‘Between the Shelves’ at ‘Words in the Park’ and Interview with Author/ Editor Hal J. Friesen

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday, we’re happy to formally announce that the sales of ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’ have led to the donation of over $700.00 to the Edmonton Public Library System We at Brad OH Inc. think that’s awesome—and we couldn’t have done it without all of you!

Many of the Authors (and both Editors) will also be set up at ‘Words in the Park’ this Saturday, September 26th from 10:00am-4:00pm in the Sherwood Park Community Centre. We’ll be selling and autographing copies of ‘Between the Shelves’!

In celebration of these accomplishments, we have an interview with Editor and Author Hal J. Friesen, who appears in ‘Between the Shelves’, 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.

BetweenTheShelvesCoverThis interview was conducted by a variety of Authors featured in ‘Between the Shelves’ in anticipation of the anthology’s release:

  1. Brian Clark: What is the biggest thing you have learned from this self-publishing experience?

HF: I learned how achievable it is to put out a product of professional quality using readily-available tools. There were some frustrating moments getting the book formatted properly and tweaking cover blurbs, but on the whole it felt great to see a self-published book that could easily have come from a professional publishing house.

I also need to mention how pleasantly surprised I was at the scope and variety of stories submitted to the anthology. I thought I had a pretty good idea what I was going to get from the EWG group members, but they surprised me in a very good way.

  1. Vivian Zenari: What is your educational background, and how has that influenced your writing?

HF: I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Science from UNBC with a Joint Major in Chemistry and Physics, and a Minor in Mathematics. Basically for my undergraduate degree I was trying to refuse specialization, which in hindsight might not have been a good approach in terms of employability. I had knowledge in many fields but was missing snippets from each to prevent me from being completely proficient. My Master’s Degree in Science, focusing on Plasmas and Photonics, helped me tune my abilities and knowledge toward more practical applications – as ridiculous as that might sound after working on laser fusion experiments.

The breadth of theoretical and experimental science experience I’ve gleaned through the years helps me to appreciate how certain science fiction ideas might be implemented, the realities both pleasant and unpleasant of logistics that really help make a fantastical proposition seem real. When I wrote in high school I was thinking of sci-fi notions in a more detached and academic way. After academia, ironically, I think about them more in terms of what’s happening on the ground, what’s happening to the little guy who has to pull the levers, which helps make science fiction more meaningful to readers.

  1. Brad OH Inc.: Hal, your story is about a man (Albert Einstein), gaining great knowledge from libraries, but also experiencing stunning existential terror. Do you consider libraries to be places of hidden danger, or is learning in general a threat to our sense of being?

HF: I used to read these time machine choose-your-own-adventure books, and they were like puzzles where you got stuck in time loops until you figured out the correct sequence of events to escape a grisly fate. There was one particular instance where I was trying to avoid being guillotined, but kept getting sent back over and over again, being chased, being caught, having the blade fall – to the extent that I fell asleep and had nightmares about it. Libraries taught me to be utterly terrified of the Spanish Inquisition.

I think in our age of ubiquitous fear-mongering, it’s important to recognize libraries and their potential role in contributing to the general fright that fits so well in a terror-state. In this story I wanted to show that even a brilliant Einstein can’t escape the spine-tingling horror of a nameless source of danger. His existential cataclysm in a place of learning draws close parallels to the dread during the discovery of a newly-christened terrorist cell, or the announcement of the construction of yet another totally-necessary prison. I felt that the role of books and libraries in general has been undervalued in terms of their capacity to inspire totally irrational fear, and wanted to emphasize how deeply they can touch our being versus other forms of media.

  1. Brad OH Inc.: Why did you choose Einstein as your character? Do you have some arcane knowledge of his life the rest of us aren’t privy to? Is there any biographical truth to this tale?

