Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge Author Interview – Katherine Lawrence

July 21, 2022
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  1. When did you start writing poetry? What was, and is your inspiration?
    I began in high school, not long after my parents’ divorce. Looking back, I see that I turned to writing to sort out my confusion at the time. My world was upended when my parents sold the family house in 1968. I was 13 years old. My parents moved into separate apartments in different cities. My younger sister and I moved out with our mother, about 20 km away from our father. The change felt like we had moved
    to a foreign country. In many ways, that was true. My inspiration was initially the lyrics of Joni Mitchell. Her music continues to resonate for me, and millions of other fans. I lean on good literature and music to
    take me into poetry.
  2. How did writing Stay and Never Mind differ from your usual writing method?
    I started “Stay” before I began writing “Never Mind” but I got bogged down. I needed more time to study other verse novels. I also needed to collect feedback on an early draft. I turned to middle-grade students at a local school for their opinions and then I set the manuscript aside.
    It was during this period that my mother died. I felt numb for a long time and was unable to write. One day, I recalled a letter from the Canadian settler Susanna Moodie (1803-1885). She wrote that once she touched the shores of the New World, she never saw, touched, or heard her mother back home in England ever again. It seemed to be something that she had not anticipated when she and her husband set sail for Canada. Or perhaps she hadn’t let herself dwell on the reality of
    separation from her mother and sisters. She was describing her grief and I understood what Moodie was saying. I also heard the voice that led me to invent the character I named Wife. I placed her in a setting similar to Moodie’s. I funnelled all my private grief and longing into Wife and built a story that was far removed from my mother’s life yet was emotionally similar. My mother was lonely in her marriage and eventually left my father for her own “new world.” I wrote into the emotional truth of loss. “Never Mind” taught me how to write in the tradition of the long poem. The book also showed me that I could hold a story in my head while developing poems in keeping with a narrative arc. I spoke to my mother by phone the night before she died. I didn’t know it would be our final conversation. Her last question was about “Stay”. She wanted to know how the book was going. I had put the manuscript away. About three years later, our final conversation returned to me as I was sitting in my office one day. I opened the
    file and finished writing “Stay” in about one month.

3. Can you tell us a little about the character Millie in Stay? Is she real, imagined or both?
Millie is smart, observant, and passionate about two things: her family and dogs. She wants her family to stay together AND she wants to adopt a puppy. But Millie’s parents have decided to split-up. Her world has turned upside down but since she’s 11 years old, she’s also selfish in the way that every adolescent is self-focused. Millie wants what she wants: Mom and Dad to stay together in the same house so that she can bring home a puppy and not have to live between two homes. But Dad moves into an apartment where a sign on the front door reads NO DOGS ALLOWED. Millie is an imagined character who is informed by my knowledge and experience of family breakdown.

  1. What message do you want to convey with the story?
    Nothing stays the same, not even our family— our foundational structure. We all must learn to adapt.
  2. What did you learn when you were writer in residence?
    I loved my residency at the library. I learned that hundreds of people have stories and poems inside them. I learned that most people are looking for a little guidance and a lot of encouragement because writing is a solitary and somewhat mysterious activity. I have always turned to other writers for support and was happy to do the same for others.
  3. When compiling a poetry collection, what is your main objective?
    I’m driven by narrative. I like my work to tell a story. I’ve just published my fifth book, a poetic memoir titled “Black Umbrella”. Again, it’s about family dysfunction and again it tells a story. I assembled the book by looking for the narrative arc once I’d written about 70 percent of the poems. I later went back and filled in any gaps in the story. I strive to write poetry that is inventive, accessible, and alive.
  4. Which poet(s) inspire you?
    I read a lot of poetry. I’m currently reading the work of Calgary poet Micheline Maylor, but I often return to Emily Dickinson. I see something new in Dickinson every time I turn to her work.
  1. What are you currently working on?
    I’m in research mode. I’m curious about the concept of ambivalent motherhood.
  2. How can readers find you?
    Go to my website and contact me. I promise to respond and I love hearing from readers. Link:
  3. Where and how often do you write?
    I have a small office on the second floor of my home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I live with my husband. I disappear into my office for several hours most days.

