Six questions with Mat Del Papa

Mat is a writerly friend and a past-president of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild. He’s published two collections of stories loosely based on the history of the railway in Capreol, and now, he has become an editor, assembling fact and fiction to create Creepy Capreol, a collection of supernatural tales about his hometown.


 

Welcome to Writerly Goodness, Mat!

WG: What inspired the Creepy Capreol project, and how did it evolve?

MDP: The inspiration came from Spooky Sudbury. Mark Leslie and Jenny Jelen put together a great book and I was fortunate enough to be involved in a small way. That got me thinking about doing something more scary than my usual. Seeing the phenomenal success they had combined with the unexpected discovery of two other stories about Capreol in Spooky Sudbury to give me another push. Mark provided the final impetus. We’d been joking, via email, about the various weirdness in Capreol (the river’s burned twice and the fire hall three times — for a example) and he said something like “You should write a book.” I forget who came up with the title, him or me, but it clicked.

WG: How did you go about recruiting your writers and artist? How smoothly did that process go for you?

MDP: I recruited the writers I thought would the best fit first — current and former Capreol residents who already write genre-type stories. Steve Vernon was on top of that list. Born and raised in Capreol he’s had a great deal of success writing horror. Next came Jason Shayer, another Capreol boy who’s gone on to bigger things. Both were happy to contribute and their inclusion gave me the confidence to move forward (until they signed onboard I was more or less toying with the idea — getting two published authors was the final push).

It would have been a thin book though if I hadn’t approached a few members of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild. Betty Guenette wrote about her uncle from Milnet (a ghost town just north of Capreol) and gave me a second story set in Sellwood (another nearby ghost town). Lisa Coleman-Brown had impressed me with her ability to write gross fiction and she delivered another stomach-churner for Creepy Capreol.

The artist proved easiest of all. Robert Michelutti lives in Capreol and volunteers at the local train museum (the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre). I’ve had dealings with the museum before (they sell my previous books in their gift shop) and so had an “in” with Bob. I sent him some samples stories and he sent me some sample art — they proved a great fit.

WG: Once you had the writers lined up and their stories in hand, it would have been time for editing. What did you learn from wearing the editorial hat that you may not have known as a writer?

MDP: Editing is hard. Everyone knows that. What I didn’t realize was how many little details there were. Things you have to keep track of at all times. It’s like juggling — only you’re dealing with people and their creations! Getting the best work sometimes meant stepping on toes. I found a hundred ways to say, politely, “Try again. You can do better.” The amazing thing is . . . the various contributors did do better, every time, revising until we both were happy. No doubt they came to curse my very name, but the final product proved the efforts (and swearwords!) weren’t in vain.

WG: Did you do the layout work yourself as well? How was it organizing text and images for publication?

MDP: I did just about everything — that’s the only way to keep costs reasonable. Luckily there are plenty of quality programs and templates available. It probably took me ten times as long as a professional, but in the end everything came together.

The hardest part was balancing the content. I agonized over the order, trying to compliment each story with the one before and after.

WG: What is it like to create a project like this and have a hand in it from start to finish?

MDP: Satisfying . . . and frustrating. I enjoyed 99% of the process. But that last 1% had me almost tearing my hair out. I can live with the odd technical glitch. It’s my own stupid mistakes that gall. Luckily I’ve done the whole self-publishing thing three times before and have learned from most of my mistakes.

Having contributors was a new experience. One I found both difficult and exhilarating. Their enthusiasm pushed me through some rough patches, but waiting on others to revise (in some cases four or five times before getting it right) was a challenge. The fact that I’m not the best time manager meant that the last few weeks were a tight crunch. Still, for all the struggles, the final product turned out better than I could have hoped.

WG: What’s coming up for Creepy Capreol?

MDP: First comes the official launch. I always hold a book-signing/launch as part of the Capreol Days festivities (held on the August long weekend). This summer is no different. I’ll be in downtown Capreol on Saturday, August 2nd with a table of books — Creepy Capreol will be selling at a special holiday price of $14.00 — and encourage anyone interested to come out. There’s music, barbeques, a sidewalk sale — last year had horse rides, kids games, an animal exhibit — and more.

After that I hope to hit Valley East Days in early September. It’s another fun weekend, full of music, food, and entertainment.

The book should be available on Amazon in the fall. Kobo, Kindle, and iBookstore versions are coming soon. And I hope to have it in Chapters Sudbury location for October.

Thank you for taking the time to tell us a little about Creepy Capreol and your journey to publication.


 

About the book:Creepy Capreol
Creepy Capreol
Chilling Tales from a Railroad Town

Introduction by Mark Leslie.
Illustrations by Robert Michelutti.

