Category Archives: After The Fires Went Out

Pre-Orders and an Excerpt – After The Fires Went Out: Amends

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So the pre-orders are up at most retailers for the eBook of After The Fires Went Out: Amends.

 

The big day is Wednesday, July 22nd, which for your math and/or calendar fans, is a week from today.

So here’s the first few bites of Amends (keep in mind that it’s a spoiler if you haven’t read the first four books of the series):

 

 

It feels like the first day at summer camp. Not a good summer camp, mind you, but one that could go either way between forced labour and hockey-mask-themed axe murders.

Considering I’ve dragged my pretty carcass to the site of the New Post Massacre, across a few rivers from the old indenture plantations of Dave Walker… I guess if things go bad I’ll be lucky if all that happens is a recomm-mandatory gig mining moose guano.

It’s possible that the general unpleasantness of the work might save me from all the standard questions about my father.

No, I don’t know if he’s still alive. No, I don’t hang around with his whole gang of McCartney Lakers.

Today is the first time I’ve seen any of them since the attack on our place at Coleraine.

Turns out I didn’t really miss them.

 I’d ridden up from Toronto in a redneck motorcade, two pickup trucks and a couple security guys from Kensington in olive-green uniforms — the Canadian Auxiliary Army being the latest incarnation of our various post-Fire militias — leading in one of those canvas-topped jeeps that look cool but would probably roll right over if it hit a junebug.

It isn’t fall yet, not really, since the trees that have leaves instead of needles are all still green; it looks a lot like summer, even if the harvest is set to start this week.

I’d worked last harvest, actually; we didn’t have enough biodiesel or enough electric combines to make up the gap, so it was many-hands-make-light-work for a lot of it. Wheat was the priority for the mechanized stuff, so I spent two weeks hand-gathering corn along the Grand River.

It felt weird not being there to pitch in, but it’s not like a few commission blowhards would have made all the difference.

Most of the people I’ve come up with — blowhards or otherwise — are total strangers; I’d seen a few of those faces here and there, during the attempted love-in after First President Paquette signed the neutrality treaty with all three versions of the United States. Those faces belonged to two forty-something men who’d worked with Payton Yallow in the good times, and Leyden Decker in the bad… probably two men who had no business representing anyone, really.

Not that I knew what they should have done otherwise.

I mean, I worked with Decker, too, in a way. Not that I knew he was a total shit. But it’s not like I’d ever stood up and spoken out against his stupidly bad policies.

Maybe I have no business being here.

Not that I ever had anything more than my last name and my hopes-to-be-prominent fiancé.

What has Cassy Jeanbaptiste actually done on her own?

Do I even know where to find my goddamn bootstraps?

 I suppose the security guys messaged Matt Kazimierski with our ETA, since he’d parked his own pickup — a white heavy-duty — on Highway 11 to wait for us, right by the turnoff sign for Ch. Hanna Rd.

We don’t put “chemin” at the front of roads in Toronto; I think we pride ourselves on not speaking any French. (Says the girl who’s a quarter Haitian.)

Our little caravan stopped, and Matt hopped out of his truck and ran down the line. Passed the jeep and the first pickup, and right to the passenger side of the second.

Right up to me.

He gave me a ridiculously big smile.

I opened the door and climbed out.

“Cassy,” he said, “it’s great to see you again.”

“It’s good to see you, Mister… uh, Matt.”

He grinned. “First name basis… I like it.

I laughed.

“Did you want to introduce me to everyone else?” he asked.

“I don’t know everyone else,” I said.

“Quiet trip?”

“Well, I know the guy driving this truck.” I motioned to Darrel Meek, the sanitation engineer who’d mostly talked about basketball on the way up.

So I introduced the two, and then we all went over to the two men in the first truck, the compromised assholes from Kensington, neither of whom were big fans of my father, or, by association, of me.

The woodenly handsome Rob Danzart had apparently been the “Minister of Public Works” in the Yallow/Decker regime, while the vividly less attractive Arjun Gehlot had been “Minister of Education”.

I’m not sure how much educating had gotten done in the two years after the comet, but I’d seen first hand how little we’d had in the way of infrastructure improvements.

