Sam Wiebe


Blog posts : "General"

Invisible Dead nominated for the City of Vancouver Book Award!

Invisible Dead has been shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award!
I'm honoured to be among such a great list of nominated books, including Carleigh Baker's Bad Endings, Pandas on the Eastside by Gabrielle Prendergast, and Susan Point: Spindle Whorl by Grant Arnold, Ian M. Thom, Susan Point, Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Thomas Cannell, Myrtle Mckay, and William McLennan.
The announcement came with a very flattering description of the novel: "This fast-paced thriller set in Vancouver’s criminal underworld follows a private investigator on a journey to solve an unsolvable mystery."
'It's an honour just to be nominated' is a cliche, but it's a true cliche--as far as I know a crime novel has never won or been shortlisted. I take a measure of pride in that, and I'm glad to be in such good company.

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My story "Off the Trail" was published in the September issue of Mysterical-E magazine. You can read it here. 

November 1st is the next Noir at the Bar Vancouver, and the lineup looks great: Jackie Bateman, Linda Richards, Janie Chang, Dietrich Kalteis, and more. Very excited for this.

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End of Summer; Bouchercon; Cut You Down

I was interviewed by Will Viharo for his "Author of the Week" column on Digital Media Ghost. We talked about CanLit, crime fiction, genre snobbery, and the Pacific Northwest.  

My story "Albuquerque" was published by Suspense magazine's June 2017 issue. It was originally written for a Neil Young-themed anthology which, sadly got shelved.
The story is about a group of security professionals working for a large agricultural company, bullying small farmers, until one of them begins to have a change of heart. I based it on an article I read about the devious tactics companies like Monsanto use to enforce their patents.

This year's WORD Vancouver lineup is stacked, including great local authors like Janie Chang, Carleigh Baker, Mercedes Eng, Dietrich Kalteis, Dina del Bucchia, and many others. I'll be moderating a panel on mystery fiction, Sunday September 24th at 4:00.

I'll also be at Bouchercon this year in Toronto--my panel is "Writers Under 40", Saturday October 14th from 1-2. Should be fun.

What will be even MORE fun is Noir at the Bar Toronto, hosted by Rob Brunet and Tanis Mallow, and featuring David Swinson and a host of other great writers. That's October 11th at the Rivoli.

For the past few weeks I've been working on revisions for Cut You Down, the second Wakeland novel, which will be published this February. After the umpteenth revision, sometimes you lose perspective and enthusiasm. But in this case I feel much more confident in the book. I'm happy with it, maybe for the first time since I finished the first draft. That's one of the mysteries of writing--each book is its own thing.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great last few weeks of summer.

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ThrillerFest and Invisible Dead Reviews

I'm back from ThrillerFest, which was a hell of a lot of fun. Thanks to D.P. Lyle and Kim Howe for inviting me to teach a class on character at CraftFest. Kim and Adam Hamdy are my fellow authors at Quercus USA, and the conference presented the perfect chance to get to meet them. The Quercus team are as cool and enthusiastic in real life as I hoped. Nathaniel, Amelia, Amanda and Elyse were terrific to hang out with. I got to meet Walter Mosley, David Morrell, Peter James, and I had a great but brief chat with John Lescroart, about focusing on writing instead of publishing. After a week of business, it was reassurance that what matters in the end is the work itself, rather than the deal.

I got to stay at the Barclay, where Hemingway wrote From Here to Eternity, which was also cool.

Reviews for INVISIBLE DEAD are still coming in, and on the whole are very complimentary. David Nemeth's review really gets the book. Here's a link.

The Quercus team shared with me their proposed cover for CUT YOU DOWN, and I like it a lot. I'll reveal it here soon.

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Invisible Dead is out today stateside and internationally from Quercus/Hachette. (It was released in Canada last June by Random House.)

Yesterday I did an interview with Paperback Radio. The host, Willem, asked how it felt to win literary awards. And obviously it feels great. But that stuff is so beside the point.