HF: I have a copy of Einstein’s original manuscript on Special Relativity, and if you go to the trouble of reading it you find very strange references in the margins, almost as if he was placating some unseen observer. With extensive and advanced calligraphic decoding I was able to parse some of the scribbles he had tried to hide after the fact, after whatever it was had stopped peering over him threateningly. It was clear he had communion with a library spirit, or as he named it, Wilfred, though exactly which library was unclear – I used artistic liberty in that aspect.

It’s amazing how much you can discover when you read the source material rather than just taking secondary sources at face value.

  1. Brad OH Inc.: Your passion for libraries is clear in this story. Share with us some of your most formative memories of being in the library. Is there any encounter in particular that stands out as a moment where knowledge was so startlingly thrust upon you?

HF:  Guillotines were startlingly thrust upon my unsuspecting neck in that traumatizing time machine book…

When I was a child, there were summer reading challenges where you got to move your pawn along footsteps lining the library walls, taking a step for every book you read. The path took a circuitous route around the two-story Prince George Public Library, and I would take out piles of books in order to get to the end. And I did.

My prize? PTSD from an impossible and horrific Spanish Inquisition time machine loop. And a ribbon.

The library used to have person-shaped chairs in bright colors, and I would sit near the large windows and browse through Goosebumps books, Tintin comics, and fantasy books. I would sway back and forth in the S-shaped chairs, knocking them flat onto the back, or upright again with a satisfying thunk. The trips to the library were a fairly regular occasion – my mother would tiptoe off to the romance section, and my brothers and I would spin the carousels housing adventure and horror novels.

Getting my first library card was actually one of my happiest childhood experiences, because I felt like I had graduated from this semi-weekly family ritual and had become an adult. It was a lot better than any actual graduation, that’s for sure.

  1. Brad OH Inc.: Your writing has historically been focused on some pretty heavy scientific concepts. What do you consider to be one of the most interesting unanswered questions in modern science? Do you have any possible ‘dream scenario’ solution to this quandary that strikes you as the most appealing?

HF: Not to avoid the question, but I guess the more interesting questions are ones we haven’t thought of yet. The untapped potential and dark corners of our understanding are very exciting places, which is why I enjoy good hard science fiction so much. One recent discovery was that the brain might have a lymphatic system, which opens the door to all sorts of medical progress and better development of humanity.

The unanswered question of life beyond Earth is a continually fascinating one for me, and my dream scenario is that I live long enough to see contact happen. That would be a great privilege.

The unification of gravity and the other fundamental forces is another issue that fascinates me. I remember the exact place where I first read Maxwell’s derivation of electromagnetism and the intimate relationship between them. I literally got up and wanted to run around (but couldn’t in my cramped dorm-room) because I was so excited by the beauty of something so connected and intertwined. Connectedness, for lack of a better term, is something I explore a lot in my writing, and it interests me equally in the natural world.

Similarly, the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity – the small with the very large – is also quite an interesting unanswered question. I’ve read a proposal that suggests the answer might be in our interpretation of time itself, which sent my head spinning in beautiful pirouettes.

I think some of the deeper philosophical-physics questions might go unanswered for a long time, but can make you experience some of the same existential schism Einstein does in the story. Questions like: what exactly is charge? What exactly is mass? We have equations that describe what they do but that’s different from knowing what something is. There’s a joke that if you want to drive a physicist crazy, ask him what charge is. Try it sometime.

  1. Brad OH Inc.: As a follow-up to the former question, of the myriad scientific discoveries throughout history, which would you most like to have been a part of, and why?

HF: I’ve developed an unlikely fondness for light and optics, so I think I would have loved to have been a part of Maxwell’s discoveries unifying electricity and magnetism. Any of the so-called Maxwell’s equations. Ampere, Gauss – to have been around any of those guys would have been gnarly and radical, and I’m sure my language wouldn’t drive them crazy. Gauss was a genius.

