Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Lida Somchynsky

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group.

They are unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB. Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Lida Somchynsky.

  1. What was your initial inspiration for the story you included in this anthology, and how the story changed from its original conception?

Lida Somchynsky: My initial inspiration for the story was that I knew immediately that I wanted to have The Green and Gold Gardens feature as the designated locale for this anthology.  When I heard how this ‘garden’ came about, there was the realization that it was a remarkable narrative that needed to be told as it is a place that the City of Edmonton, along with the University of Alberta can truly be proud of.  The story initially was going to be a type of mystery, with a photographer visiting the gardens at dusk, skulking about amongst the rows of sunflowers, dressed in military fatigue…. Looking for what I did not know.    However, upon further reflection, I thought this type of plot would take away from the deeply moving humanitarian intent that ‘the garden’ symbolizes.

  1. What events in your background led you to want to write?

Lida Somchynsky: I have always been an avid reader and enjoy entering other people’s realities to the extent that I still cannot read mysteries in the dark of night.   Upon graduating from university, some of the places where I was employed, required that I write articles such as newsletter items and promo pieces.  Family and friends have always commented on my imagination and so gradually the idea took hold—after several decades of mulling it over to try my hand at writing short stories.  A dear friend and I co-wrote a play for the Fringe in the early nineties which was a great success and that also proved to be an incentive to explore another medium.

  1. What difficulties did you encounter while writing this story, other than finding the time to do it?

Lida Somchynsky: Once I established what the new plot was going to be, the story flowed beautifully and I enjoyed the unexpected turns of creativity while conjuring up various plot point twists.   The ‘Rwanda crisis” part still needs more work as in my mind it feels too didactic at times.

  1. How are your life experiences / career / hobbies reflected in the story?

Lida Somchynsky: I enjoy strolling about in all types of gardens but am not a gardener in any sense.  My one and only attempt failed miserably in terms of a vegetable garden – nothing germinated as there was too much clay in the soil.  However, in that same tiny plot of land I had unexpected success thirty years ago—growing the second tallest sunflower in Alberta for which I was awarded a weekend for two at Fairmont Hot Springs.  A neighbour notified me of the contest that a horticultural magazine was hosting. I was ‘six inches short’ with my sunflower measuring over sixteen feet tall – to win the first prize which was a trip to Brazil.  Cycling is a favourite pastime and in the summer, I make biweekly pilgrimages with friends to the “Green and Gold Gardens” as part our exercise routine.

  1. Are you writer that plots out all the different angles, or are you more free-form. Why do you think you write this way?

Lida Somchynsky: I like to plot out different angles but enjoy when the unexpected thought bursts onto the page and takes the story to different places and there the writer in you goes along for that surprising ride.

Lida Somchynsky’s story, “The Garden”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.

Advertisements

Apostrophe

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Time and distance on your side,

More than you’ll ever know,

As memories release their grasp,

 New hopes begin to grow,

Yet truth presides, over your mind,

No matter where you go,

And is that shame, upon your brow,

To ever say it’s so?

-Brad OH Inc.

Project FearNaught- ‘Just Imagine…’

Imagine if we could all work as one towards the same goals—driven by the same core beliefs. Sadly, ideas of truth are ripe with divisive discourse, and any man who claims to have all the answers is either a fool, or looking for a fool who’ll buy them.

If the purpose of ‘Project: FearNaught’ is to unite humanity—and it is—we must first cast aside many of the bonds we are subject to.

The truth and merit of any given belief system is evidenced in the actions of its adherents. Decency, loyalty, and righteousness are easy words to throw around. So too are they often described as the key tenets of most religions. Likewise, harmonious discourse is called for by nearly all movements, yet seldom achieved.

The purpose of religion, if it is to have any positive effect, is to cope with the times, rather than define them. When it is allowed to dictate the policies of society, dogmatic religion has proven to be a force of injustice, rather than the liberation it is intended to provide. Why is this?

Well, the truth of our reality is far greater than any one person’s ability to articulate, and while all of the Holy Texts and creeds are an attempt to do just that, I believe this makes them all equally valid, rather than the opposite.

