Joel A. Sutherland

Author, Ghost Hunter, Barbarian Librarian


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Writing Workshop @ Pickering Public Library

Posted by joelasutherland on July 6, 2012 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (5)

I'll be leading two writing workshops at the Pickering Public Library this month, one tomorrow at Petticoat Creek and another on Saturday, July 21 at the Central Library.


Writing? In the SUMMER? I hear you say. Well, yes. Writing in the summer. But if that combination scares your kids, fear not! My writing workshops are fun, fun and FUN (with emphasis on the fun). We'll play games, we'll act silly, we'll get creative and I'll even have a bunch of giveaways, including signed copies of BE A WRITING SUPERSTAR. I guarantee your kids will have a great time. They'll even learn something without knowing it.


From the PPL website:

Write On! with the Barbarian Librarian (9 to 12 years)

Join Joel A. Sutherland, author of Be A Writing Superstar and a contestant on TV's WIPEOUT CANADA (as the Barbarian Librarian) for this high-energy creative writing workshop. The focus will be on fun and games that will engage children of every skill level, and Joel will share publishing advice with young writers looking for an inside edge. Write on!

Registration is required and starts Friday, June 22nd at 9:30 a.m. in person or by phone 905-831-6265.

Petticoat Creek, Saturday, July 7, 2012 - 10:30am to 11:30am

Central Library, Saturday, July 21, 2012 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm


I hope to see you there!

New website! New book!

Posted by joelasutherland on July 6, 2012 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (2)

The old one was getting a little long in the tooth and needed a good spring clean, and what better time for a spring clean than the summer? I still need to update the Short Fiction page -- I've got a couple of big releases this year -- but for now I think this is a pretty good start.


I also intend on getting back into blogging, although I've been enjoying posting sporadic tweets to my Twitter account -- follow me at @joelasutherland for random thoughts on writing, the publishing industry, librarianship and random stuff like hipster jokes (i.e. Why did the hipster burn his mouth? He ate pizza before it was cool.).


And for the tweens and teens who read BE A WRITING SUPERSTAR and have been asking when I'll have a new book out, sit tight -- I've recently finished a new paranormal adventure book. I've got one more round of edits before my test readers critique it, and then I'll send it out to literary agents. I'll post updates as I have them!


Important Dorchester Publishing (Leisure Books) Update

Posted by joelasutherland on April 4, 2011 at 4:14 PM Comments comments (33)

THE SHORT STORY (if nothing else, please read this): Effective immediately, I have terminated my two contracts for novels to be published by Dorchester Publishing (Leisure Books), and the rights for both have been returned in full to me. This includes the republication of FROZEN BLOOD, which was to be released in August 2011 (trade paperback, e-book and audio book) and THE HOUSE ON FORKS ROAD, my as-of-yet unscheduled follow-up (and original) novel. If you see FROZEN BLOOD still listed for pre-sale in any format from any seller, please do not buy it — the order will not be fulfilled.


THE LONG STORY (for those who might be interested in such things): In June 2009 I attended the Bram Stoker Awards in L.A. While there, I gave a copy of Frozen Blood, which was nominated for First Novel, to Don D'Auria, the editor in charge of Dorchester's horror line (among other lines). Leisure Books, in case you don't know, had been publishing many of my horror idols for years (Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, etc.), were currently publishing many of the most popular mass market horror authors (Brian Keene, Bryan Smith, etc.) and many writers who also happen to be friends and acquaintances of mine (Gord Rollo, Jeff Strand, Nate Kenyon, John Everson, etc.). When I gave Don my book I remember thinking how much of an honour it would be to be published alongside those authors, allowing myself to dream for a moment that I might actually see my name on a future Leisure cover — I then proceeded to drink and mingle the rest of the weekend away, losing the Stoker award and having a great vacation in the sun (it was actually quite gloomy for California standards, but hey, I'm from Canada — it was warm to me).