I would say quantum mechanics, but the results aren’t as easy to put your hands on or see with the eye. The laser would have been pretty amazing to discover. I got the chance to hear Charles Townes, one of the co-inventors of the laser, speak, and it was surreal to see him use a laser pointer to point at a slide of his original laser conception. He made lasers originally for astronomical purposes, and at the time of his talk (age over 90) he was still doing that. There’s a raw enthusiasm and electricity some scientists exude and I think to have been around any of those remarkable individuals would have been illuminating and inspiring outside of the discoveries themselves.

WitP twitter header

Remember to catch the authors of ‘Between the Shelves’ at ‘Words in the Park’ this Saturday, September 26th from 10:00am-4:00pm in the Sherwood Park Community Centre!

Finally, be sure to visit Hal J. Friesen at his blog right here, and check out his story “Reading After Hours” in ‘Between the Shelves’. You can purchase it now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.

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Between the Shelves Book Signing and Interview with Author T.K. Boomer

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgThe following is an interview with T.K. Boomer, 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.

BetweenTheShelvesCoverThis interview was conducted by Hal J. Friesen in anticipation of the anthology’s release:

T.K. Boomer lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta, with his wife. In 2012 he began the awkward and painful transition between being a mainstream fiction writer and becoming a science fiction geek. Remnants of his literary past can been read in his novel, “ A Walk in the Thai Sun” written under the name G.J.C. McKitrick. The future will be revealed in the publication of “Planet Song”, first book in the Fahr Trilogy, probably in late 2015. Other aspects of the transition, like video game obsession and playing “Mr. Dressup” at SF conventions are proving to be more difficult.

1. What made you transition from mainstream into science fiction? 

T.K.: When I originally wrote and tried to place “A Walk in the Thai Sun” I ran into the problem of having written a book that was hard to market. It didn’t fit easily into any of the established genres and was rejected for that reason.   I wasn’t really writing for a mainstream audience but the nature of the book put it in that very broad category.  I’m not a good enough writer to compete with the likes of Margaret Atwood or Barbara Kingsolver so that was the other reason the book was initially rejected.    I resolved, at the time, to not write another book unless it would fit easily within an accepted genre.   When I got the original idea for “Planet Song” it was science fiction.  I did the research and decided that I could write in that genre.   However it’s quite different from writing mainstream fiction and there was a lot to learn.

2. In your story you hint that the Internet has been replaced by something else in the far future. What are your thoughts on what that might be, and what form it might take?

T.K.: My biggest fear is that we won’t move forward but rather retreat. I think the Internet is far too dependant on very complicated and vulnerable infrastructures. One bad solar storm could make a huge mess of it so my guess will be some kind of less vulnerable infrastructure. I think we have more interconnectivity now than we will have in the future. I also think that governments are going to move towards more control and less freedom.

3. Do you read paper or e-books, and which do you prefer? What about Siberius? 

T.K.: I read both but I think that within ten years most reading will be on e-readers. It’s simply a matter of economics and convenience. However if I’m right about the internet it could cause a resurgence in paper books down the road. As for Siberius, he’s a throw back. Notice how he was looking for physical books in the library?

4. Do you think libraries will become sentient in the future, and is that a good or bad thing? 

T.K.: They will but I don’t think sentient in the human sense of the word. The trick will be not to build in a survival instinct into our machines. We should not be trying to create a human-like mind in our machines for that reason. If we do then we’re asking to be out completed by them.

5. Who has inspired you as a writer? 

T.K.: Inspiration is a funny thing. I guess I gravitate to writers who use language in unique ways. It’s part of the reason that I still read a lot of mainstream fiction, because I’m more interested in writing technique than I am in tropes. Margaret Atwood is a favourite as is Anne Tyler and Iain M Banks and William Gibson.

Check out T.K. Boomer’s story “Five Hundred Years” in ‘Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

BetweenTheShelves_poster-YMCA-WEBFinally, be sure to visit us for a ‘Between the Shelves’ signing on May 30th at William S. Lutsky YMCA (1975-111 St NW) from 10am-2pm!

-Brad OH Inc.

Between the Shelves Interview with Author Timothy Fowler

cropped-blogbanner1.jpgThe following is an interview with Timothy Fowler, 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.

