I was stunned to find out on Jan 31 that Undercard has been nominated for the Evergreen Award in the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading, “Canada’s largest recreational reading program … to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages.” As much of an honour of being nominated for this award is who I have been nominated with. To share company with such great writers is rewarding indeed. This is a wonderful validation of Undercard’s literary merits. Yes, Undercard is a thriller, as exciting as any of them, but it is also a literary novel, dealing with a host of issues, and I’m very pleased, proud, and appreciative that it has been acknowledged in this way.

the author's book club featured in the quill & quire
the author's book club featured in the quill & quire

In just its first month The Authors’ Book Club has attracted over 35 authors to be a part of it, listing themselves and their books on our site, with links to contact them, and the initiative has also garnered the attention of Sue Carter and the Quill and Quire. We so appreciate the captivating and generous feature story on The Authors’ Book Club, which provides a great understanding of how this project came to be and what it hopes to be.

the author's book club featured in the star
the author's book club featured in the star

At the start of January 2020, a friend of mine, Ann Y.K. Choi (who is also a Toronto-based author), and I started a new initiative, The Authors’ Book Club, with the goal of connecting book clubs with authors, to help facilitate book clubs reaching out to authors to speak at their events, and on a broader level, to promote Canadian and Indigenous voices. Fiona Ross, a teacher-librarian, was of immense help to us early on in building this initiative and has since joined us as an organizer. The goal is for The Authors’ Book Club to be a central hub for book clubs in Canada to go to in order to find authors to speak at their events, in person or via a video chat. We were so pleased that The Toronto Star’s Deborah Dundas took note of our efforts and wrote about us in her article.

I was surprised and honoured to learn that Undercard made 49th Shelf’s list of Top Fiction in 2019. It was a remarkable year for me, a year of endless firsts. It was thrilling, overwhelming, and endlessly rewarding, and this recognition by 49th Shelf made for an extremely satisfying conclusion to it. It has amazed me how much people have enjoyed Undercard. Despite how much effort it took, I loved writing it, and it’s fulfilled a lifelong dream to know that people have loved reading it.

Written by Vanessa Mainella and Kathleen Brennan, this interview came out great. It was a wonderful opportunity to share my processes and thoughts on writing, and specifically on writing Undercard. Because there are spoilers, with the interview dealing with what occurs in the book, I was able to delve much deeper into my choices for plot and character. It was a very rewarding experience. You can read the full interview over at White Wall Review.

My first time attending the mystery/crime fiction convention of Bouchercon was a real joy. Taking place in Dallas, Texas, the convention had excellent panels, warm, welcoming people, and a sea of thrilling novels. Ironically, the people who read and write about murder are as kind and supportive as can be. I’m very pleased and honoured to be part of this community.  It was an experience to remember.

At ThrillerFest 2019 this past summer, I was interviewed by the Game of Books podcast, hosted by Christie Bunting and Cathi Twitero. They were great interviewers, putting one at ease with fun, engaging questions, and I really enjoyed it. My interview takes place at the 10 minute mark and lasts about 2 minutes.

You can listen to the podcast in full with the audio player below or visit Game of Books.

I cannot express how much I enjoyed my experiences at the Winnipeg International Writers Festival – the Thin Air Festival – and in Winnipeg in general. It was my first time in Manitoba, and I was amazed at how friendly and kind were the people in Winnipeg. There are also some beautiful sights, including the Red River and the Assiniboine River, as well as the Human Rights Museum, some of which I was able to see on long walks and runs. The organizers of the event were particularly hospitable, and it was a true pleasure to meet such talented Canadian authors. It was one of my best experiences since Undercard was released.

This was my first time attending ThrillerFest, the annual conference of thriller writers held in New York City, created by the International Thriller Writers organization, of which I’m a member. As my book was released in the year leading up to this conference, I was part of the Debut Authors panel, and was given the opportunity to briefly speak about my journey as a writer to the entire conference. It was a magnificent experience. Both being back in New York City, a place I love, after several years away, and meeting so many wonderful, interesting, and welcoming writers. The panel, the parties, the networking, the awards ceremony, it was, to put it simply, a great and valuable time for me. My fellow debut authors are people I hope to be friends with for a long time.

Undercard novel review
Undercard novel review

This sharp review succinctly captures so much of Undercard, especially its visceral intensity. From The Minerva Reader:

A visceral no-holds-barred novel that’s as tight and strong as the bodies that populate it. The book grabs you from the get-go, it’s a compelling, character-driven tough-guy revenge story about life’s disappointments and the self-acceptance of being a bench starter. There are lots of sporting analogies for the failed relationships and scars of the wars of adult life, both figuratively and literally. It’s a gritty and powerful read and the characters will leave you hoping there’s a sequel in the works. This is a true Vegas tale of winner takes all – but do they really?