What Happened Next: a podcast about newish books

In each episode of What Happened Next, author Nathan Whitlock interviews other authors about what happens when a new book isn’t new anymore, and it’s time to write another one. nathanwhitlock.ca

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Episodes

Nina Dunic

12 hours ago

12 hours ago

My guest on this episode is Nina Dunic. Nina is writer, editor, and journalist whose has done work for the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, CBC Docs and others. After winning a number of short story contests less than a decade ago, Nina turned to writing fiction. Nina’s first book is the novel The Clarion, which was published by Invisible Publishing in 2023. The Clarion was longlisted for the Giller Prize and just last week, it won the Trillium Prize. It was also named one of the Globe and Mail's Best Books of 2023, and the Best Canadian Debut of 2023 by Apple Books. It also appeared on the CBC'S list of Best Canadian Fiction of 2023.
The Toronto Star called The Clarion “a wonderful, and promising, debut.”
Nina and I talk about her how she has dealt with nervousness around getting interviewed – it involves cognac – about maintaining distance between her fiction writing self and her real self, and about the surreal feeling she gets watching her debut book, which she was certain would disappear without a trace, get all of this recognition from critics, readers, and award juries. (We recorded this conversation shortly before she won Trillium Prize, but we talk about that, too.)

Nathan Whitlock

Monday Jun 17, 2024

Monday Jun 17, 2024

My guest on this episode is... me. That’s because my most recent novel, Lump, was published exactly one year ago this week by the Rare Machines imprint of Dundurn Press, so I am officially in WHAT HAPPENED NEXT territory.
My guest interviewer on this episode is Julie S. Lalonde. Julie is an internationally recognized women’s rights advocate and public educator. Her book Resilience is Futile: The Life and Death and Life of Julie S. Lalonde was published by Between the Lines in 2020. It was named one of the best books of the year by CBC Books and the Hill Times and won the 2020 Ontario Speaker’s award. It also won an Independent Publisher Book Award in 2021. (In addition to all that, Julie was the very first guest I had on this podcast.)
Julie and I talk about the differences between publishing your first book and publishing your third, how to deal with other authors sucking up all the sales and attention, and the author I consider my dream-get for this podcast.
Julie S. Lalonde: yellowmanteau.com
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact

Laurie Petrou

Monday Jun 10, 2024

Monday Jun 10, 2024

My guest on this episode is Laurie Petrou. Laurie is the author of four books, including the short story collection Between, and the novels Sister of Mine and Love, Heather. She is an Associate Professor at the RTA School of Media at Toronto Metropolitan University.
Laurie’s most recent book is Stargazer, published in 2022 by Verve Books. Author Marissa Stapley called Stargazer "a sinuous, captivating exploration of the mysterious depths of female friendship.”
Laurie and I talk about the lessons she has learned since her first book about what to say no to and what to yes to, about the skills she has acquired while collaborating with a TV writer for her next book, and how she handles getting identified as a writer by people in her neighbourhood.
Laurie Petrou: lauriepetrou.com
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact

Jordan Abel

Monday Jun 03, 2024

Monday Jun 03, 2024

My guest on this episode is Jordan Abel. Jordan is the author of The Place of Scraps (which won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Un/inhabited, Injun (winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize) and NISHGA, which won the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize and the VMI Betsy Warland Between Genres award and was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction, and the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize. Jordan is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta where he teaches Indigenous Literatures, Research-Creation, and Creative Writing.
Jordan’s most recent book is Empty Spaces, which was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2023, and was shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award. In its review of Empty Spaces, the Boston Globe called it “a singular, incantatory work.”
Jordan and I talk about how being in academia has enriched his creative work, and why, all the same, he doesn’t always feel he belongs there, and about how he was shocked that his agent and publisher would take a chance on a book as strange and difficult as Empty Spaces, and about how odd it is that his published work to date has been so dark and serious, when he doesn’t see himself that way at all. (We do a lot of laughing in this episode, FYI.)
 
Empty Spaces by Jordan Abel at Penguin Random House Canada.
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact

Andrew F. Sullivan

Monday May 27, 2024

Monday May 27, 2024

My guest on this episode is Andrew F Sullivan. Andrew is the author of the novel WASTE, a Globe & Mail Best Book of the Year, and the short story collection All We Want is Everything, also a Globe & Mail Best Book of the Year and finalist for the ReLit Award. Andrew’s most recent two books are the novels The Marigold, published by ECW Press in Spring 2023, a finalist for the Aurora Awards and the Locus Awards, and named a Best Book of the Year by Esquire, The Verge, Book Riot and the Winnipeg Free Press, and The Handyman Method, which he cowrote with Nick Cutter, and which was published by Simon & Schuster in Fall 2023.
Book List called The Handyman Method “a terrific horror novel, with a spellbinding story full of surprises and superb writing that is vivid, visceral, and, at times, darkly beautiful.” Publishers Weekly said about The Marigold that “this impressively bleak vision of the near future is as grotesquely amusing as it is grim.” 
Andrew and I talk about how grateful he is for the amount of attention The Marigold has received, but also how he worked his ass off and was very strategic about ensuring it had a chance to get that attention, also the enormous difference between publishing with an indie press like ECW and with a multinational like Simon & Schuster, and how nearly burnt himself out promoting two novels in one year.
 
Andrew F. Sullivan: andrewfsullivan.com
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact
 

Ken McGoogan

Monday May 20, 2024

Monday May 20, 2024

My guest on this episode is Ken McGoogan. Ken is the author of sixteen books—most of them nonfiction narratives, but also a few novels. His books include Fatal Passage, Lady Franklin’s Revenge, and Canada’s Undeclared War: Fighting Words from the Literary Trenches. Ken has won the Pierre Berton Award for Popular History and the University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography. A fellow of the Explorers Club and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, McGoogan sails as a resource historian with Adventure Canada. Ken’s most recent book is Searching for Franklin: New Answers to the Great Arctic Mystery, which was published by Douglas & McIntyre in 2023. The Vancouver Sun wrote about that book, that “there's a raw immediacy, a forceful current of white-knuckle suspense, to McGoogan's recreation of events."
 