BetweenTheShelvesCoverThis interview was conducted by Hal J. Friesen in anticipation of the anthology’s release:

When not writing for Scribbles and Snaps, Tim works with a Global Fortune 100, leading a team of incredibly talented people to deliver the nearly impossible to their customers doing important work. He travels nearly full time as a result of this engagement, and part time for leisure. He scribbles pictures and snaps stories for his own pleasure and hopefully yours. He lives in St. Albert with his lovely wife, Saskatchewan-born farm girl, Kathy, and Gordon Setter, Rigby. He is Scribbler, Snapper, Navigator, Outdoorsman, Fellow Traveller. He is from Granite Rockies, and Prairie Dust, from Boreal Forest and Wanderlust. Tweet @TimothyDFowler or read his blog here.

  1. In “The Library”, you talk about the hours spent in your Aunt and Uncle’s library. Do you try to model your own home library after theirs, or after another library?

TF: My library mirrors my Aunt and Uncle’s with the soft light, big chair, and favourite books on dark wood floor-to-ceiling shelves.  Thick carpet under sock feet helps make it very quiet like theirs was. Sometimes guest’s children get rocked to sleep there. And the kids books are on the lowest shelf so they can choose which books they want to read, or have read to them.  I have my own childhood books on the lowest shelf.
Like their house, from the library you can smell dinner underway. I started my career in culinary as as apprentice then journeyman chef, now manager. Roughly a quarter of my books are related to food, collected over decades of kitchen work. Many meals are first conjured in the library. My uncle had a collection of food related books on the shelf, and I think of him often in his hotel kitchen.
My library feels like an extravagance, and I suppose it is.
Now I keep a special shelf for writing books, and borrowed books. I now apprentice as writer.

  1. You’ve been writing on your Scribbles and Snaps blog for a year and a bit now. How has that project evolved from when you started, and where would you like to see it go?

TF: For many years I have been quietly writing, but mostly keeping outputs to myself. “Platform,” Michael Hyatt’s book helped me decide to launch my Blog, and write in a public way. I write to entertain, and encourage readers to think about life experience in a new way. I hope the blog posts do this.
My goals for 2015 include submitting 52 pieces for consideration to be published. “The Library” is one that will be published in 2015.
Participating in the Edmonton Writers Group gives me candid feed back, caring coaching, and firm encouragement from fellow writers. Joining the group is one of the best things I did to accelerate my writing apprenticeship

  1. Did you start with writing or photography first? How does photography play a role in your writing?

TF: Since sharpening my fat red pencil and spelling my name with letters in the right order I have been marking up pages with stories. Recently I bought a LAMY fountain pen, and find writing longhand with a real pen and real ink on real paper, a sensuous pleasure. I am saving my money for a Sailor fountain pen with a gold nib.
Now I write by hand in a notebook every day.
After my sixteenth birthday I bought a Pentax 1000 35mm SLR. Before turning twenty I travelled the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand making hundreds of photographs. I read Freeman Patterson’s great book “Photography and the Art of Seeing” and work hard to see.
We writers spend a lot of time wrestling words, showing over telling, but before any of that happens we need to “see.” So for me making pictures and writing are very much tangled up. I experience them together. I picture what I write, and I hear stories looking through my viewfinder. Metaphors are literary viewfinder for readers.
This is how I landed on ScribblesandSnaps.ca
I explore the question of “Why?” for both writing and photography on my blog.  I find them both rewarding, but recently have been focused precisely on writing.
Why write:
http://scribblesandsnaps.ca/why-i-write/
Why photograph:
http://scribblesandsnaps.ca/biography/why-i-make-pictures-3/

  1. Who has inspired you as a writer?

TF: Mark Twain’s “A Dog’s Tale” and “A Horse’s Tale” had a profound effect on me, teaching me about voice and story point of view. He tells gut-wrenching stories within stories. The story is not the story at all. And it is.