Bio:

Saskatoon writer Katherine Lawrence has published four poetry collections and the award-winning novel-in-verse, Stay. Her work has been published across the country and has been long listed twice for the CBC Literary Awards. Originally from Hamilton, Katherine has lived on the prairies for over 35 years. She is a former writer-in-residence for the Saskatoon Public Library and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Saskatchewan. You can find her online at
http://www.katherinelawrence.net

Author Interview – Boris Glikman

September 2, 2021
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1) Where do you find inspiration? Does place or observation, or both influence your writing?

Ideas come to me from everywhere, both from external and internal sources. It’s a ceaseless flood of ideas really that I experience, evoked by a wide range of random stimuli such as: images that I come across by chance on the internet; things I see on TV; things that I read in books; even snatches of conversations overheard when passing people in a street.

Dreams are also an important source of inspiration for me and many of my stories have had their origins in dreams. Dreams give me the initial idea for or the outline of a story and I then work further to turn those ideas into complete stories.

Most of all, ideas come to me through the process of spontaneous generation, i.e. they arise out of nothing in my mind.

Given this unceasing deluge of new ideas, it is very rare for me to have to struggle to think up of something to write. In fact, the very act of sitting down at the desk, picking up a pen and opening a notebook transports me to a zone in which a conduit is established to a world populated by eternal truths and infinite beauty, and ideas flow effortlessly as long as I am in that zone.

2) You write short stories and poetry – what are your processes for each discipline?

The first step of the process involves getting the initial idea. I jot down these ideas in small notebooks that I use for noting down ideas that have the potential to be expanded further or that require further work on them. At this stage, the idea usually consists of a sentence or a paragraph.

At the next stage of the process, I explore the initial ideas in detail and or turn them into drafts for stories and poems. This is done in a larger sizednotebook. Because of the flood of ideas discussed in the previous answer, the length of time between having the initial idea and getting around to exploring it in detail could be as long as a decade. As a result I have a backlog of about ten years of ideas that I haven’t had the chance to work on as yet and to expand into finished stories and poems. 

The final stage of the process involves transferring the drafts from my notebooks into a computer. I then work further on those drafts, editing and re-editing them, until I am happy with the final result.

So, getting the initial idea comes more from intuition and inspiration, and the later editing and re-editing of drafts requires more method and logic, while the intermediate steps of the writing process are a combination of both intuition and logic.

3) How does your creative brain balance with your critical one? In particular, your mathematical proofs.

The balancing of the creative and critical brains is not really a conscious decision that I have to make, for it is something that just happens naturally. ie If I am working on my writings, then I employ the creative side of the brain. And when I am working on scientific and mathematical topics, my brain just switches automatically into another mode. In fact, sometimes it may happen that while I am working on my writings, I might have a mathematical idea and so I instantaneously turn to working on that idea and then go back to working on my writings, and it really doesn’t take any effort at all to switch between the two modes of thinking.  

4) Is creative writing your only creativity?

Firstly, please let me clarify that stories and poems are not the only things that I write.

I also write (among other things) non-fiction, philosophy, psychology, spiritual pieces, vignettes, micro-fiction (including 6 word stories), humorous articles, surrealism, aphorisms, parables, fables, travel writing, ekphrastic writings and song parodies.

Having said that, I must add that science had always been my first love and I have been creative in the mathematics and physics fields since my teenage years. Until relatively recently, mathematics/physics/science fields were my first interest and it is to them that I devoted most of my time and creative energy, and writing was a distant second interest.

5) Have your degrees influenced your creative work in any way?

Firstly, just to explain, I have an Arts degree in Philosophy/Linguistics and a Science degree in Mathematics/Physics.

I think that the influence of philosophy on my writings is clearly evident to anyone who takes a look at them, as a lot of my writings concern themselves with philosophical issues.

The influence of linguistics is a bit more subtle and probably manifests itself in the games that I like play with words and their meanings in my stories and poems. 

I think this influence of science shows itself in a number of ways in my work. On a more overt level, the subject matter and the themes of my stories and poems often have allusions to mathematics and physics. On a more subtle level, I think that my scientific background does influence my thinking process and the way that I go about creating the plot and development of a story. In fact, some readers have remarked that my stories have a mathematical structure  and that they flow almost like a logical argument. 

6) Can you enlighten us about your involvement in the spiritual community?

