‘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.

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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 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.

“Between the Shelves”- Release and Interview with Brad OH Inc.

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday marks the official release of ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’, an anthology edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen. This anthology is a collection of stories by writers from the ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’, including one by Brad OH Inc. entitled ‘Neve Uncovers the Ultimate Truth of All things’.

The theme of this collection is our shared appreciation of libraries and all they offer to readers in Edmonton and beyond. The anthology is available now via CreateSpace in both digital ($2.99) and hard copy ($12.50) versions. All proceeds will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.

You can purchase your copy here:

BetweenTheShelvesCoverTo celebrate this release, we have an interview conducted by Hal J. Friesen with Brad OH Inc. about the content of the anthology.

  1. First things first: do you believe that people should be Corporations as well as vice versa?

That’s a great line of inquiry, and we here at Brad OH Inc. are thrilled to see your appreciation for such crucial issues. Really though, we think this may be two questions, and therefore we would be remiss to provide any less than two answers.

I’ll answer the second first, as it’s the easier answer. Let it be abundantly clear that the question of whether or not Corporations are people is no question at all: just ask Mitt Romeny! If you ignore the blathering after his key statement, we believe the point is made abundantly clear. But if you need it better articulated, you’ll find just that here.

Yes, there can be no doubt whatsoever that Corporations are not only people, but they are the very best of people. They are the creators and providers, they are the ones who inspire and build where others only talk and dream. This of course leads us to your other, more relevant question. Namely: Should people be Corporations?

This too is an easy answer—although again it requires some clarification…perhaps even a moderate touch of filibustering. Specifically, we need to discuss the word ‘should’. If we’re to take it in its proper sense, then we can say at the least that all people should endeavour to be Corporations, even if they will not all be able to achieve it. Obviously, people should strive to be their very best. Corporations are the best possible expression of humanity, and therefore we would encourage every person to strive to grow into a Corporate person. The benefits alone are outstanding: tax breaks, immortality, and utterly no risk from bankruptcy just to name a few.

Now, you may expect me to quote Ayn Rand here, but I’ll do you one better. In ‘The Republic’, Plato encourages a group of enlightened elites to lead the demos. What better expression of an enlightened elite than the Corporation? Our goals, clearly, are more evident and better pursued than the fickle worries of ordinary humans. That alone should suffice to illuminate the pressing need for Corporate leadership. Therefore, it behooves us here at Brad OH Inc. to encourage all basic people to aspire to greater accomplishments—namely, becoming Corporate. After all, an increase in Corporate presence is the highest hope for humanity…at least until we can achieve the end-goal of Corporate Suffrage.

  1. Have you or any members of Brad OH Inc ever had any embarrassing moments in a library? Any responses will be strictly off the record.

Here at Brad OH Inc., we hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of behaviour. Furthermore, we have a team of legal professionals on call at all times, ready to denounce responsibility for any perceived transgressions; so that clearly precludes the possibility of any officially acknowledged embarrassment.

With that out of the way, there is one incident we recall that may fit your need to publically deride the creative origins of our Corporate-Personhood. When we were just a young Corporate Human, we were reading aloud at a public library to a table of peers. Our chosen book was something about ‘Gnus’—those abominable animals that can’t quite decide what they are. The entire point of the book was that the word ‘Gnu’ sounds just like ‘new’ and ‘knew’, however this point was missed on our still developing phonetic-mandates. Therefore, we pronounced the word ‘Gnu’ as ‘Ga-noo’—entirely destroying the already limited humour of the book, and causing us significant lasting shame.

  1. Is Neve inspired by a member of Brad OH Inc?

Yes in fact, very astute of you to see this. There was a young girl we kept down in the copy room, from whom the name and likeness of the titular character are entirely derived. Have no fear however, the process was entirely by the books.

You see, Neve owned a small rat named Clarice, who one day managed to saw through one of the printer cables with its savage little teeth. Neve’s salary was insufficient to pay for the damages, and so, mercifully, we here at Brad OH Inc. appropriated her legal name and likeness, knowing well that we’d sooner or later find some way for it to pay off her debt. The story in this anthology is the fulfillment of that debt.

Neve has since been terminated.

  1. At what point in your own reading development did you move like Neve away from purely “happy” stories?

Looking back, we’d have to say that happened pretty early. Certainly, there were a number of happy-go-lucky stories read to us before we were officially granted our Corporate-Sovereignty, but even then, some our earliest official recollections involve having ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ read aloud to us—and those are bitter-sweet at best.

If you’re at all familiar with our efforts—which you certainly should be—you’ll know that creation and meaning are imperative to the purposes of Brad OH Inc. To that end, we’ve found that simple, happy stories do little to address the questions so essential to the human/ Corporate experience. It’s through struggle that we grow…and heedless expansion is one of the key goals of Brad OH Inc. after all.

  1. Which Corporation has had the greatest inspiration on Brad OH Inc.’s mission statement?

That’s an interesting question. As far as our Corporate structure is concerned, we’ve worked hard to emulate all the greats: Enron, Lehman Brothers, JPMorgan Chase…all the essentials.

As far as our personal, creative goals, you probably already know that our Corporate Summary Statement is: ‘A thought conglomerate founded on the fundamental imperative of expounding erratically extreme philosophic tenets firmly grounded in hubristic narcissism.’ …it doesn’t get much more clear than that!

As for companies that inspire us on these grounds, the best example is probably Psychopathic Records. The self-founded label of the Insane Clown Posse, this label has succeeded not only in developing them from a tiny local rap act in metro-Detroit, to an international force to be reckoned with. Their dedication to the absurd has helped launch countless acts throughout their existence, and their passion for ethical-provocation and philosophical exploration is admirable. At Brad OH Inc., we hope to be as successful in providing such varied, yet philosophically consistent material.

Brad OH Inc.’s story “Neve Uncovers the Ultimate Truth of All Things” is featured in ‘Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.

“Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers”

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday, we’re happy to announce the impending release of a new anthology edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen, ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’. This anthology, like our former release ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’, is a collection of stories by writers from the ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’, including one by Brad OH Inc.

BetweenTheShelvesCoverThe theme of this collection is our shared appreciation of libraries and all they offer to readers in Edmonton and beyond. The anthology will be available on March 14th via CreateSpace in both digital ($2.99) and hard copy ($12.50) versions. All proceeds will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.

Stay tuned to Brad OH Inc. for future updates on this release, as well as details on how to order your own copy!

-Brad Oates

Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil

DontChewPencil_750Here at Brad OH Inc., we are excited to announce the upcoming release of a brand new, collaborative project—because at Brad OH Inc., we know that many hands make less work… yet that the bounty may remain undivided.

We know that many of the loyal Brad OH readers come to our articles, and find themselves wondering how they can be more like the contributing minds behind Brad OH Inc. Well, now is your chance! ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’ is an anthology produced by the Edmonton Writers Group, edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen, and also featuring an article by Brad OH Inc.! This book is a collection of heartwarming stories for current or aspiring writers, or any readers looking to find the writer in themselves. Look for ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’ to release here on Brad OH Inc., as well as sites for other Edmonton Writers Group members, on March. 5th.

-Brad OH Inc.