I know Stephen King is cliché-popular but his storytelling ability influences me today. He just jumps off the first word and tells the story. Recently Alberta’s own Fred Stenson’s “Feigned or Imagined” has been great fun and his writing started me on several stories of my own.
The truth is we are influenced by whatever we read, and now more than ever, I read constantly. Precise language and particular personalized description is such a pleasure to read, and a tremendous challenge to write.
Challenge accepted.

  1. What do your children think of your writing aspirations? Are any of them following in your footsteps?

TF: Both my boys are great storytellers, but neither has put pen to paper in a serious way. Both have a keen interest in photography. And both, if I may say, competently maneuver in the kitchen.
My whole family encourages me to write—at least to my face.

Timothy Fowler’s story “The Library” is featured in ‘Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.

Between the Shelves Interview with Author Vivian Zenari

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgThe following is an interview with Author Vivian Zenari, 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.

BetweenTheShelvesCoverThis interview was conducted by Hal J. Friesen in anticipation of the anthology’s release:

Vivian Zenari lives, works and writes in Edmonton.

  1. What is your educational background, and how has that influenced your writing?

VZ: I have a PhD in English literature with a specialization in 19th century American literature. I am sure my training has influenced my writing, though I am not sure how. Many of the writers I admire are from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; perhaps it’s more like I have tried to work in fields that reflect my interest in reading and writing.

  1. Who has inspired you as a writer? Why are avant-garde authors so important to you?

VZ: These days I like Henry James (always), Flannery O’Connor, Rawi Hage, George Eliot, and the usual modernist suspects (Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton). I just finished reading Sean Michaels’s Us Conductors and loved/admired that. I like the absurdists like Franz Kafka and Nikolai Gogol and postmodernists like Don DeLillo and Paul Auster. I admire writers who take chances, I suppose. I like the idea of transcending tradition in form as well as content.  As well, as a reader and writer I am a bit jaded, perhaps, so it takes a lot to stimulate me.

  1. Did you have a personal interest in Dewey before you began this short story? Why did you decide to feature him in your story?

VZ: I have training as a librarian as well, and so I have been familiar with him as a figure in library studies history. I have always found him to be a hilariously awful person. Once I read more about him, my appreciation/contempt for him grew. He also typifies the mentality of the late 19th-century American (an area of history I know something about). His ambitions and upbringing put him in the right place at the right time. That aspect of American society interests me too–he is a self-made man, but he demonstrates the dark side of the self-made man syndrome: monomaniacal, overly rational, greedy.

  1. What, in your opinion, are the key distinctions between literary fiction and genre fiction? In which category would you classify yourself?

VZ: I tend to think of genre fiction as formula-dependent and literary fiction as aspiring to be outside formula. I suppose I aspire to be outside formula, though I realize all writers model themselves on something, and formulas are a kind of model. Literary versus genre seems to be a useful distinction for publishers, but the term is likewise important to writers and readers, who have to work with what publishers want to give them, for better or worse (okay, for worse). It’s true, though, that some people only read detective fiction and romance fiction, some people never read anything by women writers or written before 2000. I don’t think this is good, but considering all the people writing, reading, and publishing (past and present), I see why categorization is practical.

  1. What is your next writing project? Can you tell us a little about it?

VZ: I’m sending a short-story manuscript around to publishers, and I’m slowly working on a novel. I’m starting to rev myself up for writing nonfiction too: we’ll see how that goes.

Check out Vivian’s story “Melvi Dui Conquers All” in Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon,

Finally, don’t forget to come by and visit the authors of ‘Between the Shelves‘ from 7-9pm on May 6th, in the Centennial room of the Stanly Milner Library in Edmonton!

-Brad OH Inc.

A Brad OH Inc. ‘Featured Artist’

cropped-blogbanner1.jpgToday at Brad OH Inc., we are happy to present featured artist, Troy Barker. Troy has been very busy behind the scenes creating a good deal of cover art for Brad OH Inc., Including that for our upcoming novel, ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’.

