The National Chiaroscuro Reading Series

Blog No. 245

18698534_10154951530768855_4340250851259082773_nI’ve mentioned the ChiSeries here a few times already. Back in February, Christian and I went up to Toronto to take part in a reading up there. It all happened to fast. We went in, met folks, had a drink, did some readings, and hung out for the rest of the night. At time time, before we headed back to the hotel, we had agreed to start hosting a ChiSeries in Windsor in the next few months. In the span of a few hours, we had been completely indoctrinated into the Chiaroscuro Series family, given a taste of the life of a genera writer with friends, and took up the charge to bring the experience home. The whole night shows what happens when like-minded people hang out.

The ChiSeries is a national series of readings focused on genera fiction. Several groups in cities from Vancouver to Ottawa are involved. Authors across Canada are all part of the same organization, and that includes both me, and Windsor. I can be in Winnipeg for whatever reason, meet up with friends I’ve never met, do a reading (which I would try to do anyway in a new city) and get some cash in my pocket. It’s almost too good to be true. The best part is that I can now invite those people to Windsor, host a reading here, and have some local talent share the stage with someone visiting the city. It’s a classic win-win-win.

michael-scott-the-office-win-win-winOh, and about that money part. The organization, backed by the kind folks at ChiZine, fund the whole thing. They pay for every author and musician to perform across the country. You get paid to do a reading (and it’s good money). It makes taking a trip to Toronto way less painful. It basically (almost) pays for accommodations. That’s huge. Mucicians may be used to getting paid for their gigs. It’s unheard of for anyone with any ability to play for nothing (unless it’s a huge favour). For authors, it’s a different story. Doing a reading is just a way to sell books. If you don’t sell, you don’t make money. Sure, the rare event may pay, and the biggest authors can charge for even signings, but it’s uncommon. The thing is, even the musician does well at a ChiSeries event. Ask any working musician what they get for a night’s work and they’ll tell you to mind your business, but tell them what they could make playing three songs at a Chiaroscuro Reading and they’ll ask to get on the list.

The sad news is that the funding Chiaroscuro gets to pay everyone didn’t come through this year. Everything is coming out of donations and the pockets of the main organizers. That’s a tall order. I hope I’ve managed to explain how important the network can be for the country, the authors, and the cities involved. Genera fiction sometimes gets shafted. There isn’t a ton of funding for it, and while there is a market out there, there are plenty of people who think it is somehow less than literary fiction. 16730491_10154327663405983_7522671971236499324_nThat means, in general, genera authors have a tough go legitimizing the things they write. Even within the genera communities, preference often goes to things with strong literary leanings. I’m not begrudging people’s personal opinions, I’m jut pointing out that something like the Chiaroscuro Reading Series is a beacon of hope for those who stick to the dark or far out places when they write. It’s something for us.

Sometime soon, the organizers will be creating a funding campaign to help keep things going while they get the next funding application submitted. I’ll be sharing that info like crazy. Please consider coming the the August Event and tossing a few bucks into the donations jar. The money goes right to the readers and the organizers will know you want the Chiseries to stay in Windsor.

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2 thoughts on “The National Chiaroscuro Reading Series

  1. Being a writer, I know how hard it is to get any kind of genre fiction published in Canada. As for agents or publishers here, almost none handle genre fiction and writers are required to query in the US or UK in order to get their work published.

    The Chiseries is not only a way for genre writers to get there work out there, I think it sends a message to the Canadian traditional publishers that genre is a viable option.

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