Bookmas! with Chadwick Ginther

Bookmas: bibliophiles really should get this day off from work.

Today’s not-so-secret BookSanta: Chadwick Ginther!

Originally from Morden, Manitoba, Chadwick Ginther was fascinated by Norse mythology at an early age. Today, he spins sagas of his own set in Canada’s western wilderness where surely monsters must exist. His first novel, Thunder Road was nominated for a Prix Aurora Award and won the Mary Scorer Book Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher. Its sequel, Tombstone Blues, won the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction He lives in Winnipeg.

What 2014-published fiction would you recommend?

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, a wonderful, and weird opening to a brilliant trilogy. Definitely one of my books of the year.

What 2014-published non-fiction would you recommend?

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty.

What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not necessarily a 2014 book) would you recommend?

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny. Zelazny is one of my favourite authors going back to high school, and this title was recently re-issued (along with the original Gahan Wilson illustrations inside!). There’s no wrong way to read it, but since the chapters each cover one day in the month of October, I definitely recommend reading it a chapter a day. This is a book to savour.

What ongoing series of books would you recommend?

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. One of my favourite comics.

What author would you recommend?

Neil Gaiman. Whether he’s writing comics, children’s picture books, or novels, Neil has never disappointed me.

What’s the one book you’ve read in your lifetime that you think everyone should read?

D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths. I read and reread it so many times as a boy that my local librarian gently suggested that maybe another little boy would like to learn about mythology. This book was the gateway to the stories that made me a writer, and still holds up at any age.

Let’s go specific: what one book would you recommend for:

  • The science-fiction fan: Nick DiChario’s A Small and Remarkable Life, one of the best stories of first contact I’ve ever read.
  • The horror fan: Helen Marshall’s Gifts for the One Who Comes After, one of horror’s brightest (or should that be darkest?) rising stars.
  • The fantasy fan: Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. When I’m forced to list my favourite book, this is the one I name. A bit of a cheat because there are ten books in the series, but there’s a compendium edition called The Great Book of Amber so it totally counts…
  • The strict realism fan: I don’t have much for the strict realism fan. Between comics and speculative fiction, I much prefer to dwell firmly in the fantastic, but I’d suggest Matt Kaplan’s The Science of Monsters. Maybe then we’d have something to talk about.
  • The thriller/mystery fan: An Ordinary Decent Criminal by Michael Van Rooy, shows the dirty side of Winnipeg (is there any other?) and is an amazing debut from an author who passed away too soon.
  • The non-fiction fan: Song of the Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown, an interesting biography of Snorri Sturluson and how his life and writing shaped the Norse myths.
  • The CanLit fan: Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road. I’d be surprised if there’s a Canadian who hasn’t read it at this point, but definitely an amazing book.
  • The mythology fan: For the mythology fan, I’d recommend East of the Sun and West of the Moon, with illustrations by Kay Nielsen. A beautiful book of old tales from the north.

If, god forbid, people couldn’t find any of your books, who else would you suggest they seek out for a similar literary fix?

Shooting for the moon, (and I’m certain to suffer in the comparison) I’d say Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. We both share a love of Norse mythology, and had a lot of fun dropping the unruly Aesir into our own stomping grounds.

What would you recommend for the holidays in a non-literary context?

As someone who is a bit of a Grinch (too many years of Christmas retail) I would recommend a three finger glass of bourbon and listening to Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger.