The Year in Review: Charles de Lint

Here at the Kinrowan Estate, which publishes Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog, Charles de Lint is one of our favourite writers, with both his music and writing being among the best we’ve seen this year. And this was the year that de Lint moved in the digital realm in a serious way!

Years ago, de Lint started the tradition of publishing an annual Christmas chapbook from his own Triskell Press with an original story that was given only to friends and family. Fortunately, all were later reprinted in collections of his own work and myriad anthologies put together by editors with exceedingly good taste. These coveted chapbooks included The Oak King’s Daughter, The Drowned Man’s Reel (a favourite of mine), and Crow Girls, with superb artwork by longtime friend Donna Gordon, de lint or his lovely wife MaryAnn Harris. Unfortunately, over time they became too expensive to produce and mail, so a few years ago the tradition sadly stopped.

Fast forward to this year and Triskell Press is reborn, as it is now possible to produce and sell a digital chapbook without incurring print or postage costs. OK — I’ll admit as a librarian that digital publications lack the charm of their paper counterparts, but an e-story can be purchased and read by far more folks than received the original chapbooks, and prices are as low as 99 cents! De Lint is releasing some reprints (The Butter Spirit’s Tithe, Companions to the Moon, Crow Roads, That Was Radio Clash, and Dharma) which are all superb stories, but also brand new stories such as Dog Boys and a new favourite of mine, a novella called Jack in the Green.

In spring 2012, his latest novel, Under My Skin (book one of de Lint’s new Wildlings series) was published in hardcover in Canada by Penguin Canada under their Razorbill imprint. But de Lint elected to publish it beyond Canada’s borders through Triskell Press in both e-book form and trade paperback on Amazon.

2012 also saw the reprint of an early novel by him, Eyes Like Leaves, of which our reviewer said, ‘To read Eyes Like Leaves is to see a writer in progress. There are flashes of brilliance, and places where de Lint is obviously struggling against genre conventions, consciously or no. Ultimately, this is a book for completists and those interested in filling in the lacunae in de Lint’s evolution as a writer. Those expecting the author at the height of his powers may be disappointed; those looking for a way in may be confused. But readers who know and appreciate his work already will see its roots already strong here, and for many, that will be more than enough.”

That’s it for 2012, but I find that I must tease a forthcoming release in March 2013 by my favourite two Charleses — de Lint and Vess — in the form of the heavily illustrated book called The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, which is due out early in 2013. It is a superb expansion of A Circle of Cats, in which a hill country girl named Lillian gets rescued by the forest cats from a deadly snake bite only to have her life get even more complicated. Charles de Lint expanded the story to 50,000 words and Vess did over 50 new paintings for the project. The galley I’ve seen has the early rough sketches of Vess’ work and they are quite amazing.

You can follow de Lint on Facebook and Twitter.

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