' variety (topped with mushrooms, sautéed onions, bacon, and pork sausage). We talked about the fears of fatherhood, murderous furniture-makers and Lego. I finished my poutine. Bengtsson did not. Though it may seem unbelievable, the interview has been edited for length.

Guttersnipes: Mimi Pond

Residential Zoning: Comics, Poutine, and the Publishing Ecosystem

Here's hoping you don't learn anything about me this May.

My name is Evan Munday, and if you've heard of me at all, it was probably through my past publicity work at venerable Canadian indie press Coach House Books, where I worked for eight years. I also write a fairly morbid and (maybe?) funny series of books for young readers (ages 9 to 12), The Dead Kid Detective Agency. But all you need to know right now is that I'm the Open Book Writer in Residence (W.I.R., to the kids) for May (Pet Cancer Month), and I'm planning to talk as little about me, my writing, and my thoughts on writing as possible. Sorry. I'm not a big sharer.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.