Sunday, September 10, 2017

Two years since I saw my book's face!

A lot has happened since I last posted!  Most recently, Spells of Blood and Kin, whose cover reveal was two years ago, has now been in the world for a full year and was recently shortlisted for a Sunburst Award!

As a debut novelist who works in the book business, I had two hopes for this book: earn out my advance in the first year (kind of arbitrary, but a generally accepted hallmark of good-enough sales), and get nominated for something.  Neither of these things were very much within my control, of course--you write the best book you can, and you promote it as well as you know how, but there's a huge amount of randomness in the market.  I'm lucky to have had a successful tour, some friends in my corner, and some good reviews!  It's pretty great to have checked both boxes!

Other cool things happening right now: The Sum of Us is officially out!  This anthology focuses on caregivers in a speculative fiction context, with a portion of profits going to the Canadian Mental Health Association.  It includes my story "Number One Draft Pick" (why YES, it IS about hockey, funny you should ask).

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#FictionFightsBack: the Civil Liberties Edition

Today you can read a new Gus story: Le lundi de la matraque (Nightstick Monday), now at Strange Horizons.  There is also a podcast of it, read by Anaea Lay, and a fantastic cover illustration by Matthew Filipkowski:

If you don't already know Gus Hillyard, she is a recurring character in my work.  She's semi-immortal and hungry for violence.  She walks the tightrope of her own nature, trying to do good with all the wrong tools.  It drives her to drink, and wreck things a lot.

This story, like most of the stories Gus appears in, is about choosing ideals over people, choosing people over ideals, and paying a price either way.  It's about an era of Canadian history that a lot of us don't learn much about: when I started the research I was surprised at how much violence I didn't learn about in history class.

Many people who lived through that history are still around.  And like most history, it isn't past: it's still unfolding around us, or beneath us, or through us.  I wrote this story well before the recent US election and the wave of massive protests that followed; I was thinking of the setting as an era of revolution that has since ended, but already my understanding has changed, and I have begun to think of the last hundred years as an era of revolution that still goes on.

To honour the spirit of resistance, the paycheque for this story has been donated to the ACLU, as part of the #FictionFightsBack initiative.

If you like Gus, here are some other places she appears:
Who in Mortal Chains, one of my earliest published stories, which takes place a couple of years before "Le lundi de la matraque"
Spells of Blood and Kin, my first novel, in which Gus is not the protagonist but steals a scene here and there

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Story birthday + #FictionFightsBack

Today you can read my latest short story, "Wooden Boxes Lined with the Tongues of Doves", at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  You can also listen to the audio version read by the awesome Michael J. DeLuca.

This story's a dark one (I know: shocker).  The title was a gift from a friend of a friend: I don't even know the name of the person who thought of it, but that person told it to my BFF who gave it to me, and I wrote it on a scrap of napkin (as you do) and carried it around for years before turning it into this.  If the person who thought up this title ever reads this, I hope you like what you set in motion!

There's a fantastic initiative happening right now called #FictionFightsBack.  It was started by S.L. Huang as a way to combat authoritarianism and bigotry in the wake of the recent US election.  Huang writes:
The nutshell is simple: write stories that push back against bigotry, oppression, or authoritarianism in some way, and donate the proceeds to an organization that does the same.
"Wooden Boxes Lined with the Tongues of Doves" is about people being silenced, constrained and betrayed by those who have power over them.  The choices they make in response are hard, and have hard consequences.  I sometimes write about people resisting oppression gloriously and then thriving...but this is not one of those stories.  Just so you know.

I believe in compassion for people who have to do tough things to save themselves. I'm donating the entire payment for this story to Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood provides a lot of valuable health services: birth control, reproductive health, LGBTQIA health, and yes, abortions.  I believe all of these services, including abortion, are essential and life-saving.  As a Canadian I have relatively easy access to this kind of care; I'm disturbed by how hard it already is for Americans, and it may be about to get harder.  If you're one of the many Americans worried about your health prospects as the Republicans propose to defund PP, my heart goes out to you, and so does the donation from this story.

Monday, August 22, 2016


You have until the next full moon to win 1 of 2 signed hardcovers of Spells of Blood and Kin:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey

Spells of Blood and Kin

by Claire Humphrey

Giveaway ends September 17, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Another Post from the Road

In my last post we'd made it as far as Los Angeles, mainly by plane.  The next phase of the tour began with a road trip to San Francisco!

Thanks to the generosity of new friends, we had a fun home base in a camper-van near Golden Gate Park and this author & entourage used our time off to explore the city.  Here's the view from Moraga Steps:

We visited the Castro on our day off as it was Pride Weekend.  It was an emotional visit due to the recent tragic crime in Orlando.  We made friends with some lovely folks at a bar near Dolores Park, and I felt like the heart of the community was sore but still so proud, so kind, and so alive.

Curtis and I got to sign books at landmark bookstore Borderlands, and then we had a great event at Laurel Bookstore (photo courtesy of my aunt Mia Stageberg):

Next stop: Portland!  On the road there, we began listening to the audiobook of Spells of Blood and Kin.  What a cool experience to hear my characters voiced so well by Vikas Adam (especially Nick and Jonathan--he really nails the stoner-speak!)