Different—and yet alike. That’s the key. But to understand our unity better, we must first consider some essential distinctions. Specifically, what is humanity? What does it mean to be human? And where does spirituality fit into all of this?

To this end, I offer up the first core tenet of ‘Project: FearNaught’: ‘The Metaphorical Imperative.’ For the ease of considering the questions outlined above, let us first look to another, more familiar question: ‘Which came first: the chicken, or the egg?’

Historically, this has never really been meant to have an answer, but to act merely as a mind-expanding paradox. This is a foolish reduction however, and I believe the answer is far clearer than we commonly let on. But, as always, in order to elucidate the reality of the query, we must first define our terms.

So we must ask, just what do we mean by a ‘chicken egg’. If a chicken egg is an egg from which a chicken emerges, then the chicken egg came before the chicken. But if a chicken egg is an egg laid by a chicken, then surely the chicken must have come first.

The key take-away here is that at some point in the evolutionary lines, a non-chicken laid an egg from which a chicken emerged. Now we understand the progression, and are ready to apply it to our own dear forms.

Let us consider the evolution of man. Similar to the chicken above, there must surely be some point at which a being considered ‘non-human’ gave birth to a true ‘human’. We are now tasked with considering the defining change which denotes one such animal ‘human’ and another ‘non-human’.

To my mind, this would be closely tied to the expansion of our cerebral capacity—including things such as language and abstract thought. More importantly—and here is the crux of this entire notion—I would hold that the key point at which we became human is the moment we developed brains capable of looking around us and, rather than acting on blind instinct or natural drives, began to ask ourselves ‘why?’

Not coincidentally, the same expanded cerebral capacity that affords us this philosophic luxury is also the defining feature which allows us to answer the question, rising up to say, ‘Well, because…’

It’s found in our ability to articulate metaphor—to create abstract representations and provide meaning where our basic senses fail. This ability is the defining feature of humanity. Every temple, every text, and every brilliant idea which has graced our species has come from this singular gift. It gives us the ability to imagine the sort of wonderful stories, images, and sounds which reinforce a deep passion in your soul that you have long harboured, but been unable to articulate until this moment.

Imagination—Metaphor—is our hallmark. Our drive and ability to create meaning from madness is what separates us from the animals. All belief, all reason is the result of our divine ability to create and articulate complex ideas.

This is why, as stated above, all religious ideas are equally valid—both true and untrue. In ‘Project: FearNaught’, it is my hope that when using words like God, heaven, or spirit, the reader may take those to apply to whichever specific set of beliefs they hold most dear—or none whatsoever.

It is us who are the creators of meaning in our world, and the power an idea has is found in its ability to be understood, believed, and to make an impact.

This is the Metaphorical Imperative of humanity, and the starting point of ‘Project: FearNaught’. It is inclusive of all, allowing for anyone with the will to imagine a better world. It is free of dogma and decree—‘Project: FearNaught’ does not tell us what to think, it only demands that we do so freely.

It is human imagination which sets us free of our existential anxieties and allows us to dream up better worlds. All human thought—from religion to philosophy to politics—is the product of this imagination, and ‘Project: FearNaught’ seeks to bring together the most universal of these to act as guideposts for the future of humanity.

In this purpose we are all equal—no matter our backgrounds, our creed or experiences. If you have the power to imagine a better world—then you are among the driving forces behind ‘Project: FearNaught’.

Be part of the debate:Project FearNaught is an effort to start the conversation that changes the world. As such, your voice is key to our ambition. To add your input, questions, or comments, click here.

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’

Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Marlene Skaley

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group.

They are unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB. Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Marlene Skaley.

  1. Explain why you chose the specific Edmonton landmarks that you did (Kingsway Mall, the Second Cup in Oliver Square).

Marlene Skaley: I lived in the Kingsway area of Edmonton for many years. The Oliver Square episode was a real event, as were a few other episodes in the story.

  1. Where do you write?

Marlene Skaley: Favorite places to write are places that inspire. Forests, sunshine, lakes…My little boat or cabin in the woods in the Kootenays cannot help but draw out one’s creativity. Whenever inspiration hits me I write. I have often had to pull over to the side of the road while driving and grab a pen and paper to record some ideas before they are forever lost.