Ken and I talk about his brief time as a firewatcher and how that directly inspired at least one of his books, about whether Searching for Franklin really is his last book about the search for the Northwest Passage (short answer: probably, but it depends), and about his upcoming book, in which he shifts his subject from the Franklin expedition to fascism.
 
Ken McGoogan: kenmcgoogan.com
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact

Sheima Benembarek

Monday May 13, 2024

Monday May 13, 2024

My guest on this episode is Sheima Benembarek. Sheima is a journalist who’s written for The Walrus, Broadview, Maisonneuve, and the Literary Review of Canada. She has worked as special reports editor at Strategy, a senior editor for Toronto Life, an events manager for The Walrus, a business development and brand communications lead at Corporate Knights, and as an associate editor at Broadview. Currently, she is a contributing writer for The Walrus. In 2020, she was chosen as one of the five RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers of the year.
Sheima’s first book is Halal Sex: The Intimate Lives of Muslim Women in North America, published by Viking Canada in 2023. The book was shortlisted for the QWF Concordia University First Book Prize. Journalist Robyn Doolittle said about Halal Sex that it “pulls vital conversations into the open. I loved every minute I spent reading this book.”
Sheima and I talk about the why she chose to include intimate details about her own life in her book, about the reaction she had been anticipating to the book, and about her new work-in-progress, which extends the work she did in Halal Sex.
 
Sheima Benembarek: sheimabenembarek.com
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact

Scott Chantler

Monday May 06, 2024

Monday May 06, 2024

My guest on this episode is Scott Chantler. Scott is the creator of multiple graphic novels for both adults and young readers, including Northwest Passage, Two Generals, which was voted by CBC's Canada Reads as one of the 40 best Canadian non-fiction books of all time, the Three Thieves series (winner of the Joe Shuster Award for Best Comic for Kids), and Bix. He has been the illustrator for many other graphic novels and comic books, and has served as Cartoonist-in-Residence at the University of Windsor, the first cartoonist to be appointed to such a position by a Canadian university. Scott’s most recent book is Squire & Knight, published by First Second in 2023. Kirkus Reviews said that Squire & Knight "subverts typical fairy-tale tropes with dry humour” and says the book is “compelling and full of adventure, with a plot as clever as its main character."
Scott and I talk about bringing Three Thieves back into print after falling out with that series’s original publisher, about how the upcoming sequel to Squire & Knight might be the end of that series, unless he changes his mind—he also talks about how he’s not great at longterm career planning—and about how he want to focus on work that is darker and more adult than what he is best known for.
 
Scott Chantler: scottchantler.com
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact
 
 

Meaghan Strimas

Monday Apr 29, 2024

Monday Apr 29, 2024

My very special guest on this one-year-anniversary episode is Meaghan Strimas. Meaghan is the author of three collections of poetry, including Junkman's Daughter and A Good Time Had By All, which was shortlisted for the 2011 ReLit Award. She the editor of The Selected Gwendolyn MacEwen and co-edited Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology with the late Priscila Uppal. She is a professor in the Faculty of Media and Creative Arts at Humber College, where she runs the Bachelor of Creative and Professional Writing degree. (She is also married... to me.) Meaghan’s most recent book is Yes or Nope, which was published by Mansfield Press in 2016 and was awarded the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in the following year. Author Zoe Whittall said of that book that “the poetry in Yes or Nope is whip-smart and tenderhearted, funny and alive.”
 
Meaghan and I talk about the shift that happened in her writing that allowed her to write Yes Or Nope under some difficult circumstances and time constraints, about working on the final books by her friends Priscila Uppal and Teva Harrison, books that, in both cases, were published posthumously, and about her new work, which she says further develops the stylistic freedoms she discovered in Yes or Nope and which will pay tribute to some of the writers who have inspired her.
 
Meaghan Strimas: notesandqueries.ca/meaghan-strimas
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact

Rob Benvie

Monday Apr 22, 2024

Monday Apr 22, 2024

My guest on this episode is Rob Benvie. Rob is the author of three novels, including Safety of War and Maintenance, both published by Coach House Books. His writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, Dazed, Vice, Joyland, The Puritan, CNQ, and Best Canadian Essays. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 2021 film Stanleyville. Rob was a founding member of the band Thrush Hermit, and performs and records solo as Tigre Benvie. Rob’s most recent novel, Bleeding Light, was published in 2021 by Invisible Press. Author Liz Harmer called Bleeding Light "bizarre, terrifying, and wise." Rob’s upcoming novel, Book of the Flock, will be published by Knopf Canada in 2025.
Rob and I talk about how doing novel revisions can be a little bit like a band reunion, how, despite having a successful career as a musician and songwriter, it might be the case that he was a writer all along, and how being published by a multinational is not quite the same as a band signing with a major label (he hopes).
 
Rob Benvie: robbenvie.com
Music: "simple-hearted thing" by Alex Lukashevsky. Used with permission.
Contact Nathan Whitlock at nathanwhitlock.ca/contact
 

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Nathan Whitlock

Nathan Whitlock is the author of the novels A Week of This, Congratulations On Everything, and the upcoming Lump. Nathan’s writing has appeared in the New York Review of Books, the Walrus, Chatelaine, Today’s Parent, the Globe and Mail, Best Canadian Essays, and elsewhere. He is the coordinator for Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing program.

Find him at nathanwhitlock.ca

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