Getting something written is difficult, full stop. Getting something you're written that you're proud doesn't happen often, to me at least. But I'm proud of this book, in a way that I haven't been with anything else I've written.

The fact that two reputable publishers have agreed to put out a fucking private eye novel--set in fucking Canada--well, it's the nicest lunacy.

Sometimes I lose track of that, how lucky I am to be at this point.

I hope you give the book a chance, and that if you do, you enjoy it.

My article from Crimespree Magazine on music, crime fiction, and Invisible Dead

An Invisible Dead Q&A on The Big Thrill website, home of the International Thriller Writers. 

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This Week's Events; Craft Fest; Radio Stuff

Tomorrow night I'll be a guest at the South Hill branch of the Vancouver Public Library to talk with their book club about Invisible Dead. Jinder the book club host is terrific, and I really enjoyed co-hosting the Asian Mystery Writers book club with her last fall as part of the Writer in Residence program. It'll be nice to catch up with her, and to talk about my book.

This Saturday is Authors for Indies. Usually I run around to three or four bookstores, but this year I'm just doing 32 Books in North Vancouver from 3-5 pm. After that, though, I'll probably be back in East Van lurking aound Pulp Fiction on Main or one of the breweries nearby.

Sunday I'll be on Paperback Radio, talking about Invisible Dead. There are a few guest blogs and such that I'll be doing to promote the book.

May 2nd Invisible Dead comes out in the States and internationally. I'll be doing a few events in May, including a book signing at Seattle Mystery Bookshop on May 20th, Saturday, at noon. That same night I'll be a guest on Noir on the Radio, a show hosted by Greg Barth. 

This July I'll be in New York for Craft Fest and Thriller Fest, the conference put on by the International Thriller Writers. I've never done this conference before, but it should be a blast. Any chance to drop into the Mysterious Bookshop and The Strand is welcome. 

Thanks for reading through this litany of events. I'm currently at work on Wakeland Book 3, waiting for my Canadian and American editors to finish their edits of Book 2, Cut You Down.

I read the Shining a couple weeks ago, and was reminded how goddamn amazing Stephen King is. Right now I'm reading Salem's Lot, which is also really good. I usually don't read two books at once, but I started Jill Leovy's Ghettoside and was hooked instantly. Between reading those two and watching season three of Bosch, I'm pretty well-stocked for entertainment.

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Seattle Mystery Bookshop Event

Saturday May 20th at noon I'll be signing copies of Invisible Dead at Seattle Mystery Bookshop. Looking forward to it! 

You can pre-order at at

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Spring 2017 Events

I'll be doing a few events in the Winter/Spring 2017. Here are the details: 

Feb 22: Real Vancouver Writers, Grunt Gallery, 350 E 2nd Ave #116, Vancouver. Doors at 7, readings start at 7:30.
I'll be reading with Adele Barclay, Danila Botha, Jonina Kirton, David Ly, and Cole Nowicki. Hosted by Dina Del Bucchia and Sean Cranbury.

Apr 20: Arthur Ellis event, VPL Central. I'll be moderating the shortlist event panel, featuring Katherine Prairie, Elle Wild, Merrilee Robson, Marty Allen, and Cathy Ace.

Apr 25 : Book Club event, VPL South Hill branch, 7pm. I'll be discussing INVISIBLE DEAD with Jinder and the members of their book club. I believe drop-ins are ok.

I've also confirmed my participation in the Kamloops Writers Festival in November, but that's a ways off. Hope to see you out at one of these events!

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Heel Turn

My story "Heel Turn," about pro wrestling and racism (and boy do those things overlap), is in the latest issue of The Matador Review. Crude language abounds.

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Happy New Year...

My residency with the VPL was one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. The events were well-attended and seemed to help aspiring writers, which means a lot to me--my goal when I started was to put on events I'd want to attend. I think it was successful. Most of that success can be attributed to the library staff, and the writers and artists who gave their time. Thank you!