  1. You call yourself a student of the universe. What is a student of the universe?

Marlene Skaley: All of life is my University. The entire universe holds so much wonder and beauty that no matter where I go or how much I explore and discover and learn, infinity is always in front of me.

  1. How can meditation help creative people such as writers?

Marlene Skaley: Hmmmm.  That is a very deep and complex question and cannot be answered in a few words. To be able to understand fully one needs to experience it. But I will give it a try. In meditation one begins to explore different levels of consciousness that they have previously never known. All answers to all of life’s mysteries reside in these places. True creativity can only come when one begins to still the mind and enter these places. All great art, music, writing, or other forms of creation come from a mind that has entered into stillness in one way or another.

  1. What red wheelbarrows have you had in your life?

Marlene Skaley: I love that question! My life is a continuous miracle. In my meditation classes I have my students look for miracles in their lives and the more you look the more you find! It really is a law of life.

Marlene Skaley’s story, “It’s Raining Red Wheelbarrows”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

 

-Brad OH Inc.

Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Christine W.

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group.

They are unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB. Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Christine W.

1. Emily and Forest were up against a tight deadline when disaster struck. Has this ever happened to you and what did you do?

Christine W.: There was a comically tragic moment when I was making a couple of lemon meringue pies for a charity bake sale later the same day. The pies take two to three hours to set after the meringue is cooked and are pretty much liquid when they go into the fridge. The first one made it safely onto a shelf in the fridge; the second pie leapt out of my hands and landed head first on the floor. Fortunately I had enough ingredients to make a third pie and barely made it to the bake sale in time to drop off two, mostly set, pies.

2. What is your favorite public art work?

Christine W.: In general I’m a fan of older architecture and more modern bridges. Edmonton’s new bridge is rather impressive as is the Pantheon in Rome. There is no need to pick a favourite.

3. If you had to explain the meaning behind the Talus Dome to tourists, what would it be?

Christine W.: Well, the city has a poetic description of the Dome relating to the landscape and whatnot. I think it is a pile of shiny metal balls expertly positioned to reflect light in an amusing way. Whether good or bad, people talk about it and it is a memorable feature of Edmonton. Our city used to be known mainly for a mall. Being remembered for having a pile of space poop as art is more fun.

4. If Emily and Forest made you a cake, what would you want on it and why?

Christine W.: This is awkward. I don’t like cake. Icing is good though.

5. Your job of attempting to improve conditions of society sounds really worthwhile. What are the proudest moments you would like to share with the readers?

Christine W.: I’m a scientist by training and basically figure things out for a living. Working to better understand supports required for individuals diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorder has been and continues to be a particular passion for me.

Christine W.’s story, “Space Poop”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.

Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Simon MacKintosh

On January 20th, at 10:00am, the authors of ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ will be at the 1975 111st. YMCA selling and signing copies of our new anthology. ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve local authors, unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB.

Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Simon MacKintosh.

  1. I read an earlier draft of your “Uncle Charlie’s Tiger Hunt.” What kinds of things did you do when revising the story?

Simon MacKintosh: Mostly, I tried to tighten up the humour. There are several things that can make a story funny. One is a sequence of events, all commonplace but ridiculous (like sliding down a hill unable to control yourself), that build towards a hilarious climax. I tried for that because the story started as an attempt to do that. Other elements of humour are ordinary things made ridiculous by an unlikely context, or the relationships between people. I worked on those as well.

Apart from that I just polished up the language a bit. My initial copy of anything is little more than a poorly expressed idea. It takes multiple passes of editing to get it to a point where I am near satisfied. I am never completely satisfied.

  1. What do you like about writing humour versus writing science fiction?

Simon MacKintosh: Humour creeps into my science fiction as well. After all, humour is part of life and any story is, in the end, about life. I just thought that if I tried to write a science fiction story without any science, what would be left would be humour. I really have no preference.

  1. Who are your favourite humour writers?

Simon MacKintosh: Tom Sharpe. Filthy, but hilarious. Spike Milligan, his book ‘Puckoon’ includes a textbook example of a sequence of escalating ridiculous events, when a group of people escape from a lunatic asylum during the night in the middle of winter.

