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July 20th, 2016 by SPiN

Meet Two-Gun & Sun, a steampunk western with a print culture and operatic finish

 It has been one smoking-hot summer on the e-range with the Literary Press Group’s All Lit Up. Their team has chosen Two-Gun & Sun to launch ALU’s inaugural Summer Book Club and they’ve kicked things off with this impressive mock-up of protagonist Lila Sinclair’s newspaper, The Black Mountain Bullet.
blackmountainbullet_final

Check out the links below to see what they said, listen in to some recorded sessions of their discussions, and read my answers to their questions.

Meet June Hutton’s Two-Gun & Sun, a steampunk western with a print culture and operatic finish

Team ALU discusses Two-Gun & Sun  included in this link are discussion questions you might want to download for your own reading group

June Hutton explains herself following gritty, in-depth questions fired at her by The Team

What is All Lit Up all about? Have a look here.

 

February 4th, 2016 by SPiN

Valentine’s Day & San Miguel Writers’ Conference 2016

San Miguel Writers’ Conference

February is shaping up to be an enjoyable month. Éditions Hurtubise is hosting a Valentine’s Day promotion for the French e-book/pdf of Muse for the very attractive price of $9.00. As they say, «Pour la Saint-Valentin, offrez-vous une histoire d’amour!»

Guess where I’m going to be spending Valentine’s Day? In Mexico!

In a few days, I’ll escape rainy Vancouver on a jet to León, then board a shuttle to San Miguel de Allende, a town with a fantastic reputation. I’ve been hearing good things about it from friends and fellow writers for years. Yes, it’s full of expats, but I’ve read that whereas Canadians and Americans move to Florida to retire, they re-locate in San Miguel to re-invent themselves. It’s bursting with talented people—writers, artists, musicians, weavers, craftsmen—as well as interesting architecture, restaurants, coffee shops, and natural sights. But best of all, every February brings the San Miguel International Writers’ Conference. With about 350 conference-goers, the festival is small enough to be very friendly, yet large enough to attract international authors, who mingle with the readers and eager emerging writers. I’ve been invited to participate in several events this year and I’m really looking forward to it. Since I’ve never been to Mexico and don’t speak Spanish, I’m counting on Duolingo!

November 1st, 2015 by SPiN

History Twistery

Writers of historical fiction are often asked how they strike a balance between imagination and history. The subject came up at several events at the Vancouver Writers Fest last month. Some writers leaned more toward sticking to the truth, others, toward making it up, but most seemed to agree that consistency, staying faithful to the world you have created, is what’s important.

I thought I had it all figured out when I began my research into the historical figure Morris “Two-Gun” Cohen, who claimed to have met Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, right here in Canada. All I had to do was set the scene, imagine the emotions, invent the dialogue. What a marvelous story it would be. What an absolute gem I had stumbled upon. You couldn’t make this stuff up!

Oh, yes you could. As it turns out, Cohen was a compulsive maker-upper, stretcher of truths, exaggerator of the facts.

A pickpocket from a young age in London, England, he was sent to Canada by his family to mend his ways. Think about it. They sent him to the Wild West. It goes without saying he got into even more trouble here. When Sun Yat-sen was conducting his famous tour of Canada, Morris Cohen was doing time in a jail cell in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Damn. There went my story. I’m not sure how long I moped. I hadn’t yet shredded any copy or set fire to my notebooks, so it must have been a short time. But in one of those lightning-bolt moments I thought: Hey wait a minute! That IS a story.

Because Cohen really did meet Sun Yat-sen . . . a dozen years later, and in China. He led a marvelous life and told marvelous tales that were published in newspapers as the truth because they were that tantalizing tangle of real and imagined. Once printed, they became a part of recorded history, of public record.

And if Cohen could twist the truth, so could I. Afterall, I’m a novelist, not a historian. I’m supposed to make things up. How much I do so is up to me. As long as I’m consistent.

Since newspapers had spread his stories, I decided it would be appropriate to have a newspaperwoman as my narrator. I knew how much she’d want to get it right, even if the facts, often by way of the conniving Cohen, seemed to go against her.

When I was done writing I had a novel called Two-Gun & Sun. It doesn’t try to separate real from imagined but, in the true spirit of fiction, consistently revels in the snarls — and adds a few more twists in the process.

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This originally appeared as a guest blog by June at www.gailanderson-dargatz.ca

April 19th, 2015 by SPiN

The dusty, inky, papery smell of CanLit

For those of us who grew up in southeast Vancouver, the local bookseller was the corner drugstore. You entered the front door of MacKenzie Drugs at 49th and Knight and had to edge past the pharmacy and between the surrounding shelves of bottles of medicine and packages of pills, and then wind your way around the racks of chocolate bars and candy, until you descended several steps to a lower room that Mr. MacKenzie had stocked with rows of magazines and paperbacks. It emitted the dusty, inky, papery smells that are perfume to the budding reader.

It was there I discovered Mordecai Richler. First it was The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, then Hunting Tigers Under Glass, and then Cocksure, with a wonderfully nasty scene with a dish cloth that etched itself onto my teenaged brain. Wow.  What an introduction to CanLit.

I bought them all.

Eventually I was heading downtown to Duthie’s, looking for more books. By then I was taking English 100 courses at night school, and I made a bee-line to the orange spines to learn more about the authors I was hearing about in class, Lawrence and Maugham and Hemingway, among others.

Over the years I’ve shopped at many bookstores. I’ve always been struck by the dedication of staff, their willingness to hunt down the right title, to come up with suggestions when I am stuck for ideas, myself. But it is those first two booksellers I can thank for launching my love of books. Both enterprises are gone now, the disappearance of Duthie Books a sad example of the struggle of independent booksellers to survive, but their impact on me remains.

Now that I’m an author I appreciate even more the influence that booksellers can have on readers. That’s why I’m taking part in Authors for Indies. It’s my chance to give back. I’ll be out there on May 2 in an independent bookstore, ready to greet readers and recommend books to them. I might even be talking up an old favorite, Mordecai Richler.

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On Saturday May 2, the Book Warehouse store at 4118 Main Street, Vancouver, will be hosting June Hutton.

June Hutton, colour -- 088_web

June Hutton | Photo: Pink Monkey Studios

February 24th, 2015 by SPiN

Novel Nights at The Book Warehouse on Main

Mary-at-Book-Warehouse

If you live in Vancouver, you know about The Book Warehouse, which has been going strong at Broadway and Ash since 1980. In 2012, they were rescued from looming closure by Cathy and Mel Jesson of Black Bond Books, and I had the pleasure of appearing there, with Roberta Rich, in 2013 (see photo). A year ago, Book Warehouse on Main opened at 4118 Main Street (and King Edward) and has been buzzing with author events ever since. This is no surprise given the enthusiastic in-house talent, Mary-Ann Yazedijian and James Tyler Irvine, who are well known about town as amazingly supportive of Vancouver writers. Their new brain-child is Novel Nights, a series of readings that features books by local authors. So far they’ve had Steven Galloway, Janie Chang, Caroline Adderson, and Timothy Taylor. Given those luminaries, you can guess how pleased I am to be the featured author on March 18, from 7 to 8:15 pm. Everybody is welcome! Come and chat me up, ask questions about my novel Muse, and meet the energetic James and Mary-Ann.