Powell's at Cedar Hills Crossing hosted another fantastic event.  No rest for the wicked though--we departed the next morning for Seattle to the University Book Store, this time listening to Hamilton along the way.  Both events had great after-parties too: a highlight was the Zero Gravity Football, a signature cocktail created by a friend of Curtis's based on a cocktail that appears in Waypoint Kangaroo.  (Before you ask... if Spells of Blood and Kin had a signature cocktail, it would probably not be a good one, since most of the drinking is done by immortal alcoholic Gus Hillyard, who doesn't have much money and tends to go straight for the bottom shelf.)

All the bookstores on this tour have been so amazing.  At every stop we're meeting people who are super-organized, enthusiastic, and supportive.  Some of them have already read our books and have their own copies waiting to be signed; some have given us fantastic recommendations of other things we'd like to read.  Without exception, they're proving to me, over and over again, the immense importance of booksellers to their local communities and to the wider community of readers and writers.  I'm so proud to be part of this community!

Yesterday the tour had a fun social media moment--Indigo is currently running a campaign to promote Canadian authors under the hashtag #ReadtheNorth.  As an employee I was fortunate to get my t-shirt a bit early so I could participate from abroad!  Expect to see it again, and happy Canada Day Weekend wherever you are:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Road So Far

One week!  One week since Spells of Blood and Kin officially launched.  What's happened in that week?

First: the launch itself!  A power failure at the Yonge & Eglinton Centre meant the Indigo store had to close for the afternoon, but the amazing events team quickly found a solution--the courtyard of the mall.  Check out the amazing setup (and the long signing line!):

Curtis Chen and I are tag-teaming a lot of our events as his debut novel, Waypoint Kangaroo, is with the same publisher at the same time--what a great coincidence!  Curtis came to Toronto for this event and the next one--a day later, at the Chiaroscuro Reading Series. Here's a great picture Kelly Robson took of me at the reading series...right before I classily smacked myself in the face with the microphone:

Next up, a double-header of Indigo signings: Chapters Chinook in Calgary, and Indigo Granville in Vancouver.  Both stores were lovely!  Indigo Granville had an especially great location for a signing table:
I got to chat with not one but two different readers who were celebrating birthdays and decided to treat themselves to a signed copy of my book.  I hope they both had great days!  (There were a lot of people who bought my book for no particular reason, of course, and I hope they had great days too!)

From Vancouver, author & entourage flew on to LA and landed late enough that we could see the wildfires burning on the dark hills: a harsh and ominous reintroduction to a city I haven't visited since the year my father died.  Yet thanks to dear friends, we were welcomed warmly and put to bed in the guest room of a lovely house with mango trees in the yard.

Barnes & Noble in Torrance generously hosted the next stop, Curtis's official launch.  Both Curtis and I had the pleasure of seeing our high school English teachers at our respective events--how awesome to have been taught by people who remain so invested in their students' lives and in the literary community!

This super-long post is going to have to leave out a lot of the non-book-related details--pretending to be a runaway horse with our small cousin in Calgary; running on the sea wall to Dundarave; mangoes with chili and lime in Santee Alley.  By the time I get back home I'll have a whole library of new scents and tastes and views and accents to draw from... all ready and waiting for whatever I write next.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I've never been to Wiscon before and I just found out there's a time-travel-themed queer dance party! My rainbow leg warmers just got added to the packing list.

Will you be there?  Come to one of the panels or readings I'm in!
10:30 PM - 11:45 PM
Assembly: Let's Judge a Book By Its Cover
Science fiction and fantasy can have some knock-your-socks-off cover art. Art that draws you to the book and sticks with you later. (Sometimes even being reprinted on posters, t-shirts, etc.) At the same time, sf/f covers can be egregiously sexist or racist. They can be whitewashed and/or designed by committee to be as cookie-cutter as possible. Often, the author has zero control. We will look at classic examples of the good and the bad, and discuss current trends in book covers.

9:00 PM - 10:15 PM
University C: Introverts Rock! (Quietly ... Alone in Their Rooms.)
The hidden power of introversion! Let's talk about what's awesome about being an introvert and some of the challenges we face.
(I'm moderating this one!)

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM
Conference 2: Dispatches from the GlitterShip!
GlitterShip is a podcast and magazine of LGBTQIA+ short fiction. Come listen to a selection of works by authors whose stories have appeared on GlitterShip!

4:00 PM - 5:15 PM
Capitol A: How Not To Think About Women Characters
"She's such a Mary Sue." "She's only there to serve the story of a male character." "Her characterization is so inconsistent" or "She's too flat to be interesting." As consumers of media—even feminist consumers—we have a whole language at our disposal when we need to justify disinterest or dislike towards a woman character. But as often as these idioms are accurate criticisms of a work, they can also be ways to avoid actually talking about the character AS a character. Some questions to consider: Do the ways in which we critique women characters result in a denial of their agency? Is describing women characters as "inconsistently characterized" a way to avoid seeking out their motivations? Is being a "foil" or a parallel always a subordinate role?

I'm really excited about this con--seeing some friends, meeting some new people who sound fantastic, engaging in some next-level conversation and dancing.  Hope to see you there!