The Globe and Mail did a write-up on the residency here. Aside from a couple factual errors, it's a nice piece, and again, the credit for the success goes to everyone involved. The VPL is world-class.

A couple weeks ago I was reading the National Post's Top 99 Books list when it dawned on me that they had more novels about people turning into plants and animals than genre fiction. I may have shared this criticism with one or two people on social media...

...then a week later, the Post asked me to write a best-of list to address that oversight. I agreed. Here's my "Top Ten" list, titled "Reviewing the Evidence."

Let me say, I'm NOT a critic, and make no claim to objectivity or a clear view of the mystery/crime field. A lot of great authors didn't make the list simply because their books are still piled on my TBR shelf. The Post cut my "honourable mentions" addendum, which is below:

Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin (My family forbade me on pain of death from buying this because it was going to be a Christmas gift.)
Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley
The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda
Cold Girl by R.M. Greenaway 
Strange Things Done by Elle Wild
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty
IQ by Joe Ide 
Umbrella Man by Peggy Blair
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Revolver by Duane Swierczynski

The second comment on the article is hilariously negative: "For shame, surely you can do better." I really, really can't.

Anyway, Happy New Year to you all. I've got a story coming out in early January and a very cool anthology project in the works. We'll see what else 2017 has in store.

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Cut You Down, Writers Fest, and November Events

The second Wakeland novel has a name, cover and publication date. CUT YOU DOWN will come out June 6th 2017 in Canada and the US. INVISIBLE DEAD will be released in America on May 2nd, 2017. I'm incredibly excited about this!


The Vancouver Writers Fest wrapped up last weekend. I was on a panel with Michael Koryta and Peter Robinson, moderated by Lonnie Propas. The first event I ever saw at the Writers Fest was Peter interviewing Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Stuart MacBride, and Wayne Arthurson, so to be on the stage with Peter was a little surreal. The second event was a 'Sunday Tea" reading series where I read with Sharon Olds, Adam Hassett, Robert Olin Butler, Clea Young, and Eimer McBride. I'm very grateful for being included with such esteemed company--and now I can say I've read with 2.5 Pulitzer winners!

November will be a busy month. Tonight (the first) I'm part of an Asian Mystery Book Club featuring SG Wong, who will be in attendance to lead the discussion. Here's what else is going on:

November 2nd: Noir at the Bar Vancouver at the Sheen Whisk(e)y Room: This will be fun! A lot of out of town special guests, including Terry Shames, Will Viharo, and Michael Pool, who's launching his Fast Women and Neon Lights anthology. 

November 3rd: Alternate Histories Panel at the VPL Central Branch. I'm moderating a panel featuring SG Wong, Dietrich Kalteis, E.C. Bell and Janie Chang.

November 7th: I'm on a Giller Light Bash featuring Aislinn Hunter and Lisa Charleyboy. Should be fun!

I have a bunch of workshops and consults I'm doing with the Vancouver Public Library as their Writer in Residence. Please check for all of them.

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US Publisher for Invisible Dead and other News

The first month of being the VPL Writer in Residence has been amazing. The opening event was terrific, with some people calling it the best event the VPL has ever offered (note: I am one of the people saying that, and not for any involvement of myself. The panelists were incredible.) The workshops so far have been fun and interesting, and I'm amazed at the creativity of the community. Tonight's scriptwriting workshop will hopefully continue that trend.

Quercus/Little Brown will be publishing INVISIBLE DEAD next year, around the time the second Wakeland novel comes out in Canada. Obviously I'm thrilled about this. Speaking of the second novel, I've been working on the edits for it, and just got it off to my editor Craig Pyette at Random House. Craig helped write Roddy Piper's memoir, which looks incredible, and there's a terrific article by him about the collaboration with Piper in the National Post.