Edgar's Worst Sunday Official Cover‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ is the story of Edgar Vincent, a semi-successful composer who’s always had one great passion—himself.

In life, Edgar Vincent had been something of a cad. Callous comments, thoughtless promiscuity, binge drinking, and excess sufficient to shame Caligula were standard Saturday night fare.

Sundays for Edgar had always been a painful haze of sickness and regret.

But when Edgar finds himself in the cloudy planes of the afterlife on one particularly bleak Sunday morning, he must put aside his ever-present hangover and try to figure out how he ever got to this point, and where he’s meant to be going now.

However, heaven also presents Edgar with an unending smorgasbord of hedonistic entertainment, so he’s in no particular hurry to change his self-serving outlook. After all, considering that he’s already dead, what could he stand to lose?

Troy is also the man responsible for the cover art of ‘Man Wakes Up’, a Brad OH Inc. novel currently on hold in lieu of other projects.

MWU Official CoverYou can read more about ‘Man Wakes Up’ and ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ on our ‘Novels’ page.

Finally, Troy is also the creator of the incredible cover art for ‘The Election’, an upcoming ‘Single Serving Story’ from Brad OH Inc. ‘The Election’ is the story of a cynical journalist covering the heinous events of the fourth annual United Corporate Election. This story is inspired by and dedicated to the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and as such Troy was driven to do the cover in an amazing, Ralph Steadman based style.

theelectioncoverClearly, Troy is a considerable talent, and it’s our pleasure today to share him with you. Troy is available to do cover arts and various other commissions at negotiable prices, and can be contacted at Troy Barker. You’ll also find a sampling of other works by Troy on his page.

-Brad OH Inc.

A Litany of Excuses…

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

As you are no doubt acutely aware, there was no post made last weekend on Brad OH Inc., to the great dismay of fans worldwide. The responsibility for this atrocity is a matter which must invariably be weighing on your minds, and rightfully so.

We’re here today to account for this glaring letdown, and assure you that while the event was unfortunate to say the least, it was also entirely unavoidable.

The August long weekend saw this writer scaling to the peak of a mountain to plant the Brad OH Inc. flag where it can fly high forever. This action directly led to a broken ankle, but the results are clearly worth it:

DSCF2916I also drank rum. Lots of rum.

As to what’s been going on here at Brad OH Inc. recently, work continues on the upcoming novel from Brad OH Inc., ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’.

Edgar's Worst Sunday Official CoverThe project is nearing completion, with a final round of edits currently underway before it’s sent out for beta reading.

‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ is the story of Edgar Vincent, a semi-successful composer who’s always had one great passion—himself.

In life, Edgar Vincent had been something of a cad. Callous comments, thoughtless promiscuity, binge drinking, and excess sufficient to shame Caligula were standard Saturday night fare.

Sundays for Edgar had always been a painful haze of sickness and regret.

But when Edgar finds himself in the cloudy planes of the afterlife on one particularly bleak Sunday morning, he must put aside his ever-present hangover and try to figure out how he ever got to this point, and where he’s meant to be going now.

However, heaven also presents Edgar with an unending smorgasbord of hedonistic entertainment, so he’s in no particular hurry to change his self-serving outlook. After all, considering that he’s already dead, what could he stand to lose?

We’ll keep you posted about the progress and potential publication of ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ as things progress.

Finally, we’ve got another brand new ‘Single Serving Story’ coming along for the fans of Brad OH Inc. ‘The Election’ is the story of a cynical journalist covering the heinous events of the fourth annual United Corporate Election. This story was written as a tribute to the good Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and should be a special treat for any Gonzo fans out there.

‘The Election’ will feature cover art by special guest illustrator Troy Barker, who is also the talent behind the cover of ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’, as seen above.

So while we do apologize for our absence last weekend, we at Brad OH Inc. are happy to assure you that big things are coming to our happy little thought conglomerate, so stay tuned!

-Brad OH Inc.