And of course Douglas Adams.

  1. What is your science fiction novel about?

Simon MacKintosh: A guy invents a time machine and starts to go back and fore in time, as one does with a time machine. But then his time machine is wrecked and he is stuck on a future Earth where society is slowly decaying. So he escapes into outer space and travels the galaxy before discovering that galactic civilization too is coming to an end. So he goes home, only to realize … but I won’t spoil he story by telling.

  1. What does your own lawn look like in the summer?

Simon MacKintosh: In order to keep Bylaw Enforcement from my door, I will refrain from answering that question.

Simon MacKintosh’s story, “Uncle Charlie’s Tiger Hunt”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

Remember to come by to get your copy at 10:00am on January 20th, at the 1975 111st. YMCA!

-Brad OH Inc.

Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Brian Clark

Today, the Edmonton Writers’ Group will be in the Presentation Room of the Enterprise Square EPL Branch in downtown Edmonton from 1:00pm-5:00pm, selling and singing copies of our new anthology, ‘Edmonton: Unbound’.

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve local authors, unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB. Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Brian Clark.

  1. What was your initial inspiration for the stories you included in this anthology, and how have they changed from their original conception?

Brian Clark: ‘Hunting Harley’ started almost 4 years ago with the words “dart player chic” I found scrolling through my file of ideas, tips & phrases that resonate.  It seemed to me that the phrase belonged in a romance so I started to write the “Jean” character as a girlfriend for the dart player guy.  The story evolved into a sort of soap opera structure weaving a romance, a crime and motor cycle workshop.  I floated the piece before members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group and it became clear that the story was too busy to be fully coherent.  The result was that I dropped the romance element, brought forward the crime story and used the workshop as a location where the characters interacted.

‘The Letter’ was written specifically for the Edmonton: Unbound project and came to me pretty much fully formed.  I had used the main character before in an unpublished story so she seemed like an old friend.  The full first draft was written in a single 75 minute sitting.  In a subsequent session, I added a couple of paragraphs near the middle and worked on the last paragraph.  A third outing added the historical research and all I had left to do was the line editing.

  1. What events in your background led you to want to write?

Brian Clark: Early in my working life, I wrote letters for a living but those were always under the tight editorial control of others.  When I retired, I developed an urge to say what I think.  I wrote for the newsletter of a non profit organisation for a while, but again the editorial guidelines felt restricting.  Thus I ended up writing fluffy fiction with, I hope, an underbelly of gentle social comment.

  1. What difficulties did you encounter while writing these stories, other than finding the time to do it?

Brian Clark: This is an easy question.  By a long way, my biggest challenge is always getting my work into the format needed by the editors.  On a couple of occasions, I was thankful for the computer assistance of my daughter.

  1. How are your life experiences / career / hobbies reflected in your stories?

Brian Clark: Being older, the people in my life, my friends tend to also be seniors so I think that contributes to my attraction to mature characters.  All my adult life I have listened to Bruce Springsteen and I love the way he writes tight characters and stories and leaves the listener to draw their own conclusions about the underlying social conditions.  I aspire to do something similar.

After my workout at the YMCA, I usually hang out in the locker room and drink coffee with other retirees.  I enjoy hearing their stories about their lives and frustrations.  I am sure some those help provide colour to my stories.

  1. Are you a writer who plots out all the different angles, or are you more free-form. Why do you think you write this way?

Brian Clark: I am fairly disciplined when writing characters and I am becoming more so when describing settings.  With plots, I take a much more free-form approach.  I have around a dozen part written stories and perhaps as many as a hundred orphan paragraphs that may or may not end up in a finished work.

Why I write this way is a more difficult question.  When I was a child I wanted to eat my dessert first because that’s what I enjoyed the most.  With writing, I am able to indulge myself and write the bits that come easily to me.  I take the view that every first draft, every fragment is perfect because its only purpose is to exist.  Once I have something written down I can and do change it or ignore it.

Brian Clark’s stories, “The Letter” and “Hunting Harley”, are featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.