I was involved with a spiritual community in Melbourne on and off for about 5 years. At the time, it helped me with finding my path in life.

The guru of this community gave me my first big break with my writing career when he started reading out my non-fictional spiritual and philosophical pieces, as well as some of my fictional pieces in the public programs in front of hundreds of people.

His reading of my work and the responses that my writings received from the audience gave me the confidence to start sharing my writings with others, as until then my writings have always been a secret part of my private world and I never shared them with anyone. In fact, I used to think that I would never share my writings and that they would always remain a secret part of my private world. But things have turned out to be rather different! 

7) What did you learn from your script writing venture?

I contributed some of the dialogue to a short film titled “Six Steps to Eternal Death”. I attended several days of filming to see for myself how it all works and was pretty intrigued by how written words are turned into the visual medium. It was also interesting to see how a script is developed over time, and how much is altered and deleted until the final form is reached. 

8) Where can readers find you and your books?

This is my blog which has a lot (although not all) of my work on it: https://bozlich.wordpress.com/

This is my website: https://authorborisg.blogspot.com/

And here can be found links to various anthologies in which my writings have appeared:

https://authorborisg.blogspot.com/p/published-works_6.html

9) Do you have a new book in progress?

Yes, I am working on a book titled “Anti-Labyrinths” which will be a collection of my stories, poems, fables, flash fiction, aphorisms etc.

“Anti-Labyrinths” is a word and a concept that I came up with. As labyrinths are places where you get lost, anti-labyrinths are places where you find yourself. A labyrinth has only one entry,  and its secret can only be discovered at one point – its center. An anti-labyrinth, on the other hand, can be entered and exited at any point and at every point of an anti-labyrinth, secrets and mysteries are revealed.

My book “Anti-Labyrinths” will itself function as a kind of an anti-labyrinth, revealing truths and secrets at every point of the book, and helping the reader to find themselves. And, just like an anti-labyrinth, “Anti-Labyrinths” can be entered or exited at any point; you don’t have to start reading it at the beginning or finish reading it at the end.

Bio:

BORIS GLIKMAN is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. His stories, poems and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio programs. He says: “Writing for me is a spiritual activity of the highest degree. Writing gives me the conduit to a world that is unreachable by any other means, a world that is populated by Eternal Truths, Ineffable Questions and Infinite Beauty. It is my hope that these stories of mine will allow the reader to also catch a glimpse of this universe.”

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Anthologies, Blogs, Movies, Contests and New Tech

July 8, 2021
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I am continuing with my 2021 goals and have submitted to magazines, contests and anthologies this year. It is not only a learning curve, but also a way to expand my writing skills. Every writing experience increases our skill set and knowledge. As writers we are always learning. (or should be!)

In the last couple of weeks, I have been accepted to be part of an anthology 25 Miles From Here, which will be published in September. My short story A New Home will be included.

I also have three articles published (or scheduled) for Opal Writers Magazine and website, with another pending. These articles allow me to write non-fiction and also share my knowledge with the writing community.

I was also honoured to assist in the promotion of a new movie, Back Home Again. It covers the the wildfire evacuation of Fort McMurray and the communities resilience.

And I was also delighted to win a book giveaway by Densie Webb. A lovely novel arrived in my mailbox, which will be added to my TBR pile.

In preparation for my presentations/panel at the When Words Collide conference, I have invested in a headphone/microphone set. I trialed it as I hosted the monthly Writers Circle on Tuesday evening, it works well. It is more professional and cuts out a lot of background noise too.

My latest book news is four of my books (The Twesome Loop, The Commodore’s Gift, The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy) are all available from Daisy Chain Book Co bookstore, Edmonton.

I would love to hear about your writing related accomplishments so far this year?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Organizing My Writing Life

January 21, 2021
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As you may know, I have made a goal for 2021 to enter contests, submit articles to magazines and stories to anthologies. This seemed an easy process until I began to look at all the paperwork accumulating. For each submission there is of course, rules, guidelines, email address and accounts to create. On top of that, I have author interviews for this blog to monitor as well as a novel writing workshop with four other authors. Not to mention my freelance writing projects and my current work in progress.

So how should I organize it all?