Fast forward to January 2010. I received a wonderful email out of the blue from Don, telling me he finally read my book, he thinks I'm a very talented writer and he'd like to purchase the rights to release Frozen Blood later that year as a mass market paperback. I still remember that day vividly — I could barely control the shaking in my voice as I called my wife to tell her the good news. I began almost immediately to outline and write a new novel (Don was interested in publishing a second book of mine eight months after my first release — my proposal was accepted shortly after I submitted it). Frozen Blood was slotted into the publication schedule as one of the two November 2010 horror releases. I signed the contract and awaited my advance.


Fast Forward to August 2010. Big changes were afoot at Dorchester. I won't bother going into the details here — Brian Keene has chronicled the events in far greater detail than I could hope to do, and this handy timeline is a perfect recap of the all the deets — but it basically boils down to Dorchester dropping mass market paperbacks in favour of trade paperbacks and e-books. Their entire publication schedule was bumped back (Frozen Blood eventually landed in August 2011) and many of their authors jumped ship. I stuck around for the time being (for reasons discussed below).


Fast Forward to March 2011. I was still waiting for the full advance for Frozen Blood and the first half of the advance for The House on Forks Road (these were both to be paid upon signing the respective contracts, well over a year prior). I had received repeated promises that I would be paid shortly, but the cheques had yet to arrive. Don had been let go months previous. I began to come to the conclusion that the reasons I had for wanting to stick with the company (hold tight, they're coming) no longer outweighed the possible negative impacts of publishing with them.


Then, March 24 2011, the Dorchester Boycott began. Although I was already 99.9% certain I was going to part ways with the company, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. I wrote to Dorchester asking for my contracts to be canceled and the rights to both books to be returned in full to me. As Dorchester breached the contracts long ago (by not paying me), I didn't believe this was unreasonable. After one last request to stick with them a little longer ("good news is on the way..."), which I politely denied, my contracts were canceled, the rights for the novels were returned in full and an official letter confirming this was mailed to me. I breathed a sigh of relief and looked forward to moving on.


And that’s where things currently stand.


MY REASONS FOR STICKING WITH DORCHESTER FOR AS LONG AS I DID (also for those who might be interested in such things): First and foremost, the prospect of being published alongside Laymon and Ketchum and Keene and Smith and Rollo and Strand and Kenyon and Everson and on and on and on. Of being able to go to a convention and being — well, not yet on the same level as them, but being in the same ballpark.


Second, the timeline I linked to above sums up my next reason (next nine reasons, actually) perfectly: "Dorchester Publishing: Leisure Books; Love Spell Books. They call themselves “the oldest independent mass-market publisher in America,” (founded 1971). Great editors. Great distribution. Really strong in paranormal and futuristic romances. One of the last markets for horror and westerns. Advances and royalties a bit on the low side, maybe, but they sold a lot of books. And they had some star talent: Stephen King published The Colorado Kid through their Hard Case Crime imprint. Nice people. Really professional."


WHILE I'M AT IT, ONE MORE REASON I DECIDED TO PART WAYS WITH DORCHESTER (for those who are still reading this and have nothing better to do but keep on reading): While all of this was taking place, I also sold, wrote and saw the publication of my first children's book, BE A WRITING SUPERSTAR, with Scholastic Canada. The book has sold very well in the first three months of its release and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I'll admit that the Dorchester experience has slightly soiled my enthusiasm for writing horror novels for grown-ups and the success of Be a Writing Superstar (and the incredible experiences I've had with the entire Scholastic publishing team) has rekindled my passion for children's and YA writing. Since January I've written a little over half of a YA novel — with ghosts, so I haven't completely given up on the spooky stuff.


THE FINAL WORD: I do not harbour any ill will towards either the company or the employees I dealt with. Although it's still a little upsetting how close I came to realizing a dream I've had for a long time in being published by the Leisure imprint, I feel I'm fortunate not to be in the situation some of the other authors are in. I truly hope things improve for the company, the authors and everyone else involved.