Anyway, I'm very excited to be working with so many cool people. And tomorrow I'm onstage at the Vancouver Writers Fest with Peter Robinson and Michael Koryta! Things don't get better than this.

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Writer in Residence

I'm proud to announce that I'm the Vancouver Public Library's 2016 Writer in Residence!

This fall I'll be running workshops, offering consultations, and moderating some terrific panels. All the events are online at , and the official announcement is here:



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Up and Down

The one thing every writer collects is grudges.


Even the most successful writers I know have an accountant’s mind for awards not won, sales not made, reviewers who just didn’t get it, publicists who missed major opportunities...the list goes on.


It’s part egotism and part anxiety, and part the nature of artistic endeavor. My dad’s a jazz musician, and he put it really well: one day you’re playing the best club in the city with the best musicians, the next you’re at the PNE fairgrounds wearing a straw boater and being yelled at by old people to “quit playing that n——r music.”


The successes you have aren’t guaranteed by any security--they could all be ripped away in a moment, and you just have to go on.


Last weekend I drove to Kamloops with three much more accomplished writers. Eight fucking hours in the car, there and back. Two people showed up.


When you’re forced to think three steps in advance, it’s very hard to appreciate what you have right now.


And yet sometimes a moment breaks through that cynicism. Today I started a new writing job, which I’ll be able to talk more freely about tomorrow. I was given a tour of the various departments, introduced to the people I’ll be working with, then shown to my new office and left to work.


I’m sitting there, and I start thinking about how when I was a kid, every week my parents would take us to the Oakridge Library and let us borrow any books we wanted.


One night, we drive to the Kerrisdale branch--my mom or dad must have wanted a book there. As I’m pulling grown-up books off the shelves, I spy one called How to Write Action-Adventure Novels by Michael Newton. I start flipping through it. 


The book has advice on all the important writing questions: how to get your weapons details right, how to write sizzling sex scenes. I’m all of nine years old at the time.


But that book made me realize that someone had to write all these books on the shelves, and that those people weren’t necessarily geniuses drunk on the inspiration of the muses--that pretty ordinary people could write books, and do.


And 25 years later, here I am.


When people piss and moan about their lack of some type of success--or mine, which is always very kind of them--my standard response is this:

If you think of your writing as anything more than a product--something to be bought, consumed, and discarded--then you must forego the right to complain when your book doesn’t perform as the ideal product.


It’s why I hate the question “How’s your book doing?”--the book is the thing that is done


I’m lucky enough that I wrote something I’m proud of, that it was edited and agented by people who believed in it, and that it was put out by some of the best people in Canada.

Anything beyond that--foreign sales, TV sales, translations, another book deal--is a blessing that will come or won’t, and is entirely out of my hands, and must therefore occupy less mental space than that devoted to working on the next book.


You take your victories where you can. Sitting in my office this morning was a victory. 


In a day or so the elation will pass, and I’ll be subsumed in worry and anxiety about writing, about disappointing people looking to me for help, about not doing enough or doing it wrong--business as usual. But today was a moment.


I hope everyone reading this gets moments like that.

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Reviews and Interviews

The response to Invisible Dead so far has been amazing. I wanted to share two things that I thought were especially cool.

Naben Ruthnum interviewed me for Hazlitt. In his review of the novel he compares it to the work of Richard Price and David Simon, which doesn't happen every day. I'm really proud of how this turned out.

And from Margaret Cannon's review of Invisible Dead in the Globe and Mail: "Haven't heard yet of Sam Wiebe? You will soon."

It's incredibly gratifying.

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August Events and Book Tour

What a month. July saw me tour Invisible Dead from Vancouver to Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, was exhausting, but a lot of fun. Thanks to all the writers, book store owners, and everyone else who helped facilitate this trip.