The book consists of two parts:

Non-Fiction

That Darn Sock Monkey — How a stuffed sock monkey traumatized my youth.
Bigfoot Lives! — A look at the Capreol connection to the famed creature; with references to fact, legend, and some personal observations.
Help! My Wheelchair Is Trying To Kill Me — Humorous take on the many times I’ve almost been killed by my wheelchair. Mostly true, some exaggeration for effect.
Vigilante Justice: Capreol Style — An account of Frederick Chase Capreol’s many failings and lone stellar success. It is mostly factual, but with some humour.
The Mystery Of Capreol’s Mass Grave — Fact-based article that refutes the commonly held belief that between 30 and 80 people are buried in a mass grave.
The Wreck At Drocourt — A poem by Ida Quackenbush and her son George. Originally written approximately 1930.
Ghost Town Trilogy — Loose histories of three local ghost towns.

Fiction

Rolling Stock — Steve Vernon
Set in Capreol’s railyard the story revolves around one man’s late-night encounter with the supernatural.
Not The Basement! — Lisa Coleman-Brown
An overworked PSW is filling in for a co-worker when she discovers a disturbing secret.
The Likely Story — Paul Mandziuk
A literary mystery; it features a vicious murder in a bookstore — with a novel twist.
This Old Man — Betty Guenette
The bond between nephew and uncle are tested as more than age and isolation separate the two.
The One That Got Away — Matthew Del Papa
A northern Ontario fish story as told by the bait dealer who saw it all happening.
Dual Ghost Towns — Betty Guenette
Ghost towns aren’t always empty. Two sisters find this out in traumatizing fashion on a visit to Sellwood.
Stagnant Waters — Jason Shayer
Exploring abandoned buildings reveals something unexpected … and evil.

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Caturday Quickies: The launch of Spooky Sudbury

Spooked authors :)

Spooked authors 🙂

Barnaby

Barnaby

What was I up to today?

Between 11 am and 1 pm, I went to Chapters to celebrate the launch of Mark Leslie and Jenny Jelen’s Spooky Sudbury: True tales of the eerie and unexplained, which just happens to feature a wee tale from yours truly as well as a number of my friends: Kim Fahner, Mat Del Papa, Charlie Smith, Rob Sacchetto, and a pile of other local contributors.

Upon my arrival, the gracious Mr. Leslie brought me my contributor’s copy and my Spooky

My Spooky Sudbury swag

My Spooky Sudbury swag

Sudbury Swag Bag.  I met Jenny, and hung out with Scott Overton, Kevin Closs, and a crowd of other people.  Really.  It was a crowd.

An hour into their three-hour stint at Chapters, Mark and Jenny were sold out.  Fans were heading down to Costco to buy copies and bring them back for Mark and Jenny to sign.

This afternoon, Mark and Jenny were at Coles in the New Sudbury Centre, and tomorrow morning, from 10 am to 12 pm, they will be at Costco.  This will be your last chance, Sudbury, get your copy of Spooky Sudbury before they’re all sold out and read the true tales of the unexplained through the month of October.

Getting interviewed-yes, the media was there too!

Mind you, you can always go online and order a copy.

Either way, it’s scary stuff, kids (in my best, Count Floyd voice)!

What writerly fun have you been up to this weekend?

The Next Chapter: Progress by inches (and bounds)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my progress, or lack thereof, on my writing.

Initiate of Stone

I’ve been struggling to rewrite my first chapter.  I’ve now made progress, after writing, and rewriting it several times.  I really had to go back and decide what it was necessary to accomplish in my opening chapter.

A short list:

  • Introduce my protagonist – Ferathainn, or Fer, is fifteen, and her coming of age is in two moons, at the next goddess festival, Sestaya.  She wants to become an Agrothe mage, and will be the first girl to do so in a very long time, but she chafes under the tutelage of her master, Aeldred.  Fer has been studying from the moment she wakes to the moment she sleeps (except festival days) with Master Aeldred for 12 turnings of the sun through the seasons, but it’s all been mundane. He’s forbidden her from using her innate talent, to speak with the spirits, or souls, of animals, plants, elements, and perhaps even people, like he controls who the spirits speak to …  Fer desperately wants to be initiated so she can start using her talent and learning “real” magick.  She knows she’s capable of more than what Master Aeldred permits her to do.  The process is long and demanding, though, and she will have to make sacrifices.  She loves Leaf, the eleph finiris, or song master, and will marry him on Sestaya as well.  She sees her astara, or soul-lights, in his eyes, something that only the eleph are supposed to see.  She’s not so sure about children, though they seem to be the natural consequence of marriage.  She’s just been so long separated from other girls her age by her studies that she wants something that everyone else takes for granted.  Fer worries that love, marriage, and family will be the sacrifices that she will have to make to become a mage.  She’s determined to have at least love in addition to the solitary life of a mage.
  • The “normal” world – Hartsgrove, Fer’s village, is a “free town” and the eleph and people of Tellurin live side-by-side in relative peace.  It’s an agrarian village that sends tributes to the surrounding, larger, towns and cities to show fealty and secure support in times of need.  The predominant religion is worship of the Goddess Auraya, creatrix of Tellurin.  Every year the season of Vedranya brings deadly storms to besiege the land.  This has been the way of things since the Cataclysm, two centuries before, changed the face of Tellurin and reduced much of Tellurin civilization to rubble.  Fer lives in a small, but sturdy cottage, with her mother and father, Selene and Devlin, a seer and a bard respectively, and her younger half-sister, Aislinn.  She has never left Hartsgrove.
  • Hook the reader – What’s the root cause of Fer’s resentment of her master, the man who could grant her wish to become a mage?  Why does he want to keep her from using her talent?
  • Ask a question (that needs to be answered by the end of the novel) – What is the secret Master Aeldred feared so much he magickally bound Fer’s friends and family to silence?
  • Foreshadow the inciting event – An earth elemental, or nomi, tells Fer the secret is a potentially deadly one though it cannot more than hint at the nature of the secret; she must be strong to face the trials to come.

