The following is an interview with M. Lea Kulmatycki, who appears in the Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen edited Anthology ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’, which you can now purchase here in either Kindle ($2.99) or Paperback ($12.50) copies. All proceeds are to be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.
This interview was conducted by Hal J. Friesen in anticipation of the anthology’s release:
M. Lea Kulmatycki is a teacher and writer. Her work spans academic writing to a senior’s advice column in a local newspaper. She has even written poetry for some charitable events. After many years of writing and publishing teaching materials, she decided to focus on her first love, fiction. She is also on the board of directors of the Young Alberta Book Society.
- This short story seems to scratch the surface of a much broader world. Is “Library Lost” going to be continued or expanded elsewhere?
MLK: Yes, I’m hoping to expand the story into the first book of a trilogy.
- How has your academic and column writing influenced your fiction writing?
MLK: Research is crucial to academic and column writing. It’s also important when writing a fictional text. I want my readers to connect to my stories and it won’t happen if something is unbelievable or inaccurate. I research to make sure my description of real-life objects, places, etc. is accurate. I also research when creating a new object or process for a story. It won’t be believable if it’s not based on something that works in the real world. For one story, I thought an obsidian sword would be a fitting weapon for the evil antagonist. Unfortunately, there was no way to get around the fragile nature of the material.
- How has your poetry experience influenced your writing?
MLK: Writing poetry has taught me the importance of using precise language as well as words that flow together and sentences that either complement or contrast one another. I re-read my work aloud so I can work on the sentence fluency.
- As a teacher, is your target audience the youth whom you taught, or are the end goals of your teaching and writing completely separate?
MLK: I love to write, so I take advantage of opportunities regardless of audience and genre. However, I do prefer writing for children ages seven to ten.
- I noticed you didn’t give the grandfather a name in the story. Was this intentional on your part to flip the traditional patriarchal forms?
MLK: Yes. In my view of a dystopic society, there is always an imbalance of power. When we think of a grandfather, we usually think of someone kind and caring. The insidious nature of power is emphasized by the true nature of “Grandfather” as he hides behind this mask. While the character emphasizes the plight of the Sisterhood, he ultimately reveals its strength. These women will not submit to their oppressors and have chosen to fight for all who are oppressed. As a global society, we have not yet escaped this power struggle. It exists in many forms – gender, race, wealth, etc. I’m an optimist. I believe world peace is achievable, but I believe we have a lot of work to do to change the imbalances in our global society so we can live in peace.
- Who has inspired you as a writer?
MLK: Martyn Godfrey. I met him early in my writing career. He was a wonderful person and phenomenal writer. Kids connect to his stories and I hope that kids will connect to my writing in the same way. A few years ago, I was given a book written by Dan Abnett. I love his Eisenhorn and Ravenor series. He is a superb storyteller and I admire his use of the English language to engage the reader.
M. L. Kulmatycki’s story “Library Lost” is featured in ‘Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon. And be sure to join us May 6 from 7-9PM for the official launch party in the Centennial room of the Stanley Milner Library.
-Brad OH Inc.