Here's my schedule of events for August, most in Vancouver or its surrounding area:

August 1st: CBC Radio interview, the Stephen Quinn Show
August 2nd: Harmony Arts Festival, West Vancouver, Crime Fiction panel with Ian Hamilton and William Deverell, moderated by Robin Spano

August 6th: Black Bond Books in Maple Ridge, BC with Cathy Ace, Allan Emerson and others
August 13th: Black Bond Books in Central City, Surrey, BC with Cathy Ace, Allan Emerson and others

August 20th: Kamloops Library


Here's a book recommendation: John McFetridge's One or the Other is officially released today. It's a great procedural set in Montreal at the tail end of the seventies. I can also recommend Viet Than Nguyen's The Sympathizer, which was a really interesting spy novel that's won a boatload of awards. Both books are interested in the ways that the victimized become victimizers. 

Thanks for reading this,



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Book Launch, Upcoming Tour

To everyone who came to the book launch at Pulp Fiction--thank you! I had a terrific time connecting and re-connecting with people...and the after-launch drinks at Main Street Brewing and The Whip were pretty great, too.

Invisible Dead has been out for about a week now. The reviews have been pretty stellar--check out the write-up in the Vancouver Sun, and on the Dead End Follies Blog

In July I'll be embarking on a cross-Canada tour that will take me from Vancouver to Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. I'm hoping to add some more cities to that list, but we'll see. I've heard "July isn't a good time for book events..." though those are the same people who've also said "nobody comes out to events in the sunshine" and "if it rains no one will come out." As David Milch says, the 'smart money' usually misses its bus in the morning.


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Two Weeks and Counting

INVISIBLE DEAD comes out June 14th, two weeks from today. The book launch is at Pulp Fiction Books on Main Street, in Vancouver. Here's the link to the Facebook event.

Hope to see you there! 


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New Events Added; Authors for Indies and Noir at the Bar

Authors for Indies was yesterday. I was at three stores--Black Bond Books in Central City, Dead Write/White Dwarf in the West End, and Pulp Fiction on Main. Busy day, but great to connect with so many booksellers. Janie Chang organizes AFI, and has made it into a rewarding ceebration of independent bookstores.

This Wednesday is Noir at the Bar Vancouver, which will be at the Shebeen Whisk(e)y Room, inside the Irish Heather Bar in Gastown. [All of these are greater Vancouver locations, by the way.] NATB is consistently my favorite literary events, probably due to the alcohol, but also the cozy atmosphere. Come out, have a drink and a pretzel, and hear some crime writers read from their newest work.

Invisible Dead comes out in a month and a half, and I'm already organizing a barrage of new bookings, including Kelowna, Kamloops, Nelson, Surrey, and Maple Ridge. June and August I'll be doing Vancouver and B.C. events, but in July I'm arranging a road trip. I'm hoping to include Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, at the very least. It'll be a lot of fun. 

And then in the fall...I have some VERY cool announcements to make about what I'll be doing in the fall. Stay tuned!

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2016 Spring/Summer Events

My new book INVISIBLE DEAD comes out this June, and I'll be doing a ton of events around Vancouver, as well as road trips to Kelowna and Nelson, to Seattle, and (I'm hoping), the rest of Canada. Here's what I've lined up so far:

April 9th: Booked for Crime -  Capilano Library, with Dietrich Kalteis, Owen Laukkanen, and Jackie Bateman

April 30th: Authors For Indies -I'll be at Black Bond Books at Surrey Central in the morning, followed by Dead Write  Books from 1-3, and Pulp Fiction (Main Street location) 4-6. 

May 4th: Noir at the Bar Vancouver - The Shebeen Whisky Room (212 Carrall Street, Vancouver)

May 18th: Kelowna and Nelson trip--details to come

May 26: Christianne's Lyceum - Last of the Independents book chat

June 14 - Publication date for INVISIBLE DEAD

August 2: Harmony Arts Festival, West Vancouver, Crime Fiction panel with Ian Hamilton and William Deverell, moderated by Robin Spano

More events to come!

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