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  I had used the main character before in an unpublished story so she seemed like an old friend.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.

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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.