Let's hope this story has a happy ending.

DarkLit Fest

Posted by joelasutherland on September 9, 2010 at 12:54 PM Comments comments (2)


Something I've been working on behind the scenes these past few months is a one-day literary convention called The DarkLit Fest of Durham. For the past few years I've been dreaming of such an event to take place in my neck of the woods -- in Durham Region, east of Toronto -- and I finally decided to take the plunge and organize it myself.


Not only was the location an integral part of my plan, but I also wanted the fest to focus on dark literature and, most importantly, I wanted it to be FREE. It can be expensive traveling to and from these types of events and the entry cost is often quite high, so I wanted my event to be affordable (i.e. FREE) for anyone who wants to come.


So what bang do you get for your buck? You get to meet bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, who is the Guest of Honour. You get to meet the other nineteen (yes, nineteen!) literary guests -- authors, editors and publishers from the fields of mystery, crime, horror and dark fantasy. You can register for a pitch session or two in the hopes of selling your manuscript to our three publisher guests: Burning Effigy Press, ChiZine Publications and ECW Press! You get to sit in on panels and readings and can buy autographed books. You might even win a door prize, and if all that wasn't enough, there will be FREE food at the Meet and Greet Luncheon.


Did I mention all of this is FREE?


I'm organizing it in conjunction with the Oshawa Public Library, and they've been an absolute joy to work with. This is going to be a truly special event so if you live in the Greater Toronto Area, you won't want to miss it! The date is Saturday, November 27 from 10:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


More information can be found on the website:


If this year's DarkLit Fest is as successful as I'm hoping it will be, I'll likely make it an annual event, so I hope to see some of you there! It's not like you can beat the price. By the way, it's FREE.

Be a Writing Superstar

Posted by joelasutherland on September 8, 2010 at 12:03 PM Comments comments (0)

Like I said at the beginning of my last post, I've got some good news to share, so enough with the doom and gloom talk.


We're now a week into September, the month that my children's non-fiction book, Be a Writing Superstar, is being released by Scholastic Canada! And that means it has its own page on the Scholastic website. Not only can you see the cover and read a bit about the book there, but you can also read an excerpt which includes some of the perfect illustrations by Patricia Storms. Check it out:


Speaking of the cover and blurb, why don't I go ahead and share those with you now as well?



Hemingway. Dostoevsky. Shakespeare. All of them wrote masterpieces when they were adults. But imagine what they could have written when they were kids, if only they had had this book!

Be a Writing Superstar is an irreverent, encouraging writing guide for young readers, which covers a whole spectrum of topics. It succeeds in teaching them the nuts and bolts of the entire writing process - from brainstorming their early ideas and shaping them on paper, right through to hosting their own book launch! Yes, kids will be trading witty repartee and bon mots with their fellow scribes, as they get their literary game on!

And, for when the dreaded writer's block kicks in, kids can draw inspiration from their writing heroes by reading some short interviews with famous Canadian authors and illustrators! Some of Canada's finest, including Robert Munsch, Mélanie Watt, Gordon Korman and Kenneth Oppel, agreed to answer 5 Silly Questions about their writing, and all of them are included in this book. A hilarious reminder that writers are funny people and writing is, above all else, fun!


You can't beat the retail price of $6.99 (especially as a children's gift), so if you live in Canada head on over to or to purchase a copy. If you live elsewhere in the wide world you can ask your local bookseller to order a copy, using one of the following ISBNs: ISBN - 10: 0545980003, or ISBN - 13: 9780545980005.

Leisure Books, Part Two

Posted by joelasutherland on September 4, 2010 at 3:38 PM Comments comments (17)

I came here intending to share a few pieces of good news that I've been meaning to write about the past few weeks, but I was hit with a cold, hard slap as soon as I saw my previous blog post. Back in July my excitement was building for the release of the mass market paperback edition of Frozen Blood, with a beautiful new cover and many edits that made the book much stronger. I was one happy dude, to be sure.


