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I write science fiction and fantasy in an attempt to see the stars a few kilometers closer. I’ve tried putting a “Have Space Suit: Will Travel” ad on Kijiji, wearing a space suit for over 100 days, and shooting things with giant lasers. I graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016.
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Check out M. L. Kulmatycki’s story “Library Lost” in Between the Shelves, available now on Amazon and Createspace! 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. is a thought conglomerate consisting primarily of Brad OH, who is based out of Edmonton, Alberta. Brad OH has a background in psychology, with a philosophy minor. Brad OH Inc. writes with the intention of entertaining, while drawing attention to a variety of social and interpersonal quandaries. The Brad OH Inc. blog can be found at http://bradohinc.com, and includes both posts and short stories, as well as information about his upcoming novel, Edgar’s Worst Sunday.
1. First things first: do you believe that people should be Corporations as well as vice versa?
BRAD OH INC: 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 Romney! 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 it 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.
2. 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.
BRAD OH INC: 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.
3. Is Neve inspired by a member of Brad OH Inc?
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.
4. At what point in your own reading development did you move like Neve away from purely “happy” stories?
BRAD OH INC: 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 of 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.
5. Which Corporation has had the greatest inspiration on Brad OH Inc.’s mission statement?
BRAD OH INC: 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 just in developing them from a tiny local rap act in metro-Detroit, but into 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.
Mark Parsons has been curled up in coffee shop corners, scratching furiously in his notebook since 2004. He has several projects on the go, including Fire & Flesh (Fantasy), The Silent Dark Pentalogy (Science Fiction), and Brothers (Non-Fiction). “Bakster’s Proposition” is his first short story.
1. This is your first short story. Compared to the epics you’ve been working on, how did you find working in a shorter medium?
MP: I actually found working in a shorter medium to be a lot harder than my larger work. I wanted to tell much more ‘story’ before and after the bookends of the finished project. I’m used to being able to waste whole chapters to immerse the reader the events leading up to more critical events in the story. I found with the shorter medium, I had to cut a lot of content in order to make the story flow properly.
2. Is Bakster’s proposition based on something you dream of doing one day?
MP: Partly. John and Kelly are both based on a blend of myself and my partner Nicola. We dream of moving to a small town some day and we’ve both wanted to start a business for a long time. If we had the money, we would certain be running a small café right now.
3. The resistance to literature in your story seems like it may have come from a personal experience. Can you describe one or two instances where you experienced such resistance, and how they affected you?
MP: The townsfolk are a caricature of stereotypical ‘Albertan’ culture. What I represent in the story as a resistance to literature, is more broadly a resistance to Liberal Culture. We live in a society that would rather pay for a jail than a school. Ideas and creativity are the future, and yet we collectively vote for a government that would see children, at the peak of their creative curiosity, educationally shoe-horned into “real work”. They are told that they can be whatever they want when they grow up – but it better be practical.
I know grown men who do not read. If it’s not a blueprint, they won’t even pick it up. How is a society made of followers supposed to adapt and diversify during economic turmoil?
4. Who has inspired you as a writer?
MP: I HATED writing as a child. 100 words? I would rather give myself a haircut with a sand-blaster! I didn’t know it at the time, but my very first influence was Sigmund Brower. I met him in the early 1990’s, and even though I held my ground on non-writing, he said something to me that day that I still remember: “I was just like you.”
Those words stewed inside me until 2004 when a scene popped into my head while I was on a walk. I ran home to write it down, and the predominate character was the start of Of Fire & Flesh, my longest running work-in-progress.
Shortly after meeting my partner Nicola, she bought me “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Working through this book, as well as the amazing support of my partner have allowed my ideas to flow a little more freely. I’m very thankful and lucky.
5. When do you expect your next project to be finished? Can you tell us a little about it?
MP: Bill Watterson famously said, “Most of us discover where we are heading when we arrive.” I add a little bit to one story, then move to another, then create an entry for a writing contest, then an article for local publications, then back to my stories. I’d like to say “maybe 2016” but I don’t want to be called a liar.
Of Fire & Flesh is a Fantasy story that centers around a coupe gone wrong that leads to a power struggle with a mysterious evil. The Silent Dark Pentalogy is a secret Sci Fi project. Brothers is based on a true story of a Fraternity President and his struggle to turn the place around.
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
Libraries are long-term storage bins of knowledge, and there is as much meaning folded behind covers as there is in the transcendental number Pi (3.14159…). In celebration of this year’s true Pi Day, (3.14.15), Brad OH Inc. and I are proud to release Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers, now available on Amazon and Createspace!
In these 11 short pieces, Edmonton authors take us on a tributary journey into the past, present and future to explore the richness hiding between the shelves. Each piece has a different take on what libraries have to offer: a source of wisdom, a place for community, and so much more. So find a quiet corner, slip between the pages and embark on a journey that will change the way you look at libraries.
As a further tribute, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to support the Edmonton Public Library, which won the Library Journal’s Library of the Year award in 2014.
“I ransack public libraries,
& find them full of sunken treasure.”
Table of Contents:
The Library by Timothy Fowler
Neve Uncovers the Ultimate Truth of All Things by Brad OH Inc
Bakster’s Proposition by Mark Parsons
Five Hundred Years by T. K. Boomer
The Turning of a Page by Brian Clark
Melvil Dui Conquers All by Vivian Zenari
I Will Not Let You Fall by Linda Webber
Library Lost by M. L. Kulmatycki
Learning From Your Library by Mohamed Abdi
Newcomers to Canada and Edmonton Public Libraries by Trudie Aberdeen
Reading After Hours by Hal J. Friesen
Debbie Ha did the beautiful cover.
Feel free to contact me for a signed copy! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more interviews of each of the anthology contributors, and information about the official book launch and signings at locations near you!