Each ‘task’ has its own specific process, so I needed to come up with a way to keep track. Firstly, I printed out the relevant contest, magazine and anthology links and highlighted the deadlines for each one. Noted passwords required and any dates submissions were sent.

Now to catalogue them in separate folders. (And yes I use actual physical folders! I’m a hands on type of girl)

Green folder: Anthologies

Purple folder: Contests

Orange folder: Magazines

White Folder: WordPress Interviews

Orange folder : Presentations I will host

White folder: Novel Workshop

Black folder (not shown) Freelance Projects

Then I separated the relevant information for each in date order with the submission dates – first to last. I printed a calendar for the blog interviews so I can mark each one down, so there is no duplication. I have also bought a large desk calendar to mark submission deadlines, writing events, presentation dates, freelance projects, conferences, interviews etc. Having everything there in front of me lessens the panic that I have forgotten something.

How do you keep track of your writing life?

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Liz Butcher

November 26, 2020
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What drew you to the paranormal genre?

            I’ve held a fascination for all things paranormal, ever since I was a little girl. So, once I knew I wanted to pursue writing it was a natural fit for me to right in the horror/dark fantasy/speculative fiction genres.

Did writing for anthologies aid your writing style?

            Absolutely! When you’re given specific word limits to adhere to, it teaches you to write concisely which I found a great skill to have once I moved forward with my novels.

Did you find the switch from short stories to novel length challenging?

            Not at all, though they are certainly different. With novels you need to make sure there’s a lot more fleshing out of the characters/places etc.

What inspired your debut novel, Fates’ Fury?

            I’m not sure when the idea first came to me. It wasn’t an ‘ah ha!’ moment, but more like an idea that simmered beneath the surface for awhile. It was in 2012, when there was a lot of talk of the Mayan Calendar, and it got me thinking about what would the ancients think if they could see us now?

Can you tell us about the story behind Fates’ Fury creation?

            Essentially, the Fates’ have decided enough is enough and mankind have to go. They start killing people off as they hunt for the Tablet of Destinies, which will allow them to eradicate us for good. Three friends, Jonah, Tristan and Ava find themselves in the middle of it all, when they each have increasingly strange encounters before they’re approached by a man in the middle of a thunderstorm claiming he’s Zeus. He tells them of an Alliance of ancient gods and goddess prepared to help fight against the Fates. Yet the Fates are more powerful than man the gods combined…

Your follow up novel Leroux Manor is set in England. Did you visit England for research?

            I wish! That would have been amazing! Just lots of research, I’m afraid. Though one day I’d love to visit for real.

Where is your favorite place to write?

            I’m boring—it’s my desk! We moved into our first home a few months ago, and it’s the first time I’ve had a space solely dedicated to writing and I’ve loved setting it up.

Do you feel your environment affects your writing?

            100% I hate feeling pent in by clutter or a stuffy room. I love fresh air (even in winter, but it gets super cold here.) and I often have oils in the diffuser to aid concentration and focus. I have drawings by my daughter on the wall, as well as a moon calendar, a framed copy of Fates’ Fury and a Dali print. I like greenery too, and have a little terrarium hubby put together for me, and a couple of potted palms. I’m also a massive procrastinator so I also have to make sure there’s nothing on hand to aid that.

Has your BA in psychology given you insights into how a character would react to a situation? Has it helped in the creative process?

            Yes, I think it has. There’s just an overall deeper understanding of human behaviour and what motivates certain personalities. I think its especially helpful when writing in the darker genres.

Where can readers find your books?

            On Amazon for both ebook and paperback, and anywhere else you can buy ebooks!

Which social media platforms can we find you on?

Website: https://lizbutcherauthor.com.au

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lunaloveliz

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lunaloveliz/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Liz-Butcher-1394868604152823/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13845425.Liz_Butcher

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/lizbutcherauthor/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00X6XN5O6

With the global effects of COVID19 restricting gatherings, how have you managed to promote your books?

            By relying heavily on social media! I’ve also had some wonderful friends sharing it around, which I’m so appreciative of.

Is there any message you would like to send to your fans and readers? Thank you so much for your support!

Bio

Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She’s a self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. Liz has published a number of short stories in anthologies and released her own collection, After Dark, in 2018. ​

Her debut novel, Fates’ Fury, released September 2019 and Leroux Manor in September 2020.

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