And then the news suddenly broke of Dorchester Publishing's decision to go all digital, with the news later being modified to digital and trade paperback. This was then followed by the news that Don D'Auria, my editor and the man responsible for Dorchester's horror line, had been let go. I'm speeding through all this and leaving some details put since I'm assuming most people reading this are already familiar with the situation. If you're not, Google is your friend.


So where do I stand in all of this? I'm still not really sure. I've been told the e-book of Frozen Blood is still coming out this November, and that a trade paperback will be in stores six months later. The House on Forks Road, my second contracted horror novel with Leisure, is similarly being bumped back six months. But other than that I've received very little information or updates from Dorchester and am not getting answers to some big questions. So I'm in a "wait and see" position -- I wish I could tell you more, but that's all I know right now.


Many Leisure authors have decided to leave the company and look for new publishing homes, and I wish them all the best. I also wish Don all the best and hope he finds a new home soon. The rumours are all true, folks: Don is one of the best editors in the industry and an absolute pleasure to work with. I just wish we could have at least seen my first Leisure release through to the end together. I hope I have the opportunity to work with him again soon.

Leisure Books

Posted by joelasutherland on July 4, 2010 at 4:04 PM Comments comments (9)

The Dorchester Publishing paperback release of Frozen Blood is quickly approaching (time flies with a newborn in the house!) and it's now available for pre-order in the usual places, such as,, and Chapters for the low, low price of ... well, it's a different price depending on where you live, but it's a deal in every country.


I've also got a high-res image of the cover art, which I absolutely adore, and the new cover copy is below that. Take a looksee!


Frozen Blood (Leisure Books)


Tara Stewart had no choice but to attend her father’s funeral, even if it meant having to deal with her vindictive sister, Evelyn. As she arrived at the old mansion, the hail storm had already been raging. And it was not about to end. But the storm is hardly Tara’s only fear. She will very soon discover that the house itself seems intent on her death. It is filled with ghosts, spirits from her past who whisper threats and warn the end is drawing closer, ever closer…


But there is no escape. The storm has transformed the mansion into a prison. Reports on the news say it has become the worst blizzard of modern times, bringing destruction on a catastrophic scale. Trapped in a house of horrors while the world outside slowly freezes, Tara is surrounded by dangers both natural and supernatural—dangers that will push her to the very brink of madness.



Happy belated Canada Day to my countrymen and Fourth of July to my neighbours to the south!

Wipeout Canada

Posted by joelasutherland on June 24, 2010 at 9:51 PM Comments comments (2)


And it's official: I've applied to be on WIPEOUT CANADA. Bring on the big red balls! You can check out my application video on Youtube HERE.


In related news, this is also official: I might be certifiably insane. But man, how much fun does that obstacle course look like?!

Geekiest. Day. Ever.

Posted by joelasutherland on May 24, 2010 at 11:33 AM Comments comments (1)

Other than taking care of the usual baby stuff, this is how I spent my day yesterday:

*went to see Iron Man 2

*watched the 4 1/2 hour Lost series recap and finale

*completed both of the above activities while wearing the t-shirt below:

Monkey Island t-shirt

Today is Victoria Day, a statutory holiday here in Canada, and the weather is gorgeous. Although I haven't been online much since Charlie's birth, things have been clicking along at a fairly steady pace (writing wise) and I'll have some cool updates on my upcoming book releases to share soon. But for now, I'm going to enjoy some quality time with the family while trying to figure out what exactly happened in what I felt was a fitting, touching, poignant end to Lost (even though I have very little idea what actually happened).

Baby update!

Posted by joelasutherland on February 18, 2010 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Colleen and I have been asked a lot (and by "a lot", I mean "A LOT") if we've had the baby yet. Well, now you can check the following website for the answer!!!