From what I can tell, those two “public servants” have been more interested in pumping themselves up, at the cost of never accomplishing anything important, and, of course, the necessary political requirement of putting everyone else down.

Including my father, the current target for their bullshit. I wonder how much of that is because I’m here?

The two security guys introduced themselves with only their last names, which I presume is an attempt to seem like a couple of badasses. Honestly, I don’t care enough to ask for more information about Brodeur and Muzyk.

“We’ve got a crew at McCartney Lake,” Matt told me, as he walked me back to my seat. “Been setting up living spaces for over a month now.”

“Back at the old hacienda,” I said.

He nodded. “It’s definitely been strange. But it’s still one of the best spots left up here.”

He opened my truck door for me, all gentlemanlike, and once I’d gotten in and he’d gone and climbed back into his pickup, he took the lead in the procession, bringing us north five or ten more kilometres before turning right onto Nahma Road, making the jog around the burnt-out town of Cochrane.

Darrel Meek was talking about local tryouts for a Toronto-based NBA “Protest Team”, whatever that means; instant regret that I hadn’t asked to ride with Matt.

I’d already known we would be detouring around Cochrane; suggested routes didn’t go through the places that were destroyed. We’d already taken the newly-marked detour around North Bay on the way up, another — and much larger — place that hadn’t made it through.

But still, I wanted to see the town of Cochrane.

It was such a big part of my father’s time up here, part of almost everyone he’d known in the north, Sara Vachon and Fiona Rees, and Matt, of course.

Is it weird that I have more interest in seeing a dead town than spending time with anyone who actually made it out of there?

God. I sound like a teenager.

I feel like a teenager.

We followed the road until it what was apparently the last junction, where the main road seemed to bank left, and going straight started looking more like someone’s driveway.

Not long after, Matt stopped his lead truck at a railway crossing.

He climbed out and made his way back to my door.

Darrel rolled down my window.

“This is where the bridge to New Post was,” Matt told me. “Someone blew it up, probably Ryan Stems.”

I don’t know if he realizes that I’ve read all of the journals. You’d think he’d know that, but… I guess it’s not something people really think about.

I’m not sure Matt’s read them; otherwise, I think he wouldn’t be so gentle on good ol’ Robert Jeanbaptiste. It’s not like Dad painted a particularly flattering picture of Matt Kazimierski.

“Can we keep going?” Darrel asked. “I’d really like to take a shower.”

Matt chuckled.

“No showers?” I asked.

“No, there are showers,” Matt said. “Just not as hot as people like. Er… not yet.”

“Oh.”

“Can we go?” Darrel asked again. “Please?”

“Yeah, we’ll go,” Matt said. “Keep your pants on.” He gave me a little smile. “Want to ride up with me? Then I can give you the tour without pissing everyone else off.”

“Sure,” I said, unsure if I was sending the wrong kind of signal.

“Thank Christ,” Darrel said.

 

 

After The Fires Went Out: Where’s Book Five? At least you’re hearing the news from me…

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It’s coming. Book Five in the After The Fires Went Out series.

Not this summer, but hopefully before the end of the year. The title is still not 100%, since there are several R words I’d like to choose from, and part of me thinks the whole ATFWO: Some-word-that-means-more-than-one-thing-related-to-the-story concept might be close to becoming played out.

So, what’s so special about Book Five? So?

1. It’s not told by Robert Jeanbaptiste. Not that any unanswered questions about Baptiste won’t be answered…

2. It takes place after the final events of Veneration and Descent. So no “prequel of a prequel”, or “everything’s set in East Texas for this one”. We’ll follow the stories of characters we’ve already met.

3. It won’t be the last book. Barring natural disaster, there will be more than five books in the After The Fires Went Out series. Veneration (Book Three) was a possible — and possibly frustrating for readers — stopping place, but once I wrote Descent (Book Four) I knew that I’d be putting out a fifth book eventually. Now I know that “eventually” means soon, and that the sixth book is just over the horizon.

