Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

From the Belly of the Whale

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I’m a professional writer but I’ve also worked for a number of large and small publishers. I was originally and am now a born-again bookseller. This is my way of saying that I’ve seen just about everything. Nothing and everything surprises me. That's a preamble if I ever heard one. Here's my miscellany of the last 48 hours:

Remainders Of the Day: As a reader and buyer of books, I’m confessing my love for remainders, here and now. I always get excited when a fresh batch of them drop at the store. It’s one of my things. I arrived for my shift the other evening to find aisles of them, ready for receiving. For those of you who are not acquainted with the term, remainders are not used or damaged books but rather excess inventory sold off by publishers for their own reasons, and at a discounted price. I say ‘for their own reasons’ because there might be an assumption out there that these books have failed somehow. That is seldom the case. These are often fine books that are simply costing the publisher too much in overhead. Trust me, a print run is a tough call. Some of these books have been bestsellers – domestically as well as internationally, and It can be a treasure trove. [Note: In the case of remainders, the author has been compensated. I’ve seen the contract]. More to follow, I'm sure.

Reporting From the Kitchen Table #2: It became time to haul the printer up from the basement and add it to the writing clutter. There comes a point when working on a manuscript that the laptop will simply not suffice. The electronic cutting, copying and pasting won’t do, and neither will the pushing and pulling of punctuation marks across a cold and indifferent screen. That particular exercise can turn into a sort of endgame. There comes a point where, for me at least, it becomes necessary to print off paragraphs, pages and chapters, and start shuffling them around on a large surface. I’m very visual, and I like the tactile. I need to see and hold the pages. It helps me make sense of what I've written; I also need to anticipate the reader’s experience, their reaction. Yes, I’m hopeless at cursive, longhand, or whatever people are calling it these days, and I have been since the third grade. I might jot down ideas or names in a notebook, but after a page or two my writing becomes illegible, like a doctor’s script. I don't think I'm alone here. Or perhaps I am. What's your longhand like?

The Trip To The Mailbox: A copy of John McFetridge’s “Dirty Secret” arrived today courtesy of publisher ECW and Open Book Toronto (Thanks!) I’m quite anxious to dive into this one. I need to know more about contemporary noir, and this sounds like an excellent place to start.

The Market Report: I bet you didn’t know that authors check the sales of their book(s) online as if they were checking commodities investments on a TSX stock ticker. If an author is fortunate enough to have their work carried by,,, or any other online retailer that posts their inventory levels online, it can become an obsession. “Honey! Someone in Hamilton just bought a copy of my book!”

The Lateralization of Brain Function: My heart goes out to kids like my daughter who's just finishing her first week of summer school for math. She blew the roof off her creative subjects. Blame society, blame DNA, blame whomever you want, but summer school still sucks, and I should know because I have to drive her there.

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.

Michael Januska

Michael Januska is an award-winning crime fiction writer whose works include numerous short stories as well as the recent novel Riverside Drive, part of the Border City Blues series set in Windsor. His first book was Grey Cup Century. He lives in Toronto.

Go to Michael Januska’s Author Page