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New stories, play on way from local power duo

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Former Winnipegger Susie Moloney wants to give readers more than just visions of sugarplums this Christmas.

The author of horror hits including The Thirteen and The Dwelling, who now lives in New York with her husband, playwright Vern Thiessen, is launching her fifth book this festive season. Things Withered (ChiZine Publications), Moloney's first collection of short stories, is described as an examination of "suburban darkness."

The other half of the literary power couple is looking forward to the première of his new play next spring with Toronto's Soulpepper theatre company. Former Winnipegger Thiessen, whose play Einstein's Gift won the Governor General's Award for drama, has written the first stage adaption of Somerset Maugham's 1915 semi-autobiographical novel Of Human Bondage; his work was described in the Toronto Star as a powerful story of "passion and degradation."

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Speaking of darkness and degradation, reality television competitions are finally coming to the literary world.

According to the New York Times, the new Italian TV series Masterpiece pits aspiring writers against one another in literary challenges, and includes a Big Brother-style video confessional for onscreen meltdowns. The show is produced in collaboration with FreemantleMedia, the company behind the global Idol, X Factor and Got Talent brands.

The hopefuls will be whittled down to a pool of 12, who in February will compete for a chance at a publishing deal with an initial print run of 100,000 copies.

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Matlock-based writer Doreen Pendgracs will take a turn as a gastronomic tour guide in the spring when she leads a group of women to sample Switzerland's best chocolate, cheese and wine.

The tour, March 29-April 8, is one of several events tied to her book Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate, the second printing of which is out in time for Christmas. Pendgracs is also hosting An Evening of Indulgence Feb. 6 at Rembrandt's Bistro, which will focus on Dutch chocolate and chocolate-inspired art, and a chocolate-themed dinner at McNally Robinson Booksellers on April 12.

The Swiss tour is being organized through Journey's Travel and participants need to register by Dec. 20. Details on all the events are available at chocolatour.net.

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Teachers and librarians interested in hosting a reading by one of two touring authors during next spring's TD Canadian Children's Book Week have until Dec. 31 to apply online at bookweek.ca.

This year's visiting authors, who will be in Manitoba May 3-10, are Helaine Becker, author of more than 50 children's and young adult books, including the Looney Bay All-Stars series and the young-adult novel Trouble in the Hills, and Kathy Kacer, who writes historical fiction and non-fiction, including the Whispers and Our Canadian Girl series and the novel Shanghai Escape.

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After cranking out 56 novels in 40 years, Stephen King has found a platform for whatever words he hasn't been able to fit between covers.

The American horrormeister has recently joined Twitter, according to British newspaper The Guardian, although his first tweet was an admission that he didn't really know what to say.

Fans of King's books -- including the 1,000-plus-page post-apocalyptic doorstop, The Stand -- will be curious to see how King deals with Twitter's famous 140-character limit.

www.booknewsbob.gmail

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2013 A1

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