4. It won’t become some attempt at ASOIAF/Game of Thrones for the apocalypse set. At its heart, After The Fires Went Out is the story of a group of people who were in and around the town of Cochrane, Ontario when the comet struck and The Fires came. I’m not saying that we’ll never, ever find out what happens to non-Cochrane characters like Isabella from “Peshtigo” or Ricardo Edwards from “The Bones of Texas City” or Samantha and her Mom from… oh,wait… that story isn’t out yet. It just means that while there’s a great big world out there after The Fires, I don’t think I’ll be the one to write about it.

5. There’s other stuff coming that isn’t related to ATFWO. My near future science fiction series kicks off in a couple of months (let’s keep it vague, people), and Persephone Schmidt returns for her second installment of zombie fun. That’s all I’ve got for now, though I’d be lying if there wasn’t an epic historical fantasy series involving both Sir Walter Raleigh and Admiral Horatio Nelson floating around in my head (the ocean puns will be rolling in as it develops).

For more info, be sure to drop everything and find me in the Twin Cities at Convergence in early July.

After The Fires Went Out: Descent – Now Available as eBook and Paperback

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So a prequel of sorts, but definitely not something you read before the rest.

afterthefireswentout_descent

Now Available as eBook and Paperback

The story of Antoine Lagace

The comet is coming. The town of Cochrane is already falling apart.

Ant Lagace is trying to adjust to his new role and his new family. But the new and dangerous world that’s about to begin could destroy everything and everyone around him.

eBook:

Paperback:

After The Fires Went Out: Descent – Coming Later this May

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So it’s May, and with May comes another installment of the After The Fires Went Out series.

Yes, I’m serious.

Seriously serious.

After The Fires Went Out: Descent – Book Four

The story of Antoine Lagace, and the comet that so inconveniently messed up his chance for a full time job over the summer.

No cover yet… because these things take time. I’m not a miracle worker.

Quick teaser:

Charlotte snores. So very much.

Sometimes at night I close my eyes — not that I think I can fall asleep beside Charlotte’s sexy upturned flugelhorn nose — and I picture me riding her, not like sexual… okay, a little sexual… but it’s like she’s a riding lawnmower, and that snort-snort-gah-snort noise she makes is actually cutting the grass, as we drive in a predetermined pattern, naturally, to draw a faithful representation of my ass cheeks facing due east, to moon the varied assholes of the province of Quebec.

Some of my best ideas come from the middle of the night. I think I’ll sketch that up sometime, me astride Charlotte’s back, while she munches down on a nice field of grass and writes a message to our fellow Francophones.

So now that’s gotten a little more sexual…

Next up: the Veneration paperback actually becomes available for sale. Yes, I’m working on it. :)

Ant and the Comet: A Flaming Hot Adventure

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It’s a working title for something people have asked me about for a long time, and that I’ve mentioned every so often, mostly to pretend like I’m making progress in my writing career.

But anyway, I figured I’d “announce” it here first, since a handful of miscreants with poor judgement have been awaiting this kind of news.

I have written around 3000 words of the Antoine Lagace After The Fires Went Out prequel.

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Release Day – After The Fires Went Out: Veneration

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Look everyone! I finished* a series!

* – no series is every really finished…

atfwo-veneration

Rebuilding a world. Rebuilding a family. And hoping that — for once — he won’t screw it all up.

The final volume in Robert Jeanbaptiste’s journal of what came after The Fires went out.

eBook:

Paperback:

  • Coming Soon

Yum… A Spoiler-free Excerpt from After The Fires Went Out: Veneration

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It’s February 2014. That means After The Fires Went Out: Veneration is coming out later this month (release date and cover reveal are coming next week). So to tease those of you who are waiting for it, and to fulfill my duty of posting things on this blog once in a while, here is the first ever excerpt from Veneration, a little section that contains no major spoilers for Books One, Two, or Three (only two incredibly minor spoilers for Coyote).

And how did I do that?

Science.

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Fourteen-year-old Sara “Tampon” Vachon had a crush on Payton Yallow.

Sara told us about it during a poorly-executed game of Never Have I Ever, one that was well-lubricated with Canadian Club Whisky. My punishment was to drink root beer instead of alcohol — I despise root beer — since I figured someone should be sober, but there may have been a joint or two passed around…

If you wanted drinking games or home-grown pot, Antoine Lagace was the man to have at your cottage.

“Never have I ever killed a guy,” Ant had said, looking directly at me.