So I’m slowly working my way through the list without dumping too much backstory or world building on the reader.  Beginnings, why are you so hard?

Some links about beginnings:

On a whim, I’ve signed up for Margie Lawson’s course, A Deep Editing Guide to Making Your Openings Pop, starting May 6, 2013.  She focuses on psycho-linguistic and rhetorical techniques to improve your writing.  My undergrad was focused on rhetoric and I love psychology, linguistics, and brain science, so this looks like it’s right up my alley.  Will let you know how it goes.

I might do the crazy and send my beginning (when I’m more or less happy with it) to Ray Rhamey’s Flogging the Quill to see if it passes his test.  Stay tuned.

Short Stories and poetry

Well, so far, I’ve kept up with Kasie Whitener’s Just Write short story challenge.  I’ve written a completely new short story for each of January, February, and March.  I’m a little behind in April, and may opt for flash fiction to make up the short fall.

The short story that I revised and sent to On Spec in January has been accepted (!)  I am very (like !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) excited about this, even though I know that it won’t be in print until sometime next year.  I’m looking forward to working with their editorial team to whip “Downtime” into shape.

“Beneath the Foundations (original story #2),” my attempt at medieval Cthulian for Sword and Mythos was rejected.

“A Terrible Thing” was rejected by the editors of Tesseracts 17.

It’s too early to have heard back from either Writers of the Future, to whom I sent “The Gabriel,” or In Places Between, to which I submitted “Molly Finder (original short story #3).”

There wasn’t room for my poem “peregrine” on the League of Canadian Poets National Poetry Month blog, but I have subsequently submitted that poem plus two more, “contain you” and “infant crawls,” to Sulphur.

From last year’s submissions, I learned that my submission to Mark Leslie’s Spooky Sudbury will be included in the publication, and my poem, “north of thule” was included in the fabulous Sopphey Vance’s Enhance no. 11.  It’s been a good month (and a bit) for happy dancing!

I’m going to work on something flashy this week to round out April’s short story quota, and set to work on another original for May in hopes of garnering some attention in the Rannu Fund competition.May Submit-o-rama Choice

I’ve joined Khara House’s May submit-o-rama and have committed to 1 submission per week in the Choose Your Own Challenge category.  Rannu will make up only one of those, so I’ll have to get my arse moving on identifying other submission opportunities (!)

Critiquing

Actually finished the BIG critique for my online group and am working on a review of the first 100 pages of another online critique buddy.

Have only three people left to critique for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild before I’m caught up with them.  We’re trying to get our stories and poetry together for an anthology.  I put forward “A Terrible Thing” and “Old Crow,” another short story of mine that was rejected by Tyche Books last year (Masked Mosaic anthology).  It looks like “Old Crow” might be salvageable as a short story, but that “A Terrible Thing,” as editors have said—and I’ve thought—in the past, is really a novel in the making.

Conferences

A local effort, Wordstock, will be happening June 7 and 8 at the Sudbury Theatre Centre.  This is the first year for the event, and the organizers are hoping to build on what they hope to be this year’s success.  The SWG has a block of time for readings.

I’ve registered for the Canadian Authors Association CanWrite! conference in Orillia, June 12-16, and booked my room in the Orillia campus of Lakehead University.

I’m still waffling about When Worlds Collide August 9-11.  The registration fee is reasonable in the extreme, but I still have to bear the cost of the flight and accommodation.

One reason I’m waffling is because I want to go to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference this year (Oct 25-27).  Domestic flights are sooooo expensive.  Right now, a return to either Calgary or Vancouver for the conference dates is showing as over $1000.  It may be an either/or kind of thing for me.  Or I might just cash in my Avion or Aeroplan points for one or the other flight.  That’s an idea!  Thanks for letting me suss that one out online 😛

I think that’s all the conferencing I can take for this year.  Next year, I hope to add some fancons like Ad Astra.  We’ll see how the financial situation sits.  And my various air rewards plan balances 🙂

Other stuff

Taxes done and refund received 🙂

Am still putting off the decision to move to WordPress.org.  I think I just need some dedicated time to devote to research and reflection.

Hope all is well with you and your writing lives.

I’d love to hear from you about your latest literary adventures!

Tonight’s viewing line-up: Doctor Who and Orphan Black!

Tomorrow, I’ll share my thoughts on happiness and how my experiences have influenced my writing in the final instalment of a life sentence with mortal punctuation.