“That’s not fair,” Fiona said.

Ant snorted. “You’re not playing, you naughty teetotaler. Now raise your hand, Baptiste, and tell us a story…”

I raised my hand. “It’s okay, Fiona. The secret to being the sober one is to accept that everyone around you is going to act like a complete idiot.”

Kayla raised her hand too.

I saw Ant’s face drop, his bubbly drunk-man grin falling flat. “Forget it,” he said. “That was stupid.”

“There’s no way you killed a guy, Kayla,” Matt said, ever the moron.

Kayla hand wavered a little, but she didn’t lower it.

“There’s two of us,” I said, “so no one has to talk about it.”

I smiled at her.

She nodded.

We both took a drink. The root beer tasted like vomit from a truffle hog.

At the time, I’d wondered if Kayla had raised her hand just so I wouldn’t have to get into it. Now I know she’d done it because of what had happened to her brother.

Sometimes I wish I was still at a place with Kayla where I could wrap her up in my arms and tell her she’s wonderful.

“My turn,” Matt had said. “Never have I ever fallen for a gay man.”

He was looking directly at Ant with a shit-eating grin.

Ant laughed. “I think you messed that one up,” he said. “You should have said ‘had a gay man fall in love with me’.”

“Come on,” Fiona said, “this is getting out of hand.”

“That’s the whole point of it,” Kayla said. “You can always go to bed if you can’t handle it. Isn’t it past your bedtime anyway?”

“No one’s paying attention to me,” Sara said, with that tone of voice she uses to calm things down.

She had her hand raised up like a kindergartner with the right answer.

“You’re the only one, Sara,” I said. “So tell us, girlfriend.”

She smiled at me.

And then she told us the story, the most embarrassing teenage crush story I’ve ever heard.

“I didn’t understand much about spying programs. If you’d asked me who Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning was, I wouldn’t have known. But there was an article in Time Magazine about Payton Yallow and the TriHomeSec Leaks, and I remember just staring at his picture on the cover. Those grey eyes…”

“You still have it bad,” Lisa said.

“I can roleplay it with you,” Ant said. “Just tell me what to wear.”

“Most girls had posters of boy bands and movie stars in their bedroom. I had clippings of Payton Yallow, not just photos, but articles from the trial. I was crushed the day he was sentenced.”

“You ever think maybe you had a mental illness?” Kayla asked.

“Here’s hoping,” Ant said. “That’s generally been my in with most girls.”

Sara shook her head. “It’s funny now, but I used to cry over it. And I even threw a little one-person party when I found out he was being released.”

“I’ll bet you read his book like ten thousand times,” Matt said.

Sara nodded. “Signed copy. Actually, I read the eBook, since I wasn’t about to dogear the pages of something so valuable.”

“You still have it?” Fiona asked.

Sara shook her head. “Yves took it when he left. Just to hurt me. Because cheating on me wasn’t bad enough.”

“This is taking a dark turn,” Ant said. “I’m not complaining… just observing…”

“Let’s all take a drink,” I said. “And come up with a new game.”

Sara gave me a look; I’d been with her long enough by that point to know what it meant.

“Time for bed,” I said. “Good night, idiots.”

And Sara excused herself, too.

I remember thinking at the time that little Sara was completely delusional, crushing so hard on a man who was obviously only interested in other men.

But thinking back now, I realize that it was probably less delusional than what I was up to when I was fourteen. Little Sara had never planned on being with Payton Yallow; he was twenty years older, on trial in Boston, and would have been a little too preoccupied to care. She’d known that it was a silly crush with no real goal, just a way for her to feel like she had found someone who meshed with her ideals, some brave soul to admire.

Fourteen-year-old Baptiste had convinced himself he was going to track down and seduce Beyoncé, to the point of actually closing his eyes and visualizing that day he “bumped into her” outside the Grammys.

I guess I’m not really embarrassed about those days, since every teenage boy in human history was about as stupid… but I’m still glad no one had said “Never Have I Ever Tried to Save Up My Allowance to Surprise a Global Superstar In-Person with My Love Sonnets”.

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So remember, chidrenVeneration comes out later this month, as in right at the end of it. If you are behind the times and need to catch up, you know what to do.